I was browsing Google today when I came across an article about this viral photo:
The photo depicts Sierra Sharry; her baby boy, Taos; and her late husband, Lane (who is photoshopped in). Sierra states in the article that Lane had an accident while at the jet boat races in El Reno and that he passed away while she was still pregnant with their child. She further says,"July 13th 2014 was the absolute worst day of my life. I lost my best friend. The father of my unborn child. And since that day I have felt so empty inside. A part of me will forever be missing. I loved that man more than life itself."
However, with this photoshopped image, Sierra is able to see her whole family together, even if it is artificial. Commenting on the photo, Sierra states, "This is how I picture us. Taos and I living our lives the best we can with Lane ALWAYS watching over our shoulder."
This is indeed a tragic story, so the artfully completed family photo becomes very moving and touching. However, we as viewers can relate to the photo on another level, and this is in terms of gender performance. In the photo, Sierra and Lane are occupying traditional feminine and masculine roles, respectively. Sierra is cradling her baby boy, emphasizing the maternal and nurturing aspects of her identity that are normally associated with femininity. On the other hand, Lane, as seen in the photo and as stated by Sierra, is "always watching over [their] shoulder." This put Lane in a protective role over his entire family, which is traditionally a masculine characteristic. With these traditional roles, viewers will be able to see the photo as normative in regards to society's standards. Therefore, they may more naturally empathize with the unfortunate circumstances of the situation.
Overall, the photo portrays a sense of "what could have been," and this makes viewers stop and truly think about the Sharry family's heartbreaking situation.