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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Redefining the selfie


    Photo Courtesy of Ali Adams

    Engineering sophomore Kayli McArthur is one of several participants in studio art junior Ali Adams’ photography project “Young and Pretty.” The project aims to redefine beauty by comparing girls’ social media profile photos to Adams’ own black and white photos without makeup or illustrious backgrounds.

    A studio art junior wants to change the way women take their Facebook profile photos.

    Ali Adams’ semester-long project for her Bachelor of Fine Arts honors program, titled “Young and Pretty,” is a commentary on what she calls the “selfie mentality” that many college women use when they take photos of themselves for social media. By stripping away “props,” such as makeup, a lavish background or ornate clothing, Adams said she hopes to gain insight on how young women perceive their self image.

    “I want to explore self-perception and objective analysis, and the idealized image versus the perception of a third party,” Adams said. “I plan on revoking this sense of control from the individuals I photograph, causing them to surrender control.”

    Adams’ project starts by obtaining a “selfie,” or self portrait that the individual has taken of themselves to share with friends on social media, which illustrates how they perceive their own beauty. The second image will be a black and white image of the subject that Adams will photograph against a plain background. In the black and white photo, Adams will be in control of the subject’s appearance.

    “My motive is to capture these women in a more natural form,” Adams said. “To do so, I plan on shooting these images with the girls not wearing any makeup, or having stylized hair, and so forth.”

    Adams said the project is meant to be a reflection on how women style themselves when attempting to be the idealized image they prefer, adding that her goal is to challenge this perception of beauty with her own. By removing the element of control from the subject, Adams said she hopes to add her own idea of beauty in the photo.

    “Ideally, I hope to contrast their self-objective idea of their own beauty with how I perceive their raw form,” Adams said. To accomplish this, Adams will contrast two images of each subject.

    Engineering sophomore Kayli McArthur was one of the women chosen to be a part of Adams’ project. Having grown used to making herself look a certain way before snapping a photo, McArthur said the experience was a little unsettling.

    “I think for me and most girls, every event is a photo opportunity, which includes ‘the check’ before any photo is posted to social media,” McArthur said. “It was a little unnerving knowing I was the subject and had to be pose-less. The preparation is gone, so I definitely felt a little bare.”

    Pre-physiology sophomore Claudia Cardenas-Frick was also photographed for the project, and said that although the shoot was different than what she was used to, she felt comfortable in front of the camera.

    “I did not have control over the photo … but Ali made me feel comfortable, and I felt like she was still able to capture my personality in the photo,” Cardenas-Frick said.

    Certain selections of “Young and Pretty” currently face the possibility of being displayed in the Todd Walker gallery in the Center for Creative Photography at the end of the semester.

    Rebecca Najdowski, a visiting assistant professor in the School of Art and Adams’ instructor for documentary photography, will choose the best entries for display in the gallery.

    “I currently have work being shown in the gallery, but the possibility of having my project chosen out of all the other students, especially when the idea is completely my own, that would be a huge honor,” Adams said.

    To conclude the project, Adams will allow space on each photo for the individual to add responses to various questions about the project in order to bring to light its purpose. The questions will confront the subject’s self-perception, as well as how they felt while being photographed.

    “I hope by taking away these girls’ control of the photo, they can hopefully become comfortable in their raw form,” Adams said. “If people see [the photographs] hanging in the Todd Walker gallery, I want them to notice the beauty of the women, and that it is possible to be considered young and pretty without the makeup and façade.”

    Follow Erin DeSoto @erindesoto

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