In the modeling industry, models are perceived as being perfect human beings, as the media creates a filtered version of how they actually look. With the help of photoshop, the appearance of their skin is made to appear flawless. American photographer Peter DeVito wants to change this, using his work to subvert societal beauty standards and embrace the differences in everyone regardless of their imperfections.
Based in New York, DeVito is widely known for his portraiture that challenges the standards of what the media usually portrays as beautiful. Studying at University Cooper Union, he learned from his teacher to create meaningful and intentional art, so he started using art as a tool for change. In 2018, his work began to receive attention when his acne normalization images went viral on social media, garnering attention from numerous publications and celebrities.
“Look beyond race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc. Try to view the person you’re looking at solely as a human being. You’ve been conditioned not to, but just try,” says DeVito.
DeVito continued this journey, photographing those who he felt were underrepresented in the media, particularly in the beauty and fashion industries. With no retouching or makeup applied to these models, he proudly photographs each individual's natural beauty, showing acne, redness, discolouration, vitiligo, stretch marks, wrinkles, birthmarks, freckles and more. In one of the self-portraits, he quotes Kendrick Lamar’s song entitled “Humble” to address his disdain for Photoshop, even grabbing the attention of world-renowned model, Cara Delevigne.
By creating a series to which anyone can relate and portraying the diverse community of models that make up these industries, DeVito’s practice aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal regarding Reduced Inequalities.
Since the media often sets unrealistic expectations of how a model should look, individuals go through dangerous lengths just to meet these demands through plastic surgery, sometimes developing eating disorders.
In an interview with i-D, DeVito explains,“Doing this project, I’ve learnt that things can only define you if you let them. I hope that doing this project will make people realize that we need more models with diverse skin. The more models people see with different complexions, the more normal skin conditions will become.”
Having been featured in top magazines such as Elle, i-D, Vogue and NYLON, DeVito uses his camera to advocate for a range of important social and political issues, touching on LGBTQ+ rights, body positivity, gender equality and racism. To see more of his photographs and to learn about how he works toward solving these important issues, you can visit his website.