Fashion Sense-ibility

Jennifer Randall


The fashion world would often lead us to believe that fashion photography is an art form that gives the public enjoyment in an artificial world where all pretty things live. In flipping through issues of fashion magazines, I have realized that although there are people involved in the taking and making of these images that might be trying to express their creativity, the main purpose is to sell a product; to create an ideal world that the public yearns to be a part of. I believe the primary objective is to make women in the real world feel the need to emulate the women in the ads. By doing this, women not only take on the ideals set out for them, but also the roles. Women often find themselves classifying their importance and social status based on the trends of the fashion world and often measuring their worth by their ability to fit into the illusions created in the magazines. Unfortunately these images don’t always portray women as strong or confident. Instead they place them in roles such as that of being an accessory or commodity; roles that make them worth what they pay for.

I have chosen to use such fashion advertisements as the foundations for my work. In choosing images for my paintings, I focus on the negative portrayal of the women being depicted. I then alter elements of the ads to emphasize the sometimes subtle aspects that degrade women, influencing us by playing on our insecurities.

In most of the images I work with, the person in the ad seems to be the least important aspect with the viewer’s attention being drawn to the items that are being promoted. I show this in my work by primarily focusing on the textures and patterns found in the images. I put more emphasis on these areas by leaving the figures plain-faced and without make-up, which often results in the surroundings somewhat overshadowing the figures, making them seem quite plain by comparison.

I choose to express my ideas through a series of self portraits. By using my own image in all of the paintings the viewer realizes that I am not recreating the ads identically to how they would be found in magazines. I also use myself as a model to give the viewer someone ordinary to relate to, making the work more identifiable as a result. I do not copy the advertisements, but instead draw from their compositions and palettes to make reference to the ads while at the same time remaining in the realm of painting. I make reference to photography by rendering the subjects realistically and by containing the images and figures within their canvases. Even when there is a hint of an outside world, such as the inclusion of a window, it is disrupted by the reflection of the room.

My satirical interpretations of the advertisements show my frustration with the portrayal of women as well as the acceptance of these portrayals of women. The works also contain comical aspects to encourage the viewer to think about the content of the work without feeling the severity of the issues. The purpose of my work is to criticize the placement of women in these debasing representations and to encourage women to reject the standards that have been set as the ideal before them. Women fight against stereotypes in their everyday lives, so why allow our insecurities and vulnerabilities to be played on for the sake of a sale?