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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Body image and the Kardashian

Willendorf doll from the Paleolithic era / my sketchbook
Thinking about the aesthetics of beauty and where the battle is set for women. The bar of the ideal, with the proportions that excite and validate who we are, as we are constantly gazed at... is unattainable and always, always, always has been. Perfection is distortion.
 When Kim Kardashian broke the internet with her photo balancing a champagne glass on her ass, she was recreating a famous stunt  of the long dead Sara Baartman, "the Hottentot Venus". The slight difference between the women is that one was a slave displayed like a freak show and the other... well, does it for her own income. 

Kim Kardashian's Jungle Fever photo shoot/ my sketchbook
The brief life of Sara (bought by a  Scottish doctor from her country in southeast Africa, and sold to a European showman to be paraded around France), included being studied as a racial validation of a link between Black humans and animals. She was displayed wearing nothing but a collar and leash, and with a (grass?) skirt. For a penny you could look at her, for a bit more you could poke her with a stick. There was a sexual fascination with her. Sara insisted on the skirt, though she was constantly asked to remove it, and upon her death her vagina was cut from her torso and displayed in an anthropological museum in Paris.
sketchbook page
 At the time of Baartman's death the Victorian fashion for the 'bustle" started. All the ladies wanted an ass like Baartman!  So where does our sense of fashion and beauty really stem from?
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