Babe: Into the pink Advertisement

Babe: Into the pink

A book of images of blood, body hair, pastels and other alarming female things

By Deepa Menon  June 26th, 2015

In a world where a little menstrual blood makes large companies nervous and where women pay money to have hair painfully yanked off our bodies, it might be considered an act of rebellion just to be openly female. To prefer pastels, love and loathe the sisterhood and bleed freely. There are only a few cloistered places where you can do that, and as this feature in National Post points out, the world of chick-lit is one of them. For this reason, it’s often mocked. But what if we reclaimed the words that put us down — ditzy, hysterical, slutty, giggly? What if pink was the colour of our flag?

Photographer Petra Collins’s book Babe is a collection of works by various women artists who explore this premise. The images were first collected online for a collaborative project, called The Ardorous. It’s a visual guide to what’s considered feminine in today’s culture, stripped of all judgement and derision. Schoolgirls, selfies, stilettoes, make-up, masses of body hair — the book seems to fold in various aspects of the female experience, without worrying about whether they might be attractive or accessible to a guy.

(Thanks to every female body in mainstream media being waxed smoother than an egg, body hair has crossed over into forbidden and therefore sexy territory. There’s a photograph in The Ardorous series of a woman reaching behind to squeeze one naked buttock with her hand. The skin is smooth and wet, the flesh plump and firm — but all that is so passé. The really incendiary detail is the tiny hairs fanning out softly between the cheeks.)

Babe has a foreword by Collins’s friend, fashion blogger, editor of Rookie, and teen icon, Tavi Gevinson, who she has worked with often. The 22-year-old fashion photographer and designer is known for bringing a feminist perspective to her work. She also has some experience making large companies nervous. But she persists. Because, in her own words: “You can’t be what you can’t see. When you’re not being represented it’s like you’re not a real person.”

Babe (Prestel) is out now