Have you ever thought that you were too pale, too thin, too hairy? What about too short or too wide? Does that bump on your nose bother you? Would you get rid of the mole on your right arm if you could? You can pick apart every perceived flaw until you have completely dissected yourself, or you can find the beauty in yourself and embrace it. An artist, SKIP, asks his audience, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
SKIP (yes, he spells his name with all caps) is an Orlando-based artist who has collaborated with his fiancé, Tasha Copley, to set up an installation of two photographs which he calls “FRANCHISE: The Ideal Woman.” Before the two became romantic partners, Copley was actually SKIP’s favorite photographer. Now, Copley is acting as SKIP’s mentor as he looks to expand his artistic talents.
SKIP loves Orlando because he feels that it is full of opportunity and a place where he can make a name for himself. Unlike big cities like New York and Los Angeles, where just about everyone is hoping to be discovered, Orlando has a perfect balance between those who are overly ambitious and those who have pure undiscovered potential.
The photograph on the left of the installation shows a woman under dramatic lighting, standing with a confident pose. Her natural beauty is evident in this piece. The first photo is juxtaposed with a second photo of the same woman. The only difference is that the lighting is harsh in the right-hand photo and her flesh is littered with surgical guidelines, drawing out her perceived “flaws.”
What stands out in the center of the installation, though, are a mirror and a submission box. The audience is posed with the question, “What do you see when you look in the mirror?” Viewers can write responses on a piece of paper with a provided pen and
drop them into the box. Answers include “my intelligence,” “the tips of my elbows,” “my soft butt,” “my freckles” and “the dark circles under my eyes.” These people prove that there is beauty to be found in everything.
What exactly is the ideal woman? Body image and self-esteem are important themes in the world today. Both men and women are pressured to look a certain way. Everyone wants to achieve that ideal standard. According to a study in USA Today, “Of fifth to twelfth grade girls surveyed: forty-seven percent reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures. Sixty-nine percent said that magazine pictures influenced their idea of what the ‘perfect body’ looks like.” A second study, The Spectrum of Eating Disturbances, that appeared in The International Journal of Eating Disorders reveals that “…ninety-one percent of undergraduate women surveyed admitted that they diet. Twenty-two percent dieted ‘often’ or ‘always.’”
The motto of SKIP and Copley’s installation is #cantstoptheidealwoman. They post on Instagram with username @cantstoptheidealwoman and on Twitter with handle @franchiseidealwoman. You can also like FRANCHISE on Facebook. SKIP and Copley call for submissions of all kinds, and challenge everyone to ask themselves what they see when they look in the mirror.