Cecilia WachterLips (2014)

Lips is a reaction to a culture in which female sexuality
and sex organs are depicted as dirty, shameful, and wrong. The slang
words for female genitalia are crude and degrading; ‘meat wallet,’ ‘fish
taco,’ ‘beef curtains,’ and ‘axe wound’ are all terms that aren’t
uncommon colloquially as well as in pop culture and mass media. Slang
words for ‘penis,’ however, carry themes of strength and domination
(e.g., ‘man muscle,’ ‘anaconda,’ ‘pocket rocket’). Whilst researching
and producing this series, I often thought of an article I once read
that printed the word ‘penis,’ but ‘vagina’ was written as a series of
asterisks. Why are the genitals of one person vilified while comparable
organs on another person are not only socially acceptable, but symbols
of power? From childhood, people with vaginas are told that their vulvas
are embarrassing, abnormal, disgusting, and smelly. As airbrushed
images of the idealized naked human body are increasingly more
accessible to young people, our perception of what is normal has become
flawed and distorted; perhaps as a result, in the past five years, the
numbers of people seeking to alter the external appearance of their
genitals has increased more than fivefold (Hogenboom 2012). Lips is
an attempt to appreciate, embrace, and encourage the divine,
unparalleled beauty of female genitals…. I sought to capture the
intimate intricacies of each of my model’s unique forms, emphasizing
their singularity and beauty.

I believe that this series will be confronting and triggering to my
audience, particularly those with vaginas, and I hope that some of them
may have the same realization that I did while viewing my negatives:
that we are more beautiful than we can imagine. Viewers may be drawn
into a reality that I have imagined, where genitalia can be body parts,
not political statements, and where what we are capable of is not
informed by our gender.

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