The thing about this is that sculptures like these in art history were for the male gaze. Photoshop a phone to it and suddenly she’s seen as vain and conceited. That’s why I’m 100% for selfie culture because apparently men can gawk at women but when we realize how beautiful we are we’re suddenly full of ourselves…
“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”
- john berger, ways of seeing
selfie culture is reclaiming our image and regaining control over how we are depicted that is why selfies are so derided and written off as vanity, thats why those who take selfies are routinely mocked and belittled, thats why time magazine used the image of a teenage girl taking a selfie as the marker of everything that is (supposedly) wrong with the millennial generation
the world would prefer it that we remained the muse, they don’t like that we’re becoming the artist
let’s hear from Christina Rossetti. she was the younger sister of dante gabriel rossetti, who was ringleader of the “pre-raphaelite brotherhood”, an art movement in the mid-late 1800s. dante loved to “rescue” young women and turn them into his muses — he particularly liked women with long, wavy hair; he and his friends called them “stunners”.
"veronica veronese" by dante gabriel rossetti
Christina Rossetti, badass baby sister that she was, had some stuff to say about the pre-raphaelites’ male gaze. and because she was even more badass than that, she wrote what she had to say as a sonnet and specifically called out her brother:
"In an Artist’s Studio" (1896)
One face looks out from all his canvasses,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel;—every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nore less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waning, nor with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.