Recently, I was admitted to Model Mayhem, a website where models and photographers and every other artist in between (for hair, makeup, retouching, etc.) gather and collaborate. I have been looking through many photographers' and models' portfolios for inspiration, and while I have found some excellent images, I have found significantly more that I seem to have a problem with.
I have seen the interior of several guys' houses (because I'm a slut and sleep in a different bed every night. Obviously). Before I even look at the walls I can tell a man's bedroom from a woman's. All the furniture tends to be against the walls. No sense of warmth or welcoming or homeyness is present - the room is just a square and its vacancy dull. What belongings they have are the only indication of their personality. Perhaps it's judgmental to walk into someone's home and to think one thing or another based on what you see, but it's good material to guess the kind of person they might be. For instance, if there are brown-red spots on the steps, long scratches on the floor or on doors too high for a kitteh to reach, a large deep-freezer, and no couch at all in the living room, run away. Consider screaming, too. If, however, you walk into a room filled with artwork, bookcases, plants, and big comfortable chairs, a murder would be harder to conduct since there's more on which to leave evidence. Unless there's a revolving bookcase, in which case you're screwed.
I seem to have strayed from my initial topic.
If you go to a man's home, you'll be lucky to find a plant - even a fake one - or artwork at all. I don't mean I hope to see Raft of the Medusa or Napoleon Visiting the Plague House at Jaffa, as interesting as that would be.
But I suppose it depends on your definition of art, and after seeing some of the artwork on Model Mayhem, I'm getting a better understanding of what I consider artistic. The most common artwork that I've seen in a guy's home, not necessarily in their bedroom, are posters of scantily clad or naked models. The same appears on their computers and iPods. Sure, these women are a kind of beauty - the kind of beauty society leans toward. The women are thin, full-breasted, often shiny from oils and special lighting, they're hairless in all the "right" places, and, of course, they're flawless. They are also digitally enhanced, which brings in another unfair advantage to any real woman who walks into the room. Many of the images I see on Model Mayhem are the same.
I didn't know how I felt about guys displaying naked women wherever and whenever they please. I suppose because I saw so many of this kind of image in one place at one time, it hit me harder.
I felt uncomfortable. I felt like I was looking at soft porn. Sometimes I was. I began to wonder where the creative was in this image, where the artist's expression was in that one. Maybe it was there and I just couldn't see it. I thought about what would happen if I asked an artist why he/she chose to portray a woman this way, and I predict they would say something along the lines of, "It's a celebration of the female form. Women are beautiful, and I want to document their beautiful naked features." But only if the naked features belong to the epitome of female "perfection," right?
I'm getting really tired of soft porn being shoved in my imperfect, flaw-ridden face. (Ever seen an ad for Guess?) I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I've realized that because I'm single, I like my body more. Now that nobody sees my body, it's easier for me to like it. I don't have to worry about someone comparing my body to another, to a model's, to a porn star's. I don't have to worry. I like my body. I love it. I think I'm fucking beautiful. (That was hard to say, but it's true.) I think my flaws are actually all right, and even cool. But I know that if someone was to see my body and my flaws, I would have to read out my list of warnings, along with apologies and explanations as to why I don't look like Megan Fox. "I think you're beautiful because of what's on the inside" is what would come next. I don't want to hear that. I don't want to be seen as beautiful because I'm awesome. I already know I am (Yes, we are feeling cocky today).
I want to be seen as beautiful because I am. ON THE OUTSIDE. Don't tell me I'm beautiful because of what's on the inside, damn it, because my insides are quite disgusting: all red and pink and squishy and slimy.
If the pictures of naked women had not seemed like pictures that were just of naked women, for the sake of naked women, for the sake of round bums and titties, I would not have felt so uncomfortable.
This image is gorgeous:
I would buy this and hang it up on my wall. (Her portfolio is NSFW.) I was going to ask you to compare some, but then I came across some real soft porn and decided you could figure out what I mean for yourselves. I don't want porn on my Glob.
As disturbed as I am by some of the images, they have inspired me to start a project. I want to take pictures of women and portray them not as weak, vulnerable, sex objects, as they often appear, but rather strong, powerful, individuals. You could say I'm going to get my feminist on, and you would be right. I'm tired of women in the 21st century being shown not as they are, but as men want to see them. The 21st century! And yes, men. The intended audience will not be men specifically, and the content will not focus on sex. I want to take pictures of sexy women without making the audience think immediately of sex. I didn't say it was going to be easy, and I don't know if it makes sense, but it makes sense to me, and I know what I want to do.
I'm calling women of all ages, races, and body types to go on a photo shoot with me, and to show that you're a real woman of the world, that you're beautiful, and that you're as tired of society's unrealistic portrayal of women as I am.
Maybe we'll wear gorilla masks.