Full Frame Close Up: Female Empowerment, One Caption at a Time

Full Frame

After Anne Taintor became a single parent and the sole supporter of her daughter Hannah, she got a full-time job in an office, but office life wasn’t for her. So she visited a career counselor who advised her to do something she was good at. With a degree in art, Anne could think of only one thing she knew she could do well: make collages.

She started by making pins and earrings, but a trip to a garage sale changed everything. She found a stack of old Ladies Home Journals– an American magazine that has been in publication since 1883 and was one of the leading women’s magazines in the United States in the 20th century – dating back to the 1950’s. Anne bought them all. After thumbing through the advertisements in the magazines and laughing at the absurdity of the depictions of women and mothers in that era, she came up with the idea to start writing her own captions; using the original images with tongue-in-cheek captions poking fun at gender stereotypes. To her surprise, her collages became go-to images for “female empowerment,” gaining a cult following as well as mainstream popularity.

One of her first collages pictured four women running on the beach with the caption, “born to be wild.” It’s still selling today, nearly 35 years later. Another successful creation was an image of a woman dressed in a ball gown and a tiara with the caption, “dress for the job you want.” She’s put these clever captions on everything from flasks and sticky notes to socks and puzzles.  Over the years, with hard work and a bit of luck, she’s turned her hobby into a career; never returning to the office job she loathed. And creating a genre of niche consumer goods that has inspired many artisans.

In this week’s Full Frame Close Up, we visit Anne Taintor at her charming home and studio in Portland, Maine where she’s still finding humor in the seemingly mundane.