This piece is based on Simplicity Pattern #8406 Yellow Disney Princess.

Growing up in the era of Disney movies “Snow White”, “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty,” I absorbed all the stereotypical feminine ideals of beauty. When I saw this pattern, I wanted to create a piece that would respond to these ideals of appearance over substance.

Sewing the dress was a physical, performative layer of the piece. I followed the smallest size pattern (waist 23”) and used synthetic yellow felt because it’s synthetic quality aligned with my feelings about the pattern. The heaviness of the felt as the layers got thicker and the way the material resisted the pattern in places was an important part of the process. The portraits of people from all areas of my life wearing the dress, fundamentally altered the princess pattern by re-presenting feminine stereotypes. Personal identity and cultural memory combine to redefine the yellow dress as many things more generous. Time and experience, the collective and private aspects of ourselves expressed through a pattern, fabric, and action create change.

My thanks to friends, Tori Burns, master seamstress, who helped me make the dress, Dianne Schlies, for suggesting the next step to do a series of portraits, and to everyone who shared their stories and posed for me.