Depicting Underprivileged Women with Agency October 13, 2017 SMEAR Magazine Jessica's Sister Jessica Jessica's Sister Jessica's Mom By: Jessica Vacek When I presented these images to my printmaking class, I realized I had been failing to truly recognize something I thought about every day. There’s a specific set of obstacles that come with being from my background. All around me I see expectations that feel out of reach. I have grown up seeing these obstacles and expectations morph until I noticed them effecting my own self worth. It seems that many people’s definition of a strong, successful woman is someone who is independent, intelligent, beautiful, and educated. These expectations have left my family and other women from low-income backgrounds feeling excluded from the mainstream feminist movement. We fight hunger, abusive partners, drug culture, medical issues, violence, abject poverty and are still expected to be beautiful. These issues are not visible from the outside. When I think of strength I think about my mom working long hours in the heat, I think of my sisters raising their kids, and I think about my fight to stay in higher education. Statistically, I should not have been able to attend college. Statistically, once I got to college I should have dropped out. If college, health, and security is a given for someone it can be difficult for them to understand the ways that lower class women still fight for their place away from hunger, drugs, and abuse. In these images, I erased the identities of women from my family by covering their eyes to create something that wasn’t just for us, but for all women struggling with similar issues.