Julia Sabiniarz

graphic design
Graphic Designer and Photographer who specializes in book design, typography, publishing, fashion and portrait photography.

My personal projects revolve around body-positivity, sustainability, feminism and the role of photography in our lives.

How can digital
imagery affect
female beauty?

written in November 2019

With the development of digital photography, the Internet and technology, people started taking more photos and uploading them online. Every day, we see hundreds of images of a different kind — from selfies on Instagram to professional pictures used in adverts. Photography is available to anyone, and it does not require a lot of knowledge or experience. A camera can be set on the automatic mode, and an unsuccessful image does not come with the price of wasting light-sensitive materials — it can be deleted and forgotten instantly. According to Steyerl (2009), some of the photos transform “quality into accessibility” which is opposite to the pre-digital photography when pictures were only in family albums, galleries or printed in books.

Photos used to be just reflections of their subjects and traces of existence (Berger, 2009, p. 38). Images stored in bulky albums reminded mothers of their youthful beauty and taught daughters about ageing and the time that passes away. Now, pictures have lost some of their nostalgic value and turned into “a political weapon against women’s advancement” (Wolf, 1991, p. 10). With the global development of technology, photos of female beauty began appearing ubiquitous and taking their toll on modern women who started looking at themselves through the lens of imagery which shows feminine beauty ideals. According to Haraway (2016, p. 16), “There is nothing about being ‘female’ that naturally binds women” — with the rise of digital photography, women enviously started comparing themselves to each other and competing in the pursuit towards beauty instead of staying united against the wave of images attacking their self-esteem. But what does it mean to be beautiful? Is beauty just a shallow dream of women who crave attention, or is there something deeper about this Western obsession with beauty?

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