Have you ever looked at editorial images of models, say, lying lifelessly in a flower bed, and wondered what would happen if a woman tried that in real life? Would it look silly? Awkward? Disturbing? (I’m going to go with disturbing.) And what about all the other strange poses they make models do?
These questions are all in operation in artist Yolanda Dominguez’s video project “Poses,” for which she has “regular,” non-model women in public places recreate the poses seen in fashion magazines. The “fingers in mouth,” the “empty stomach,” and the “OMG I’m dead!”…they’re all there. Naturally, these poses freak people out when they encounter them in the wild, highlighting the unnatural absurdity of it all. In a recent interview with It’s Nice That, Dominguez explains what she’s trying to do:
I tried to express what many women feel about women’s magazines and the image of women in the media – absurd, artificial, a hanger to wear dresses and bags, only concerned about being skinny, beautiful. We don’t identify with this type of woman – we are much more. I used the impossible poses to represent this type of woman and to show how absurd it is in a real context.
These artificial models are the only reference we have and many women want to be like them but this is not natural and is causing many disorders (eating, mental, behavioural).
On the other hand poses of the women are ridiculous – they seem dead, twisted, pulled. Why are men never put in these positions? They are always straight, successful, able and healthy. Perhaps because the photographers are men?
There’s a lot to unpack here. I don’t think that many women see the otherworldly editorials in magazines and consciously think, “Oh, to be a spindly space creature making love to a handbag.” But the subconscious effects of these images are well documented, and it’s always nice to have a reminder how far removed these images are from the real world.
Then there are the dramatic, often painful looking poses that the models are put into. These kinds of images have existed since way before fashion photography was invented, but I do think fashion leans on them too heavily for it to be a coincidence. But even if you’re generally okay with the wacky world of editorial photos, it’s probably healthy to laugh at it once in a while. And this project helps people to do just that.