It's okay to get slightly worried when Today's Savannah Guthrie starts a sentence off with, "We noticed something in Tuesday's New York Post and it caught our attention." Is she going to talk about their amazing comments on Lena Dunham's "blobby" physique, or just the most recent time they accused someone who has allegedly been raped of being a prostitute? No, this week's topic is slightly tamer, though not by much: ladies, empower thyselves with sexy group photos!
You can do it for a bachelorette party, a big birthday or maybe even a random office get together. "I think it's liberating, it's bonding. Girls are always so critical of ourselves and of each other so to be with supportive people and do this together and try to not be judging yourself or each other, I think it's awesome," one woman told Today on Wednesday.
The photos in the Post's spread are all of conventionally attractive women, though plenty that don't have model-thin bodies. And while some of the photos are clearly on the sexy side, there's at least one set-up that looks just like a classic Dove Beauty ad. Today managed to head to a boudoir photography studio on a day where they were shooting three women with the type of abs Shape magazine is always claiming they can give you.
When she was in college, a good friend of mine was heavy into photography. For her senior assignment, she had a group of her best friends get up super early with her and trapse to the woods, where she took individual and group shots of them totally nude, like wood nymphs. The photos were beautiful, and at the time, I remember her saying how down (though admittedly nervous) everyone was about doing it. The general conceit was, "I want these photos for when I don't look like this."
That idea makes sense, and is certainly a valid one. But that concept in itself – that I won't always look like this – is sort of the problem, isn't it?
"I think [these women] take away a greater sense of themselves," said photographer Catherine Leonard. "You're looking at these fashion magazines and these supermodels and you can become one."
Those two sentences don't make any sense together. Looking or becoming like a supermodel isn't finding a greater sense of yourself. It's the sense that you're someone else, for a day, or in this photo, for eternity. Which is generally fine; everyone likes to play dress up. But those are two different categories of photos; the ones that are celebrating women just being their beautiful selves with each other and the ones that are them looking like sexy supermodels. Both have the option of being airbrushed, giving them all an air of fantasy, but the driving forces behind them are not the same.
Today's correspondant Mara Schiavocampo pointed out that "dudoir photography" is also a thing (which Today helpfully illustrated by including photos of Matt Lauer and Al Roker in weird onesies from one previous scintillating segment where they went sky diving or something). At that idea, Lauer said, "I can't imagine guys doing this." (There are all types of people in the world Matt.)
But it was Savannah Guthrie who really couldn't handle the idea of even considering grabbing Hoda and Kathie Lee and heading down to boudoir photography studio with a couple bottles of Pino. "No way!" she said, "Can we just say that the women in your piece are beautiful and they have perfect bodies?" Ever the supportive co-worker, saying things that are super weird in a work setting, Lauer responded:
"Savannah, you're falling right into what the first lady said. Women are always so critical of themselves. You would be perfect and beautiful in shots like that."
Guthrie's reply: "Are you on drugs?"