Modern Family Life?

I came across this gem of an article and, although it’s not related to Neuroscience, the little rebel in me just HAD to write about it. Notice anything odd in the picture?

Suzanne Heintz (the woman serving the roast to the mannequins) is an Art Director from Colorado, USA, who created a project, Life Once Removed, full of Kodak Moments with her mannequin family. Say hello to her husband, Chauncey, and her daughter, Mary Margaret. Suzanne’s project is conveying her message in a wonderfully unique way, and that message is…

I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds, and quit clinging to outdated assumptions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other, and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it’s made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached to your name.


When I finished reading this article (and scolding at the daft comments left by certain individuals), I realised that Suzanne’s underlying message was not only clarifying these hidden in plain sight truths, she’s also testing and breaking the boundaries of social affiliation; we act in certain ways in order to fit in and be accepted.

Bit of psychology stuff – social affiliation is a huge research topic in social psychology because affiliating with others, whether good, bad or ugly, has been found to affect people with social anxiety disorders, autistic spectrum disorders (including Asperger’s disorder), even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This need to affiliate and feel accepted is also especially seen in adolescents and young adults dealing with sexual orientation and being accepted by their families, or being a minority or majority ethnicity and achieving good grades can have a positive or negative effect among peers.


So affiliation plays a huge part in our lives. But does this mean that we have to conform to others without considering if it’s what we really want? Of course not. Is it something that we do anyway? In my opinion, yes. And that’s where the problem lies. As Suzanne quite rightly stated:

We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something. I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion of insufficiency is not just about me, nor exclusively about Women in regards to Marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it “should.” Rarely does anyone’s life turn out the way it was expected, and if by some miracle it does, what they expected isn’t what they thought it was.

I’m going to “affiliate” with Suzanne.

Artist buys imitation family to satirize conformity

Written by Alison Holland

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Charuvastra, A., & Cloitre, M. (2008). Social bonds and posttraumatic stress disorder. Annual review of psychology, 59, 301.

Fuller‐Rowell, T. E., & Doan, S. N. (2010). The social costs of academic success across ethnic groups. Child development, 81(6), 1696-1713.

Ryan, C., Russell, S. T., Huebner, D., Diaz, R., & Sanchez, J. (2010). Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(4), 205-213.

Weisman, O., Aderka, I. M., Marom, S., Hermesh, H., & Gilboa-Schechtman, E. (2011). Social rank and affiliation in social anxiety disorder. Behaviour research and therapy, 49(6), 399-405.