By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
It's no mistake that when you look out at a slew of magazines that you'll see smooth, skinny, gorgeous models adorning them. Sex sells, and looking plastic will sell whatever you want as long as there is a hot girl attached.
Some media outlets feature a "hot babe a day" picture, and there are many Instagram accounts devoted to nude, partially nude, and suggestively nude women. And hell, at this point, there are more women (mostly young females) locally who are willing to take off their clothes for the camera if it means becoming "a model."
The industry creates a picture for women that if you're not thin, you're not worth it. It may not come out and say it outright, but every advertisement, account, and ideology of a "sexy woman" stems from what the media shares and is considered beautiful.
Now, I have been told recently that we are in a "fat girl renaissance" and women with "real curves" are also being worshiped, but in the industry that I have chosen to work with and in, it's a hard one considering that I am a woman.
I take model photographs, fashion photographs, boudoir, and implied photography, so I've seen it all. I've seen the curves, imperfections, cellulite, and puckers on every model. Then when it gets to the internet, it most likely has been requested to be removed, or it is common practice to remove it.
"Make me thinner," they say. "I don't want to have pores." And it's the best kept secret to the men who don't pay attention, that every woman has one variation or more of the imperfections they are hoping to erase through photography. They don't realize it until later, when they are in the presence of a real, living, breathing woman: stretchmarks and all.
Now, a field such as photography, it is male dominated - as in, mostly males are the shooters. I know few women who reach out to models and women to take these types of photos, but when we as women take on a field like this, we want you to feel sexy.
What people fail to realize is behind closed doors, it can become tormenting knowing that you're feeding a beast that you yourself are being attacked by: that you have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. You'll find more women photographers hiding behind the camera rather than in front of it, because they don't feel they measure up to the women they are photographing, even if we are the ones manipulating the canvas with the blur and clone stamp tools.
There are models out there now in mainstream, such as Ashley Graham, who are considered "big girls" or plus size models, and those give us hope that beauty isn't one size fits all, but as we listen to men idolizing women who are a size zero, we know it's not a full on shift in taste (though there are a few men out there that really do want a *real woman, flaws and all*).
And finally, in the age of social media, there are so many women willing to strip for the camera. Women who are being worshiped by their friends and fans who don't realize what they "really look like" because they are not more than a computer manipulated version of themselves.
They look at stripping down as a sense of "empowerment" or find it invigorating. Whether it's for themselves, or secretly for attention, it's beyond us, but the main point is this: 9 times out of 10, what photographers are told to peddle, the silky smooth, perfect skin, and tweaked bodies to meet magazine standards, everyone needs to remember that "magazine standard" isn't realistic.
I am a huge supporter of women being happy and healthy, and to be themselves, and even though I will comply to a request from a client to look a certain way, I do believe that the real you is the best you. Let's hope that one day, as time goes on, that there's a "realism" renaissance bigger than what is out there now, so young girls don't grow up the way we did, thinking that the only way to be desirable is to have a flat belly, zero imperfections, and that they aren't worth it if they are real.