Stars Without Makeup: VAbbott

Jonathan Swift’s A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bedfocuses on a theme of beauty. Swift writes of a young nymph, Corinna. Corinna is seen as being “a lovely goddess”, but what the public does not know is the procedure that she has to go through every day in order to achieve her flawless look. Swift’s poem goes through the long process, in great detail, that Corinna goes through to get ready for sleep. Swift describes in great detail everything that Corinna removes from her body before she goes to bed, including her “eye-brows from a mouse’s hide” and “her steel-ribbed bodice; Which by the operator’s skill, Press down the lumps, the hollows fill”. The next morning when Corinna first awakes, before she does her everyday beauty routine, Swift describes her as “A dreadful sight!” The measures that Corinna took to create a flawless beauty may be seen as extreme, but women, and some men, today are still going through extreme measures to look beautiful.

Centuries have passed since Jonathan Swift’s poem was written but society still has an obsession with beauty. Newsstands are filled with magazine covers showing pictures of beautiful celebrities. Sometimes magazine companies mimic Jonathan Swift’s poem in a way; they show the “less attractive” version of women. Oftentimes they show pictures of these celebrities with their makeup done perfectly on the cover along with the pictures of them with no makeup that are not perceived as attractive. The publishers of these tabloids make their money thanks to beautiful people being shown in a less attractive way; it is a serious matter to the magazine editors. I decided to take a more satirical approach to the issue of beauty and make a magazine cover of my own.

As soon as we read A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed and discussed it, I knew that I wanted to focus my Photosponse on the theme of beauty. I wanted to make connections between our century’s views of beauty with Swift’s views. I also wanted to do something new and fresh, so naturally freshly baked cupcakes had to be the focus of my photo. The idea of people being seen as beautiful only when things are added is a common idea that is presented to everyone through media, and I feel like cupcakes have this in common with people when it comes to beauty. When people see a cupcake without its icing adjectives like “boring” and “plain” come to mind; it is not appealing at all. It is not until the icing is added that people associate positive adjectives with the cupcake. The same can be said for society’s portrayal of women; without makeup they are seen as plain and boring. My Photosponse parallels Jonathan Swift’s representation of women and beauty in the 18th century to today’s society in a fun and fresh way.

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