Location: Seattle, WA, United States
My series “The Royals” explores beauty standards, matriarchal lineages, and identity through the lens of the Queens and Princesses of local festivals.
Each year many communities across America honor their heritage or economy with a festival – from Opp, Alabama’s “Rattlesnake Rodeo,” to McCleary, Washington’s “Bear Festival,” to the “Pendleton Roundup” in Eastern Oregon. These events often culminate in a Grand Parade through main street, led by the festival Queen and her Royal Court. Many of these towns are celebrating their 75th, 85th, or 100th festival anniversaries. Prior to the Covid 19 Pandemic, they had only been interrupted once – by World War II.
The selection process and Royal duties range from court to court. Some still have an evening gown component and swimsuit competition while others emphasize scholarship and public speaking skills. Often “The Crown” (or cowboy hat, or beaded garment) is passed down through generations of women who wear it as proud ambassadors for their town. These photographs explore how traditional beauty standards are created or reinforced through costuming, how the symbols women are adorned with give them some perceived power or “beauty.” They also question what it means to be (or need) a female princess figurehead in America today.