Be a Lady

It is no secret that over the course of history that women and their bodies have failed to be properly respected in the eyes of the public. Among the many, there is a story lodged in history about an infamous photo taken of the “Brazilian Bombshell,” also known as, “The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat,” or better, her name, Carmen Miranda. 

 

Carmen Miranda was a Portugal-born, but Brazilian singer and dancer that got her big break as a Broadway actress in New York City in 1939. Miranda was extremely tenacious, she never stopped working. With always being on the go, there were some days where time was crunched in-between performances and gigs.  Being said, the lack of time didn’t always allow enough time to get fully prepared for the show. In a rush for one of her shows, Miranda threw on her costume without any undergarments. She was wearing a dress down to her ankles, so who would know? Well, in the middle of the performance, she was lifted into the air where her skirt then flailed out just enough for the paparazzi to get a shot of the dancer’s privacy. This photo was blasted in the media and rumors began to surface. People claimed Miranda was part of a Hollywood pornography ring and that her career would never recover from the exploit. Over time, the scandal faded and Miranda was able to reinvent herself and make a strong come back in her career.

 

The ill exposure of women has corrupted the image of many women across modern society. But the story of Carmen Miranda isn’t one of those stories, even though it was intended to be. Miranda’s story is about resilience and a testament to women empowerment. The biology of a woman should not degrade her accomplishments or make her less than. Inspired by this topic,  I designed Lady Fruit. Lady Fruit is a series of four gouache painted fruit (papaya, honeydew, peach, and cherry) that are made to imply the presence of a woman’s sex as something inviting and beautiful. All the fruit are indigenous to the region of Latin America, being that that is terrain of which Carmen Miranda is from.

5.5 x 8.5 Exhibition Catalog for showing at the
William R. Jenkins Architecture & Art Library.

Lady Fruit

Gouache on 8 x 11.5 canvas paper

Lady Gutai

Oil on 14.5 x 22.5 canvas

Amira Maruf © 2020