Anling Dunn, Beyond the Skin, 2018.
35mm analog photography
Beyond the Skin is a portrait photography series by artist Anling Dunn. It explores and highlights the physical features that are perceived as “shameful” by society. The viewer is forced to confront these characteristics within six images, and they are encouraged to consider people beyond their physical appearance. Dunn uses extreme close-ups of her subject’s skin to emphasize their stretch marks, cellulite, and fat. Dunn makes use of chiaroscuro –– strong contrasts between light and dark –– as well as three-point lighting, adding visual depth to the pictures, an element borrowed from landscape photography. The subject appears reduced to what their body looks like, conveying that the practice of body-shaming disregards the inner self.
Society continues to reject cellulite and stretch marks because of their association with fatness, yet people can develop cellulite due to estrogen, genetics, or how their body naturally stores fat. Stretch marks appear on bodies when skin stretches rapidly. Dunn’s photographs glorify and romanticize these characteristics because they are common to human beings. Any viewer that reacts negatively toward the model’s body thus actively participates in the body-shaming culture that is prevalent in the media and popular culture.
To see more of Anling’s work, you can visit their Instagram.