I’ve been shooting models for the best part of 7 years now and sharing my work more widely on social media for the last 2, and one of the most frustrating trends I’ve seen has been their attitudes toward the female form — while videos of murder were protected under “freedom of speech”, the female body was classified as “offensive content”. It upset me that what I saw as dysfunctional, conservative and (predominantly) American attitude to nudity was being forced upon billions of people worldwide by companies such as Facebook and Apple.
This bizarre hypocrisy got me thinking further about Western attitudes to nudity and the unhealthy relationship we have with it.
- Why do social media platforms actively defend people’s rights to share horrific, violent images and videos of murder, animal cruelty and other violence, yet deem female nudity (including the artistic and the natural) as offensive?
- Why are women both idolised and vilified for modelling? Why is there a prevalent attitude that a women’s own “self-worth” is inversely proportional to how many clothes she wears?
- Does the glamour industry take advantage of women or is it another way for women to empower themselves? Are feminist movements that look to ban Page 3 and similar “lads mags” a well-intentioned attempt at stopping meaningless objectification of women or is it an idea taken too far? Indeed, do photographers such as myself do more harm than good?
- These attitudes and “cultural norms” have a much more serious effect. If Western society can only see female nudity as sexualised, it accounts for the attitude that rape is often the fault of the victim due to what they wore (or don’t wear), how they must have been asking for it, or we leading the perpetrator on. Why are rape victims still being blamed for their misfortune?
What do I want to achieve?
I set about creating this photography project with the idea of photographing a wide-range of participants who are passionate about equality for women. This isn’t about forcing nudity down people’s throats, it is normalising female nudity so that Western society realises that we have a self-imposed view that all female nudity is sexual but men’s is not — and the dangerous and eroding effects this has on our culture more broadly.
We cannot teach young girls to be proud of their bodies and that women come in all shapes and sizes, only to teach them to hide it away to avoid becoming victimised, raped or harassed.
We cannot proselytize equality for the sexes only to vilify women who are confident enough to show their bodies and chose to wear what they want.
We cannot continue to allow large companies to force their myopic moral standpoints on one sex and not the other due to their misguided attitude that all female nudity is sexual.
Want to help?
I’d welcome anyone interested and passionate to take a look at the Participation page!