These forms navigate the concept of vulnerability. Growing up in a society that champions strength and fearlessness, I have often felt that the continuous pressure not to show emotional and mental susceptibility is more burdensome than strengthening. These pieces question the heteronormative standards we have in terms of defining genders for ourselves and within the context of a relationship. The slumped, flaccid forms reflect insecurities about societal views that we should be stoic and without weakness. Individuals who fail to appear powerful and strong to their peers are often called out, even from a young age, leading to feelings of shame and insecurity especially for those who are sensitive, emotionally expressive, or struggle with mental illness.
We are often scared to admit defeat, show injury, or ask for help. It can feel more acceptable, easier, to resort to fistfights and yelling or to silence and isolation than to express sadness or seek help for anxiety. This societal conditioning can lead to struggles with intimacy and self-image.
Due to the way expected gender roles influence our behavior in relationships, it can be particularly challenging for individuals to open up and be comfortable living in their own skin with a partner. When faced with constant pressures for intimacy in a relationship, the strain of going against our emotional conditioning can cause us to feel deflated and almost unable to function. Yet, working to develop a sense of physical and emotional intimacy with someone can ultimately be fulfilling. If we are able to be vulnerable with ourselves and with one another in order to deal with our weaknesses and the inevitable hardships we face in life, we have the opportunity to become stronger, to know ourselves better, and to find connection in our chaotic world.