Contrary to popular belief, the feminist movement isn’t just about demanding equality of the sexes: Over the past few years, it has evolved to signify the exploration and expression of sexuality, social “norms,” and, all-in-all, identity. If there’s anyone who has helped shape this newfound meaning, it’s Petra Collins. Now, in addition to her dreamy images, controversial designs, and girl-gang mentality, Collins is investigating the female self in her latest project, Making Space.
To create the three-part documentary series, Collins road tripped across the southern United States with her sister Anna and Me and You designers Julia Baylis and Mayan Toledano. While traveling from New Orleans to Death Valley with BB Dakota for their new #ITSONLYFASHION initiative, they documented teen dancers to explore how dance affects self-expression and female body image. “Dance commands space and physicality and those two are rarely things girls are allowed to explore/own,” says Collins. “I experienced a lot of self-hate/self-esteem issues as a teen and dance was one of the things that freed me from that. I could channel all my angry, nervousness, and excitement into dance and create a space of my own.”
How Collins sums up her road trip experience:
While venturing through the Deep South, Collins and her team witnessed how the recent prevalence of feminist ideals has affected young women. “My sister and I went into it thinking the girls would be struggling with the same issues that we struggled with and sort of based our narrative around that,” says Collins. “But each girl ended up being so strong and empowered it got me so excited about the next gen of women.”
As more and more artists study expression, the meaning of the word “feminist” will continue to change. And that’s a really exciting thing. As Collins says, “We’re experiencing an age where gender is becoming fluid—who you are is way more than just your gender.” Watch behind-the-scenes footage from the creation of Making Space below, then check out Collins’ rad road trip playlist.