Sunday, May 17, 2009

Worst use ever of "empowering" in reference to women

The NYT Style section reports on "a new fad" in wedding photography: "intimate photographs of the bride." I am hoping this is one of those "fads" that exist only in the mind of the journalist looking for something, anything, to fill a word-count with, because...

-Aren't 'intimate photographs' to be taken either by one lover of the other, or by one's self and then handed over to the intended party? Isn't that what makes the images 'intimate'? Wouldn't bringing in a third party (except in cases of 'bringing in a third party') kind of ruin the point?

-Why no intimate shots of the groom? No, not all shirtless men look like this, but nor do all women in lingerie look like Victoria's Secret models, and yet sexual attraction among mere mortals persists. Assuming a given marriage is based at least in part on mutual lust, why is this supposed to be something a husband would want to see, but not a wife?

-"[...] playful shots of a bride, wearing, say, nothing but her fiancé’s favorite sports jersey [...]"

Can people be more clichéd?

And, the bit that speaks for itself:

-"Much of the appeal of the boudoir sessions, [wedding photog] Ms. Swales said, is that the brides want pictures of themselves in the best shape of their lives after the pre-wedding regimens of dieting and exercise. 'It’s empowering for these women,' she said."


PG said...

This actually struck me as the stupider trendlet:

"Paul Von Rieter, a wedding photographer in Mission Viejo, Calif., began taking day-after photographs of the bride and the bridegroom performing tasks around the house while wearing parts of their wedding outfits with casual clothes, after seeing similar photographs online."

Phoebe said...

Well, it's certainly stranger. It suggests that couples haven't done mundane things together prior to the wedding, and that Married Life, in all its sexless and laundry-filled cliché, is about to commence. Granted not all couples cohabit pre-marriage, but even those who've merely dated have, I'd imagine, spent non-glamorous time with each other prior to the wedding.

PG said...

I can imagine my husband's liking a well-done photograph of me in lingerie or even one of his dress shirts (white-collar cliche equivalent of the sports jersey). But I just don't get who is the audience for a photo of me doing the dishes while wearing my veil over a tshirt and jean. It seems like it would be sort of funny, but not funny enough to pay professional photographer prices (or to risk messing up a perfectly good, re-usable by family member/ re-sellable on eBay veil).

Phoebe said...

Right, I think these photos are meant as humorous, not erotic. But as far as I can tell, a dishes-in-gown shot is as funny as a bride-in-sports-jersey is erotic - it's just so obvious.

Then again, sexy doesn't have to be clever or original in the same way that funny does, and I'd imagine there isn't a straight man in the lingerie-having world who doesn't want to see a photo of a woman he finds attractive in lingerie.

PG said...

"Then again, sexy doesn't have to be clever or original in the same way that funny does"

Very true for sexiness that plays into pre-existing bias (e.g. the sexiness of a woman to a heterosexual man); slightly less true for sexiness that doesn't (e.g. the sexiness of a woman to a mostly hetero woman). It's why I don't find most strippers at all sexy, but do think burlesque can be: strippers are just about being simultaneously toned and busty, whereas burlesque requires actual talent.