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The Expose Project
August 14, 2014 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Shedding light on collective beauty, a body project (nsfw)
posted by Marinara (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The real women look better in some ways than those air-brushed versions we see everywhere.
posted by Freedomboy at 12:35 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


When are we going to get beyond this messed up black pantriarchal system?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


The real women look better in some ways than those air-brushed versions we see everywhere.

Well, I mean, yeah. Obviously. Unless you're like really into dolls, real human skin is always going to look better than airbrushed skin. You don't hear a lot of "dat gaussian blur" while walking down the street.
posted by phunniemee at 12:43 PM on August 14 [5 favorites]


this messed up black pantriarchal system?!

Um, what?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:53 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


When people go on about how "real men" prefer "real women" without makeup and shapewear and all that, it just makes me feel even shittier. Like, first I am asked to do x y and z to make myself acceptable, and then I do it, and then I'm called a fool for doing it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:54 PM on August 14 [22 favorites]


If I could wear a device to apply a Gaussian blur to myself I would be all over that.
posted by squinty at 12:57 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


It's the pantriarchal system that's responsible for obesity.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:02 PM on August 14


I was reading Colleen Clark's body image comic this morning and it struck me how much time I spend worrying every day about whether or not my upper arms feel bigger or if I'm getting a double chin when I'm smashing my neck down. And for what? Oh, yeah. Acceptance.
posted by Marinara at 1:08 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Is it pantriarchy... or pantriolatry? I ASK YOU.
posted by Mister_A at 1:12 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


THere's no such thing as real men or real women, showbiz_liz. Just us chickens.
posted by Mister_A at 1:13 PM on August 14


When people go on about how "real men" prefer "real women" without makeup and shapewear and all that, it just makes me feel even shittier.

It shouldn't. But my experience is that it takes "real men" a while to realize they prefer "real women."

That's been the pox of the Internet in general, presenting this standard of beauty and sex that everyone is supposed to aspire to. Look how awesome and hot this porn is, shouldn't we all want this??? And look at these "air-brushed" models, aren't they the absolute pinnacle of beauty? Well, of course they're attractive. But it's a soulless sort of beauty.

My wife has had three kids and looks like some of the women in these photos. But when I look at her, when I'm with her, I think she is perfect; more beautiful now than the day we met, specifically because of who she is, the life she/we experienced, the intense closeness of a bond that we and we alone share. And that bond is possible, and beautiful, no matter who you are or what you look like. That's what age teaches you. Just took too damn long, that was the problem.
posted by kgasmart at 1:20 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Word of advice to (my fellow) men, explaining to women generally what you find attractive, no matter how "real" you may think it is, does absolutely nothing to undermine the damage society does to women's psyches. It may help to tell a specific partner that you think they're beautiful. Telling strange women on the internet what kind of bodies you like? Never helped. Not even once.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:24 PM on August 14 [19 favorites]


It shouldn't. But my experience is that it takes "real men" a while to realize they prefer "real women."

Yeah, not your place to say what should and shouldn't bother anybody.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


When people go on about how "real men" prefer "real women" without makeup and shapewear and all that, it just makes me feel even shittier.

I'm pretty sick over this essentialism where people decide that whole classes of people or things are not "real" for arbitrary reasons. Women who wear lots of makeup are still women. Food with multisyllablic ingredients is still food.
posted by grouse at 1:36 PM on August 14 [8 favorites]


not your place to say what should and shouldn't bother anybody.

You're not the boss of me!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:36 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to compare women to food, it's just another area where I hear this kind of no-true-Scotsman crap often. That doesn't say great things about the sorts of consumerist attitude inherent in declaring which women are "real" or not.
posted by grouse at 1:39 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


If I could wear a device to apply a Gaussian blur to myself I would be all over that.

Nah, unsharp mask all the way!
posted by Jpfed at 1:44 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


You're not the boss of me!

I wear the panties in this house!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:46 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Almost every single person in this gallery has medium-to-large breasts. Of the handful of people who don't, all but one or two are hiding them somehow (turning away from the camera, covering them with their hands.) And literally everybody who didn't was skinny and conventionally attractive to make up for it. Fuck "body positivity" that really means "don't worry, you can still be hot as long as you've got big tits!"
posted by dekathelon at 2:08 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I really like this project, but hate the inevitable "Real Women" talk it induces. Like, compared to what, exactly? If someone has breast implants or is below a certain weight they are a pretend woman?
posted by The Gooch at 2:14 PM on August 14


Exactly, Gooch. I understand the impulse behind things like the first comment in this thread but honestly it's predictable, tiresome, adds nothing, and is kind of insulting.

All women are real women from the rail-thin to the very obese, tall and short, bad skin, good skin, big boobs, tiny boobs, whatever. Calling one set "real" even if its the set of women that get short shrift on TV or in magazines or whatever is counterproductive.
posted by Justinian at 2:20 PM on August 14


I guess I'll be that asshole who hates this. I dislike these sorts of things far more than I dislike images of Photoshopped-to-perfection models. I think they piss me off so much because after all that it's still about beauty. Like, on the one hand yes it's commendable and even necessary to show that human bodies come in an endless variety. But on the other hand, I look at these and I just get this message of "Not only are you not a flawless plastic model" (which is fine, I never particularly wanted to be one) "but you're also not beautiful in an alternative, everyone-is-beautiful way."

I never bought into the whole Sassy Magazine aesthetic as a teenager for this reason. I never compared myself to the perfect models in Seventeen, I knew better than that. But when I also didn't measure up to the more realistic and approachable yet also attractive looks, that made me feel inadequate somehow. Silly, but true.

I guess I just wish something about women's worth would revolve around their worth unrelated to beauty, conventional or not. Some of us will never be attractive in the Photoshopped actress way OR in the "artsy pictures of real people" way, but can't our minds be the relevant point, or our talents, or something that doesn't involve photos of our body parts?

The message that says "You're not enough if you're not anorexic, 18, and blurred to oblivion" is so, so much easier to ignore or laugh off than the one that reinforces how much it really is all about looks by saying "Oh don't worry, you look different but you still look beautiful." Because some of us KNOW that we do NOT.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 2:21 PM on August 14 [29 favorites]


I guess I just wish something about women's worth would revolve around their worth unrelated to beauty, conventional or not. Some of us will never be attractive in the Photoshopped actress way OR in the "artsy pictures of real people" way, but can't our minds be the relevant point, or our talents, or something that doesn't involve photos of our body parts?

This, a thousand times. I feel like every single effort along these lines to reinforce "real beauty" through candid photoshoots just plays into this pornified, commercial culture of sexual self-objectification where every woman pretty much needs to worry all the time about whether somebody (including herself) finds her hot.

Implicit in "Feel great about yourself, 'cause you're beautiful just the way you are!" is "Derive your sense of self-worth from being physically beautiful." And since when, from the classical era onward, has that ever been a great idea?
posted by Bardolph at 2:33 PM on August 14 [6 favorites]


I need more plusses to give to ocksay_uppetpay.
posted by Mister_A at 2:43 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Because she eloquently, poignantly crystallized the unease I had about this. I was looking at these pictures thinking, "these are pictures of nude women, without any context." I love the human form, male, female, etc. but it seemed disingenuous to look at these photos as somehow liberating or positive or feminist when mostly they were just mildly titillating (to me). The only message I got was that it can be enjoyable to look at naked women, which is something that I've suspected for some while now.
posted by Mister_A at 2:47 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


But it's not really about you, though, or us. It's a chance for women--women who do not look like typical women in your glossy photos for mass-market titillation--to say "hey, this is my body, it's different and it's mine, I think I'm beautiful, and I'm here forcing you to consider my not-comercially-saleable body in a sexual way."
posted by phunniemee at 2:58 PM on August 14


But it's not really about you, though, or us. It's a chance for women--women who do not look like typical women in your glossy photos for mass-market titillation--to say "hey, this is my body, it's different and it's mine, I think I'm beautiful, and I'm here forcing you to consider my not-comercially-saleable body in a sexual way."

Really? Because as I said above, none of those women's bodies resemble mine. It's a chance for women to say "fuck you, I got mine," and it's a chance for the project as a whole to say "Don't worry, you can be hot too! Unless you don't have boobs. If so, you better fucking be thin or else you don't exist to us or in any context of attractiveness, uggo."
posted by dekathelon at 3:05 PM on August 14


Did we look at the same pictures? There was a huge, huge range of body types and breast sizes in there (even at least one woman with implants!!), including larger women with small breasts. Things it was notably missing: obvious nonconforming genitalia, body hair, someone extremely obese. Otherwise I found it fairly well-encompassing.
posted by phunniemee at 3:12 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I looked at every single person in that gallery. The range of breast sizes ran the gamut from a few Bs to many, many DDs with a few all-around-petite people thrown in. The most likely explanation is that you are conditioned to see people with medium-sized breasts, such as B-cups, as "small." Shit, even fucking Hollywood is better about this (Kristen Stewart, Keira Knightley, etc.) than something that purports to make all women feel better about their own bodies.
posted by dekathelon at 3:29 PM on August 14


I guess I just wish something about women's worth would revolve around their worth unrelated to beauty, conventional or not. Some of us will never be attractive in the Photoshopped actress way OR in the "artsy pictures of real people" way, but can't our minds be the relevant point, or our talents, or something that doesn't involve photos of our body parts?

I'm so with you. I'm all for anything that helps people feel beautiful, and if this project makes the women who participated in it feel that way, that's wonderful. But speaking for myself, I do not find most of the women pictured beautiful, just as I would not find my own body beautiful were it photographed and depicted in this series. And because this has been the case for most of my life, I have spent a long time trying to find the beauty in women whose bodies are like mine, and have failed, and have felt worse as a result. I have looked in the mirror and thought that if I could just look at myself with different eyes and see my body as beautiful, that then I would be the happy person I was meant to be. But what actually made me a lot happier was when I stopped chasing beauty around trying to find it everywhere. I'm probably always going to find conventionally-attractive bodies more beautiful than my own, more pleasurable to look at. But that's no longer the main axis upon which I base my feelings about myself, or about other people.

There was a time when I envied anyone whose body was more conventionally beautiful than mine, and felt pity for anyone whose body was less. Now it's just another piece of information.
posted by Aubergine at 4:02 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Telling strange women on the internet what kind of bodies you like?

I've started thinking of it as Sensitive Guy Catcalling:

"Hey baybeee, you're looking real today."
"Oooh, gimme summa those sexy flaws and imperfections."
"Bring those real woman curves over here, honey."

It's not on the street corner, but the entitlement of informing strangers about how your sexual desires apply to them is similar.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:03 PM on August 14 [4 favorites]


These are great. Such a sense of fun in these photos. Very refreshing to see these women enjoying themselves, their bodies and the experience in a different way than you usually see.
posted by iotic at 5:07 PM on August 14


This literally made my day. Nothing like seeing truly happy people to lift your spirits.
posted by tommasz at 5:10 PM on August 14


Shit, can't we enjoy the way we look AND derive our self-worth from our accomplishments? I don't see how it's a zero-sum game.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:32 PM on August 14


The funny thing is, it's not like anyone has the actual option between a "real woman" and an airbrushed image. There are only real women.
posted by threeants at 8:24 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


What strikes me about these pictures (and perhaps I didn't at them all closely enough) is how their definition of a woman appears to encompass only relatively photogenic cis women. If we're going to celebrate women's body diversity, shouldn't that include all women, even those who weren't born with a female body? It seems a bit of a glaring omission.
posted by winterhill at 3:38 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


I'm struggling with this lately. For background, I'm a hetero cis lady, and white at that. I wear clothes on the smaller end of the range and before I got sick I was always underweight. I've spent my life as someone that strangers felt ok with telling that maybe I should gain some weight, or should be eating a cheeseburger instead of a salad. So these campaigns were always a bit ouchy for me in that they highlighted that "real men" shouldn't want me, or at least shouldn't want me unless like the Velveteen Rabbit I magically became real.

For the current now shitty shit. Makeup. Which is like the photoshop of real life, except makeup fucks up your my real life skin.

I'm wearing makeup two or three days a week because I'm going on dates (which is awesome) and when I go on dates with makeup things are different than when I don't wear makeup (which is not awesome). These are men who are self identified liberal, some vegetarian, many "social justicey," some of these men are losing their hair and shorter than me, which I naively thought would give me a better shot, because they might understand the pressure of an appearance focused life. The more makeup I wear, and the more times they see me in it, the better the response. Even from the guys who say that they prefer "real women," or "natural women," or women who engage in {some physical activity not conducive to keeping makeup in place}.

I'm not even very good at applying makeup. I don't do any of that highlighting or contouring I keep seeing tutorials for, because I can't figure out what shape my face is or what I'm supposed to be highlighting. But woe betide me if I go on a date without makeup. It feels worse now that I've had a taste of dating with face paint. The two men who have only seen me with makeup are still calling for more dates even though I've told them I'm not interested and haven't responded in days or weeks. All but one of the five or six men who saw me without makeup in the past three months have disappeared. Maybe this is all coincidence. I am, after all, a sample size of one, and the plural of anecdote is still not data (except that as an anthropologist, I know that it can be). Maybe I'm just imagining that appearance is the problem. But it sure feels like it is on a lot of days.

So seeing all these photos of "non-standard women" being paraded to show the rest of us that they (and we) are beautiful kind of gets my hackles up these days. I'm an ok looking woman, in an admittedly lucky body that is constantly policed from outside and now I'm too worked up and mad (yes, emotional! Not rational or logical! Go gender essentialism!) to remember what the original point was that I wanted to make.

Oh. Right. I stopped in to say, it's still hard. It's still hard even when people are telling you, explicitly or implicitly that you are beautiful. Because there always seems to be some shitty subtext. "even without makeup" or "for a fat girl" or "for a skinny girl" or "but your metabolism will go to shit when you hit thirty, so enjoy it now" or "but you just don't know when to shut up and let people admire you instead of having your opinions all over the place" or "your body looks just like I like my women, with some meat on their bones" or "because I know those curves came from making my babies, so they're virtuous curves and not lazy slovenly fatty mcfatterson fat butt grossness."

And they're never admiring my problem solving skills, or my persistence. The top two comments I get are "you have such a lovely smile" and "You have the softest skin I've ever felt." Which I guess is better than never getting any compliments.
posted by bilabial at 4:24 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


And they're never admiring my problem solving skills, or my persistence.

That's awful that nobody ever does that in addition to the other. I guess I've been relatively lucky in having more than one aspect of my life acknowledged by others.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:03 AM on August 15


All I get out of this is good for them, I guess. Which is fine, because yeah, sure, good for them. But I don't understand how it contributes to anything more than that, although maybe it's helpful for people who can see some of themselves in any of those people? I can't, so I probably don't even need to be sharing my dumb feelings about it.
posted by Corinth at 1:35 PM on August 15


I have mixed feelings about "beautiful"; I tend to think that the vast majority of people are beautiful if lit and shot right (man, another soft fill light to hit the background would have helped a give a little more depth to the bodies and help with skin tone shadows around the edges) but at the very least everyone's body is interesting. They're all distinct and idiosyncratic.

And yeah, these women do seem to be having fun. Which is the best part. I'd wager that a lot of them get a ton of shit over their bodies, so it's nice to see them enjoying them and enjoying being photographed.
posted by klangklangston at 2:20 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


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