Fashion or porn?


by Marie-Noëlle Bas, Chiennes de Garde

This is the result of the fashion industry moving towards an aesthetic that relies on the objectification of women. Fashion photography reminds us that the art of covering nudity, without letting it be forgotten, constitutes the height of eroticism; clothing that uncovers, suggests and reveals as much as it hides becomes a seduction tool. It is significant that the most expensive clothes are often those that cover the least, as if the privilege of revealing one’s body in public, while remaining chic, should come at a high price.

The ambiguity between the world of advertising and the world of pornography is increasingly raising questions. In December 2013, the Italian online magazine NSS Mag launched ‘Fashion or porn?’, a disturbing virtual game showing internet users explicit images. One sees close-up images of young women’s faces with expressions that appear to show them close to orgasm, or other naked body parts. The viewer has to guess whether the images are taken from fashion photography or pornography. Easy? The lines between the two worlds are often non-existent; the clichéd images simply have to be taken out of their contexts. The proof lies in this game, which offers no response to the controversy, but still makes viewers think about the omnipresent sexualisation in our society: if we can no longer tell the difference between the two, are fashion and pornography really so different?

We are now used to suggestive and revealing imagery posted at every bus stop, in magazines or on TV ads. Unconsciously, we do not see them as pornographic. The debate on increasing sexualisation is not new; the British fashion expert Caryn Franklyn, for example, talks about the ‘pornification’ of the fashion world. But the ‘porno chic’ trend is raising more and more questions, as we are subjected increasingly to images that barely differ from pornography, and pornified performances from stars like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Ke$ha.

By leaning on pornography references to attract public attention, the worlds of advertising, entertainment and fashion will be forced to go further and further. This is a route that will lead to ever more extreme exhibitionism to satisfy a public whose voyeurism is already well established and developed.  

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