SOAKED IN A PURE GIRLY AESTHETICS, ASHLEY ARMITAGE'S SHOTS BRING US IN AN INTIMATE PASTEL-HUED 'GIRLS ROOM', AND HELP US FIND BEAUTY IN BANALITY.
A fervent representative of the “female gaze”, Ashley Armitage makes beauty rhyme with imperfection.
The young American photographer, who lives and works in Seattle, has flourished within that artistic movement of the women artists brought up by collectives such as The Ardorous Petra Collins, that served as forerunners to a variety of platforms “for girls, by girls” which have proliferated on the web over this year, united by one purpose: to liberate the representation of the female body by rigid and anachronistic beauty standards, from objectification and from a purely erotic connotation of nudity.
With an imagery marked by pastel colours, glitter, smooth curves and soft lighting, Ashley Armitage fights the male hegemony with shiny and bold nail lacquers, merciless mirrors, hairy armpits, flower printed granma-like swimsuits and not exactly sexy bathing caps, lit by the warm summer sun.
Her aesthetic, aimed to celebrate the beauty of banality, of normality and even of flaws, has raised her to a true hero of the girly universe and brought her dreamy shots, immersed in an atmosphere of purity and intimacy, on the pages the most famous magazines, such as Teen Vogue, i-D, Dazed and Nylon.
From her first photographic series, “The Girls Room”, her pictures have shown complicity within the female world, often conjuring up scenarios and situations evoking coming of age, between childhood games and self-discovery, but above all have always showcased all those imperfections we usually worry about. The women captured by her lens are common girls, girlfriends or strangers, anyway very far from the idea of the classic model, representing different ethnicities and sizes, and nonetheless appearing beautiful as they proudly show themselves to the world in their flaws, confident in their own skin, whatever their shape.
Armitage’s mission is exactly to undermine the mass media industry, driven by glossy images of unrealistic beauty, and to celebrate the beauty of real women instead, whose silhouette has not passed through post-production processes. Not only because it is right that for any kind of woman to feel represented by the current iconography, but also to tell young women there isn’t any ideal towards which to strive.
“I want to show that we have a choice, that beauty is more than one narrow definition, and that our perceived beauty does not determine our self-worth. […] I’m trying to combat [stereotypes] by showing that feminine can mean a multitude of things” she explained.
Protagonists of many of her shots are, in fact, pubic and armpit hair, flabby breasts, marks, cellulite, fat rolls, pimples and scars: all that we keep on retouching, hiding or covering, and which makes every woman so unique instead.
The artist also founded “The Girlfriends Gallery”, an online platform imbued with a fanzine-like aesthetic, which represents kind of an online gallery where some of the most interesting young female artists who are calling into question the concept of beauty are showcasing their vision through a selection of their best works, whether they’re photographs or illustrations.
Text by Francesca Milano