June 29, 2017

Natalie White, The Muse Who Inspired Herself

By Natalie White

A glimpse into how I was inspired to take action.

Artwork by Natalie White

I grew up in a small town in West Virginia where I was told I could do anything a boy could. What I wasn’t told, was that no matter how hard I worked, I would never get paid the same as a man.

At 16, I became a model and was lucky enough to be on the cover of multiple magazines, in multiple countries all over the world; and I became the muse of some of the greatest photographers and artists of our time. I was the subject appearing in their work as well as a collaborator in the process. But most of the time, the artists got all of the credit, fame, and money.

In 2012, I decided to take back my image and make my own artwork of myself. In 2013, I had my first show “Who Shot Natalie White?” where 25 artists and photographers all showed their work of me as “muse”, along with the work I made of myself. I started showing in many different galleries and became a well-known figure as an artist myself.

I noticed that women were not well represented in major galleries all over the world, hardly ever in museums. In fact, work by women artists makes up only 3–5% of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe.

I found out why when I had a show at The Hole, in New York City. My friend, Sarabeth Stroller, told me the reason the women’s movement wasn’t moving… we never got the Equal Rights Amendment passed back in 1982!

There I was, topless, on top of an American flag, in a plexiglass box for 7 hours a day to symbolize the lack of movement within the women’s movement in America, not realizing there was an actual solution.

So, when she told me why, I got so angry, not simply because we didn’t have equal rights, but also because until then, not one person had ever told me. I started asking around, and I found that no one I knew was aware of the situation either.

That’s when I changed course; I knew it to be my duty to do all that I possibly could to inform people about the fact that women are excluded from the Constitution and do everything I could to change it.

I met Kamala in New York after a screening of Equal Means Equal and we have been working together ever since.  We are both completely committed so seeing this through and finally getting the ERA into the Constitution.