“A picture is worth a thousand words” – (Frederick R. Barnard, trade journal Printers’ Ink 1921)

Ajay Rochester who was one of the hosts on The Biggest loser has come under some pretty sever scrutiny by the general public because of a photograph taken by her son. The photo depicts her in white lingerie lying back on a lounge, and depending on your take of the photo she is either being “seductive” in her posture, or simply looks like she is just “relaxing”.  The reason she is coming under fire is not because of the content of the photo, but because of who took the photo, her 15 year old Autistic son. What does this say about her? She has attempted (and I guess to some degree failed) in her attempts to defend this photo by expressing her own beliefs that she is simply trying to encourage her son as a budding photographer by allowing him to take some photos of her. She has been quoted as saying  “It was a great pic. It represented a curvy girl, happy in her appearance, relaxing and at ease, with body confidence, comfortable in her own skin.” (Ajay Rochester, 2015). To some extent I can see where she is coming from. She is an icon for the positive body image of woman, she has also stated that “I had stockings and shoes on and was wearing white shorts. I was pretty much covered ‘from head to toe’,” suggesting that she was not, in actual fact, wearing lingerie which is the main reason so many people are finding the image so “creepy”.

So lets look at the picture itself.

(Emma’s E-spot, Ajay Rochester 17 March 2015)

Here we see Ajay, she is lying back, all done up, corset on, you can see a little bit of her leg with suspender and stockings, the lounge itself is leopard print. What is the initial impact of the combination of these images? Well, a white corset, to me, is indicative of an outfit a woman might wear on her wedding night, leopard print, or any animal print, is often linked with many a sexy photo shoot adding a very animistic, cat like quality to the person being portrayed in the photo, for some reason people consider this to make a person appear more “seductive”, maybe a suggestion that Ajay is a cougar? But then you have a look at the expression on her face. She is not pouting, she has no sultry look to her. She is just smiling looking at the photo. This is not a “typical” look of a sensual lingerie photo shoot. Is it just us sexualising the image because of what our own perceptions are about what we link to her outfit, her positioning and the print on the lounge to? Or is the image itself too sexual, which makes the idea that her own child taking it is very, very wrong.

So wow, for the first time I feel I am being made to question my decision to use the professional shots I had taken as my Facebook profile image and banner. When I originally decided to chose these images I never considered the significance of these images that I have put out into the public. But what is the message these images of me saying? Admittedly now I feel rather self conscious about these pictures of me, when before I was feeling rather confident.

What image am I portraying of myself through these photos?

Nyssa Snoek, Retrobillia 2015

Nyssa Snoek, Retrobillia 2015

What are the Connotations of the pictures? I know the denotations, the story behind why the pictures were taken. But I never considered the real reasons for putting the photos up as my profile pictures apart from the fact that I liked them a lot more than my own personal selfies.

I personally believe I look like this when I take a selfie:

(The Daily Mail UK March 2013)

and I feel like this most of the time:

(venturebeat.com 2012)

The story behind the photos, essentially, is because I have struggled to get the weight off after my second child (which also has a lot to do with the fact I like food and hate exercise), I came out of a volatile and horrific “relationship” where I was made to feel like I was not good enough, ugly and useless and I wanted to give myself a visual reminder that I am beautiful, sexy, and worthy. I saw a special on at a place called Retrobilia Boutique and took the plunge. I chose the 50’s pinup style as it is classic, ageless, fun and a little naughty. Jessica Rabbit was my ‘Muse’ for some of the photos because, well, I like her character and I wish I could be that seductive. But I am no Jessica Rabbit, I am a mum of two kids, I don’t have a tiny waist (I don’t even have a flat stomach), I don’t have long legs, I have tree trunks, nor do I have amazing thick hair, it is (currently) pink, thin and frizzy. I am a human and she is a fictional cartoon character created for the movie ‘Who framed Rodger Rabbit’. Her physique is unobtainable, but I had fun pretending to be her for a few hours.

It is often discussed how our Facebook pages portray the only the side of our lives we want people to see. Maybe I want people to think I always look amazing, spotless and perfect, or at least that could be the message that I am displaying with my profile image? I certainly would not be using the photo ID that is currently on my licence where I look like a puffy, fat drug addict.

References:

Emma’s E-spot 17 March 2015, Ajay Rochester’s Son Takes Inappropriate Pic, available at: http://admin.wavefm.com.au/hot-breakfast/emmas-espot/86987-ajay-rochester-s-son-takes-inappropriate-pic

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One thought on ““A picture is worth a thousand words” – (Frederick R. Barnard, trade journal Printers’ Ink 1921)

  1. This blog post made me question what I thought of the image of Ajay and I still can’t decide on what ‘side’ I am on. Whether I agree with Ajay that it was just a picture that she let her son take and nothing else or what the media thinks, that it is sexual and therefore wrong for her son to take it. I started to think the way that the media was thinking when you deconstructed the image, for example the corset and leopard print but then you made me question it all when you said “Is it just us sexualising the image because of what our own perceptions are about…”. I love the images that you included about the selfies because it is true for a lot of people

    Like

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