beauty CULTure

As soon as I heard about this exhibit I knew that I wanted to go. I gathered my mom and sister and went to the Annenberg Space for Photography which is neither a gallery or a museum because it is a nonprofit fully funded by the Annenberg family.  The space is purposefully interactive with a 31-minute long documentary feature, 170 prints, a reading room, and multimedia stations. The exhibit was both amazing and startling. 

As soon as we arrived the documentary feature was beginning so we quickly sat down and were captivated. The images and commentary revolved around how feminine beauty has been defined, the industry that fuels that definition, and the photographers who capture it all. It led us to the point of realization that we have both celebrated and been abused by our understanding, or misunderstanding, of beauty. 

After the documentary was over we walked around the halls filled with images of women. Many of them were images that we've all seen before; from Twiggy to Heidi Klum...

photo credit: unknown, possibly Barry Lategan
photo credit: Gilles Bensimon
 ...but some were images we never hoped to see. Of botched plastic surgery and faces contorted by the undying desire to change what was gifted to us by birth.

photo credit: Lauren Greenfield
photo credit: Lauren Greenfield

Walking through the halls of these prints after seeing the documentary made it extremely hard not to feel conflicted. It was challenging to turn off the part of you that recognizes these images of women, mostly models, that we've all grown to believe as the epitome of beauty. As I looked at image after image is was clear to see why these photographs have had such a profound influence on us. 

The thing that stood out to me most was something that a female photographer, whose name I don't remember, said during the documentary, "The important thing is to not get lost in your own reflection." To me this meant that there is nothing wrong with the recognition of beauty, whether in yourself or someone else, but that we need to remember that what we see in the mirror is not our true identity.  

This exhibit will run until November 27th. Get there!

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