Images of the Naked Body: Essays of Bordo and Nochlin

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Images of the Naked Body: With the Essays of Bordo and Nochlin

The naked body has become such an ordinary image in advertisements, movies, and art, and has been in the media for so long that it is no longer as startling to viewers as it once was. Linda Nochlin and Susan Bordo are two authors that use images and representations that embrace the naked body in their writing. Although their essays both revolve around images similar in this way, the images themselves as well as the two essays about them are quite different.

Nochlin’s essay is about Renoir’s Bather paintings of naked women bathing among one another in rivers and places in nature rather than a normal bathtub. Bordo’s essay encompasses some of the first advertisements involving the nude male body and how they were accepted by society. Both authors first look at the images from their own point of view and talk about their own thoughts and reactions to them. Then both Nochlin and Bordo take a different approach and try to look at the images from both the male and female points of view rather than just that of the opposite sex than those in the pictures. By taking this approach, it allows the readers to become more involved in the essays, regardless of their sex and think about the images and what the authors are trying to say in new ways. Nochlin looks at the differences between the male and female gaze in regards to the images she writes about and considers whether the author really intended for his paintings to be meant only for a male gaze, since the pictures are of women, or whether a female could admire the art as well. Bordo goes a little farther, to include the differences in perspective of not only male vs. female, but also of straight vs. gay. Both authors conclude that the images can be liberating to a member of the same sex as the people in the representations, which is an interesting conclusion on both parts.

Although Nochlin does not necessarily talk about the perspective of...
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