Safe and Sexy
A photo essay on the choices women make about what they wear Audrey Wells, 18
When boys and girls were first starting to look at each other and people started to have a chum or a blonde, I had fewer male friends. Some say you can’t have guy friends, but I find it really beautiful. And I want that. Lately, I have started to have more. A person I considered my good friend was in love with me, but I didn’t feel it. It’s at this moment where the line is difficult to handle.I am not so daring in how I dress. I am afraid that if I wear sexy things, men will think I’m cheap or easy. I prefer to keep it simple, to be comfortable. I like clothes I can wear anywhere. I don’t consider myself a femme fatale.Each of my friends have different styles. There are a few who dress to seduce. They know they have a lot of charm and they use it, but that doesn’t bother me because they are comfortable like that. Often I find them sexier than me.
This past summer, Sarah Hughes travelled to Halifax, Quebec City, Victoriaville, Toronto, and Winnipeg to photograph women in two outfits of their choosing — the first one “comfortable and safe,” the second “attractive and sexy.” She then invited each of her subjects to talk about these dual identities. The fifteen women here are a representative sample from a larger work entitled Persona Project: Safe & Sexy, in which Hughes explores the considerations at play in women’s choice of clothing, revealing the influence of personal history and social convention. The photographs are based on early anthropological portraiture Hughes saw while working at the Smithsonian film archives, as well as “before and after” series popularized in magazines in the 1990s — both of which feature head-to-toe frontal perspectives. Viewed collectively, the women’s individual personas come into sharp focus.
Canada & its place in the world. Published by
the non-profit charitable Walrus Foundation