Monica Ramos Shows Beauty in the “Unflattering”
We are currently embroiled in a new conversation about what it means to speak to each other in helpful ways. What is a “safe space?” Who decides what is and isn’t offensive? Should we care? Curiosity demands we investigate these ideas whether people like them or not, and Racked recently took a look at what the word “flattering” means. So much of choosing the right clothes for ourselves is about finding “flattering” clothes, but is that to make us look good? Or does it merely make us look less bad? Racked invited Monica Ramos to create a series of illustrations to help us understand the identity politics around these questions and put faces – and bodies – to the conversation.
Flattering conventions are just that: conventions. And Monica challenges them in her illustrations. We think of horizontal stripes as making the wearer look wider, and so Monica offers a woman in a body suit dressed head to toe in horizontal stripes. We think of long baggy skirts and oversized shirts as masking the shape of a body and making it appear bigger, so Monica’s illustration shows just that. These are real human bodies, wearing clothes that are their own, sending a message about how they want to look regardless of how it fits into expectations.
Each of these popular "flattering" conventions, Racked argues and Monica shows, are about making someone’s body more pleasing to those gazing upon it. But isn’t that the wrong directive? Shouldn’t we wear what makes us feel good – and if what makes us feel good is sending a message that exterior constructs don’t matter, isn’t that legitimate?