photography, U of Wisconsin, Madison

Natalie Kirk



Natalie Kirk
ART 576: Publishing Photography Book
Digital Prints; 24″ x 30″

This series is exploiting a modern form of sexism that I see going unnoticed. The lines between society’s defined roles for men and women are blurring more everyday. Women are supported in their choice to trade in the part of housekeeper for pursuit of education and careers, and men are not shamed for staying home with the children instead of being the sole breadwinner; if who wears the ‘pants’ in the family is now shared and gender neutral, why are they still the men’s pants?

Current marketing is inhibiting women the opportunity to dress in comfortable, neutral clothing while remaining feminine and identifying her style as such. “The Boyfriend,” an advertising campaign used by Gap, Old Navy, Target, and others to sell better fitting clothing to women; the label spans from pants and shirts to socks and underwear. Women were already taking to the men’s section for better fitting pants and tops which is an outcry to the fault in women’s clothing construction and design, not a desire to look like our male counterparts.
Thus, a new line just for women was produced, it’s clothing that fits looser and is more comfortable but instead of delivering to women a mentality that they’re still feminine even if the clothes don’t cling to every curve, the marketing continues to endorse a woman’s success based on her sexuality. By calling this new style “The Boyfriend,” femininity is only reassured by glamorizing these clothes with the assimilation of being a girl who has just had a sleepover with her man and threw on his clothes that morning. The goal is to look too small and petit for these garments. The advertising fulfills a socially constructed mentality that a woman in a relationship is a woman who has value, that a person’s sexuality is a determinant of identity. Unknowingly women are endorsing their own gender’s regression from equality by wearing these clothes and seeing themselves as in borrowed clothing, men’s clothing.

This project has the goal of reaching women and alerting men of the segregating effects of “The Boyfriend” campaign. With 21st Century’s male inclusive feminism, the degradation of women’s equality can be resolved. The works of art selected for this show have been selected with two intentions in mind, reversing the female in male clothing gives both genders an opportunity to see this sexism reversed and the skin/body as an identity that defines our societal role. The purpose of these two intentions is to neutralize and find the common ground.

8 thoughts on “Natalie Kirk”

  1. I think it’s really interesting to see your thoughts in action. You did a successful job photographing them as models and I really hope they feel impacted by the photoshoot! You’re doing a great job challenging norms and advocating for social change, keep up the great work!

  2. This is a very interesting idea. I love the facial expressions you captured from each of the subjects. I also think you did a good job with lighting and I really like how the dark background allows for the subjects to stand out.

  3. First of all, your description was very well written and I appreciate the depth to which you went in explaining your idea behind these images. Knowing that makes me appreciate these images on a different level than when I first saw them without reading the descriptions. I think the black background was a very strong choice stylistically, and the subject’s poses and expressions embody what you are going for in this series. I am excited to see more of your work!

  4. I think your concept is clear and strong. I find that each of these shots show these males in “female” clothing with confidence and in a way that shows it doesn’t make a difference who wears the clothing. I’m a male and also personally hate “the boyfriend” idea for the same reasons. Implying the only reason you would wear this certain style of clothing is if you had enjoyed the clothes of your boyfriend. Great images and concept to explain your important message.

  5. Love your concept. It’s very strong. Having the black background also aids in focusing solely on the subjects and their clothing. This concept is very important and needs more recognition, and you are doing a great job of aiding in that. I would love to see more of these. Using a variety of body types could also make it feel more applicable to a wider audience.

  6. You do a great job of expressing your concept within these images. These photos are strongly composed and I really like the flat black background you chose.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your artist statement and it brought to light another point of view about a situation I had not heard about; then again I am not necessarily a follower of fashion and just wear whatever I wish.

    As for the photographs, I feel they represent your ideas strongly. The men are photographed in such a way that even though they’re dressed in woman’s clothing and they’re of average build they look gorgeous. The facial expressions they both have are priceless almost as if they’re laughing at the ridiculousness that we subject our genders to!

    If I was to suggest a change on anything it would be to not have a black dress on the man in the second image. At quick glance his body blends into the background and he looks like a pair of floating arms and head.

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