Pretty if you smile -- a collage about being a girl

Silly face photo
 When I was a kid, people used to tell me I should smile more. "You'd be so pretty if you only smiled!" Even my grandmother  -- when she caught me frowning or pouting -- would say, "Watch out, or your face will freeze that way!" I hated being told things like that. Why should I smile if I didn't feel happy? If I'm feeling sad, does that make me ugly?

I'm guessing you might have heard the same things. The photo on the right was taken in a photo booth at my local Woolworth's, when I was in junior high. My friend Janie and I made silly faces, definitely not smiling.

These memories came to me when I was working on a collage for the NW Collage Society Spring Show. At first, I played around with vintage makeup ads aimed at teens in the 1970s -- my era. Remember Bonnie Bell "lip smackers"? Or "Baby Doll" makeup? Or "kissing potion"?

I incorporated these ads into the background of my collage, along with illustrations of dolls from the same era -- Barbie, Crissy, and Kissy (of course!)

Vintage makeup ad from 1970s

Pretty if you smile collage -- closeup

Pretty if you smile collage -- closeup
By the time I finished the background, I realized that I wanted the piece to be about being told to smile when I was young and how that led to the strange connection between being a Girl and being Nice...and Pleasant...and Pretty. Here's the finished collage.
Pretty if you smile collage
If you're in the Seattle area, you can catch the full show through May at the Lodge at St. Edward in Kenmore. Here I am with my collage...and a smile on my face!
Pretty if you smile collage in show