Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrating the Female Form- How Not to Do It

I was browsing casting calls this past weekend when I came across a call for bodyscaping. Bodyscaping, if you're not familiar is photography done of parts of bodies. Accentuating curves and lines like you might a landscape. The rise and fall of the breasts, the curve of the back, the lines of arms and legs or jawlines. It seems to me that most people simply don't know how to bodyscape a fat person. When I look at fat people, especially nude photos as from adipositivity, I can see the beautiful lines and curves and think of how amazing it would be to capture this or that just so. Dramatic lighting, shadows falling off into light across dips and peaks. There's just so much on a fat person's body to bodyscape. So much interest as the body changes with every move or shift of position.

Okay, that was a small side rant. What I really wanted to talk about was the casting call and the requirements for it. As usual the artist wrote a couple of paragraphs about what he wanted. He wanted to celebrate the female form, capture it's beauty. Only toned, curvy women may apply.  Let me make it clear, you cannot celebrate the female form by selecting a single body type and only celebrating it. To do so is to reduce womanhood and femininity and the female form to strict limitations and guidelines. To say "celebrate the female form! As long as that form is toned, yet curvy". To celebrate the female form, and I'm using the term loosely here since most projects like this are more or less one more attempt to sexualize the female body, not celebrate it, you need diversity. You need women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Because that is the female form. It's not one body type, it's all body types. Celebrating bodies should include all bodies.

The issue of sexualization is an important one in a lot of nude art. While many artists are careful to make a distinction between pornographic photographs and those which are considered artistic, the goal tends to stay along the lines of creating  a sensual photograph, and how on earth could you possibly create a sensual photograph of a fat person? Even considering non sensual nude art the goal is beauty and/or emotion. Again, how could you possibly create a beautiful photograph of a fat person? How could you elicit any emotions other than disgust? 

Thankfully artists like this aren't the only ones that exist. I've certainly encountered photographers who were interested in photographing a fat body simply because it's different. Because eventually when you have models with only one body type they all begin to look the same. And that's good. That's progress. To have people recognize that other bodies exist, that they can be shown, and that they can look beautiful and artistic and interesting. But look, artists, can we not hide behind some bullshit faux feminist "celebration of the female form" copout? That's not what you're doing, you're celebrating the hetero male expectation of the female form.


  1. I totally agree. If you are going to celebrate the female form, celebrate it for it's variety of body types, not just one! And I am still confused on what curvy means anyway. Some people think it's skinny except for boobs and butt. I've seen people refer to Victoria's Secret models as curvy (they have a nice vase shape, I think that should be considered curvy) and some people think Beyonce is curvy. Some people think Oprah is curvy, and some people think that a 600 lb woman is curvy. So, what does he mean by curvy????

  2. loveashley- i'm fairly sure these types of people see curvy as thin an hourglass shaped. It's such a narrow version of women. Not just thin, but thin with a very specific body shape!

  3. I'm an 18 year old 170lb male with 'reasonable' attractiveness I would like to think. Personally, I hate conforming. I hate the kind of person who wouldn't go out with a bigger girl in fear of what others would think. Every girl can be hot, and if you won't give someone a chance just because of their body type I'd call it cowardess. Which is along the same lines as this article, because at the end of the day everyone seems to fear what society will think. It's disgusting. People are too ready to be controlled and look towards someone else, in the words of Greg Graffin; 'to tell tell them what to be, tell them what to say, tell them what wear, tell them how to act and think and compel others to do the same until the world is all like them'.

    I don't blog but I really enjoy reading yours. Please do keep it up :)