real women

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by petemillis, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. In advertiding, most of the women are skinny bints. And here most of the
    people who photograph nudes/semi-nudes/scantilly dressed just photograph
    skinny bints with supposed perfect bodies. Some people photograph the fuller
    figure, and in advertising more use is being made of full figured women in an
    attempt to say "even big women are ok". But even these fuller women have
    bodies that are just filled out versions of the "perfect" bodied women. Then
    of course people photograph pregnant women too.

    BUT BUT BUT what abot the REAL women who have had kids and are left with
    nature's signs of this - i.e. the deflated boobs that have been used for
    breast feeding, the stretched and now deflated stomach, possibly the varicose
    veins. These are REAL women and probably account for what, 80% (guess) of
    the female population. Why do people (perfect models, ad agencies, glamout
    photographers etc) give the impression that these real women are repulsive and
    their bodies shouldn't be shown? It just pisses me off that the larger women
    they show just look like childless women who have sat behind a desk for too
    long eating chocolate and not exercising. I know some people photograph FAT
    morbidly obese women, but these don't reflect yer normal real woman who has
    had kids.

    What's going on? I'm thinking about doing a project featuring lots of women
    who have had kids. I'm sure it's prbably been done before and would welcome
    directions to examples if poss.

    Cheers folks.
  2. Well, the Dove campaign is pro-age apparently which is good. But the women, although older, and some larger, still look perfect, just not like sterotypical advertising models - like Dove are saying even you oldies can look perfect if you use our stuff. It's good, and I think Dove are doing the right thing. BUT, I'm trying to say how about women who are just as they are? Women who have had kids, drooped and gone saggy and baggy in a few places, but are happy for what they are. The Dove campaign (like any advertising) is saying this is how you should aspire to be. But why? Why can't we just celebrate the saggy baggy mothers' bodies for what they are? Why should these women still be made to feel as if they're best not exposing their bodies?
  3. Look around at TV & movies. We are subjected to a non stop variety of "beautiful people". In fact there are no longer any odd looking actors, only pretty boys and girls. This means that men like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre, etc could never be stars in today's "looks are everything world". This is all kind of sad when you think about it.
  4. You do know skinny women are just as real as fat ones, right? Kids or no kids, right?

    Models are there to sell product. Aesthetics apply.
  5. "We are subjected to a non stop variety of "beautiful people"."

    OH, the HORROR!
  6. Joseph, of course I do. I'm not talking specifically about the use of the perfect body image to sell a product though. What I'm trying to get at is why women who have signs of having had kids are so poorly represented when it comes to modelling where there bodies are exposed, even though perhaps 80% (a guess) of women have children? How many photographers here who take glamour shots are working for some advertising company trying to sell products? If you look through these forums, or any other where there are glamour shots, how many women do you see who just look like normal mums? How many stretch marks do you see? How many pairs of deflated boobs? These are all signs marked on these women by nature so why are we so scared of showing them? Is it that there's a lack of models of this type because these women are afraid of their bodies? Is this because of advertising or other pressure that makes them feel in some way inferior? Is it because photographers are so shallow that they are not prepared to photograph women like this? How many of you have wives and friends who would be prepared to model for you, but you don't like their stretch marks and so on, and so you would rather photograph some younger firmer version? Can you, as photographers who are supposed to be at one with people, not bear to look at these women with nature's signs of motherhood?
    Hmmm, I'm intrigued! Of course aesthetics apply - but there's more to aesthetics in a photograph than just the appearance of a young nubile model is there not?
  7. Pete: so, the first question would be... how many post-maternity women have you successfully convinced to pose for YOU in a way that specifically exhibits the stresses their bodies have been through? How many mothers do you know - no matter how proud they are of having had their children - that are looking for ways to show off stretch marks? For the same reason that not many women dress specifically to show off chub or stretch marks, or choose to go to the office without, um... some support in one form or another... well, that's probably the same degree to which most aren't interested in having a photographer showcase that maternal wear and tear.
    Life beats us up. Entropy is certainly real. But people DO tend to tidy up their living rooms before guests come over. A mom who's been fighting the good fight with a house full of young kids all day is still going to want to have her hair a little more put together when you pull out the camera - and it's because she IS interested in how she looks, and in making the most of the features she'd like you to see and dwell upon. If the prevailing sensibility among post-kid moms leans that direction, of course that's going to drive the general sense that most photographers (um, all of whom have moms, you know?) have about how/whether to approach them as subjects.
    I'm a 43 year old guy. I don't have the waistline I had when I was 20, either. If a photographer wanted to dwell on ME (obviously, a troubled photographer), I think I'd also recommend trying to capture whatever fleeting wisp of wisdom might be showing on my face, rather than on the personal gravity laboratory that is my torso.
  8. I have no preference when it comes to photographing people, whether they're nineteen year old girls or guys or ninety year old great grandmothers or grandpas. Actually, there's an element of untruth there - being a young(ish) guy, I naturally get a a bit of a kick from working with great looking young women (the result of being brought up in that advertising world of "beautiful people"), but from an artistic/lighting point of view I probably get just as much out of a "grandpa" shoot.

    It does seem, however, that people with "tight" bodies are generally...

    a) happier to pose for us in the first place as they are generally more comfortable with their bodies. b) have more time on their hands to pose for us as opposed to a mum with two young kids. and c) are more able to climb into of the wierd and wonderful locations that us crazy photographers dream up.

    You posted this in the portraits and fashion forum, though, and I have to say that the world of portraiture is pretty much sex/age independant - check the top photos - and the world of fashion completely revolves around advertising and in that industry - things need to be good looking and desireable - and that includes the models.

    Don't get me wrong - I think what you're considering is cool (and I am sure that it has been done in the past as you suggest) - it's just not "mainstream". You just have to watch what you're trying to acheive...

    I'd either concentrate on the form, through the lighting of the contours of the body - the "real" form, not the "perfection" that is so mainstream today. Alternatively, concentrate on the individual - the personality, the lifestyle - the "portrait" - nude or clothed, it's the character you're trying to capture, not the provocative sexual desirablity any more.

    When you mention "scantily dressed" I worry that photographing an individual who's ben round the block a few times - like the majority of people - in a scantily dressed fashion will fall a bit short of the mark. I can't imagine anyone wanting to see a scantilly dressed picture of me - in a nice pair of Calvin Klein boxers maybe - in British Vogue, unless it's in connection with the "before" shot for some cosmetic surgery advertisement! Instead, photograph me doing what I love doing, playing with my son, tinkering with my classic car or even behind the camera, during a shoot. I wouldn't even mind the nude shots with my hairy backside, or showing the gentle, flowing contours of my beerbelly-gut (which incidentally isn't that different from some maternity bumps!) but please don't lie me across a rocky landscape trying to make me look "beautiful". Once we move away from the world of advertising, where sex sells and everyone knows it, I think whether the subject is male or female makes little difference - there are just as many men out there with deflated boobs, saggy bellies and varicose veins.

    cheers, Guy
  9. Matt, don't you think though that well executed photographs of bodies beaten up by childbirth or time or whatever would go some way to make people more relaxed about their bodies, and not feel so pressurised into fixing themselves? Or would it do the opposite - scare people?
    RM, I've seen lots of people without make-up, hair do, ultra-fashionable clothing etc in photographs who don't look sh*t at all. I wonder if sh*t is relative - maybe some look sh*t compared to what we have ingrained in us as what people should look like. It's the same as people doing things to make themselves look "better" - but it's only because there is some yearstick to compare against that they think they are better because they are closer to that. All the time though that they are trying to get closer to this yardstick or whatever, they are moving further away from who they are. In my opinion nothing looks worse than an Olan Mills (shame they've gone bust over here!) type made-over portrait. My Mrs looks terrific au-naturel, but looks dreadful when made-up to Olan Mills perfection!

    You know what - I'm going to ask at my kids' school for some mums to photograph in the natural state and see what response I get! If I pluck up the courage....
  10. Jamie Lee Curtis did a photo shoot for a magazine a few years back in her skivvys, showing some sag:

    She wanted people to see the real her.
  11. Pete: I think you're proposing a false dichotomy. It isn't a simple matter of either "showing people's flaws/decay will make everyone happier about flaws/decay" OR "decay/flaws scare people." There's a vast middle ground between those perspectives as well as several side-trips into other ways of thinking about the topic. I think that most of this is driven by our (primarily) biological and (secondarily, but still important) cultural evolution.

    In species that form packs/herds and operate in a social hierarchy, and which live in settings of limited resources or potential mates, appearances matter. A youthful, fit appearance conveys suitability as a parent, guardian, hunter, and so on. Fresh-looking skin suggests lack of disease and success at finding decent food. Good musculature implies enough skill at getting nutrition and the physical aptitude at burning it well. We are hard-wired from millions of years of such stuff selecting for more of the same. When you're young, and still jockeying for a place in the herd/tribe/pack and haven't yet reproduced, you're a walking advertisement for how you'll do in those roles. When we encounter and visually size up someone we don't yet know, the visual is what we have to go on. When that person is younger, it's all about possibilities. When that person is older, we look right to their eyes and bearing for a sense of how they've handled their life and what they have to offer in the way of experience. Younger creatures need to exhibit prowess and physical prospect, and older creatures need to exhibit the wisdom and thoughtfullness that comes from experience.

    That's built directly into us, biologically, just as it is into countless other complex organisms. Our urge to record and exhibit notions of people (say, photographically) typically echoes that reality. People know, at some low level, what it is about them that's most important - in different phases of their lives - to present. That drives this entire topic. People aren't "scared" of seeing a sagging torso (unless it's an unsettling reflection of a disease, for example), but rather, they understand that in a more mature person, it's less relevant than what they KNOW. You're proposing making it MORE relevant (portrait-wise), and I think incorrectly arriving at a conclusion about why people don't naturally agree with you. Nature, in fact, has everything to do with it!
  12. "Can you, as photographers who are supposed to be at one with people, not bear to look at these women with nature's signs of motherhood?"

    Come on Pete, I reckon that a good proportion of us male photographers are dads and I for one love the way my partner looks, even after having our son - sags and all. I also have to remember that whether she celebrates her body or hates it, she is ALWAYS right.
  13. Hi Matt. I'm aware of what people look for in a "mate", and typically that is the sort of image that is usually seen as beautiful, fit or whatever, and is conveyed in film and pictures. So, yeah, I can look at a nice picture of a fit looking girl and think "phwoaarr, she'll produce some good offspring", and likewise all the ladies will look at me and think the same (goes without saying :) ). What I want to do though is put that bit of it to one side. But not by, as you suggest I'm proposing, making all the saggy bits more relevant. I want to say: let's make the "phwoarr" bit or the "I'd like to impregnate her" bit LESS less relevant. It would be nice to be able to portray how people can be comfortable with themselves, including body-wise, after they've done the most natural and important thing in life. So while I fully agree with you that photography has typically reflected the reality of what's biologically desireable from the "hunt for a mate" point of view, and this is all driven by nature, I'd like to be able to show something else, where the hunt for a mate and the breeding and the nurturing the young parts have already happened.

    Susan, I love that picture of Jamie Lee Curtiss and remember it well. I love the way that I, and I'm sure many others, find the picture of her before the 3 person 13 hour makeover far more attractive. It makes me smile, which is what I like people to do, and this doesn't happen at all in the second shot.
  14. Guy - lol, very true on the woman always being right!
    I've been having a good chat with Mrs M today about this, and she for one would like to see more effort made to show sags and all - now if I can convince her that her sags should be shown then I'll be off to a start :)

    note: prev post - obviously I meant Curtis, not Curtiss!
  15. Kinda funny all the "real post baby women" who I see come in for breast augmentation,
    liposuction, tummy tucks, and etc.

    When casually asked why they are doing it, THEY say they are sick of being flabby, fat
    and having deflated boobs. "I am doing it for me". Same for those women who frequent
    gyms, and diet.

    I'm now tempted to ask them if I could photograph them in their presurgical state. I
    wonder what they'd say.

    I did notice that you did sort of discount the morbidly obese person. It is of course not
    ideal, but believe me VERY common.
  16. I didn't really mean to discount morbidly obese - it's just that this groups seems to be pretty well represented on the internet, unfortunately almost like some sort of freak show.
    I know my wife at times get fed up with stretch marks, and saggy bits, which healthy eating and living can't make disappear - they're a fact of life and the only way to make them go is through surgery. But if they were properly represented as an accepted fact of life then would she still be fed up with them? Is it wanting to hold onto their "mate-able" appearance for fear that their partners or other people will no longer find them attractive? It might be easy to say "I'm doing it for myself" even if the real reason is that she's doing it for herself because she fears that nobody will find her attractive. Another thing is that most women don't have the luxury to be able to afford to do this - they have no choice but to deal with what nature has dealt them, and to just get on with it. It's the group who are happy or comfortable with their appearance (maybe like Jamie Lee Curtis) who I'd like to photograph. There must be some!
  17. First of all, I find it interesting that only one woman responded to this thread. I guess most of us are busy working and being "real Women" and not sitting in at the computer on a photo forum? :) OK.. it is 5:00PM and I am here but this thing was OFF most of the day!

    Second of all, the misery of being female is thus:
    As women age they become "old." As men age they become "distinguished."

    An older woman can have plenty of security financially and due to wrinkles, sags and the business of life happening, she just ages and looks old. Hair Color and make up can do just so much. The camera takes photos and the women look "old."

    Men, as they become older, usually become more mature and garner financial success and security which makes them attractive, wrinkles and all, to women young and old. Their wrinkles give them "character" and "interest" in front of the lens.

    Of course, there are older men (and women) who are financial wrecks and who look old and who can never get it together.. and eventually, they are unattractive to anyone EXCEPT the lens depicting their shop worn look of "character..."

    And those images win Juried Shows (if the photographer manages to catch it all).
  18. As a real woman, that is slightly overweight and breastfed my daughter, I think I can reply. The American population is too fat. Why promote it as "normal"? Beauty is desired, and that is what sells. If sags and bags and wrinkles would sell the product, that's what advertiser's would use. At this time in our society, that is not what sells.<BR><BR>

    My husband did some partial nudes of me a few weeks ago, the first of that type of photography for him. It was quite a learning experience for both of us. To "model" for several hours takes quite a bit of stamina and strength. I can see why a well toned body is necessary, and in heels, why less weight is desirable.<BR><BR>

    Men are the same as women, with regards to age. No, they might not have "stretch marks" from giving birth, but stretch marks have to do with skin and sometimes men get them from working out, gaining weight, etc. just like women. Men gain weight, get saggy and baggy, and get wrinkles too. They just don't strut around in bikini's, and get upset if someone makes a comment about it.<BR><BR>

    There is no excuse for not looking good, myself included. If a woman, as well as a man, want's an excuse for they way they look, they will find one. If beauty is a priority, it is for models, then the correct amount of time and money is put aside for it.<BR><BR>

    Like most other mother's, my paycheck is not based on what my body looks like nude. My priority is keeping my home fairly neat, my family clean and fed, and saving for college, etc. I could do that wearing a burlap bag. The woman's body is changed from a beautiful object to something that is a comfort and useful.<BR><BR>

    Pete, I would suggest hiring a makeup artist, and start where the mother is comfortable. If it involves her hiding behind a blanket, so be it, and create a "mood". Find the most beautiful thing about her and accent it. I would be mindful of imperfections, don't focus on them. Lighting and posing are important, especially if you are looking more for serene and romantic, instead of...<BR>BR>

    I think mothers would enjoy this type of photography, and I believe their husbands would too. :) If they are mothers, there is usually a reason for it. And some women even have more than one child!<BR><BR>

    Please let us know how it works out, and what inspired you for poses and settings.<BR><BR>

    Good luck,<BR>
  19. A lot of stereotyping here. I am seventy-five. I find almost all women attractive. We had a fifty-second reunion of our pilot training class where I tried to photograph every one including a number of wives doing mainly head shots to try and preserve some of us before out last flight. When I batch processed the women's pictures particularly, I fell in love with almost every one of them. There was something appealing in every face no matter how worn it was. They have done it all. Followed their pilot husbands all over the world, born children, raised them under difficult military service conditions, put up with unbelievable chauvanism, long family separations and most of them did it with care and love. It doesn't matter to me whether they were and are fat or thin, saggy or wrinkled, there is a lot in them to care about and love. I looked at those pictures, and I have to take credit, as I, for a time had a photo business, prompted some of their inner substance and beauty to shine through in a photograph. All of these ladies are in their late sixties or early seventies. We pre-dated the advent of women pilots so military aviation careers were denied to women when we began to fly. I am disappointed that I never flew with a female pilot. At any rate, the typical stereotype leaves out the majority of truly beautiful womanhood. I think that is sad. I certainly enjoyed photographing these generally relaxed very decent people who happened to be women. Some of their pictures look damned good. I didn't get paid for it but picturing them and their old broken aviator husbands was a joy to do and to process and post for their benefit. They, goddam it, are real women.
  20. Very well said, Mr. Arnold.

    I find it curious that as I get older my taste in women follows suit. When I was in my twenties, twenty year old women were all I noticed. Now I couldn't imagine being around one for more than ten minutes. It took years for my wife to become the beautiful woman that I love so dearly. I don't have time to train another one.

    Photography is a long road it turns out, much like the appreciation of women. In the beginning it was fun to take pretty pictures but now I find it much more satisfying to draw some bit of mystery and character from an image. Woman are the same. A twenty year old is a pretty picture but cannot compare to a woman with mystery, history and character.
  21. "mystery, history and character". I wish I had said that because it typifies my what is interesting and attractive to me.
  22. typifies what is interesting and attractive to me.

  23. Seconded. I even found myself eyeing up my mate's mum today (my mate is same age as me, and I'm 40!). Very mysterious woman :)
  24. Pete,

    Yes, ahem, it must have been the 'mystery'!

    Excellent thread, Pete. I would be very interested to see how this project progresses. I believe you'd gain a lot of female support as they saw the photos presented positively. I think many women simply fear being on the wrong side of the "before / after" picture. So many women suffer from a poor body image. This is where we men are lucky. "Round IS a shape!" I tell my wife when she says I'm out of shape.
  25. Well everybody, I watched "How To Look Good Naked" tonight ( But I found this quite sad and patronising in many ways. Tonight's episode is billed as follows
    "The E4 repeats continue with thirty-sex year old Lisa Mayall (8 August) who has such low self-esteem that she hasn't had a hair cut, shaved her legs or arm pits for over two years. She wants to find love but her self confidence is so low that she has resorted to covering up her body in enormous baggy clothes that do nothing for her petite size eight figure. Gok is out to turn things around."
    What I found awkward was not really knowing how much of this woman's low self-esteem was genuinely her feeling, and how much of it was what the programme makers said was her feeling (does that make sense) or how much she had been convinced that her rather bedraggled appearnace was due to low self-esteem rather than feeling comfortable. Now ok, they spivved her up a treat with fashionable clothes and a trendy young hair do, but is this how she really wants to be? Or is it the pressure of others, including the programme makers, that has pushed her into this? They lines up half a dozen women, ranging from large down to slim, and asked this lady to position herself where she felt she fitted in. She placed herself a couple of sizes larger than what she actually is, and they then told her she had a poor image of herself. Did she really have a poor image of herself? Or did she feel that everyone else had a poor image of her so that's where she ought to place herself? And with all these programmes I wonder if the women truly feel happy with their new look, or whether they feel they have to give the impression that they're happy with it because everyone has told them how good they look?
    John, you mention that many women suffer from a poor body image - but I wonder how much is from within, and how much is due to what they believe others think? I know it's all very complicated - all this peer pressure malarkey that starts in primary school or before and continues all through like - but I'm finding it more intriguing the more I think about it. How can you get to someone's true feelings about themselves without somehow affecting/altering their feelings about themselves by trying to find out? Mayhaps I need to try and speak to some of the psychology types at uni!
  26. Pete...I understand what you are saying. I am a Mom of 2 (teenagers now) and 43 years old. I don't think that I will ever get back to my size 11 jeans which is what I wore in high school. At 125-130 lbs. I was concidered fat and it took me until I was a happily married woman and a Mom of 2 at age 33 that I was finally able to look at myself and say, " I am not a little person but I am a strikingly attractive woman and my husband still finds me (as he would say) sexy as hell". I took a long time to get there but I did and you will NEVER hear anyone say that they would love for me or someone who looks like me do a photo shoot because I am a great rep for the average female. Not many people wants average looking or even strikingly attractive to represent their products or their photography. It's kinda like the myth about how great a virgin is socially compared to someone who has been "around the block a few times". Virgins were highly sought after and thought special because of all of their status and how only a virgin was good enough to appiese the gods as a sacrifice when the truth was why would you sacrifice a woman who you knew could bare children? So the only reason that virgins were sacrificed was because they were not proven to be useful in the way of getting with child. Beautiful women are usually considered arm candy and makes the man (or company) look important and successful. Forbid that they might, jst might actually have a brain!!!!! Cold I lose a few pounds? Sure. It would make me heathier but to prettier. I am already damn good loooking. Just ask my husband or my daughter. My son has no opinion...I Mom and that's all he's cares about.
  27. Darn, no self portraits of Susan.
  28. Check out "Psychology Today", 2/07, "Size 12 Women Get Revenge". They're talking about an increase in average size women making a comeback in advertising.
  29. You know, my husband always wants me to pose for him and I find it very very uncomfortable. And I would DIE if he ever put a "risqué" photo of me up online - or HE would. :eek:) I've never been small, even before I had a child. I'm 39 and have a 3 year old. But, my husband says I'm sexy too and he likes to practice taking photos and doing lighting, etc. Maybe it's because we only see the sexy little "bits" in advertizements that makes us all feel self conscience, but it's a fact of life. I don't think it has anything to do with the photographer not liking to see the sags and bags and the stretch marks as much as us women not wanting to see ourselves that way!
  30. For me a woman's body is a piece of art. It does matter if she had kids or not. My wife is 45 and we have two children. I have taken a lot of nude photos of her and I believe they are pretty good. Just kick of and start shooting.

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