Does This Pose Make Me Look Absurd?
January 4, 2012
Most of us are aware of how fashion magazines and lipstick commercials too often depict women: We’re reduced to overly sexualized, dolled-up mannequins in skimpy clothes and lots of makeup. And the result is harmful: women are constantly exposed to commercial ideals of beauty and impossibly Photoshopped models, which can be extremely damaging to their body image. One way to combat this over-sexualization is comprehensive sexual education, which teaches young women about healthy body image and that they can combat sexualization.
Artist Yolanda Dominguez has come up with another, more unusual way to tackle the problem. Her latest project puts those unrealistic, sexualized magazine images in new perspective. “Poses” captures the ridiculous nature of many magazine photos and uses the humorous result to share an important message. Dominguez had women “pose” to recreate the positions and expressions seen in fashion spreads, then displayed the original photos and remakes side by side online. Her subjects are far from high fashion; the women are certainly much more like our moms and neighbors than supermodels. And her settings are everyday scenes.
The result is incredibly bizarre. Put into a real-world context, the images become ridiculous. It’s almost impossible to believe that they were shot to sell handbags and high heels in the first place. Dominguez makes us consider how lots of make-up and special lighting have made us forget that these poses are unnatural to the point of absurdity. That we hold them as a standard makes little sense—they’re impossible.
Dominguez hopes we will also wonder why men in magazines are rarely shown in such absurd poses. According to the artist, in photo shoots men emphasize their strength, standing up with broad shoulders and straight backs. In other words, they seem fit, while women—often emaciated, contorted, and wearing sour expressions—are portrayed as exactly the opposite. It would appear that the body image magazines promote in women is not only sexualized but also simply unhealthy. Whether or not this double standard exists across all fashion spreads, Dominguez’s chosen images of women seem to speak for themselves. “We don’t identify with this type of woman—we are much more,” explains Dominguez.