We live in a society that is utterly saturated in curated images and ideals of typical beauty and sexiness; the slim, european feature, cis gendered, hetero normative concept of beauty and sexuality has been the main narrative for generations - But times are changing and we have more opportunities now to represent a wider range of bodies, genders, faces and sexualities. While mainstream media is bigger and more influential than ever so is social media and this is an incredible tool of diverse connection.
It is human nature to be curious about sex and sexuality, bodies and gender so we seek it out from a young age. Long gone are the days of rifling through a parents 70's porno mag collection and innocently fumbling around in the back of a cinema with another person, awkwardly discovering each others bodies, these days we have the world wide web. From an inappropriately young age we are flooded with images that reveal a dark and violent side of sex that can negatively impact our minds until conscious awareness and change can be realised. Men are fed false ideas of what women want - I believe much of societies rape culture and the "boys will be boys" mentality is due to the violence and misogyny represented on screen. Young girls are taught their own pleasure is irrelevant as long as they are desirable to men - our own journeys of wanting to seek and knowing we deserve genuine pleasure ignored.
We see women with "perfect" bodies, bleached and tucked vaginas that lack labias, fake breasts, fake orgasms and not to mention the under and over tones of violence that saturate the industry - young men and women are set up for a confusing and often dark understanding of their sexuality and body image. Peruse the porn sites and you will find a plethora of videos claiming to show us female orgasm or amateur sex but the fact is most mainstream porn is filmed with a male lense and curated for male viewing. So where can we see real intimacy? Real love making? Real bodies? Real pleasure? Where can we see a woman really orgasming knowing that she deserves her pleasure.
For those passionate about body positivity, empowerment and sex - We want see these things: real representations of bodies, sex and sexuality; the "imperfections", the awkwardness, the intimacy, the rawness. Fuck mainstream media and pornography! We want to see real bodies really enjoying themselves, through true representation we can begin to challenge the modern narratives regarding sex and erotica.
So begins the Is This Real Life? project.
The purpose of the project is for people of all shapes, genders, sexualities, sizes, abilities and skin colours to share a part of our-real-selves and for other people to witness that realness - to share true moments of beauty, sensuality, intimacy and life in general. Through collaboration with hundreds of people around the world we will be creating a collection of images that represent these things. Images of sex, self pleasure, raw mornings drinking coffee in our pajamas, nudity, menstruation, intimacy - moments of true beauty, empowerment, vulnerability. The goal is for each contributor to feel powerful and for the viewers concepts of what is beautiful, sexy, intimate to be challenged by each story and image.
The response thus far has been overwhelming which has reiterated the desire we all have to feel seen and heard and the journey is only just beginning....
These images will be compiled into a paperback zine and a collaborative exhibition, more details on that as it progresses.