I recently found a collection of photography that was a series of self portraits by an obese woman. There were 44 pictures in all and it struck me as (1) laudable that a woman who's so obviously outside of what's accepted female beauty is forcing people to look at her and then (2) a little embarrassing that I found the series so "laudable." After all being fat isn't winning anyone Nobel prizes.
Part of me is all "good for her. You go girl. Show them that they need to write outside the box for your story." And part of me is "really? Is it necessary to be so provocative in your portraits?"
First, as one who lauds, I have always been an advocate for bringing a voice to marginalized people. These people aren't often looked at and are even less listened to. Ms Davis' collection forces the viewer to look at her.
And as one who cringes, I find Davis' collection of intimate portraits unsettling. She seems to be objectifying herself in the same falsely intimate style that society unfairly does in the first place. We stare both at those who allure us and those who disgust us.
As a praiser I find serious artistic poignancy in the intimacy Davis exhibits in showing herself so bared. And as a cringer I find the intimacy without voice jarring. It's similar to how I feel about Diane Arbus' work. I can't draw my eyes away but am troubled that if I look too long, the image will draw detached disgust out of me. Ultimately I want the marginalized to be heard and not just made a spectacle of.