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Men with Purses

GUYS, have you ever spent 5 minutes getting ready to go somewhere only to spend an hour looking for your wallet, your keys, or your phone? Well fret no more! Were you aware there has already been an invention designed hundreds of years ago to keep your personal items in one place when you leave the house? This item would be your right hand man. It goes with your outfit AND it holds your stuff. Even better, no one would question you for having a big one or a little one. No one bothers to care what is in it. In fact, there’s unspoken rules and social stigmas preventing other people from searching it--sometimes even people in authority, out of respect. It’s the purse.

As for WOMEN, we all have a love-hate relationship with our purse. It’s that best friend you keep around because she’s known you forever and knows all your secrets so you should probably stay on her good side...not necessarily because you really like her as a friend at this point. But what does it mean to carry a purse?

Why is it jarring to see a purse as part of a man's wardrobe? It is an icon of the female experience--often marking the beginning of adulthood for women, as well as independence, privacy, and property. I'm jumping on the gender bending bandwagon and putting a twist on a popular symbol of femininity--the purse. Shooting this series prompted me to find a cause worthy of challenging the female identity. I want to make art that not only poses a question, but provides something tangible in regards to the question it's posing.

Genesis House II is a shelter that helps homeless women create a better future for themselves and their families with the help of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. As I began my journey photographing men with purses from all over the U.S., I asked for small donations like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and snacks to build care packages for the women in this shelter. But as my outreach grew, I started receiving purses themselves. Big purses. Purses with histories and scars. Purses with stories and pasts. Purses filled with makeup, jewelry, food, deodorant, you name it. From one woman's arm to the next, these care packages are a new source of identity, a new beginning, and a clean slate. So when I sat down and wrote about this experience, I decided to do some research on the history of our beloved pocketbook. And turns out, the purse actually signifies a huge paradigm shift in the way women began to face the world independently.

11 Things I Learned While Photographing "Men with Purses"

Click on each photo to learn a new fact--if you're on a mobile device, select the photo then click the dot in the bottom right corner.