56: Katrina Anderson’s Mormon Women Bare Project

Matt and Amy speak with Katrina Anderson and one of her models, Brooke, about the Mormon Women Bare project.

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Mormon Women Bare
Katrina’s Portrait Website

Someday at Christmas

15 Comments

  1. jeanikins

    I love the project and was approached to be a part of it – a light approach. I declined because of body shame. I find my aging body ugly and undesirable; sad but true. I will be 70 next April and I am no longer a Mormon woman.

    I found that I was perturbed that nipples had been airbrushed as though they don’t exist and funnily enough, that is the one part of my body that I ‘would’ allow to be photographed. Nipples have a vital role in womanhood and nurturing children; if the pictures were not intended to sexualize women, then why airbrush nipples? That is a serious question by the way.

    I found the comment re Chad Hardy’s project, Men on a Mission to be quite judgmental. You didn’t know his name; have you ever talked with him about his goal in doing the calendar? He was putting some of the money into the areas where those missionaries had served – poorer areas. You implied that his project was not as worthy. Some of his ‘missionaries’ were gay and perhaps that was part of their acceptance of self. I didn’t find his calendars to be sexy; just showing beautiful human male ‘upper’ bodies. They were not nudes.

    Reply Dec 04, 2013 @ 19:40:27
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think Katrina was bashing Chad Hardy. I’m pretty sure she has no problem with it. (I haven’t asked her, though.) I think her point was just that the calendar was meant to be a little provocative, rather than “art.” In the town where I went to college there was a homeless shelter that was funded in part by a yearly calender where respected men in the community posed as IF naked (they were strategically posed behind things). Most were not actually naked. But some were obviously nude. These were business men and community leaders. Your dentist, city council men, etc etc. All of the money from the calender went to the homeless shelter. Anyway, I loved those calendars. But, I think there is a clear difference between them and what Katrina is doing. The calendars were meant to be cheeky and funny. But, also, a little provocative. Anyway, based on my experience with that calendar, and having lived here when the Chad Hardy thing went down, I think Katrina’s only point was that it was easier for the church to point to the calendar and call it scandalous…. not that there was something wrong with the calendar being made or how the men were portrayed. Also, I think it’s worth noting that none of the models were disciplined, just Chad.

      Anyway, that was my take on her comments. :^)

      Reply Dec 04, 2013 @ 23:08:07
    • katrinabanderson

      I am not sure what you are referring to about airbrushing nipples. I did not do any airbrushing or photoshopping of body parts for this project. On the website, my photos clearly show nipples, stretch marks, rolls, hair, etc.

      As for Chad Hardy, Heather is right. I do not personally have a problem with the calendar. (And I apologize I did not know his name during the podcast.) Again, as Heather said, I just view what I’m doing as something very different than what calendars are typically created for. And I think that my project is more defensible as fine art. Basically Heather’s take on what I said is spot on. So thanks Heather. :-)

      Reply Dec 05, 2013 @ 18:15:46
  2. Robert

    Loved the podcast, and what Katrina is trying to do. As an artist, I just despair at how the human body is treated in the church. I can’t imagine the world of art if everyone in the world was Mormon. Much of the most beautiful art ever created would never be displayed. And to have the new generation of children so convinced by their lessons, that anything with the shoulders showing is “inappropriate”, as my grandchildren say, is just depressing. I think these teachings are damaging not only to the individual but also to our whole culture as a whole. So thanks to these brave women!
    And by the way, where is the information about the awesome Christmas song at the end. I love it. Can we get it on iTunes?

    Reply Dec 05, 2013 @ 15:56:06
    • Matthew Crowley

      Robert that song is me doing a version of Someday at Christmas (recorded by many others). I recorded it to use as bumper music for the podcast. I’ll see if we can’t get a link up so you can download it.

      Reply Dec 07, 2013 @ 05:30:32
      • Robert

        Thank you Mathew, my wife and I really loved your version of the song. Thanks for a beautiful piece of music.

        Reply Dec 07, 2013 @ 09:05:27
        • Heather C.

          Hi Robert, I added a link to this page. You should be able to do download it from there. Please let me know if you are unable to do so. Thanks!

          Reply Dec 07, 2013 @ 10:36:18
  3. Scott

    What a great podcast. It would be interesting to see how the shamming culture also affects men. I run around all spring, summer,and fall in my shorts, and I live in a very mormon Utah town. I do put a tank top on when I go to the store. Nobody has given me a hard time except my TBM wife. I grew up in a part member family in Southern California, and my dad was always shirtless, and my mom wore sleeve less shirts. Scandalous! I have noticed that the men in my neighborhood always wear shirts even when they go swimming or boating.

    Reply Dec 05, 2013 @ 19:19:48
  4. Aaron

    Interesting podcast, albeit a topic I can’t get behind. I’m trying to understand the logic and I get the words everyone says on one level… but the reality is that we’re talking about naked women and no amount of you all telling me otherwise will change that. That’s not how you want it to be seen, but the reality is that’s how it is seen. You notice the host went really quiet when tip-toeing around the subject of how men will actually see such pictures (when talking about his 75% internet usage = porn statistic). If you disagree, try getting Eliza Dushku to support this project with some pictures and watch the traffic explode. Try telling me with a straight face that the pictures aren’t about sex appeal.

    Minor point, but I find the “People in UT (except SLC) still look at you funny if you wear a tank-top” statement so ridiculous**. You sound like all the California BYU students trying to brag that they’re not from UT by exaggerating and/or exploiting an outlier. That’s really your experience shopping at University Mall or Albertsons in Provo? Or in Spanish Fork? Definitely not mine, although maybe I’m not paying close enough attention to those around me to notice..

    ** Exceptions: 1) BYU campus, because tanks are banned there; 2) in front of people that know you and know you’re not wearing your garments. Admittedly judgmental although often just a curiosity thing. Ex-Mormons would notice the same.

    Thanks for the podcast.

    Reply Dec 06, 2013 @ 22:29:58
    • Matthew Crowley

      Thanks for listening Aaron. I got my statistic completely backwards. It’s 30% not 70%. Still a lot though. I think you are right about how many men will see it, but I think Katrina’s point that showing non-glamorized or overtly sexualized bodies helps move the needle toward nude bodies not being as sexualized and objectified as they are. I think she recognizes the same reality you do and hopes to change it. I can’t speak to the tank top issue other than to say no one wants to see me in one.

      Reply Dec 07, 2013 @ 05:25:01
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      It’s sad to me, Aaron, that you see all nudity in the same light. You really think there is no difference between something that is intentionally made to arouse and simple art? You really think the statue of David is pornography? Or any of the other images on this wiki? (link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nude_%28art%29)

      Someone like Eliza Dushku being unwilling to participate in a website like this says more about our pathetic celebrity worshiping culture than it does about the project. Also, how far do you want to take your objections? Katrina pointed out that people sexualize benign objects. Should people shy away from showing their bare feet online for fear of some fetishist fapping to them? Should we be concerned about images of toothbrushes because some men like to shove them up their urethras? Katrina made the very apt point that it’s not worth worrying about how others will misappropriate things that were not intended for that way. I think she’s spot on.

      As for your comment about the tank top…. I have a young cousin who was born in Utah but her family moved away and left the church when she was a baby. She grew up mostly in Florida. In 2009 they moved back to Utah for her mom’s career. They moved to Utah County. She was only 15 or 16 at the time. One summer afternoon she and I had gone to the store to grab some things for a family party. She was wearing shorts and a spaghetti strap tank top. It didn’t even reveal any cleavage. As we were checking out she sighed and said, “I’m so sick of living here.” I looked at her quizzically and asked why. She said she’d received three dirty looks since we’d arrived in the store because she was wearing a tank top and short shorts. She told me that the previous week she had been invited to a friend’s home for the afternoon but was asked to leave because she was wearing an even less revealing tank top. She told me she also had one of her teachers from school approach her in public… at a park I think… and tell her that if she didn’t want people to view her has loose girl, she shouldn’t dress like one.

      When I moved away to college, I took a job at a grocery store. One of my bosses asked me where I was from and I told her. She responded, “UGH. I lived there for 6 months and I HATED IT. There are too many Mormons and they treat outsiders like crap.” I was offended and told her all the people I knew from the area were very nice and would do no such thing. She went on to tell me one story after another that eventually convinced me that, as an insider, I have no way of understanding what it’s like to be an outsider in that environment. I have no way of perceiving how people who treat me well would treat others who are not seen as “clansmen.”

      Perhaps you really aren’t paying enough attention to notice. Or perhaps you’ve marinated in the culture for too long and don’t know what it’s like to truly be an outsider. Perhaps you’re unable to have the perspective of someone like my cousin who grew up outside of Utah and can see the marked difference between how “tank tops” are treated in the wider society and how they are viewed within the “deep Mormon south.”

      Reply Dec 07, 2013 @ 11:00:56
      • Aaron

        It’s a good point about the toes and toothbrushes and such. I’ll have to think about that some.

        Still, I maintain that people will not see this anything like Katrina and her models hope for. Heather mentions art vs. pornography… I maintain that almost any nudity will be subject to non-artistic criticism and usage. Case in point, I watched SNL on Saturday and there was a skit about the statue David – the entire premise of the skit being how small David’s penis was:

        http://www.hulu.com/watch/569137#i1,p4,d1

        No matter how art-y the subject matter is, any nudity will always be sexualized. I’m dealing with reality here, not how it should be.

        Heather, how far do you want to take your non-objections? If you support a completely open society where there are no public indecency laws, then so be it. I tend to thing there are limits to this kind of thing though. Would you support Katrina’s project (same backdrops, same non-altering of photos, same “non-sexual poses”, etc) if all the Mormon subjects had Pamela Anderson type bodies? Or would that cause a feminist backlash that we are oversexualizing Mormon women? So this project only works if we’re dealing with Mormon women with “non-perfect” bodies? I’m wondering.

        As for the tank top stuff, it’s not really on topic to this podcast but I brought it up so… I’ve never lived in UT except for attending BYU, so I may or may not be marinated in the culture. I’ve seen the stats of what percentage of the church is inactive/”jack”. All those people are likely not judging too harshly. Within the active church, how many people do you really know that would call somebody out for wearing a tank top? Again, I’ve probably marinated too long so might be the wrong person to ask. I reject the notion that it’s a rampant problem though. I’m sure for every one of your personal stories there are plenty of stories that tell the opposite story.

        And with that said, why not respect the culture of the region you are living in? On a recent trip to Japan I didn’t make it a point to wear shoes in a restaurants when that wasn’t the culture. I didn’t wonder why people looked at me, me being a decided minority. I didn’t privately dislike the Japanese people for wearing surgical masks as they walked around just because I don’t want to wear a surgical mask. Why is respecting the local culture in UT such a bad thing for outsiders? Would we as Utahns/LDS walk around Amish country in swimwear and then feel persecuted if they stared at us funny?

        Again, thanks to all for putting the time in for the podcast. I listen to most of your stuff.

        Reply Dec 09, 2013 @ 12:11:32
        • Aaron

          Just re-read that, didn’t like my “swimwear” comment as anybody (not just the Amish) would stare at that – people don’t wear swimwear in public. So replace “tank-tops and short shorts” for swimwear.

          Reply Dec 09, 2013 @ 12:16:10
  5. Whitney

    I think there are plenty of people to be inspired by the women for them to care less about a few people using them ‘inappropriately’. Who cares? Obviously that happens. The biggest problem with garments in my opinion is specifically that it automatically over sexualities nudity, that’s the problem with modesty preaching as well. Nudity is NOT inherently sexual, and it doesn’t have to be inherently functional either, it can just be comfortable to be yourself in your skin.

    Reply Dec 31, 2013 @ 04:37:13
  6. Whitney

    Over-sexualizes*

    Reply Dec 31, 2013 @ 04:37:46

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