Beauty Beyond Nudity And Perfection

December 21, 2016 | Sara Schivazappa
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Everyday, we see and study the power of messages. As communicators who help brands to decode society, finding something meaningful to stand up for to become agents of cultural change. Both direct and hidden messages can have the impact to construct or destruct. We have decided to be in business while making our work a tool that contributes to relevant societal conversations.

Beauty is one of these conversations. Beauty is a universal value, an aspiration and a blessing; something to treasure, maintain and work for. Still, through the centuries, women’s’ beauty (and consequently marriage and motherhood) became the sole territory for them to express themselves. Beauty became the quality women were valued and judged for. The blessing was turned into a monster. A must. A social construct that has defined and caged women, limiting their curiosity, possibilities and ultimately, their happiness over time.

To the extent that in order to pursue (what is defined as) beauty, women neglect, damage, and transform their faces and bodies to create a younger representation of themselves. Now, we believe that beauty is still that universal value and a blessing that continues to enchant us. However, we also think that our culture’s beauty standards have been set so high and so narrow, that they ended up generating an unhealthy level of unhappiness for the clear majority of women. A never-ending rush to (presumed and unreachable) perfection and youth has been imposed on women and accepted almost uncontested.

Recently, however, maybe moved by the rise of a shared and burdensome human discontent, we are witnessing a cultural shift towards a more natural way of eating, consuming and living. This is also impacting the beauty category that started promoting more real and varied (as we humans are, by the way) definitions of what is beautiful.

Pirelli’s 2017 calendar serves this discussion perfectly. The calendar is a thermometer and reference to the world of aesthetic canons, and their beauty has always been celebrated through its perfection and nude state. However, as a precursor of times, Pirelli has recently started to transform its idea of seduction. The 2013 edition for instance was assigned to Steve McCurry who showed Brazil naked, without nudes. For the first time, a story was narrated without nudes and sexual innuendos but rather through faces, landscapes and colours.

The 2017 edition of the Pirelli calendar by Peter Lindbergh, presented in Paris on the 29th of November, represents a loud statement of his desire to crumble the parameters of seduction and beauty. Lindbergh took a stance that is twice as brave:

First, the one to honor beauty, at its real and honest state. It is naked without nudity, beautiful without scams.

Second, choosing some of the best actresses in the world as his subjects – not only did he portray women as they really are, but those women are also great world talents.

Lindbergh celebrates true beauty that comes from passion, from curiosity, from motivations, interests and efforts. It is the spark that some people decide to light up, beauty with meaning. It is thick beauty; the sort of beauty that defies time and its signs.

“I wanted to do something that is a cry against the terror of perfection and youth” – Peter Lindbergh.

In black and white, Lindbergh portrays actresses of the calibre of Charlotte Rampling, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Zhang Ziyi, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Lea Seydoux, Rooney Mara, Alicia Vikander and Anastasia Ignatova, looking for sensitivities and emotions (“Emotional” is not coincidentally the title of the calendar) rather than perfect bodies. Representing their talent and showing their emotions, these women come out compellingly beautiful. And naked.

“As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to free women from the idea of eternal youth and perfection. Society’s ideal of perfection is impossible to achieve…I wanted to show what is beautiful, what is simple and what is decent and that worked very very well, no?!” – Peter Lindbergh.

It’s war then. On what does not exist, but still is imposed, and that’s why “retouchings are crimes”. On the obsession with image. On presenting women beyond what they stand for, what they are, and what they do. It is also a call to men (from a man, interesting) to start seeing women for real, not idealized and far. To stop strangling them with unreasonable pressures and rather see them in a broader variety of nuances and capabilities. It is simply a call to respect them. And it is an ever-potent challenge to the many women from the industry that still depict, or accept to be depicted, in one dimension only.

Lindbergh’s calendar shows the real nude, without nudity.


BEYOND THE POWERGIRL
Towards a world with better balance between female and male values

Works done with a meaning benefit people and sales growth too. Our latest decoding book, titled “Beyond the Powergirl”, enters the discussion on how women are portrayed in the media offering brands more than generally used stereotypes to describe and depict women.

The book added to female archetypes nuances that are in line with a society moving towards a larger consideration of the feminine values. These broader role models can help to enrich our communication work, impacting how women are portrayed; the dreams they have, the occupations and interests they pursue and therefore the place they will occupy in society.

To know more about this tool go to: innatemotion.com/beyond

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Sara Schivazappa

After humanistic degrees in foreign languages and literatures as well as anthropology, Sara attained a Masters in Communication Analysis and Management. She first joined the United Nations, working in the press offices in Kosovo, Ghana and New York, and then entered the world of marketing and research at Unilever, followed by a move to Innate Motion in 2008.

Sara is a bright and empathetic researcher, appreciated for her ability to understand people in depth and create interesting perspectives. She conducts international research all around the world, applying her human understanding and writing about it using her communication background. These cultural studies are in fact sparks to write articles on societal and cultural issues for the Innate Motion website and online editorial agents.

Sara is an environmentalist and also works for the Italian National Authority for Animal Protection (ENPA) by enabling communication activities aimed at raising awareness around respect for animals.