A form of “aspirational femininity”: Photographer Anne-Marie Michel depicts America’s female truckers
Inspired by the journey she, her mother and sisters took across America, the London-based photographer endeavours to reframe the typical trucker image.
- Olivia Hingley
- 10 August 2022
In the American imagination, the trucker subculture has a very clear image: older, moustachioed men, often dressed in double denim and acting passionately about their pimped up truck. But this rather narrow stereotype misses one section of the travelling workforce entirely – its women. It was this forgotten subdivision of one of the nation’s most typecast jobs that photographer Anne-Marie Michel became set about documenting.
Sisters of the Road is Anne-Marie’s first personal project which began when the photographer sought a fresh perspective of her profession. “I was working as a fashion and celebrity press photographer feeling unfulfilled,” she details, “and I really wanted to make images that meant something to me.” Anne-Marie therefore found inspiration from the childhood journey she took with her mother and sisters across America. “That was a moment in my life that made a huge impact on me and how I approach life”, Anne-Marie expands. “I really admired the bravery and resilience my mother demonstrated. She seemed constantly in motion to find solutions and keep us all afloat.”
It was these qualities – that of resilience, finding solutions and the ability to (quite literally) keep moving – that Anne-Marie saw mirrored in trucker women, and those that she wanted to platform. “The traditional form of aspirational femininity that we often see in fashion and media is one of the static, adorned women,” Anne-Marie muses. “These trucker women are the opposite of that; fierce, independent and constantly in motion.” And so, overall, Anne-Marie hopes the series will be received as a “redirection of aspirational femininity”.
The images in Sisters of the Road show the truckers in various spaces and places associated with their average working day: in the truck’s cabin, having lunch at a roadside diner, or simply in the vast expanse of the American, cactus-dotted plane lands. Alongside each image in the series, Anne-Marie features a small excerpt from interviews, some detailing how they ended up becoming a trucker, while some telling of their experiences.
Outlining some of the images that currently most resonate with her, Anne-Marie lands upon her portrait of Idella Hansen. Anne-Marie describes Idella, a trucker of 50 years, as a “fascinating” woman to photograph. “She seemed to flip back and forth between a hard fierce intimidating woman and a soft grandmother vibe,” the photographer says. In the image, she stands in amongst harsh foliage, her hands in her pockets, simultaneously exuding confidence and a certain approachability.
Importantly, Anne-Marie sees the project as one that's shared by all involved. Recently, Idella stayed with the photographer in London and attended the launch of the series’ new book at The Photographers Gallery, and the truckers stayed in touch through a Facebook group sharing updates and links. “The project isn’t just mine, it’s theirs too.”
GalleryAnne-Marie Michel: Sisters of the Road (Copyright © Anne-Marie Michel, 2022)
Anne-Marie Michel: Sisters of the Road (Copyright © Anne-Marie Michel, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.