lifestyle

This is what our clothes are doing to our bodies.

“It intrigued me that so many women would wear binding or uncomfortable clothing to either impress or attract others, or for their own self-esteem.”

Welcome to Mamamia’s art endeavour, the Voulez-Vous Project. Every week we celebrate emerging artists, designers, illustrators, creators and women who knit using their vaginas. (Kidding. Maybe.) Our aim: to help the internet become a slightly more beautiful, captivating, or thought-provoking place by making art accessible.

To find out more about the Voulez-Vous project, click here. Click here to see all the previous Voulez-Vous posts.

A hair tie around your wrist. Skin-tight jeans. Push-up bras. All of these things leave their mark on your body when you remove them. The imprints – the intricate patterned lines that are etched into your skin – are your body’s reminder that you’re uncomfortable, that you’re being restricted.

But that doesn’t stop you from buying another tight-fitting item of clothing. And you know what? Perhaps it should.

Photographer Justin Bartels has created an entire photo series dedicated to the impressions these items leave on the body. From lace-up shoes to corsets, jeans and underwear, he has become fascinated by women who choose to wear these constricting items even when their body is trying to tell them to let it breathe.

“It intrigued me that so many women would wear binding or uncomfortable clothing to either impress or attract others, or for their own self-esteem.” Image courtesy of Justin Bartels.

His interest in the imprints came from his dating experience in college, he told Mamamia. 

“It intrigued me that so many women would wear binding or uncomfortable clothing to either impress or attract others, or for their own self-esteem,” he said.

“I had noticed through my encounters with the opposite sex how much they complained about the discomfort from their high heels, tight jeans, underwire brasiers, etc.  I wanted the images to capture the “after” showing what happens when they take off those articles, and the visual proof of their discomfort.”

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Related: The Voulez-Vous Project: “I breathe in life and breathe out art.”

Back in 2010, he was dating a woman who was vocal about the discomfort her clothes gave her. When she would take the items off, Bartels was facinated by the imprints left behind on her skin.

“I found it an interesting visual, but also a perplexing issue with why she wanted to wear these uncomfortable fashion items.  I really hoped that women would question what they wear, and why they wear it.”

“I really hoped that women would question what they wear, and why they wear it.”

His series hasn’t been without negative responses, which is to be expected. Bartels swears he isn’t trying to tell women what they should and should not wear. For him, it is purely the visual aspect that he is fascinated by.

Related: The Voulez-Vous Project: “What started as a form of therapy has transformed into a career.”

“What women wear day in and day out is a major part of their lives, and hearing continuously how uncomfortable some fashionable items are was very saddening to me. I love everything visual, and seeing interesting shapes, patterns and designs on the skin definitely got my attention.  I was fascinated by them, but once I connected the pain with them, I wanted this series to expose that pain with very simple photographs.”

To view more of Justin Bartels’ work, you can visit his website by clicking here, his Facebook here and his Flickr here.

Click through the gallery below to view the entire series. 

Do you know an artist (or are YOU an artist) who creates beautiful or thought-provoking work and whom you think should be featured on Mamamia’s Voulez-Vous Project? Send an email to [email protected]mamamia.com.au.