Photographer Petra Collins is known for her raw depictions of the coming-of-age experience. In a 2014 interview, the Toronto-born visual artist told Vogue, “My goal is just to create images that generate a conversation about things that aren’t spoken about. I want to change the ways young girls look at themselves and the way women at large are looked at. Art has always been a way for me to work out—not even issues—but how to live. So, when I was 15, and started working, it was a time when I was going through puberty, and beginning to discover my sexuality and photography and film were a means of working that out.”
So, when teen/hair idol Zendaya emphatically claims her Wonderland magazine cover, shot by Collins and styled by Gary Armstrong, is not meant to portray masturbation, we’re highly skeptical. In the grainy, amber-tinted shot, a glowing Zendaya sits atop an austere wooden swivel chair in a room populated by similarly chunky furniture. The setting contrasts heavily with her knee-high, pastel pink, lace-accented, ruffled-sleeve frock. A movie poster on the wall is the only real indication this could be the teen’s bedroom and not her parents’ home office. Garbed in this Lolita-esque attire, the singer strikes a pose: her right hand rests between her legs, which are parted unconcernedly, her left hand clasps her chest, her spine is slightly arched, her head thrown back, a look of ecstasy upon her face…What would you assume she’s doing?
Of course, when the London-based mag revealed its summer issue (which also stars Winnie Harlow, Grimes, actress Sasha Lane and model Jordan Kale Barrett) this Wednesday, sexuality-shamers were quick to light up social media. Among them, this guy:
— Captain Chaos (@KimboHalf88) May 25, 2016
A defensive Zendaya took to Instagram to clear up any supposed misconceptions: “I see what y’all saying by the hand placement,” the actress captioned her announcement of the feature, continuing, “Lmao but that was not intentional you little pervs.”
“You’re a good person I know u wouldn’t do that,” wrote one commenter, as if the Disney alum had just committed murder. “Zendaya really I am disappointed,” added an ambivalent fan.
Perhaps the 19-year-old starlet didn’t realize the photo would look as it did, but given Collins’ style, we suspect the final outcome was premeditated on somebody’s part.
The majority of Z’s fans, meanwhile, were not frazzled by the self-empowering message of the cover, but appreciative of its artistic value and its quite literally shining star.
— Brandon Robinson (@nylerobin) May 26, 2016
— Jenny JumJum (@iamjummjumm) May 25, 2016
— T. H. (@TaliiiMinnie) May 25, 2016
This is not the first time a high-fashion glossy’s been provocative and it most certainly will not be the last. For our part, we look forward to a time when women do not feel compelled to issue disclaimers for conveying their sexuality and can just be, well, zen.
[ via Mic ]