Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Inevitable Preggobelly!

Check out ClinicEscort's tumblr, The Inevitable Preggobelly, showing the images that publications choose to accompany articles about abortion. ClinicEscort suggests several appropriate illustrations: doctor's offices, serious conversations between a man and woman, a woman, or the typical lab-coat medical imagery. Yet the illustrations are of mostly white women's pregnant bellies "minutes away" from birthing a baby, while nearly all abortion happens in the first trimester (when pregnancy isn't really showing). She also points out, though, that the headless, legless womb photos are dehumanizing for the women portrayed. They erase the woman involved in the pregnancy by showing only her pregnant belly, thereby framing abortion in terms of the fetus and not the woman. As a visual suggestion, it seems to work.

I think this is really important to keep in mind in terms of portraiture: revealing people in a certain way can sometimes make that person invisible. I think that is what many women grapple with when they do self-portraiture and depict their own bodies in artwork: how to reveal, versus objectify. Personally, I still aim for that romantic notion of depicting a personality, a history and an energy instead of merely a face when I do a portrait. It can be impossible to know, though, if I'm hung up on something I see in them that erases what is really there.

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