Photographer Laia Abril created a series entitled ‘Femme Love’ (Figure 1). These photographs immediately challenge the representations of women because they are about a gay couple. The ideal of being a housewife was to be a wife to a husband and a mother to his children however; Abril’s series shows two women living together.
‘A project that began with the intention of depicting notions of femininity in young lesbian women but which developed into an intimate exploration of a single couple’s love. Mox and Jenny…[ignore] the prejudice and prying eyes that the ‘otherness’ of their relationship attracts.’ [i]
The series has no sense of ‘Otherness’, what we see is two equal people living together harmoniously. Visually they challenge the glamorous and girly appearances that are shown in the 1950s adverts or some modern day make-up campaigns on notions of being a woman. The couple wear more masculine clothing and hairstyles; they are shown to play sport and have tattoos and to study. What we see is a beautiful relationship where two people are themselves and do not feel the need to conform to the traditional representations of what a woman is. The imagery demonstrates a new acceptance that is arising of both gay couples and women.
To conclude, popular culture and Fine Art shows women being ‘simultaneously looked at and displayed’ in many ways, actively contributing to the discourse surrounding them. Seen as the other, women have been negatively stereotyped through imagery throughout time. Representations have had effects on society and distorted perceptions of the gender. However, as we socially progress and become more open-minded we have been introduced to new imagery, which challenges these representations and the “Otherness” surrounding women. Events such as the World Wars and Women’s right to vote have acted as a catalyst in encouraging positive thought and we can see a new visual representation coming forth, one of real women being who ever they want to be.
‘The free woman is just being born.’[ii]
A change in advertisement can be seen; The ‘Nike Women’ advert ‘ Make Yourself featuring Allyson Felix, Julia Mancuso and Sodia Boutella’ shows sportswomen pushing themselves physically and mentally, displaying endurance and strength. Army Job adverts also now feature women but not to encourage a temporary role. Both of these examples show contemporary women to be strong and useful diminishing the idea that they cannot exert themselves physically or that they serve as glamorous sex objects who are not remotely career driven. It has become more socially acceptable that woman can do these things and so they are represented in popular culture as doing these things.
Films such as the Hunger Games (2012), The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo (2009/2011) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) use female protagonists who are independent and strong minded, they contradict the stereotypical roles and show power. The characters are complex and intelligent and show conflicting interests to, for example the 1950s representation of a woman. Television shows similar characters, which challenge the representations of women. The News Room (2012-) shows intelligent, career focused women such as Sloan Sabbath (Olivia Munn) in a high pressure, demanding work environment. Dexter (2006-) also shows females in the higher roles of police hierarchy.
A new representation has started to appear which goes against the flawless photo shopped imagery of female perfection; this is the idea of the real woman. No7 launched a campaign (Figure 1) with advertisements using no airbrushing techniques, that shows the real result of their product - without the use of surgically altered, visually enhanced models, the consumer sees real women. This is a positive thing, which encourages women to love who they naturally are. Dove adverts have also contributed to showing real women in their campaigns when featuring all natural body and skin types encouraging the idea that these are real women and they are beautiful even if they do not conform to traditional stereotypes of beauty. Dove also created the ‘Evolution of Beauty’ campaign that highlighted the sad extremes advertising goes to in order to create the unrealistic perfection fed to women everyday through media, using the tagline
‘No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.’[i]
Next shoots booked:
Monday and Wednesday next week.
I had a tutorial today, Jamie was with me with the idea of going back into the studio. He also suggested I look at how I want to present my final work.
I have been thinking about this during the easter. When I was in hobby craft I came across a frame which I quite liked with a good size. My initial idea was to look at a dark wood. This is something I will carry on considering in-between shooting. Once I have my final edit I will need to look at how I want them printed on what paper and chose a frame which will show the image off well.