Many of us blame the media for our low self-esteem, women's in particular. But is casting blame really the solution? If I see Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in a magazine, is it their fault if if I compare myself and get depressed? Or is it something in me I have to deal with?
Talking about media, I saw an article recently which talked about how Playboy models are dolled up, fixed up, made up, and computer-airbrushed seven ways from Sunday... and then called "the girl next door". That is pretty funny once you think about it. Of course all the magazines today are excessively retouched. You have no idea what the reality was.
I don't know if it goes without saying, but my personal taste, and the way I direct DOMAI, goes towards no dolling up, very little make-up if any at all, and virtually no retouching. We will suppress the occasional pimple and such, that's about it. I've even published more than one set of girls with scars.
It's simply that I like things as they are, not as they can be painted to be. I prefer real wood to plastic wood paneling, and real metal to silvery plastic. And real girls to computer-generated fantasies.
A month ago, I opened the newsletter "Another Unshackling, Brooke's Story" and, much to my astonishment, found nude photos of Brooke, the letter's author. I set out to make a extra special reply with both a letter and my own drawings of Brooke. Unfortunately, life got crazy and very busy, and only now have I had the time to finish this letter. (I haven't even had time to do more than my first two drawings.) I was happy to see that Lawrence, Brooke's boyfriend and inspiration, wrote last week's newsletter, keeping Brooke's Story fresh. Now I have Lawrence's letter to respond to as well as Brooke's. All the better, for as it turns out, Brooke's Story was not quite complete.
Lawrence wrote that Brooke sent her photos to you despite her "body image issues." I was surprised by that fact, although I shouldn't have been. Sadly, it seems the only "universal" rule of women is that they all have insecurities over their appearances. Brooke's bravery and openness in submitting her own nudes in a letter to DOMAI was a stunning showing of self-confidence, so it did not even occur to me that Brooke, like all women, doubted her own beauty. This was the missing element of her story, which Lawrence revealed: Brooke's publication of her nudes was not for a lack of insecurity, but an act of overcoming it.
I believe we all know on some level that Media--TV, movies, magazines and the Internet--has gravely mislead us as to what a woman "should" look like. Media manipulates the minds of everyone it touches for the purpose of creating an artificial void within us, and then offering us slews of chemicals and products to cover up our "imperfections," our uniqueness, our natural selves from the rest of society. In this respect, the appearance of women is Media's biggest target. Every image, moving or still, Media shows us of what is supposedly a woman has, in fact, been manipulated many times over--through digital "air brushing", photographic technique, cosmetology, and worst of all, surgical mutilation of the woman's own body (that's what it really is). But even people who know this don't realize just how far from the truth we have been led.
I am an self-taught amateur pencil artist, and my subject of interest is the human figure, particularly the female nude. I have dedicated half my life to understanding why women look the way they do. I have discovered something popular culture doesn't want women, or anyone for that matter, to ever find out. The truth is, what lends women their feminine attributes--their wide hips, round buttocks, an ample bosom, and a smooth, soft appearance--is mostly body fat. Women naturally have more body fat than men. That's the way it's supposed to be. While this fact is essential to an artistic understanding of the female figure, it ought to be common knowledge. Perhaps if it were, women would no longer be ashamed of the very curves that make them women.
As an artist, one of the first things I learned was human proportions. In art, even the "ideal" figure is a far cry from fashion models. My knowledge and acceptance of female proportions has revealed those models to be mutants among women, far too tall with far too narrow hips and waists for their bodies. The emaciated fashion model looks more like a tall, lanky teenage boy than a woman. Furthermore, artistic motivation requires challenge. If all women looked alike they would be boring to draw, which informs my belief that the differences in each woman's physical attributes is something to celebrate, rather than to hide in shame.
This is why I so enjoy DOMAI. While almost all of your models fall within the art category of the "ideal figure," they run the gamut of it! DOMAI has provided me a great deal of artistic reference and inspiration.
Inspiration has been of special importance to me for the last several years, because I have been suffering chronic fatigue and depression. For the first few years, I did not have the energy to get out of bed, let alone to draw; but eventually I started to get a little energy back, enough to sit up and use a computer for a little while. DOMAI was key during that time because it kept alive the part of my mind that contemplates the female form. The terrible thing is that, for years after I had regained enough energy to sit up for a while, I didn't draw, believing that I had lost my ability.
Only weeks ago, I had a day so terrible that I could not even write how I felt, so I drew it instead. Drawing offered me hope. I drew again the next day, and the next, and the day after that. At that point, I finally realized that my "inability" to draw was not only a lack of energy, it was depression. I immediately began to seek a life drawing class in the Kansas City area, and since then I've even been offered private lessons by a professional figure artist. Suddenly, the creative juices were flowing again, and the world of art was no longer off limits to me! At that point, I again looked to DOMAI for inspiration--and there was Brooke, unencumbered, smiling, genuinely happy to be unburdened with clothing or care for it.
As soon as I saw Brooke, I knew I had to draw her. Her unrestrained joy beamed from her photographs, and I simply had to capture that joy on paper. Brooke's facial expression, her eyes, her smile, and her utterly confident, natural posture reflect a genuine enjoyment of her surroundings and of being free from social restraint. Brooke's photos exude the spirit of DOMAI, moreso than any other photo set I've seen! That same free spirit is exactly what I want to capture with my figure art. My hope as an artist, in sending you these drawings, is that my work will inspire others the way Brooke has inspired me.
-Joe in Kansas
"I have been enjoying your Beauty of the Day and weekly newsletter for a few weeks or months now, and I finally decided to go ahead and buy a full membership. I'm just a poor college guy so I don't have a lot of money, but I decided I came to this site often enough that paying for a membership would be worth it. As I pulled up the membership page, I noticed that a membership was much cheaper than one of the porn mega-sites, and all those have is unrealistic depictions of smut and filth. And they're $30 or $40 per month! I just don't understand how those places stay in business when there are such great alternatives. Your site is definitely the best of its kind I have seen." - Luca R <resc0030-at-umn.edu>
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Updated: the pictures on the signup page
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