People’s flaws and mistakes fascinate me; all these characteristics of human nature we attempt to hide. There’s such broad range of these “things”that make us feel this way, and I want to expose them using raw and honest imagery. Imperfections are ever occurring; they define who we are. I dislike the fact we as humans attempt to hide or deny these inevitable flaws. I feel as a photographer that these common occurrences have been neglected; we are so caught up in the idea of perfectionism we forget to come back and capture the reality of humanity. In today’s society, body image has been proven to be a major issue due to the medias portrayal of the feminine appearance. Everyday, we are heavily exposed to digitally manipulated images of females in the media as seen as being the ideal, as well as suggesting our self-worth should be based on appearance. Feminine appearance means we are expected to remove body hair, to wear make-up as well as skirts and dresses, to show breasts, or not, and to bleed silently during menstruation. When we do not conform to these expectations we often feel criticized and judged. These “flaws” and“imperfections” of natural occurring phenomenon should be seen as an inevitable component of human nature that shape who we are.
Recently, artist Rupi Kaur released a series of images on social media presenting the struggles of a woman going through her menstrual cycle. The series was a part of an art project aiming tobreak what she called “taboos” (“a social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place or thing.”) around menstruation. The images were removed under community guidelines despite no nudity shown. Kaur, outraged, stated, “By highlighting these distinct moments of the cycle that women go through will be forcing viewers to look and tackle their fears head on. They will be forced to feel uncomfortable, in hopes that by the end of the visual experience they realize these are just regular, normal processes that can’t be helped, and they are just as normal as any other bodily process.”
Similarly, another photographer, Petra Collins, also faced the same dilemma, her Instagram account being deleted after posting an image of her waist down wearing a bathing suite displaying her pubic hair. Collins commented that, “Unlike the other 5 million bathing suite images on Instagram, mine depicted my own unaltered state – an unshaven bikini line. No nudity, violence, pornography, unlawful, hateful or infringing imagery. To those who reported me, to those who are disgusted by my body, to those who commented "horrible" or "disgusting" on an image of me, I want you to thoughtfully dissect your own reaction to these things, please think about why you felt this way, why this image was so shocking, why you have no tolerance for it. Hopefully you will come to understand that it might not be you thinking these things but society telling you how to think.”
These photographers as well as many others have exposed the harsh reality of societal expectations by showing natural phenomenon in hopes of realization that it is the norm, as every female experiences it. Another feminist photographer, Marilyn Minter, whom photographs females pubic hair, highlighted the importance of works by Kaur and Collins “as well as anyone else who's work is involved in the feminine grotesque, that is a backlash to the cultural ideal that is perpetuated on women, especially young women. The industry creates these impossible robotic ideals through Photoshopping and editing the human body. This type of work is an important counterweight to the images we're inundated with every day". Feminist artist, Doreen Gardener explores this idea further, claiming that "The idea of feminine and grotesque in the negative sense existing as a combined term encourages us to despise biological truths regarding physical progress into womanhood which includes pubic hair, stains, menstrual blood, secretions, and other pungent qualities. Many cultures have envied or demonised this bleeding, which is not of an injury, but rather embodies the power of maternity." Why must females hide what we are “blessed with” at birth? Female censorship has therefore come under scrutiny recently, arguing that female nipples must beblurred or banned in imagery. Director, Lina Esco’s documentary: “Free the Nipple” has awoken the world to this injustice, as she poses the question: “What is more obscene: violence or a nipple?” Despite females being sexually objectified, by censoring their nipples we are also constraining them as unequal.
By presenting shocking or“disturbing” imagery, I am hoping to have the ability to present these processes as the norm, therefore diminishing gender standards.