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Images of idealized beauty permeate most of the media we consume, and it has for hundreds of years; throughout decades dominated by shifting aesthetics and beauty standards, the idea of the attractive female has taken numerous forms. Titian’s reclining Venus, for example, is shaped differently from the fashion models of today’s ad campaigns, and African diasporic art offers yet another ideal. More often ... Read More
Warning: This post may not be safe for work.
A few weeks ago, we featured a powerful group of photographs of a breast cancer survivor bearing her beautiful body as a means of encouraging women (and men!) around the world; sadly, the woman was criticized for her near-nudity, causing her to lose over 100 Facebook friends. As a culture, we are surrounded by images of naked, overtly sexualized women, and yet honest portrayals of brave women battling this illness and ... Read More
Trigger warning: mildly graphic imagery
In a startling critique of the ways in which images of women’s bodies are consumed, the artist Jessica Ledwich presents “The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminine,” a collection of surreal photographs documenting the psychological consequences of contemporary beauty standards and practices. For Ledwich, female sexuality is viewed as “threatening” and is therefore oppressed; here, she ... Read More
When the photographer Julia Kozerski lost literally half her body weight, dropping from 338 to under 178 lbs, she cataloged her complex emotional reaction to her physical transformation in a series titled Half. Unlike most most weight loss media aimed at shaming women for our bodies, the artist avoids the display of any cheerful post-weight-loss confidence, forcing viewers to consider the murky and provocative intersections of body image and ... Read More
“Before it happened, I thought about going to the Peace Corps. I wanted to be somewhere, get somewhere bigger. I wanted to grow.” “Every part of me was altered.” Rochester, NY - 2013
Trigger warning: This post contains references to and descriptions of sexual assault.
A few months ago, we featured some images and stories of survivors of rape and sexual assault through the lens of the incredible photographer Lydia Billings’ series ... Read More
The photographer Alex John Beck knows faces; his portraits have been featured in New York Magazine and in the ad images of Ralph Lauren. Facial beauty in the cosmetic industry is often thought to be the result of symmetry; fashion and glamour images are often altered to make a model’s face appear more symmetrical. Beck’s new project Both Sides Of takes that definition of beauty to task; by compositing images from his portfolio, the artist ... Read More
For her undergraduate project Young and Old, the freshman photographer Kelsey Duff photographed two models: the first is 18, and the second is 65. By excluding her subjects’ faces from her close frame, she catalogs the aging process as it might apply to an everywoman figure; despite trademark tattoos and painted toenails, each woman is stripped of clothing and other common markers of individual identity.
Duff’s warm natural ... Read More
After her decades' long work exploring androgyny, the photographer Bettina Rheims saw a shift in the way cultures view gender, and she was inspired by transgendered youth. As transgender issues are only recently beginning to receive the attention they deserve, her 2012 project Gender Studies aims to give voice to the most intimate thoughts on the gendered self. Using Facbook, she reached out to any and all people who “felt different” in regards to ... Read More
The photographer Stephanie Diani, whose exquisite series on burlesque dancers captivated us last week, is also the force behind Tribe of Impossible Perfection, a body of work comprising a rich collection of photographs illustrating the personal and cultural significance of body image. For each portrait, she invited a sitter to divulge their thoughts on their own bodies, asking, “If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?” As ... Read More
Mailet Lopez, Breast Cancer Survivor
The photographer and scuba diver Erena Shimoda was inspired to her series create Underwater Healer— About Face through her work with the website I Had Cancer. Learning the stories of cancer survivors, she recalled her own experience with water as empowering and therapeutic, and staged underwater portrait sessions with the survivors she met.
Lori Stone, Endocervical Adenocarcinoma Survivor
The ... Read More