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Beautiful Bodies

September 9, 2013

I’ve been following Jade Beall’s “A Beautiful Body” Project for the past few months. The photography project focuses on women’s bodies and the celebration of women’s bodies, just the way they are. No photoshop, no hiding the stretch marks or scars, no thinning, no lifting – just the way women are in every day life.

The photographer is a distant associate and has been shooting these for the past couple of years. Only the past few days, her work has begun to gain media attention. 

Just below the link of her recent article was a post from Vogue magazine about some cosmetic cream and it featured two nude women (the photograph and the content, surprisingly, was removed after a few minutes and no link could be found to it on their website either). But in the few minutes it was there, juxtaposition of the two images hit me quite strongly. Here is a post about tanning cosmetics using natural products or some such thing – no reason why there had to be two nude women (very artistically shot, of course) while another photographer is trying very hard to depict women as beautiful, just the way they are.

There has been a lot of debate about how women are depicted by the media and in the fashion fraternity. Some small circles even tried to get a law against using models below a particular age and weight. 

But most people who I know in the fashion world will object to using ‘healthy’ models. I’m not talking fat here. I’m talking about women who resemble the women on the street.

The reason – this is fashion and it is supposed to have an aspirational value. And these clothes do look better with the right make up and the right frame, which is the thinner frame. It is like it is hanging in your closet and it would look awesome there. 

Photographs by people like Jade would remain just that – a photography project. While scores of women around the world might appreciate the project and even volunteer to be shot, they go back to poring over the pages of fashion magazines and wishing they had better bodies.

We all wish we had better bodies, even the ones who say they are comfortable with what they have. There are moments when you look at a dress and wish you were a little taller, a little fatter, a little thinner, a little fairer, a little less hairier… And if you the pundits, they would say that “this is how it is supposed to be”.

Well groomed has come to include a whole bunch of things that are barely even relevant. Frieda’s bushy eyebrows made news and a movie, But bushy eyebrows were out of vogue and frowned upon till supermodels such as Cara Delevinge and a parade of actresses made it the ‘in’ thing for 2013. Tons of women around the world are probably cheering and throwing their tweezers into the fire. Everyone knows that one of the most painful things about grooming is getting your eyebrows done. You can live with the pain for your upperlip, but the eyebrow… that delicate, thin skin about your eye that is meant as a thin shield? But somewhere down the line, somebody who never had much eyebrow hair made it ‘cool’ to have pencil thin eyebrows. And the rest of the women around the world followed suit, eyes squinting in pain. 

It remains funny and a mystery how and why women follow these painful fashion trends so painstakingly and ignore their real selves completely.

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