Western views of the world tell women how to be and where to lead their lives. A huge halo of pastel pink sentimentality is pushing women to be pretty, perfect, seductive, and weakly powerful.
In this well constructed mindset, it is hard to think of female nudity –whether on an artistic level or even in pornography– beyond the soft silhouettes in black and white, chiaroscuros under the millennial sun, suggestive postures, and explicit shots of their bodies.
In fact, following this Western perspective of the world, our fantasies about women are ruled by the typical “Page 3” girls –named like that thanks to the legendary porn/erotic section of the British paper The Sun– or by the dirty, greasy garage calendars that teem all over the American Continent.
Thus photographer Chloe Sheppard stands out as a critic to current aesthetic norms and the failed representation of interpersonal expectations. Sheppard was only fifteen years old when she started working seriously in the industry, bringing a fresh perspective for someone her age. Since then, she has appeared in Hunger TV, Nylon Japan, and i-D. Her images are filled with color, softness, teen dreamers, glowing wishes, and, frequently, messages taken from pop culture.
Almost as fierce and glorious as the superb song by Iggy pop, Sheppard portrays in her Lust for Life series a group of diverse, topless women, standing in front of a peculiar pink background, covering with glitter those body parts that society is so concerned about. With the plethora of unrealistic –and thus offensive– bodies that are constantly displayed in mass media, this young artist understands the importance of female empowerment through acceptance and the open realization that women don't need to have "model" bodies.
Basically, “Page 3” girls generate violent and harmful impressions in the minds of girls fighting against a world that wants them to become indulgent women. This situation also inspired the artist to create pieces welcoming realistic bodies into a global gaze.
Sheppard states, both in her work and in interviews, that since childhood women are vilified by media and show businesses, in terms of shapes, colors, sizes and presence. She mentions that as time and the development of a (female) human being progresses, the politics of image grasp the insecurity of their minds, pushing them to believe that they’re losers, a failure, improper and –justifiably– insecure.
These are features or insecurities that you might have thought about yourself at some point of your life, insecurities that have made you hate your breasts, your thighs, your marks, and other parts of your body. This is a type body that Chloe's girls strive to accept, knowing there’s nothing wrong with it; they love it and don't allow to be judged by it.
The collection portrays what it means to be a woman in two ways: a figure threatened by masculine-global standards and a figure that needs to be loved, respected, accepted. Chloe and her models fight to defeat the misogyny in media and demand real displays of female anatomy.
In Lust for Life, Chloe Sheppard’s goals are clearly displayed through the way it portrays different girls and admires diverse types of body. This work also transcends to the field of pure love, for it celebrates self recognition of our flaws and the openness of truth.
You can also read: This Illustrator Calls Out The Forces Trying To Make Women Feel Insecure
Take a look at Chloe's work in her official website.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards