Friday, 23 May 2014

Sex Objects

photo by Lisa Holloway

Does an attractive person, either female or male, automatically become a sex object by being portrayed as beautiful, alluring or desirable in an image? This thorny subject is, of course, a complete can of worms. Maybe it boils down to the perception of the beholder. Maybe it's all about context. I remember as a photographer in the seventies if you couldn't drape a semi-naked pouting girl over your product, the perceived wisdom was it wouldn't sell. There's still a lot of that sort of thing today, not as much, less obvious perhaps, but still it persists. 

The bottom line is deep down we like looking at attractive people. Heads will inevitably turn at a passing beautiful woman or man. Gender differences concerning the male dominated visual are much of a myth. Women enjoy looking at attractive bodies just as much as men, they're just more discrete about it. Both sexes will 'cop a look' at a body beautiful. Which is why advertisers who crave our attention, use models. Doh. 

This picture annoys me. The picture itself is beautiful as is the girl. It annoys me because of the placement of her hands and arms and the overdone red lipstick. Two shapeless 'things' reaching up from out of the frame to inelegantly rest on her neck. Is someone trying to drag her down? Perhaps strangle her? And those great big fat red lips. Those lips dominate uncomfortably. And yet, and yet... I still like the picture because the execution, vivid hair colour, her expression and eyes overcome these flaws. And, of course, because she's a pretty girl smiling come hither at me. As I said, very annoying.  


  1. My husband likes this photo well enough—he glanced at my monitor as he walked by, but I think nothing about it looks real. Not the hair, not the photoshopped skin, nor the eyes...I think you're right about the arms. And, of course, who dyes their hair to match the lipstick? I wouldn't mind having puffy lips, however. The photo doesn't look beautiful to me, nor the girl. Something one might see on 1x?

    But yes, of course we look at people and things we perceive as beautiful. I look at mountains. You and my husband like to look at beautiful women. Nothing wrong with that. No argument from me, Peter. I just stopped by to say hey.

    1. Yeah, know what you mean. And don't blame your husband, he's only human. (and male)