Click here to view the final version of my site!
So essentially, my project is meant to serve as a simple but new approach to the problem of the low self-esteem of female Duke undergraduates. I know this is an issue that has been mentioned in the Women’s Initiative, countless Chronicle articles, Duke’s most recent Who Needs Feminism? campaign, and many other sources, but I wanted to explore and combat it in my own way. On my website, I have a History page, where I look back at two studies on the self-esteem of Duke students, as well as the Who Needs Feminism? campaign. I have a Project page, where I give a brief description of my project’s purpose – both to educate people about the reality of the self-esteem of Duke women (specifically, what the studies say) and to explain my choice to use portraits to do so. Finally, I have a gallery page featuring Duke undergraduate women holding up signs that say I <3 My ______”, where they fill in the blank with a personality or physical trait that they love about themselves.
I originally got the idea from a combination of similar campaigns (like Who Needs Feminism?) and a section in Marie Claire magazine, where they take photographs of women in a particular city and include captions where the women talk about one attribute they love about themselves. I was especially attracted to the visual aspect – visuals are definitely important for multimedia projects, and I feel like attempting a strictly text-based version of this project would be impossible. It’s one thing to talk about women at Duke, like they do in the study, but it’s another thing entirely to show them. There’s something about visuals that drive the point home, especially because viewers can find similarities with the subjects of the portraits.
I had hoped to use Wix.com, because I liked the gallery format and the way that you could create a very clean, minimal site that relied broke up the topics (History, Project, and Gallery) clearly and easily. However, Wix.com proved almost impossible to use, and there were many times that I almost threw my computer at the wall. Instead, I used WordPress, but rather than structure my site like a blog, I used the same gallery format as I originally intended with Wix.
I loved putting an order to the project, so people could read the History and have interactive links and figures from the studies, but then they could click another link and go to the Project page and the Gallery page in a particular order. I relied greatly on the affordances of the web – the clickability, the way I could create an order for viewers, and the way that I could deter people from viewing the Gallery until they read and understood the project fully. I couldn’t have done the project in print, like I said. Sure, the history is important, but the most important component is the Gallery itself. Viewers have the power to click on individual images that perhaps they relate to or find significance in, and they can spend as much time as they like actually looking at particular photographs.
As for constraints, my biggest constraint was simple: some girls didn’t want to participate. Sometimes it was about them not having the time, but more frequently, they were uncomfortable with putting their image on the web for the project. It’s a constraint of using the internet rather than text – your project can serve its purpose, but it can also blow up, and you don’t have complete control over who views it and interprets it for themselves. Overall though, I was pleased with the response (even if I had to force my roommates into it).