Feminism in the Age of Belfies
Feminism in the Age of Belfies utilizes a portrait by Dan Wynn of Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes which is considered to be one of the most iconic photographs of the feminist movement. With this historical portrait as a ground, I am exploring how to situate the present day phenomena of the “belfie” within the context of feminism. Displayed as a large scale banner, when approaching this portrait the viewer notices that the image is composed of thousands of tiny belfies. A belfie is a self-portrait someone takes of their butt, usually to post on Instagram or other social media. Within the majority of belfies, one can see that the individual is taking the picture themselves by the inclusion of their camera within the image. In speaking to women about this phenomena, many of them see it as an act of empowerment. I found this interesting because within the Visual Arts when I was younger, we had been critical of the exploitation of the female body by male artists due to its historical uses by the male for the male gaze.
The body can be seen as a location or site of Power and due to the agency and dissemination of the image by the individual who owns the body, this type of image is now seen as an act of empowerment. I find the “belfie” phenomena interesting when attached to social media which asks the audience for “likes”. In the age of social media, the individual is the product and their presentation is the branding. Is this a reflection on how far society has progressed with Feminism? Is this a new branding of Feminism? With the addition of “likes” is this a misplaced notion of empowerment? Is the belfie interpretted the same way by women vs men? Do these questions no longer matter in the 21st century?