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Art, Sex, and Women | Is Bella & GiGi Hadid’s Nude Vogue Shoot Beautiful, Disgusting, Or Something Else?

By Holly Roa on February 1st 2018

It’s a sensitive time in the media, to be sure. The old ways are being questioned relentlessly, and with good reason. What one may consider to be the exploitation and monetization of the female form is no longer accepted without question, but instead met with considerable scrutiny. In 2018, if one wishes to, say, pose two alluring sisters nude together for a high-profile photo shoot, it is guaranteed that it will not slip quietly into the sphere of social media. But maybe that’s the point…

British Vogue has done just that, creating a beautiful debacle with predictable results. Two of the most in-demand models in the industry happen to be sisters Bella and GiGi Hadid. The March issue will feature each sibling individually on two separate covers, but the two appear naked and entwined in a spread within the magazine, photographed by Steven Maisel and styled by Joe McKenna. British Vogue has released the imagery via its social media channels, and a storm of opinions has churned ever since.

A post shared by British Vogue (@britishvogue) on

Some of the most vocal online, of course, have been those who are offended. Words like “porn,” and “incestuous” have been tossed around, but it’s arguable that porn is in the eye of the beholder. The photograph that has created such a stir passes the litmus test for artistic viability in that many conclusions may be drawn from the same subject matter depending on the viewer. In fact, it begs you to draw your own conclusion.

In a way, these images pose as a Rorschach test for one’s attitude on a number of things. It can reveal the viewer’s biases toward sex, nudity, women, physique expectations, and utilization of the female form via media to name but a few.

Are you disgusted? Aroused? Maybe you’re made nostalgic for childhood, a time when two siblings might share a bath in perfect innocence. Why might you feel the way you do? One great thing art can do for us is offer a chance to go swimming in our own psyche.

When considering the intentions of the photos, however, Vogue magazine and the fashion and advertising industries’ historical insidious shaping of society’s perception and treatment of women can’t be ignored. Photography in this medium is a marriage of art and salesmanship, and it never hurts to question what one is being sold. The tides are definitely turning as those who were once diminished take the reins, but we’ve only just begun to tackle social issues that affect so many.

[Rewind:] The State Of The Industry | Vogue Cuts Ties With Mario Testino & Bruce Weber

In a society where women’s bodies are treated as a public commodity, where sex and nudity are held as one and the same, it’s no wonder the go-to assumption of many would be that these sisters are being sexual. The product and the reactions are both reflective of a world where women have long been seen as objects. Art imitates life, while it has, in turn, shaped it as well.

When you look at this photo of Bella and GiGi Hadid, what do you see?

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. bob dole

    it’s just like any other nude photoshoot, i don’t see anything creative in it, you’ve seen it once you’ve seen it all, it’s boring

    it’s just attempts to push that “edge” from bored photographers certainly

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  2. Skip Gue

    Beautiful! That’s It

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  3. Heath Hughes

    I see comfort, and I see what it means to be human. The thought of what you see relates a lot to what you think of yourself or of women in general, but these women are doing something that is of a higher mind than what most people understand, which is just that it is a body and in their mind, they are just sitting next to a sibling.

    I think they are brave. I see them as something I have fought my whole life to be, and that is being completely comfortable with who I am which in turn goes along with my mindset of a situation I am in.

    BRAVO ladies. Cheers to the Photographer and Vogue for pushing the limits, which many times have become the norm. 

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  4. Linda Youngblood

    Seems to me a “fashion magazine” cover should focus on “fashion”.  In my mind, “fashion” in this context means apparel.   

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    • Amyn Nasser

      2 different words meaning 2 different things. There’s a comment Steven had made about what Fashion is about. Google it to find out as it has more to do with a statement and trends rather than clothes and apparel. Cheers!

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  5. Tracy Whiteside

    I’m usually the first to object to the exploitation of women but frankly I did not think anything of this photo except “they are so pretty.”  Maybe I am finally desensitized or maybe it’s just 2 pretty girls not showing any bits or  touching inappropriately.

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  6. Jim Descher

    As a guy who has two sisters, I’d say this is a bit bizarre in that regard. 

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  7. Lorri Adams

    I love this photo.  To me it speaks of the closeness one experiences with a sister, nothing more, nothing less.  Anyone who sees “porn” – hmmm, says more about them than it does the photo. 

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  8. Cindy Winkelman

    Art in its finest form. 2 Beautiful woman showing their Beauty. 

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  9. Amyn Nasser

    Great shot! Great covers! Normal Fashion Nudes done all the time for fashion magazines. Done some myself for the different magazines including  Glamour Italia and Vogue Hommes among others.

    Steven Meisel not Maisel.

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  10. Jonathan Brady

    I think you hit the nail on the head with a wrecking ball when you said “In a way, these images pose as a Rorschach test for one’s attitude on a number of things.”

    It doesn’t seem to matter what the photographer or models intended for most people. In fact, I haven’t seen any discussion of this in the online banter. It only seems to matter what people think of it.

    Personally, I have no clue who either of them are. Nor do I care. I don’t care that they’re siblings, nor that they’re nude.

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