The MeMA: Curating the Self

The MeMA: Curating the Self


How do we navigate the ever-changing world? We anchor ourselves with an identity we create of our own. We carefully select aspects of our personalities, nourish them to become our self, and this constructed identity is what we show to the world. We sift and sort through different qualities to form an aesthetic of our own. We exhibit ourselves in a combination of these qualities much like a curator would exhibit an artist’s work in a museum. The qualities with which we identify can be as general as being a realist or as specific as being a person who always uses correct punctuation in every written format. The world then perceives an individual curated through their choices and quirks. Isn’t that what makes us unique?


The following digital gallery allows insight into the qualities that the subject, Shireen Khandelwal swears to live by.

An open moleskine stood up on a table with handwriting in purple pen.
Moleskin, Paper, Purple.
An outfit on a hanger: a plaid jacket with white buttons, pearls, and a black skirt.
Frayed Jacket, Pearls, Skirt, Black & White.
A screenshot of a calendar from February 2017.
Calendar, Macbook, iCloud, Work.
A hardbound copy of "Little Women" and "A Merry Christmas," stood on a table.
Little Women, A Merry Christmas, Louisa May Alcott, Hardbound.
A 8 group of Polaroid pictures, spread out on a table.
Photos, Memories, Polaroid.
A screenshot of an Instagram page, @shireen16
Instagram, Profile, Social Media.
A small, open bag with papers, tickets, and a map emerging.
Pink & Black, Polka Dots, Tickets, Paper, Map.
A bowl of Dal Makhani on a yellow napkin.
Dal Makhani, Black Lentils, Curry.
Two women smile toward the camera.
Friends, High School, Sonakshi, Srishti.
A perfume bottle with light pink liquid sits on a table, its box leaning against it.
Perfume, Fragrance, Vanilla, Damascus Rose, J'adore.


Shireen is a writer so she has a notebook.

She likes to wear black and classic styled clothes, experimenting minimally with fashion.

She likes to believe that she is a punctual, deadline-driven student, so she organizes her schedule in her calendar.

Since she is a writer, she also likes reading and has actively created emotional connections with several books. She identified with the characters of the four March sisters in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, as she believed herself to be as interested in literature as Jo, as intrigued by aesthetics as Amy, as responsible as Meg, and as sensitive as Beth.

She likes keeping memories in the form of photographs; photographs that she uses for her social media accounts like Instagram.

On social media, she chooses that which she wants the world to see of her life: a dazzling view of a city that she visited, sprawled beneath a hill not her pajama-clad self on a Sunday, in the midst of writing a paper.   

She likes to travel and explore new places. She creates more emotional connections with them by keeping physical memories, like the ticket for that Italian Opera show she saw in Paris.

She is always excited about food and boasts a large appetite for dishes like Dal Makhani from her hometown, Jaipur.

All her friends have one trait in common: They can hold a conversation.

She associates deeply with her olfactory sense and only considers one perfume to match her identity. She thinks J’adore, with its light fragrance of Vanilla and Rose, matches her style.


Just as Shireen has curated herself to fit a particular identity, so have other people. She seems to be trapped in the categories of an identity she has created for herself. Even though she thinks of herself to be a person who always uses punctuation, sometimes she has to fight the urge to leave her text messages without complete, correct sentences if she is short on time. Who would Shireen be if she does not punctuate? Perhaps she thinks she will be less Shireen if she does not use punctuation marks. This brings forth the conflict between the fluidity and rigidity of a certain identity. If we stray too far from this curated self, our personal museum, do we run the risk of losing our sense of who we are?

Back to Top