On a blazing hot winter’s day, over 40,000 Texans joined in solidarity at the base of our state’s capitol to send a message to America’s elected officials: love trumps hate. This love is the force that binds women together in the face of prejudice, that keeps women standing for hours with the sun beating down on the backs of their necks, that makes women smile and laugh while demonstrating for legislation to protect their fundamental rights. This was the Women’s March on Austin on January 21, 2017, a day of action to set the tone for the next four years. I attended because I felt that if I was going to call myself a feminist, I needed to put my feet on the ground where my mouth was. I am young and I have everything to lose if the federal government makes good on some of its recent promises, so I took a stand for my future, for my children’s futures, and most importantly, for the women and men who, unlike me, did not have the privilege of growing up in a household that empowered them.
But that’s just me. I was but 1/40,000th of the protesters who made the trek down Congress Avenue, across 6th Street, and up Lavaca Street. What about everyone else? I designed this photography project to gain an understanding of the movement through portraits of protesters and quotes. I asked my subjects to make a serious expression, then an expression they felt projected their emotions. Then I asked, “For what or for whom are you marching today?” Well over half of the subjects wound up grinning and telling me that they were excited and happy to attend. Even the ones who gave the camera a grimace or snarl exuded hope. This is the love that will protect us and guide us through the political storm ahead. This is what it means to be a woman.