I have been wondering this over the last week. When do we consider something offensive nudity and when (and why) do we consider it art?
Back when we lived in Ontario, I had a friend and she had a friend who is a photographer. His name is Mike Wood and he has taken any and all promo pictures of me that I’ve used for my books and this blog since I started blogging. His work is beautiful. The first day we went out for a shoot, my friend came with us and she also had a shoot. We were down a beautiful path that was kind of hidden and had an old, overgrown bridge, a stream and a lot of cool looking fallen logs. I did my photos and she did hers. Some of hers were topless, and man, were they ever gorgeous. I’ve been on Mike’s site and he shoots a lot of full and semi nudes. They are all stunning. The lighting, the shadows, the composition. Truly beautiful.
Inspired by that day, and not yet ready for Mike to take my picture topless, my husband and I ventured out on another day into a different park, off the beaten track, and he took pictures of me. They remain to this day some of my favourite pictures. Not remotely vulgar or pornographic in any way, they are simple and tasteful and frankly, really beautiful. Some of them he later washed in photoshop so that the whole picture is in black and white except for the red skirt I wore that day. Have I mentioned I love them?
This past week my dear friend Amy has been drawing “real woman nudes”. They are amazing. Full of curves and the realism of a woman’s body. She has been posting some of them to her Instagram and facebook accounts because she is proud of her art. Somebody keeps trying to report them but facebook has been saying, no, these do not break their standards of nudity. They’re art. They can stay.
I belong to a private group on Facebook full of amazing and wonderful women. My friend Amy is in fact, a member as well. We’re loud, we’re silly, we make crude jokes. We post up pictures of things we love or find beautiful. In a bit of an empowering “hey, women are gorgeous no matter what size we are” moment, and among many other similar pictures, I shared one of mine from my day in the park with Shawn. Instantly I was complimented on how beautiful it is. And I am. I was so touched. And, I have to admit, when you hear words like that from people who aren’t your family, it kind of puts new swing in your step.
But this morning when I got up, I had notice that Facebook had removed it for nudity.
Despite the fact that the girls were all up in arms over the removal, I found myself actually getting a little mad. How was my picture offensive? How is it not considered art? It took a HUGE act of self confidence for me to have those pictures even taken, and, after more than a year of knowing these girls, another act of self confidence to post it. I’m not ashamed of that picture, I’m proud of it. But, in having it removed with a notice that I had posted something considered offensive, I felt my self confidence being chipped away.
And I wondered, who makes these rules? Who decided what is beautiful and what is offensive? Where is the line drawn? Who says “this is art” and “this is not”? For my friend Amy, a drawing of a full frontal nude female amputee is art. For my friend Mike, a topless photo of a woman who modeled for him is art. For my picture, which I owned and took in the greatest spirit of recognizing that there is beauty to be found mid-thirties after five children, is offensive.
What is your opinion? When is a nipple more than just a nipple? When is a photograph art and when is it just a boob shot? I’d love to hear.