“Miss TSA” calendar reminds us just how unsexy some “sexy” poses are

Especially the one in the second row, where the woman looks like she’s about to start doing tricep dips. It’s a nice reminder that in addition to all the makeup, lighting, airbrushing and photoshopping, making what’s considered to be a “sexy” photo also requires some really uncomfortable posing.

series of x-ray photos of a woman in various poses, similar to sexy ones they might make in a photo shoot

The photos were originally taken for another calendar that was designed to convince doctors to buy x-ray monitors. Both calendars are clearly meant as parodies, albeit crappy, sexist ones. But I appreciate these photos because they’re a reminder that, when you look at conventional definitions of “sexy” from a slightly different angle – in this case, from an angle that removes facial expression, hair, makeup, surrounding requisite beach or fur rug and leaves nothing but the body – those definitions start to look really ridiculous. These poses are totally absurd, so unlikely to be struck during actual real-life sex, and this particular form of photography throws that into sharp relief. It can be easy to forget, when you’re looking at a photo that includes all the images that serve as code for “sexy” – the hair, the pout, the lighting, the flesh – that it’s all a carefully orchestrated performance. These x-rays take that performance and remind us that it’s all a show, and not a very sexy one at that.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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