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Embracing Femininity in Bridal Couture: Reflections on Being a Woman in the Art World

As a female artist and wedding dress designer, it's important to know that women have come a long way in the art world. The gender gap in the industry is slowly closing, and more and more women are making a name for themselves as successful artists and designers. However, it's important to remember that progress takes time, and we still have a long way to go.

As someone who attended college from 2000-2004, where I must say things were rapidly changing in culture for women in particular, I still experienced firsthand the challenges that come with being a woman in a male-dominated field. Although I had a fantastic experience focusing on Fine Art and Illustration at UArts in Philadelphia, PA, in my visual art major, there were three guys for every girl in my class, and most of our professors and successful alumni were also men. As a result, I had few female peers to lean on, work with, and look up to. Ultimately, there was a severe shortage of female role models in the faculty and art world in general.

During critiques, I was often told that my work was "good...for a girl" or that the execution was good, but the “concept needed work because it was too niche.” I didn’t understand because I was drawing and painting things I wanted to draw— all from my female perspective. I remember the guys snickering when I put up a still-life painting of what was on my makeup table, yet there was no adverse reaction to theirs depicting nunchucks, the latest video game consoles, or anything else that was stereotypical “guy stuff” at the time. *Cue the almighty female rage.*

I started to become self-conscious about my work and began ignoring my usual ideas because they were considered "girlie art" and, therefore, inferior. It felt as if there was an exclusive club similar to little boys on a playground who were hiding in a playhouse and had put up a sign on the door stating "no girls allowed," and I so desperately wanted to be a part of it. After all, I was in my 20s, and it’s the height of trying to discover who you are and where you fit in the world. I felt like a fraud, ignoring my “feminine” ideas and trying to create more acceptable work for my male peers.

"I didn’t understand because I was drawing and painting things I wanted to draw— all from my female perspective."

It wasn't until many years later, in the predominantly female bridal and fashion industry, that I had an epiphany. Of course, I created "girlie art" - I am a girl. Why would I try to be anything or anyone I knew I wasn't? *Insert facepalm here*

I now embrace my femininity by creating some of the most amazing "girlie art" I can dream up in the form of wedding dresses and couture gowns. Art that brings joy, positivity, and empowerment to the brides that walk into my design studio and bridal boutique.

I look back on college-age Barbara with pity that she stifled her creativity and authenticity for the sake of acceptance. At the time, I suppose I knew that unique perspectives make art so captivating; I just didn’t listen to myself.

As a bridal couture designer, it's important to remember that your perspective as a woman is a valuable asset to the industry. Embrace your unique vision and use it to create breathtaking designs that are true to who you are. Don't let the opinions of others or bridal trends stifle your creativity or make you feel inferior.

The art world has come a long way from the misogynistic culture that used to flourish there, but there is still a long way to go for equality. As a woman in the artistic industry, you have the power to create change by staying true to yourself. So go forth and create beautiful "girlie art," or whatever art is authentically you because it will inspire and empower future generations.

Xoxo, Barbara


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