In her latest exhibit, "Power & Burden of Beauty," artist Rachel Hovnanian taps into that defeated feeling women get in the dressing room and the immense pressure that women put on themselves to look beautiful.
As soon as you enter the exhibit, there is an installation of a fitting room with a fun house mirror, and audio that says "You need more Botox," and "You shouldn't have eaten those Cheetos."
Another provocative installation is a baby's nursery that contains wallpaper depicting beauty queen trophies, while another is a cold cast marble sculpture of a bathing suit, which is entitled "Body Armor."
"If you look amazing in a bathing suit, it becomes a powerful tool," Hovanian explained to StyleList on opening night.
Our favorite part of the exhibit is what looks like an oversized medicine cabinet filled with jars of beauty cream, called "The Wall of Confidence."
Sounds ridiculous, right? "These are actual sayings I found in advertisements for cosmetics," the artist says. Wow!
Hovnanian grew up in Texas, land of the beauty queens, but her parents never put emphasis on outer beauty. "They told me to feed my soul and my intellect and taught me never to judge myself," she says.
Hopefully, this thought-provoking work will help others to do the same, especially considering a recent study which revealed that 95% of young women want to change something about their bodies.
The exhibit is at the Jason McCoy Gallery at 520 West 20th Street in New York City through November 7, then it moves to the gallery's uptown location at 41 East 57th Street through December 22, 2009.
For more body image news, read up on the fight to label retouched images.