Enticement. Legs crossed. Chin down. Sultry smile. Hips cocked. Cleavage out.
Power Pose. Legs spread. Chin up. No smile. Biceps flexing. Leaning back.
If I asked you to draw these people and descriptions, who would you draw? A man or a woman? There are ads that don’t follow these stereotypes but often times women are posed exactly as the first list describes. Women are even prone to posing themselves in that manner.
It hasn’t always been that way, without cameras and mirrors, subjects who are first having their picture taken don’t pose their bodies in a way that demonstrates their gender. For examples, photos of Native Americans by Edward Curtis in the 1800’s or photos of aborigines in Brazil. It seems that people who have images available are much more prone to pose themselves to show off the desired features.
Looking back to early paintings you’ll see the same poses in the media today. For my project I began by researching women’s images throughout the last several hundred years. I looked up paintings by Jacopo Palma Vecchio, Renoir, the early portrait photographers like Curtis, movie stars from the 1910’s on, current day work by Annie Leibowitz, as well as common ads.Venis and Cupid c. 1523-24 Jacopo Del SellaioDie großen Badenden, Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)Untitled, Edward Curtis (1868-1952)Katherine Hepburn (1938) by Franz Planer Rit dye advertisement, via Found in Mom’s BasementSwedish American Apparel Ad (Unknown Photographer)
And finally, my project was to capture what people thought the stereotypes of women in the media were. I set up a shoot and asked people to pose in three different poses. 1. Pose in a masculine manner 2. Pose in a neutral manner and 3. Pose in a feminine manner. The results were amazing. My only regret is that I was unable to take photos of more people.
Full shoot available on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/110807123@N07/?deleted=11247226933