I see myself as an artist researcher. My investigation delves into current trends in cosmetic surgery, the rise of Labiaplasty* and vaginal rejuvenation surgery, and its uncomfortable relationship with FGM. I am interested in how easily accessible explicit online pornography has shaped attitudes towards women and our perception of female beauty. I am intrigued by the changing trends of pubic hair removal and how discussing this topic is still seen as taboo.
I am seduced by the lush, glossy visual language of advertising and then immediately repelled by its sinister misogyny. In popular culture women are presented as highly sexualised decorative objects that are invariably pouting or smiling, and almost always docile, submissive and unthreatening. My work attempts to challenge this representation of women.
I have interviewed mixed sex focus groups from all over Europe about their pubic hair removal regimes and anxieties about body image. I transcribed all the interviews, cut up the transcripts and merged them with material from my research archive. I was left with unnerving scripts that uncomfortably juxtaposed the definition of FGM and Labiaplasty, with body image anxieties from my interviews. I presented text from SuitsSupply’s Toy Boy press release alongside cosmetic surgeons advertising Labiaplasty from realself.com.
ToyBoy confronts the viewer with photographs from SuitSupply’s 2016 spring/summer advert campaign taken by Dutch photographer Caril Hermes. Images of erotic, passive, scantily clad, objectified women are used to sell men’s suits, whilst the men are fully clothed and active. ToyBoy flashes the adverts incessantly bombarding the viewer until they feel sick and battered.
My work is spurred on by my innate need to persuade the viewer to reassess the endemically sexist and objectifying culture in which we live.
I challenge the viewer to look again and re-examine the apparently light-hearted deeply sexist imagery we are constantly surrounded by but somehow blind to.
* Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the labia minora- the flaps of skin either side of the vaginal opening, which occur naturally.