Jade Beall's photography captures love in all colors, sizes, and ages--wrinkles and all, as this nude photo montage of a couple goes viral.
Let's be real: American cultural imagery is dominated by the young, the white, and the unblemished. There is no question that our society perpetuates a rigid and exclusionary definition of beauty. But Tucson photographer Jade Beall is actively fighting against this paradigm––her nude photo of a septuagenarian couple has gone viral. The photo in question: Gerry and Darwin, a white woman and a black man, married for over two decades. Beall portrays them in the nude and in a loving embrace, one that is unashamed and unconcerned with judgment. The image of Gerry and Darwin was liked over 34,000 times on Beall's Facebook page.
Beall is known for her nude photography, but her recent series focuses on bodies of people over 60. It may not be groundbreaking work, but it carries a beautiful, and even political, charge.
"Why do we accept to believe that one thing must be more beautiful than another?” Beall says. “Why cannot we embrace a million-billion definitions of beautiful?"
This photo has taken off at an incredibly tumultuous time in American culture as racial imbalances continue to come to light. In 2016, almost fifty years after the Loving v. Virginia case put an end to miscegenation, TV commercials with interracial couples still draw outrage and hate mail, and portrayals of interracial couples on narrative television are lacking (rarer still are black male/white female couplings, or any interracial homosexual couples at all).
On her subjects and their age, Beall only has admiration:
These elder bodies: the temples to decades of wisdom, heartbreak, strength, failure, triumph, thriving. How, I wonder, could they be anything but beautiful?And it's true. In our culture, beauty has an expiration date, particularly where women are concerned. Nude photography still carries a sexual connotation, further narrowing "who" is allowed to be portrayed in a state of undress. Beall's photography is anything but pornographic, capturing images of love: familial, romantic, and self-loving. All the more reason images such as that of Darwin and Gerry are so impactful.
It is this later kind of love, acceptance of the self, physical “flaws” and all, that emboldened Gerry and Darwin. Darwin admits that he may “Still have body issues,” and adds that he “would love to lose some weight.” And Gerry adds that she still sometimes struggles with self-acceptance:
Body-shame was a huge part of that...I won’t say it’s gone altogether, but I am at home in my body now, and I like myself in the body I’m in.In a society so dominated by a narrow-minded status quo, Beall's photography seems almost radical. It's unquestionably gentle. It is almost sad that these images should even be considered "shocking," though hopefully, Beall's work is just one indicator of many in a paradigm shift, one that is long overdue. Thanks to Jade Beall Photography and The Daily Mail