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  • Writer's pictureAlice Pearson


Updated: Apr 19, 2021

‘The social façade’ was my final major project which explored the lingering ideals of masculinity, and it’s inevitable consequences. I received 100% distinction as my final grade for this project.

(Photography & Illustrations by Alice Pearson)

The topic played with the representation of gender and identity of manhood within today’s society, in an attempt to visualise the systematic pressures which still serves to silence its members. I became most passionate about the restriction of the male emotion, due tomany feeling discouraged from showing any ‘emasculating’ emotions.

My project attempted to visualise the starchy nature of British culture, to the stiff unforgiving collar of the classic men's shirt.

(Photography & Illustrations by Alice Pearson)

It could be argued, that a many Britian’s reluctance to downplay their inner struggles can be directly linked back to war-time stoicism. As a society, we often lull ourselves into superficial façade of calm, despite the inner turmoil that lies beneath the surface. As a child I remember adults frequently telling boys, including my brother, other friends to 'man up'. We are told to ‘turn the other cheek', when faced with personal adversity. Save face when the cracks begin to show in the foundations of our hardened exterior.

Despite great progression, the toxic power play between the guise of masculinity and one’s inability still remains in today's society.

In 2017 “5,821 suicides were recorded in Great Britain”, of these, “ 75% were male and 25% were female” (Mentalhealth, 2017).

One could argue, the white shirt has, in turn, evolved to embody the issue at hand. Originally “worn exclusively by men” (British Library), the origins of the undergarment can be traced back to as far as 3000 BC. As the shirt progressed with time, it evolved with increased symbolic and political significance; to highlight masculinity, and in turn, the gender of its wearer. Today, the garment remains a staple item of male professionalism in the workplace.

Thus, I began to visualise the similarities of the ‘starchy’ collared shirt that tightly fastened around the neck, to the toxic ideal of British masculinity. Their combined restrictive nature could contribute to man’s inability to speak up, for fear of shattering the masculine illusion.


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