For thousands of years feelings have been considered a "female" thing, while men are expected to feel pleasure and explode in violent rages. In ancient times, males would go hunting, while women, tasked with taking care of their home and the children, would be allowed to demonstrate feelings in a more open way. It wasn’t long before melancholy and sadness became synonymous to womanhood.
Audrey Hepburn, one of the most beautiful people in history, incredibly enough spent most of her life in a state of solitude. She once claimed that perhaps she had so much love to give that nobody was able to match or reciprocate it in the same way. Her doe eyes showed a slight sadness creeping beneath her elegance and personality. Maybe it was that same loneliness what inspired Adi Dekel’s photography work.
Society has imposed particular feelings to each gender. Though male and female might experience or express emotions in different ways, none is privy or more likely to feel them. The notion of sadness being a woman’s thing is in relation to the ideas of beauty and fragility. The world’s despair is presented through the eyes of those who stay silent and keep their head down, looking to the past with pain and unable to sight the future.
Female sadness is not real. Women are not sad by nature. This is not to say that men experience or feel sadness more than them. It just means they are not vulnerable, helpless beings. They are people. They are women. Regardless of gender, humans feel pain and sorrow when ending a particular cycle, after a loss, or even a heartbreak. When we mystify the feeling, we unconsciously discredit or attempt to control it.
Other artists might use Adi Dekel’s portraits of women, in scenarios depicting solitude, to exemplify unique sadness. But instead, she attempts to capture the natural beauty of her models. The stigma of feminine sorrow gives sense to her images, but is also a stereotype that turns her subjects into vulnerable beings, desperate for love and protection.
Men are also vulnerable. They cry, feel loss, and see their world fall apart as well. It is then when women also take those who are in pain under their protection . There is darkness and light in all of our lives. It’s not about gender, it’s about being human.
Adi Dekel is 20 years-old, yet she already has a portfolio that promises an incredible career for her. She has the strength to portray real misery through the way the models relate to their environment, instead of relying just on the expression of their faces. Melancholy is blue; sadness is opaque, and loneliness paints itself black. We are beings that suffer, that are torn and transformed by memories that never go away.
The fear we show in our eyes is a reflection of who we once were and can never be again. Sadness is not about the person, but the universal nature of the situation. We all feel pain, cry, and need to get up to move on.
Adi Dekel’s pictures are part of an incomplete portrait that questions those gender assignments in which women are supposed to play the helpless victims and men are meant to be strong saviors.
To discover more of the photographer’s work, you can check out her Instagram.
You might also be interested in reading these:
Photographs That Reveal The Melancholy Of An Ordinary Girl
Illustrations That Perfectly Capture The Loneliness Of Womanhood
Translated by María Suárez