Beauty Is Pain. But Perhaps These Images Are Taking It Too Far?

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Beauty is Pain. That seems to be the common saying throughout all generations for women. Who came up with it, and why does it have to be like that? Pain is scientifically known as a built-in sensor in our bodies that something is wrong. So why would we willingly put ourselves through something in the hope that it will make us look and feel better? It just doesn’t make sense from a biological or emotional point of view.

But alas, our gender is plagued with practices designed to “improve” upon our existing appearances.

An Australian photographer by the name of Jessica Ledwich was sick of seeing such damaging messages and trends for women in the media and decided to use her creativity to start a conversation.

The Melbourne-based woman created a series called ‘Monstrous Feminine’ which show women doing horrific things to their bodies in the name of “beauty”. It took a number of months to complete, and most of the body scarring is achieved from special effects makeup, not just digital enhancement, to give it a more “realistic” look.

“Like most women, I spent a lot of time reading fashion magazines as a young girl,” Ledwich told The Huffington Post in an email. “I didn’t think much about the messages that were constantly being pushed but I was aware of this sense of women’s sexuality being something that was scary, uncomfortable and somewhat threatening and this strong sense of fear surrounding the idea of aging,” she told the Huffington Post.

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She wants women to start questioning these so-called ‘normal’ beauty treatments, instead of just accepting that it is part of making them feel beautiful.

“I personally think what is really disturbing now is the way that the expectation of a women to engage in beauty treatments, procedures and cosmetic surgery, is so ingrained in our culture that we don’t even think twice about it. These procedures are almost so mainstream now that you book them to fit between your grocery shopping and your laundry. There are a whole generation of young women who not only think it is normal to do this but that its desirable and worse, expected,” she said.

While most of these images may give you a very visceral reaction because they are shocking, they are certainly offer an eye-opening perspective on the female image. Why does beauty seem so unattainable? And why do we feel the need to torture ourselves for an ideal that shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ mandate?

“While the series employs an element of the absurd, the reality of what women put themselves through is not so far from the truth,” Ledwich said in an interview with Fast Company. “Some procedures might just be uncomfortable, but others are downright dangerous–all so we can aspire to look like a model that is digitally manipulated in the first place.”

Perhaps these images will make us all think twice about beating up ourselves (literally) to be held up to a certain standard. Here’s hoping it will allow us all to be less of a body bully to ourselves. To see all the photos from the project go to Jessica’s website.

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