Altanta-based photographer Sheila Pree Bright did just that in her 2003 series "Plastic Bodies", which is currently on display at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, Georgia, until Dec. 7 as part of a group show titled "Posing Beauty in African American Culture."
The series is a set of digitally manipulated photographs of women and dolls of all ethnicities who morpth into one another so that it's hard to tell where the toy begins and the person ends.
The aim of Bright's photo series is to explore our complex relationship with cultural beauty standards; how we view Barbie as a cultural icon, the way society looks at women of colour and the different standards of what constitutes "perfection" around the world.
American concepts of the “perfect female body” are clearly exemplified through commercialism, portraying “image as everything” and introducing trends that many spend hundreds of dollars to imitate. It is more common than ever that women are enlarging breasts with silicone, making short hair longer with synthetic hair weaves, covering natural nails with acrylic fill-ins, or perhaps replacing natural eyes with contacts.
Even on magazine covers, graphic artists are airbrushing and manipulating photographs in software programs, making the image of a small waist and clear skin flawless. As a result, the female body becomes a replica of a doll, and the essence of natural beauty in popular American culture is replaced by fantasy.
Some of the featured Barbie dolls sport dreadlocks, no makeup and crooked teeth.
What do you think of these photos? Let us know in the comments below:
Check out Sheila's work here.