Femininity is a quality that I obviously personally identify with. Part of what I try and achieve with my photos is some sort of illusory feminine archetype; a sort of construct I carry in my head built up from layers of images that have importance for me - images of my personal icons.
They're all pretty obvious ones really. I don't claim any dramatically original iconography. Y'know, Debbie Harry, Grace Kelly, Nico, Milla Jovovitch, Diana RIgg, Dita Von Teese, Devon Aoki (which is like cradle snatching I know).
I've a method for achieving the illusion. For me, it's nothing to do with padding, curves and physiology. It's more to do with angles.
A tilt of the head; the angle the elbow makes with my torso, the jut of a hipbone, a flick of the wrist. It's very subtle, but you put three or four things together with a blank or otherwise enigmatically formed face, an outfit and an attitude, and suddenly, she's there.
Well actually, put a mirror or an audience in front of me and she's there...
View from the frontline
My friend Tori yesterday sent me a new piece she wrote for Eros Guide called The Art of Femme, which is what got me thinking about this. Tori's a fait accompli in the realms of the behaviorology of "the feminine". For her, it's naturalised behaviour.
She's an A++ student: she makes it sound military - survival drill behind enemy lines, which I guess ties in with my gender battlefield thesis.
(Tori's a non-operative transsexual. She's also a Pony Girl, which makes things complicated; two genders to juggle, and two species. She reminds me in a way of my friend Torley Linden, in her leaps of character, intuition and focus.)
Tori's point is that achieving the feminine illusion is a matter of attitude. FInding the switch in your brain that allows you to relax into a different identity. Angles are also important to her - as wrongly formed angles betray the tension that shows that the mental switch isn't happening.
But her main message is don't feel insecure, feel free to find your illusion where you find it:
"Now, you can achieve fast results and explore your femininity like a true weekend warrior or you can go for broke like I did. (and I do mean broke). My advice is, don't obsess! There IS something to be said for versatility ... The beauty of being a woman is that you can be varying degrees of femininity without prejudice. I think that it is this very freedom that attracts so many born outside of it. As it is, I have concluded that gender is fluid from both sides of the coin and the middle is a completely valid place to be. After all, why limit yourself?"
- from "The Art of Femme" by Tori McCabre
The ugly side of feminine beauty
The flipside is this disturbing site, which purports to be an educational site that aims to promote feminine beauty. (via Jene on the tgclubhouse list)
The author, clearly a nutter, writes to attack the supposedly masculine nature of today's standards of feminine beauty. He spouts a bunch of pseudo-scientific theories, with skeletal and skull measurement methods that are uncomfortably reminiscent of Nazi use of craniology to postulate their master race.
It's an interesting site to browse through, but it makes me feel dirty because it's thesis is so wrong even if you agree with some of its observations.
Originally written 18 July 2006 on draGnet 4.0.
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