Stripper heels, flowers and feminism, oh my!

These seemingly unrelated things come together for a delightful craft project with a real statement

Published August 24, 2010 11:32PM (EDT)

Excuse me while I geek out for a moment. I am obviously, publicly a proud feminist, but I also happen to be an avid gardener and terrarium-maker in private. (Like, I actually receive shipments of moss in the mail and have begun to memorize the Latin names for my favorite succulents.) These two worlds rarely converge -- but I just came across a rare exception: Planted stripper heels. I repeat: Planter stripper heels.

The artist, Rachel Mahlke, removes the top of a platform high-heel, drills holes in the bottom for drainage and plants the damn thing with cacti or succulents. She told me her aim is to "show that there is danger and pain behind plastic representations of beauty" and to comment on American conceptions of femininity -- but these creations are open to all sorts of feminist perspectives. Maybe you see a powerful juxtaposition of natural beauty with unnatural beauty standards, or a quirky fusion of crafty, D.I.Y. feminism with sex worker activism. 

Lucite heel packed with fertilizer will aptly represent some ladies' experiences or views of stripping (i.e., it's shitty). There's also "Pinup's Revenge," which is planted with a threatening cacti and comes with the following product description: "This little shoe has worked hard, lost one rhinestone, and has a few scuffs from its former life." Some will thrill at the idea of a stripper shoe bearing "baby aloe plants with serrated 'teeth' along their fleshy green leaves." (Vagina dentata, anyone?!) Others -- like those friends of mine with copies of "Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease Collection" -- will identify more with the sweet and feminine look of this platform planted with a pastel succulent and an airy bed of light-green moss.

Of course, some will just find the project pointless or even offensive; admittedly, it hits on the bizarre nexus of my areas of interest. And, on that note, I just might have to head to the wrong part of town, purchase a clear platform heel, dismantle it and turn it into a feminist terrarium.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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