Friday, January 1, 2010

The Life of An Underpants Photo.

Today I took a photo of myself in my undies. That's the easy part, whether you're an amateur camwhore or a zillionare Evil Patriachial Media Overlord.

(Note: I am not a professional Photoshoppeur, and these examples will not be as polished as the EPMOs' plastic women. Also I don't have access to quality lighting/wardrobe/backdrops/cameras/models/etc., so my raw material is rough as hell. But I think these pictures can still serve as a basic example of what a difference software makes.)

This is the original photo with no alteration except resizing and de-face-ification.

Step One

Here's the level of modification I'd feel okay posting on the Pervocracy - I tweaked the colors, cropped and blurred the random junk in the background, and made my skin a bit smoother, but it's still basically me. It's a little vain but I wouldn't consider it dishonest.

Step Two

Okay, so the model isn't green and lumpy anymore, but she's still... you know. Not exactly ideal. At this level we're still using only the original photo, we're not importing Mary-Kate Olsen's ribcage, but we can put a little polish on her. She'll still be a "plus-size" case, but much less objectionable. This is still much less modification than your average magazine ad.

Step Three

Let's face it, Three looks a little silly, because there's only so much you can do with the original pixels. The distortions get obvious (the underwear styles look funny now), and there's some defects that cannot be easily removed. If this photo was theoretically "editorial" content I'd start to have some guilt at this point, but if it was purely "artistic" or advertising I'd have absolutely no problem grafting in better parts as needed. The perfect woman is not some gestalt, she's the perfect rack plus the perfect ass plus the perfect tummy, and I have no problem using a different woman for each of those if that provides the most perfection.

Step Four

Okay, so it's an unholy Frankensteinian abomination and still kinda stocky. (Mostly for lack of time.) But it's a sexy Frankensteinian abomination. A FAILF. And the part that creeps me out is that when I was turning myself into this ludicrous "ideal woman" made of four people and the Liquefy tool, I never had to question which direction I should go in to be more "ideal." I didn't have to look up reference photos or consult the breed standards; I knew, instinctually, exactly what about my body "needed" to be changed.

It's as if "woman" is a Platonic solid, every angle mathematically known, and any deviation is not an aesthetic difference, not a natural variation, but an error.

Oh, not in real life. Plenty of guys have met Step One and liked her just fine. But here's the weird part--those guys and their preferences are just as underrepresented in the media as I am. A man who thinks that fat/short/small-boobed/etc. women are sexy is going to be pretty hard up for a beer ad that caters to his preferences. This goes beyond sexism and straight into just weird.


  1. Maybe they have secret marketing research which suggests that men who are attracted to certain near-impossible ideals are the ones most likely to be moved by such ads? Or maybe it just works, so ad companies go with what they know works, instead of branching out to other possibilities which have not been proven?

  2. Yaknow, honestly, I find #2 the best of all of them, (and wouldn't be surprised if #2 is closer to the real thing than #1, simply because cameras aren't a perfect representation). I never have understood the appeal of women like Paris Hilton. If I wanted to have sex with a washboard, I'd be doing better with the wood and steel than the skin and bone (no flesh), and the savings in drama would be a large chunk of the betterment. Maybe I'm odd, but I like a woman that I can hold on to, who's soft and curvy like a woman should be.

  3. Not Me - It's possible that the "ideal" is the most common preference, although clearly not the early one. Or that it's become that way by the circular reasoning of "this is hot, therefore this is what you'll see labeled sexy, therefore this is hot." Or it's just the "breed standard" for women, and has no more relation to reality than the requirement that bulldogs not have brown noses.

    Lokidude - #2 is at least the "beer goggles" version of reality, since #1 is actively unflattering in certain ways (terrible light, greenedness, ugly apartment).

    So my question is--when you see washboard-women presented in advertising and media as every man's dream, do you feel offended or left out?

  4. I like #1, a lot. Guess, I'm weird, but I've pointed this out on my blog in the past.

  5. So my question is--when you see washboard-women presented in advertising and media as every man's dream, do you feel offended or left out?
    No, but I've never given the issue much thought.

    It seems to me that preferences for body shape differ a lot more than standards for facial beauty. So models are all "beautiful" even if we'd prefer them to have bigger busts/more muscles/tails/missing limbs/etc. In that regard, few people are left out.

    Also, the "breed standard" (a phrase I may steal) is so homogenous that I may not even question it. That's just the way TV women look; if I want something else, I have to look elsewhere.

    What I'm wondering now is whether the wider variety of body types seen in porn is a more a reflection of the insatiable demand for the nakey or of the greater variety of tastes in body types. Both must play a role, and the most popular women tend to have similar characteristics, so I'm not sure.

  6. Been lurking around here for awhile. Probably from Tam's. All I know is there is a head on those shoulders. Smart is sexy, and the ability to use it to articulate unique perspectives with wit and depth no matter how edgy the content is smokin' hot. Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. Just sayin' Stephen

  7. Blame the ancient Greeks. The one perfect body type was pretty much their idea. They even had official idealized proportions, though they idealized men more than women. Various cultures have pretty much just tweaked the Greco-Roman proportions since then, with a break in the dark ages that was all about "denying the body."

    I found your blog a few weeks ago via an Evil Slutopia link to Cosmocking and I finally made it through all of the archives. I love your writing! Very smart and hot.

  8. Fucking Pythagoras. What an asshole.

  9. Step#1 and #2 are both pretty hot. The others, not so much. In answer to your question, I don't feel left out or offended, I'm mostly indifferent to media. If I think about it at all, it's something like, "Why does anyone find Paris Hilton hot", or, "the media is lying again/as usual."

    And I second what Stephen said.