The Good Reputation

The Good Reputation sleeping. Manuel Alvarez Bravo. 1938-9.

The Good Reputation, Sleeping. Manuel Alvarez Bravo. 1938-9.

Whether concealed by a fig leaf or locked by a chastity belt, a woman’s erogenous area has traditionally been kept hidden from view. Flouting convention, Manuel Alvarez Bravo staged this scene by clothing the model’s upper thighs, hips, and waist, and exposing her pubic region. Although this photograph challenges traditional representations of women, it alludes to confinement through the use of bandages around the model’s wrists and ankles. These devices can be interpreted as symbols of bondage and lack of free will.

In this seemingly serene setting, the star cacti lined up beside the slumbering model signal pain and danger. The plants impede the woman’s free movement, while at the same time protecting her from the sexual advances of a potential intruder. In naming this photograph The Good ReputationSleeping, Alvarez Bravo drew upon the Mexican proverb: Earn a good reputation, then rest on your laurels.

(Text from Getty)

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