This article was originally published on May 3, 2017.
Tired of seeing the same old butts? Photographer Ashley Armitage definitely is — well, sort of. In her series, Taking Back What's Ours, Armitage puts butts front and center, and asks people to reconsider how they see what she calls "an un-gendered body part."
Armitage says that female-bodied and femme people often deal with unwanted attention to their bodies, and one way to thwart that is to get society to focus on our butts. Yes, really: "Showcasing our butts gives us a break from that [kind of harassment], because butts aren't a gendered body part," Armitage says. "People of all genders have butts, and if you look at a butt, you won't necessarily know what gender it belongs to."
The actual butts of Taking Back What's Ours are depicted as simultaneously other-worldly and incredibly real, thanks to art director Bonnie Robbins' choice to dust the models' behinds with blush. Robbins says this artistic touch "began as a way to view the body with more tenderness and humor," adding that each butt was made up like a face, with attention given to its unique shape and texture.
As you'll see, Armitage's photos put a playful spin on the human form (all of the models were nude, after all). Lee Greene, one of the models in the all-femme cast, describes the vibe on set as "comfortable and girly." "All I could think was, 'Wow, this is so fun,'" Greene says. "And, of course, I felt good about strutting around and presenting my body unapologetically."
According to Greene, being in the shoot boosted her confidence, because all of the models' bodies were accepted as they were — with all of their dimples, body hair, and stretch marks. There was a "common understanding that a body is a body, and a body is wonderful," she says.
Ahead, check out a selection of Taking Back What's Ours. With these photos, Armitage says that she wants to not only change how people see bodies, but to make her viewers laugh, too. "I hope that people can smile and not take these too seriously," she says. "Bodies can be funny and cheeky."