Sweet Life 043.

A portrait of self-destruction


A portrait of self-destruction

July 24, 2012
Author: Renata Bittencourt Grasso

Turning the camera on one’s self often translates as an act of narcissism, underneath which paradoxically lies a deep-seated, creeping insecurity and lack of self-love. In Thinspiration, a project that centres around the phenomenon that is the pro-Anorexia movement, particularly its use of photography and the internet as platforms for dissemination, Laia Abril casts photography’s role as a medium for self-exposure and self-expression under a new, sinister light.  

The self-portrait inherently pertains to the narcissistic, for it evidences the desire for self-recognition, the desire to be, in some way, celebrated. The pro-Ana community, as referred to by insiders and members, has acquired a visual language through the countless photographs its victims post of themselves online, in what is a public display as well as veneration of the disease. 

To photograph one’s self means to document one’s physical appearance, and all of the associations potentially attached to it. It is as much an act of self-expression as exposure, whereby the objective is, in some way or another, the construction of a purposeful and thought-out identity. An identity which, in this case, is built around the desire for self-destruction. 

Laia Abril reproduces digitised images of underwear-clad, near-naked young girls posing for their cameras, all pixels and bones, their faces either cut off or blurred by a reflected camera flash. Protruding collar bones, spines and child-sized wrists pervade the re-photographed pixelated self-portraits of anonymous women, united by their desire to be not merely skinny, but always, incessantly, skinnier.

A celebration of the body becomes a celebration of its enfeeblement, of its withering away, its imminent disappearance, which, in turn, accentuates the underlying root and cause of the disease: the desire to disappear, to very literally fade away. 





Michael McCarthy July 26, 2012

I'm sure it's a striking series of images--and likely quite scary at times. I'm, however, a little uncertain of the suggestion of the author that the subjects are trying to "fade away" and that this is the "root and cause" of the disease. I'm not convinced by this psychological analysis. That these mostly girls are insecure seems very likely but to the point of wanting to disappear--why not just kill themselves directly? One thought that bears some consideration is thinking about what happens to the girls' bodies when they eat so little. It's mentioned in the article: "child-sized wrists." Could this be a misguided attempt to resist becoming a woman, remaining a child? small wrists, small or no breasts, often no menstration....

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