Warning: This article contains nudity and may be unsuitable for work environments.
The tired phrase "Boys will be boys" is often used to excuse the immature, rowdy, troublesome behavior of young men because, apparently, it's in their nature.
Photographer Tyler Udall's series "Boys" portrays a different, more complex, image of boyhood -- one filled not only with blunt strength, power and machismo, but also tenderness, tranquility and sympathy. In the dreamy series, Udall's not-a-boy-not-yet-a-man subjects pose in various states of undress, their bodies somewhere between macho protagonist and feminine muse. Their multidimensional natures are written on their bodies, which appear passive and romanticized while filled with energy and light.
"Males (especially gay males) are ostracized for demonstrating 'feminine' qualities: creativity, sensitivity and empathy," Udall explained in an interview with i-D. "Being gentle is frowned upon. Why? Not that these qualities are only inherent to females, but for some reason we have predominately associated them with women. The fact of the matter is, men who exhibit these traits are sometimes met with ridicule, shame and are considered weak. This is such a slap in the face to women. Why should these so-called 'feminine' qualities be classified as something bad for men?"
Udall's photos reveal how feminism doesn't just help protect and liberate women, but so-called "femininity" in all its human forms. Just as a woman shouldn't only be praised for her ability to pose prettily in a photograph, so a man shouldn't be glorified for refusing to show emotion, vulnerability and weakness. When genders are stereotyped, generalized and culturally enforced, everyone is forced to forget aspects of themselves.
The stunning "Boys" of Udall's photographic world are masculine and feminine, strong and susceptible, creative and beautiful, and so much more. The images recall the fragility and radical intricacy inside us all that sometimes a camera can only allude to.
Auguries of Innocence, published by Armour Press, is available here.