Body Images, the body you wished you had...

This was a 1994 project inspired by my own struggles to accept my body and by the struggles I found in many of my models. Much of my photography involves working with nude models, and for quite a while I've been intrigued by what people like and don't like about their bodies. I often ask my models what they like and don't like about their bodies before I start making photographs, to make sure that my photograph doesn't accidentally accentuate exactly what they dislike. I learned early on that guessing at this doesn't work very well. One model may be quite heavy, and yet be more concerned about whether a tiny scar on her face might show. Another may be as thin as a fashion model but be convinced that her stomach isn't flat enough. The worst misconception I had was that men would be less vain about their appearance. Quite the contrary, men offer the same concerns as women about not being in good enough shape, and they are somewhat less likely to be willing to face the camera in spite of their concerns. As I began to learn to manipulate photographs digitally, I decided to make some investigation into our body images. I proceeded to photograph a variety of people both clothed and nude, and then manipulate the nude image as per their description of how they wishedthey looked, then collage the clothed and

 

the revised nude into one image. The stories are varied. One model wished for a breast-lift, one wished to be free of the scars on her abdomen. One wished to lose 15 pounds AND some scars to become a Venus, one was content with her weight but wished for more calm and tranquility in her life. One couldn't bear to be photographed nude but did wish to be transformed into a thin and strong goddess figure. This was a relief to me, as initially she asked to be photographed as a refrigerator (to illustrate how she felt about her weight). The only male who could be persuaded to participate at that time preferred to supply me with the nude photograph, taken before time had wrought the changes he wished he could lose. (Since the images have been on the web, I've had a great many new volunteers, but I feel the time has passed for me to work on this particular project. I do thank all you volunteers though!)This project has produced more feedback from viewers than any of my other work - obviously a great many of us share concerns over this issue.



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