Amanda Filipacchi is an author whose work tends to focus on beauty and how beauty is perceived. I’ve not read any of her books but I’ve been particularly intrigued by what she produces since reading a lengthy personal essay by her in The New Yorker about having a model for a mother and being considered “ugly.” It’s a super fascinating read.
Now, she has a new conquest: closing the gender gap in author photos. She recently shared with the New York Times her quest to pose like a man in her photo. She wanted to look stern and serious instead of pretty and dreamy. The initial idea she was going for was “a headmistress” but she wanted to take it further, to copy that of a man’s pose.
The results are exactly what she wanted and, while I’m unsure they convey exactly what she intended, it is definitely a statement. It definitely gets across this idea, which I find to be her thesis:
I decided that I wanted to pose like a man. I also thought: No wonder books by women don’t get reviewed as often as those by men. Maybe it was the poses. I made a mental note to alert VIDA, the wonderful organization that tracks gender imbalance in the literary world with tallies that fill me with despair. Of course, I’m mostly kidding. I doubt that female author poses are to blame for the inequalities in how many books by men get reviewed in respectable publications versus books by women. But it couldn’t hurt to cover my bases and pose like a man anyway.
What I find funny about all of this is that I pursued this article because I wanted to know “how to pose like a man.” I thought this was all a thought piece about how to come across as manly—or what a man’s pose is—in the age of social media. It is and it is not that.
Ironically, this story made me want to pursue the opposite: how can I make my photos more feminine? I don’t want to look that manly in my photos. I want to look like something that is gender imbalanced, something that is a little bit of both—and I don’t mean, “I want to look like a dainty gay.” I want to look like I can occupy both territories of feminine and masculine, of girlishness and boyishness. Is that possible? Perhaps this is something that I should take on as a project. Stay tuned.