My series “The Royals” explores beauty standards, matriarchal lineages, and identity through the lens of the Queens and Princesses of small town festivals.
Each year many communities across America honor their local heritage or economy with a festival — from Opp, Alabama’s “Rattlesnake Rodeo,” to Marysville, Washington’s “Strawberry 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.
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. I’m interested in how traditional beauty standards are created or reinforced through costuming, how these symbols women are adorned with give them some perceived power or “beauty,” and whether these adornments hold them back. I’m also curious about the individual women’s motivations, and what it means to need a female princess figurehead in America today.