Iâ€™ve Had My Cake Now
â€œA woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. [...] From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. [...] She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another. One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object -- and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.â€? - John Berger, Ways of Seeing
There is an overwhelming amount of artificiality within our society, especially in regards to the portrayal of beauty from media outlets. This has caused an affliction of anxiety about body image, having the greatest affect on young girls and their development into womanhood. The ‘one size fits all’ representation of women has been damaging in most aspects of self-esteem, and only acknowledges a limited version of beauty, which mainly perpetuates that you can only be desirable if you are young, thin, white, toned, hair-free, large-breasted, long-legged, non-disabled body. This conditions members of society to identify this as the only ‘normal’ and people who do not fit into this box of acceptability tend to be victims of the male gaze. The constant reinforcement of valuing women’s bodies before praising their achievements and personalities leads to emphasising to the younger generations of women that looks are all that matters, even though the ‘ideal’ beauty standards are unattainable. We are always doomed to fall short.
This work presents a selection of women who all possess aspects that fit the notion of what the media deems an ‘idealized’ woman in one or more ways. They tend to be seen as the lucky ones, although all have struggled with body image issues at some point in their life despite this. The subjects here are put into two different situations, which provoke contrasting reactions: it is made obvious that the women are in an artificial studio setting, which causes them to expose their vulnerability and insecurities. It is important to note how society would interpret these images; will they be sexualized or criticized? It tends to be both, which is unfair. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
Final book for Reflections on the Real project