WHAT SHAPE IS BEAUTY?
As a teenager, Leonard Nimoy took pictures of his family and friends. He used the bathroom in his family’s small Boston apartment as his darkroom. When he turned 18, he moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. He appeared in numerous well-known television shows and movies but is best known as Mr. Spock in Star Trek.
For years, Nimoy produced images of the female figure using professional art models. Although hired to help Nimoy express his ideas – usually about feminine power – these models actually showed none of their individual identities in the photos. They merely illustrated Nimoy’s themes.
In discussions at exhibitions of his work, people started to point out that Nimoy’s female images all shared the same look – a “classic” beautiful body. Interested in examining different ideas of beauty, Nimoy started working with the Fat Bottom Revue burlesque troupe, a group celebrating “fat liberation.”
In their photos, the women project their own identities and stories, not those of Nimoy. Their self-esteem is strong.
According to Nimoy, “With these new images, I am now hearing different words. Sometimes ‘beautiful,’ but with a different subtext. I hear comments, which lead to questions. The questions lead to discussions—about beauty, social acceptability, plastic surgery, our culture and health. In these pictures these women are proudly wearing their own skin. They respect themselves and I hope that my images convey that to others.”