The Female Body in Fashion Photography

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The Female Body in Fashion Photography

Contemporary fashion photography typically concerns itself with the objectification of women. Although men are also used to display certain stereotypes and ideologies; these are usually done in a manner that portrays masculinity, power and control over women. Women are seen as objects of a passive nature, brimming with sexual desire and used to further the males prurient gaze. The contrasting images of Lana Del Rey from the October issue of GQ are a powerful example of the ideas that Liz Wells proposed. Influential ideas about gender roles emanate from both sides of this spread in very different ways. In image one, the position and strength of Lana’s male counterpart’s hands play an integral part in the obvious dominance displayed in this image. In most cases, “male hands are usually photographed as active and controlling, female hands are invariably decorative and caressing.” (Winship 1987) The breast itself is an object that provides sexual stimulation in men, the manner in which he cups it (with strength and purpose) suggests that he controls her sexual needs. The value of the breast in reproductive terms should not be overlooked, again the vigor in his grip suggests that he controls whether she can sustain a child’s life which is seen by society as a woman’s natural responsibility. The same grip is used around her head to suggest that he controls mind as well as body. Lana’s hands are shown as soft and decorated, completely passive against his dominant presence further perpetuating the notion that women are to be controlled and powerless against the strength of men. In image two, the position of Lana’s hand sends a message that she has broken free of the male presence and regained control over her body. It also vibrates with sexual freedom and presents the appearance that she can use her femininity as a weapon to combat the physical strength of men. Contemporary fashion photography is laced with ideals of...
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