Just a little Nip and Tuck.

I admit.
I'm a photoshopper. 

Goodbye sags under my eyes. 
Goodbye giant blemish on my chin.

Are there parts of my body I'd like to lift, tuck and suck? Sure. Doesn't mean I'm going to (no offense to anyone but I still don't trust the medical techniques out there). 

I think there is a time and a place for these alterations: i.e., getting rid of that giant red pimple on my nose before sending out the family Christmas cards.

There are some physical body-modifications I have a harder time with. I'm all for freedom of self and you can do to yourself what you want...I just start worrying when parent's are making these choices for their children and when modifications turn to addiction. But then I also know I'm not in any place to make the call for others.

Beauty changes with time and everyone's view of what "beauty" is, is different.

*     *     *

Capturing Beauty, With All Its Flaws
By Simone S. Oliver
May 17, 2011

IN 2010 there were more than 12 million cosmetic procedures — from breast implants to Botox injections — performed in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Meanwhile, there is at least one mother who has injected Botox into her child, a beauty pageant contestant (as seen on “Good Morning America” last week); a steady stream of models in uneasy relationships with their body weight, and magazine layouts in which skin color and body shapes have been digitally modified.

All of these subjects are examined in “Beauty Culture,” the first fashion- and beauty-themed exhibition to be held at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, the heartland of Hollywood goddesses and plastic surgery. A celebrity-filled gala will be held tonight for the show, which opens on May 21 and runs through Nov. 27.

As visitors walk along the winding halls of the exhibition space, they will find 175 images by more than 100 photographers, from straight-up glamour portraits to more-unsettling images, such as a needle entering a lip.

“We wanted to talk about the ugly side of the beauty industry alongside the beauty,” said Kohle Yohannan, its curator. But, he said, “I didn’t want it to just be a finger wag. This is the beginning of a dialogue. it’s not a statement.”

Patricia Lanza, Annenberg’s director of talent and content, asked Mr. Yohannan to be involved in “Beauty Culture” after she visited “Model as Muse,” a 2009 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that Mr. Yohannan curated with Harold Koda.

Mr. Yohannan said it was important to him to present the pictures in “chapters,” such as “The Marilyn Syndrome,” “Beauty Inc.: The $300 Billion Cosmetics Industry” and “What Color Is Beauty?”

“The story of beauty is complicated,” he said. “Trying to generalize it is lazy.”

Many of the photographs were shot by heavyweights in the fashion industry such as Steven Meisel, and some are by lesser-known artists, including Nino Muñoz, who has worked extensively with the model Gisele Bundchen.

One of the show’s highlights is a 30-minute documentary that will play every hour. It was directed by the photographer Lauren Greenfield, whose prints are also featured.

Ms. Greenfield has covered beauty-related subjects like aging throughout her career, mostly from a cultural perspective. During her research for the film, she said she learned to look at the subject from a biological standpoint with the help of Nancy Etcoff, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, who is interviewed in the film. Dr. Etcoff wrote the book “Survival of the Prettiest,” an exploration of the biological relationship people have with beauty.

Ms. Greenfield said her dialogue with Dr. Etcoff “gave me perspective when shooting things like eating disorders, plastic surgery, fashion.”

For her part, Dr. Etcoff said she thought the exhibition could make people “think again about many issues: about what they consider beautiful and why, why it is part of human nature and what role certain images and photographers and media play in our ideas about the boundaries of beauty.”

Digital photography has made it easy to manipulate how people appear, resulting in unrealistic examples of beauty that may skew some people’s expectations of themselves and others. The exhibition examines this with the Beauty Culture Digital Salon, where guests can alter a photo of themselves and choose a “before” or “after” picture.

It is tempting to think that the digital revolution introduced new levels of fakery, said Zed Nelson, a photographer featured in “Beauty Culture” who has spent part of his career considering the effects of the globalization of Western beauty ideals. But retouching and clever lighting are as old as portraiture itself, he pointed out.

Such manipulation, he said, is “kind of like the apple in the Garden of Eden: it’s so readily available that people use it without thinking. And I think that’s had an effect. Some images in magazines, they’re almost becoming illustrations instead of photographs.”

There has been some backlash against such images. For example, the May 2010 issue of Marie Claire had Jessica Simpson, without makeup, on the cover. In this month’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Diane Von Furstenberg, photographed bare-faced by Chuck Close, says she believes that imperfections and wrinkles give a person character.

But such experiments are rare.

“We have a Venus for every era,” Mr. Yohannan said. “And the war that pop culture wages on the female body should be looked at closely. These models are not the norm.”

One current pop goddess, Lady Gaga (on the cover of May’s Harper’s Bazaar), is challenging beauty norms. There are no photos of her in “Beauty Culture,” but she may share some of its goals.

“When everybody around you has had their breasts enlarged, their teeth whitened and their skin peeled, then you become the odd one out, you become the freak,” said Mr. Nelson, the photographer. “That’s the scary thing. And so anything that draws attention to that is a good thing.”


Popular Posts