Thursday, November 20, 2008

Presenting....The Naked Truth

I've been metaphorically chewing this article over and over today whilst on the train to Wincs, which has not only given me a headache but also probably given me the gormless look of one who is indeed, chewing on a piece of gum. I'd like to point out that I hate that visage with a passion and this is why I seldom chew gum, but more on that story later.

It was all because I was reading The Guardian (yes, I know, thank you) and therein I found an article about a mother who had had a portrait commissioned of her, sitting on the edge of a swimming pool in the nude. Nothing special, just a totally un-airbrushed, warts-and-all picture of a forty-something woman. When asked by viewers at the unveiling what she was going to do with it, she replied that she would put it in her hall.

"Where your son can see it?" they asked. "Yes of course," she replied, and she has my full and unwavering support. If she wants to show her son that his mother is a prime example of womanhood and what's more if she wants to begin a life's worth of moral education within the sanctity of her own home, why should she be stopped? Or perhaps her challengers would prefer their children to grow up on a diet of MTV, E! News and The Sun's page 3, expecting all girls to walk out of glossy magazines and into real life.

I have an anecdote here, and sadly it begins with that cliched "Once, when I was at college..."

I was sat in the Cafe killing time, and my friend from Graphics class came through the door with a wrinkled brow. At this time we were all in the middle of a module, I don't remember the details but it all had something to do with pushing the boundaries of traditional media (hence my 'banned adverts' research). She had decided her topic was going to be something about the boundaries of censorship. She was taking pictures of girls, and was missing two models: one size 16 and one size 14. She asked me politely if I didn't mind filling in for her, I voiced my consent, and we went into the loos where she hung a backing sheet up and asked me if I wouldn't mind undressing momentarily.

So yes, somewhere in a forgotten portfolio there are printed t-shirts of size 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 girls. The 14 is me, and I'm quite happy to admit this. The shirts were printed with one word of a five-word phrase across the bare breasts: I can't remember the phrase, I know one of the words ended up getting printed with a letter the wrong way around and I think the phrase included "OFFENSIVE?" I was also photographed leaning casually against the wall reading a newspaper, then later sat down cross-legged reading the same paper (I am ashamed to admit that it wasn't The Independent).

Would I do it again? Under the right circumstances, yes. Simply because I saw the photos, and I looked totally different to the girls of size 8 and 10 - not because they looked skinny or malnourished, they were both beautiful girls and were very petite and bijou. And there's my point. Even if it only got through to a bunch of EdExcel examiners, the difference between size 8 and size 18, double-As and double-Ds, 32" and and 52" inch waists, black skin and white skin is that they all belong to a different woman. Not a different culture.