Keep it “PG”

mary-ellen-mark-05
One of my favorites by Mary Ellen Mark.

This photo. It’s like photography’s version of my favorite poem.

I can’t even…

We looked at more photographers and more photos, but I returned to this one in my Google search every time.

I think it’s the innocence.

“They’re so young!” My classmate said, “And I don’t like that she’s topless.”

They’re not all that young. They look to be maybe 15-18. Think about it. When’s the first time you saw someone of the opposite sex naked?

I don’t think this photo would have the same effect for me if she had a bikini top on. Look at the curve of her back and its sharp, shadowed contrast to the sand on the ground. How that curve leads to her hips. The strip of white skin that cuts across, creating a tan line that leads to her breast.

And her facial expression is so intense. Why is she looking at the camera? And is he crying? I can’t quite tell. But it’s beautiful. And I especially love that she stands behind him holding him. Doesn’t society pound into our heads that it should be the other way around? But it doesn’t have to be. Men can show weaknesses, too. Men need to be held sometimes.

Women are allowed to be topless.

Teenagers are allowed to explore each other.

And the figure in the distance isn’t running toward them, screaming to keep it “PG.”

It’s so peaceful.

I printed it out and framed it. It currently sits in my room atop my record player. It’s just another reminder that some things may seem obscene to some people –– like the poem by c.b. trail –– but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be beautiful.

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