Is This Photo of JLo Edgy or Out of Touch?

Is This Photo of JLo Edgy or Out of Touch?

Vanity Fair tapped fashion photographer Mario Testino to shoot the cover story on power couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.

The cover image was accompanied by a series of photos inside the magazine – notably this one:

Photo by Mario Testino/Vanity Fair

Writer Bethany McLean writes:

“She’s also been willing to take risks to stay relevant, no easy task in a world where female stars are widely believed to have an expiration date.”

A few points of note: Lopez is 48 years old with an estimated worth of $300 million earned through an incredible career in movies, music, television and investment properties. Lopez has been dating former Yankee 3rd baseman (who signed the largest contract in baseball – $252 million – in 2000) for over a year. She’s been pushing the boundaries her entire career – let’s not forget her Versace dress from the 2000 Grammy Awards.

With the Harvey Weinstein scandal still unfolding, the image seems incredibly tone deaf (of course, the image was shot and included in the spread months before to accommodate a print editorial calendar). On the other hand, fashion photography has always been provocative. And in an age where “stars” become famous without exhibiting any skill whatsoever, why shouldn’t Lopez be able to daringly pose in the third decade of her storied career?

Without the context in the article, the image feels cheap. It’s not that her buttocks is exposed, it’s that Rodriguez is pulling up her dress. But after reading the piece, I feel more strongly that Lopez is fully in control of her image. She’s staring directly into the camera. The photo represents many things: a provocation, a statement of relevance, complicity, as well as a big “F-U” against ageism. 

But as with any image, whether the audience at large will understand the nuance without the context is the question. What do you think?

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. He co-hosts the “I Love Photography” podcast on iTunes.

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. David Leech at 1:15 pm

    Americans are so overtly prudish and hung up about anything sexy, erotic, or nude. It’s really just a great fashionista photograph! Europeans wouldn’t think twice about an image like this…

  2. Frederick Hippchen at 10:52 am

    I’m not sure what all the flap is about. This PC crap has gotten out of control. It is quite evident that JLo is comforrtable with the shot. It’s sexy, erotic, and both subjects are into the shot. So what the hell is the frigging problem, people?

  3. Olav at 3:39 am

    I’m from Sweden, and we are supposedly very free in our way of thinking about sex. I see the picture as sexy but it still makes me unconfortable. It’s a bit to private, like I’ve been invited to watch something that I concider to be their own business. I’m happy for them but in the same way as I would rather not see my friends, or my parents for that matter, do things with each other it makes me think TMI. If it was more in style with porn it would bother me less, strangely enough. This picture invites the viewer into their private life in a way I’d rather not be invited. Porn is an act, and thus less private though more private parts are showing. Hope this makes sense…

  4. K at 5:19 pm

    This totally plays into the culture of women being made into objects of men’s desires. You wonder why there is sexual harassment and/or assaults? Because this sort of objectification/sexualization image gets engrained into everyone’s collective psyche as not being a big deal. What does it say about JLo? She is sexy, powerful and in control, but she is still revered primarily because of her “hot” factor. Let women be strong without having to show their butts for the world to see. How about fashion becomes relevant by doing something truly cutting edge like NOT falling into this tired stereotype about women?

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