I recently came across a video about the everlasting conversation around retouching. It was led by another boudoir photographer and one of the comments made was…
“As boudoir photographers, we talk out of both sides of our mouth saying that you need to love the skin your in, at the same time let’s put you in all this hair and make up and lingerie…because you’re not good enough as you are; it’s a fine line. If you’re a boudoir photographer, I bet you struggle with this a lot, especially when you’re talking about why you shoot boudoir. How can you not be hypocritical when you’re doing this.” [Let me go on record and say that this photographer is quite passionate and lovely and I could tell she cared very much for her clients. I actually really enjoyed what she was saying, aside from the quote above. And I loved that the reason she retouches is to help women look past their “flaws” to be able to see their true beauty.]
As someone with almost a decade experience of working with high fashion runway models and someone with equal experience photographing women who are not models, I am more than qualified to speak up on the gap between the fashion industry and how we see ourselves day to day. Regarding that quote above and any other comment that comes close to it, I call “BULLSHIT!”
Keep reading to find out why…
I call bullshit because….
I know exactly where I stand on this issue. I don’t struggle with this at all and hypocritical is the last word I would ever utter out of my perfectly made up red lips when I describe my work. Can you hear the steam coming from my ears right now!!!!
Why is someone who has “all this hair and make up and lingerie” automatically described as “because you’re not good enough as you are?” If that’s why you’re doing it, I can understand why you’d have a problem with it. I say “because you love the skin you’re in and because you’re worth it, let’s put you in all this hair and make up and inspire you to experience a side of yourself you may not have yet seen.” Does having her hair and make up make done and dressing up really make her any less of who she is without it? What about when she comes out of the gym covered in sweat with frizzy hair? Or when she is covered in puke while taking care of her newborn. Do those “outfits” define her? No. They are all temporary experiences that together make up who she is. Not one or the other and certainly not because she’s “not good enough.” Why are we so quick to judge the dressed up version of ourselves but not the dressed down version?
That attitude is what shames women and it’s disgusting.
The fashion industry is so fun; I absolutely love it and I’m proud to be a part of it!! But I think what everyone forgets is that the fashion industry is theatrical in nature. It’s not meant to be something you compare yourself to day in and day out. It’s meant to be fun! And if you want that experience, I can certainly give it to you. But again, it’s just that…an experience. It’s not who you are and it’s not who they [models] are.
Most women can’t relate to working in the high fashion industry. That’s OK, I probably can’t relate to what your job includes. But I think we rush to judge things that we don’t fully understand and I think that’s what happens when people attack the fashion/beauty industry. We are afraid to say things like “I want to look like that. I’m insecure. I’m afraid to be vulnerable.” So instead, we attack. We say “Shame on you for retouching. Shame on you for being 13 and skinny. Shame on you for selling us something we want but don’t want.”
What I’ve found over the years, is that the more that women find their own confidence and find the ability to love, forgive and care for themselves as they would others, the more they want to take care of and celebrate themselves. They want to embrace a variety of experiences and yes, for some, that includes hair and make up, lingerie and retouching. It also means embracing an experience that adds value and confidence to their life.
And shame on you if you think any differently.
[Naeem Khan | Reem Acra | Venexiana | J Mendel ]
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