Faces of the Uniform
I’ve always been told that I am small but mighty given that I am barely 5’ tall. At my gym I am called Mighty Mouse, in college “Teenie”. For as long as I can remember, there is rarely someone shorter than me at any given time. Given my stature, I’ve always used my voice and my brain as my driving force. Women in general are sometimes seen as more delicate or reserved, maybe even passive. This is not to say that some women aren’t physically larger, or have a stronger demeanor than any particular man, and this is not to take away from any man’s accomplishment. What I aim to do is to help a strong women’s voice get heard. My goal is to travel back to Israel to photograph and learn about the lives of strong women in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). These photographs and interviews will give others a chance to put themselves in an Israeli soldiers shoes and to learn from someone else who lives in a very different world than their own.
Women in Israel comprise about 33% of the IDF and as of now, approximately 92% of all roles are open to women. Since the state’s founding in 1948, women have played a part in the IDF’s Ground, Air, and Navy forces. It was originally declared that women were not to serve on the front lines, based around the treatment they may endure given the reality that becoming a prisoner of war was very real. However, there was still the expectation for both men and women to serve with equal risk and sacrifice explained by the Equality Amendment to the Military Service Law : “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men”.
Israel is a fascinating country. The merging people, cultures, geography, and history, all stew a lively melting-pot. When I first met Jasmin, it was 2012 on my Birthright, and this was my first interaction with a soldier in the IDF. With no idea what to expect, what I judged quickly was that she was strong, outspoken, and far more mature than the majority of females I knew at 19 years old. She had a different “air” about her that I didn’t quite understand yet. And I wasn’t willing to admit that a 19 year old “girl” intimidated me at 25. What I learned to make sense of was that she grew up having deep pride for her state and knowing that serving in the IDF when she graduated high school was not a question at all. Jasmin is only one of many women that are involved with the IDF and deserve to tell their stories.
I have been inspired by my family and friends in Israel, my interest and ties to the military, and passion for travel and culture to build this project. I will be working closely with friends and family to meet and learn from at least a half-dozen women who are willing to share their stories and allow me to photograph them inside and outside of their military life. I believe that being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an important ability that people can use as a tool to grow. By understanding someone else’s life, it can open your eyes to another world and with all of the billions of people on this earth, there is always someone to learn from.
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