Jen Davis's Self-Portraits Explore Large Questions of Self

Jen Davis is a Brooklyn based photographer. For the past 9 years she has been working on a series of Self-Portrait’s dealing with issues regarding beauty, identity, and body image. Her portraits explore not only society’e preoccupation with thinness as beauty, the deviance of being overweight but also the larger questions of the self.

Jen has also been exploring men, as a subject and is interested in investigating the idea of relationships, both physical and psychological, with the camera, says her web bio. She received her MFA from Yale University in 2008, and her BA from Columbia College Chicago in 2002. Jen is represented by Lee Marks Fine Art.

Every Woman Needs A Self-Photography Project

jen’s experience of photographing her body resonates deeply with me. I think every woman of every size from 0 to 50 should photograph herself to find her identity.  I’ve referenced my own personal self-photography experience in my 2Ps in a Pod blog: Beauty, Goodness & Self Worth As Female Expressions of God’s Love..  

My own case dealt with sexual guilt more than obesity. When I began taking self portraits I was 5’8” and a size 10 US. But I share the fact that a man I dated a few times ‘dropped me’ sending a note telling me that I reminded him of death. I was devastated and hit the gym, being attracted to exercise ever since.

Subsequently, this Yale-educated lawyer wrote me another note of apology a couple years later, telling me that he had been in a relationship with an anorexic woman at the time we met — and he loved her, although she had huge problems, was hospitalized and didn’t want to see him any more. This man who told me I reminded him of death because of my size, was comparing my BMI healthy body to hers.

Karl Lagerfeld Rates Not an Ounce of Fat Above Adele’s Talent

The pain that I felt is highlighted by men like Karl Lagerfeld, a frequent subject of my writing. Monsieur Lagerfeld, the man in charge of just about everything and certainly with an opinion about everything, has worked on repositioning Metro World News in Paris. Lagerfeld was talking about singers and said: “I prefer Adele and Florence Welch to Lana Del Rey, but as a modern singer she is not bad.” Karl prides himself on staying current with popular culture.

Being Karl “not an ounce of fat on a woman’s body” he had to cut to the chase of course, saying “The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” The Internet was ablaze with furor over Lagerfeld yesterday. I didn’t even post the noise, because I’m sick of Karl Lagerfeld’s categorical rating of women — whatever talent is under discussion — with fat first.

It is fair to say that I have issues with Karl Lagerfeld and his PR person in Paris knows it. I read that Lagerfeld has apologized since opening his big mouth about Adele, but I don’t know why. Perhaps he’s doing a Mitt Romney flip flop.  Lagerfeld’s every bit the misogynist man I was dealing with, telling me I reminded him of death, because he was in love with an anorexic.

Deadly Power of Words

Within the context of Jen Davis’s self-portraits, I will bring up the comment — not to criticize Lagerfeld — but to demonstrate his hierarchy of female attributes. Asked about Adele’s singing, he starts off with her size. This is the fashion industry at its deadliest and it destroys women’s sense of self, just as the Yale-educated a** lawyer wrote those devastating words to me.

GOOD, a superb website, has a short but very meaty interview with Jen Davis, and I urge interested readers to link over. Here is Jen’s website. I repeat that my own journey to self love and thriving really — learning to dismiss men like Karl Lagerfeld — came by picking up the camera. If Jen’s artistic exploration can trigger that journey for any of my AOC friends, her contribution to women is huge.  Anne


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