About This Project

Ashley Moog Bowlsbey


Second Skin Series

Second Skin takes away access to each model’s face and body to show the haunting reality of our emphasis on one’s outer shell. The feminine beauty ideal is a socially constructed belief that a woman’s appearance is her most important quality, which influences many women to strive to achieve an often-unobtainable visual perfection. Cosmetics can become a protective device, temporarily covering any self-perceived flaws, but cannot cure a dysmorphic perception of self that can lead to detrimental and destructive ends. The application of makeup in the morning and the removal at night is a daily ritual for many women. By collecting used makeup remover wipes from one hundred women, placing them back over the figure and photographing them, these images embody this repetitive beauty ritual. Philosopher Paul Valéry stated that humans suffer from the “three body problem.” The first body is one humans inhabit and experience and the most important object we possess. The second body is the public façade, the figure we see in the mirror. The third body is the physical machine that we understand by thoroughly dissecting it under a microscope. Valéry argued that the second body causes humans the most distress. The subjects in these photographs are constrained under the wipes, and the body they inhabit is hidden; while the physical machine is restricted, and the public façade is altered. The shells of the figure created by the makeup wipes epitomize the tension between our outer body functioning as necessary protection and simultaneously being a tremendous source of angst and emotional pain. The smears of makeup left behind on the cloths are a metaphor for the internal struggle with body image. The markings often feel violent reflecting the relentless, brutal thoughts that many women have about their bodies on a daily basis. These remnants of old makeup, skin, stray eyelashes, and hair display what many women put themselves through to avoid the discomfort, fear, and anxiety of appearing flawed.



7th edition