Thursday, 31 March 2011

Beauty Hurts?

Now that my first year at Uni is drawing to a close, I have a bit more free time to engage in some leisure activities. I really used to enjoy reading, I just haven't really had much time to do any in the last year, except for informative books as part of research work. The last week or so I have got back to reading "Pin Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality and Popular Culture" (Buszek, 2006). It is a really interesting read for anybody interested in this topic, and one part of the book which grabbed my attention was former porn star Annie Sprinkle's Anatomy of A 1980’s Pin Up. It reminded me of a piece of work by the feminist activist Andrea Dworkins who argued against highly sexualised imagery of women and claimed that women’s bodies where exploited by the way they are represented in porn. In her image Beauty Hurts Dworkin’s deconstructs the sexualised female body in terms of what they do to “get ready” in the mornings. She breaks down the body into different parts and states everything a woman must do to make it attractive, presumably for the satisfaction of men. Similarly,  Sprinkle's piece of work used this same layout and idea. In Anatomy of A 1980’s Pin Up she presents the viewer with a photo of herself and then has added text to point out all the manipulations that are carried out on the body of a woman, it almost looks like a photographic version of Dworkin’s diagram. However she has put a different spin on it, whereas Beauty Hurts looks like it could be straight out a text-book, Sprinkle has made hers cartoony, light-hearted and comical. Notes added to the image such as “corset hides a very big belly”  are to remind us that the whole “look” of the porn star is faked, an illusion to give the impression of the “perfect body”. These notes remind us that it is not real, it’s all trickery, smoke and lights. Unlike the connotations of pain and humiliation in Dworkin’s image, Sprinkle’s pin-up image suggests that women can take control of, deconstruct and find pleasure in the representation of their bodies and sexuality. She has created other performance works that provoke debate and show from her personal experience how much the body is manipulated for the purpose of fantasy within the sex industry. She doesn’t pass judgement or say that it’s bad, she just raises awareness that it is fantasy and not real. 

Beauty Hurts

Anatomy of a 1980's Pin Up

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