The narrative imposed on women’s bodies can feel relentlessly objectifying. We’re constantly confronted by the gender power asymmetry afforded by the male gaze: where women are faceless, personality-lacking creatures of body parts for consumption, and where women seem to have no control over their portrayal. Simone Steenberg is a young photographer who’s reinventing the patriarchal representation of the female body with her book Tales of Girls.
“I explore the female body in interaction with clothes in a sculptural and performative way,” explains Steenberg. “I produce hyper-sexualized images of women that function in a subverting and confronting way, giving empowerment to the photographed women, their bodies and sexualities.” Steenberg captures the body in unconventional poses, with focus on awkward, even disturbing, body gestures to confront the male gaze.
Celebrating the female form, Steenberg’s photo series exudes empowerment and a sense of body autonomy from her subjects. They’re playful, directing the gaze right back at the spectator to reevaluate themselves. It's the sense of hypersexuality that startles a viewer to rethink patriarchial perceptions.
Steenberg’s efforts to reclaim the female identity have opened her up to the intersectional and diverse power of women. She explains: “I hope to reach out to a wide audience and I truly think that the work can help promote the diversity of representation of girls, and make girls feel more comfortable in their own skin.”
“Essentially, I love taking pictures of girls and I like to give them a beautiful and honest picture of themselves, a picture they can be proud of,” she says.
Having finished her MA in Fashion Photography at LCF, Steenberg hopes to keep the project ongoing, with ambition to capture women of 100 nationalities to illustrate the layers and variants of the female form.