What makes someone “attractive?” As we become more and more saturated with media-propagated imagery, people are starting to push back and question why there is only one standard of beauty. One artist, Gracie Hagen, has created an amazing project addressing the root of “attractive”. In an effort to explore the unrealistic images in the media in comparison to the reality of real human flesh, Gracie has produced a photo series called “Illusions of the Body.” For the project, Gracie recruited women and a few men of varying shapes and sizes and photographed them in two different poses. In her left frame, Gracie presents her models standing in conventionally sexy positions – usually accentuating their bodies and using flattering angles. In the right frame, the same models strike unflattering poses, allowing their bodies to fall into postures you would NEVER see in magazines or ads.

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“‘Illusions of the Body’ was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering.” [source]

The result of Gracie’s series is a striking collection of visual contradictions. Her subjects’ bodies go from one extreme to the other, showing how wide-ranging our bodies’ positions can be. Challenging rigid beauty ideals, we look at the same model in the two frames – but we feel differently about them. We’re forced to examine our own ideals.

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“The media shows us the most attractive photos of people. Don’t compare yourselves to those images. They aren’t realistic. Everyone is a different shape and size. There is no ‘normal.’ Celebrate your shapes, sizes and the odd contortions your body can get itself into. The human body is a weird and beautiful thing.” [source]

Amen! Gracie is going to continue her provocative series, although she says it’s been difficult to recruit men for the project. With her series getting more attention, Gracie hopes to show an even larger range of models. I for one, am really excited to see this project expand!