Kruger’s You Are Not Yourself makes visual and explicit De Beauvoir’s conception of woman as a non-essential social construct. Displaying a woman examining herself in a shattered mirror, Kruger interprets the myth of woman as a mechanism by which to alienate woman not only from man, but from herself as well.

Kruger uses bold graphic techniques to jar the woman in the mirror as well as the viewer, delivering a wake-up call from the messages delivered by society. The small size of the word “not” indicates that society attempts to trick women into believing “You Are Yourself,” in other words, that individuals are responsible for their own positions in life.

However, You Are Not Yourself illustrates that “woman” is made up of shattered parts, various roles and expectations forced upon her by society. A mirror should reveal a true and whole representation of oneself, but this mirror is fragmented, distorting the image of the woman. She picks up one shard and examines it, seeming unable to recognize her own reflection. The parts do not fit together into a whole; woman cannot be all that society expects her to be.

The construct of “woman” is an identity that alienates the person from the internal power and abilities of the self. Society constructs a woman’s identity, building a glass prison from which she cannot escape.

3 thoughts on “Barbara Kruger’s You Are Not Yourself

  1. I really love this analysis, it really shows what the picture means. Congrats. It helped me for my exam so thank you very much 🙂 x

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