Skin Deep

A new exhibition at Annenberg illuminates the burden and blessing of beauty

Is she hot? Too taut? Not taut enough? After delving into androgyny and pugilism with her stints in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, Hilary Swank demonstrated she was all woman in this 2004 photograph by Norman Jean Roy. Miles beyond our zaftig past, she embodied our transforming notions of what’s feminine and pretty. In Beauty Culture (May 21-November 27), the Annenberg Space for Photography focuses on how the lens has fed and been fed by our billion-dollar obsession with female beauty. Works by Chuck Close, Man Ray, David LaChapelle, Lauren Greenfield, and dozens of others will be on view, making voyeurs of us all.

Photographs in order: Roy Swank/© 2005 Norman Jean Roy; Alek Wek/© 1997 Gilles Bensimon; © 2002 Felicia Webb, Backstage At The Paul Smith Women Fashion Show, London, 09/13/2002; Watson Corset/© 2001 Albert Watson, Red Corset, New York, Ny