The widower of a 9/11 cop returned her "Woman of the Year" award to Glamour after they honored Caitlyn Jenner with the same award, claiming Jenner "is not truly a woman." Rose McGowan then slammed Jenner's acceptance — in which she said that the "hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear" — by saying she does "not understand what being a woman is about at all." In the past year, Ruby Rose discussed identifying as gender fluid, and Miley Cyrus revealed that she doesn't identify as either a boy or a girl.
So, even though the topic of what gender means is as important as ever, it's particularly prominent in the global discourse right now.
On the heels of her 2010 photobook I Heart Boy, which focused on male subjects, this newly released project features portraits of women in a way that feels honest, natural, and intimate, as opposed to the hypersexualized depictions of the female body everywhere we look.
Inspired by our shift to a more gender fluid society, where we're realizing we don't have to accept the gender assigned to us at birth, Yatrofsky's newest work challenges the idea that femininity means one, specific, clearly-defined thing.
"I care a great deal about the body and how it is represented, how we perform gender, the evolution of human equality, and why it's the cause of some intense debate," she told mindbodygreen in an email.
Her work aims to explore how we choose to define ourselves: feminine, masculine, androgynous, alternative, and anything in between.
"This particular series represents a facet of women of a certain age, living authentically, and expressing their gender accordingly," Yatrofsky explained. Sure, we can call these women by any of the aforementioned adjectives, "but that doesn't fully capture what I feel the project represents which is largely about a human vulnerability that can't be defined and categorized easily."
While photographing subjects for this series — typically close friends, peers, couples, art models, and other acquaintance — "I witnessed this same radical but subtle individuality and I was interested in capturing these subjects in that state of purity while also retaining an image that they also felt inline with," she said.
"For me, this work represents more than a specific group of women, it represents a look at the current cultural landscape. I am interested in examining the way we think about women and body image and how we perform gender."
And that's exactly what I Heart Girl accomplishes. These photos of women in such a raw, vulnerable state force us to think — like, really think — about what masculinity and femininity really mean, and how we as humans have the exceptional ability to express those characteristics dramatically, subtly, or not at all — no matter what gender we're assigned at birth.