Powerful Images Show Actual Imprints Left On Skin From What Women Wear

ArtBeautyBody Image 78 Comments

Justin Alexander Bartels IMPRESSION series is simply stunning in so many ways, and speaks directly to the confines of the “beauty ideal” that has come to consume our culture. His goal was to showcase “what women go through to attract,” by showing “the actual imprints left on their skin from the binding apparel they wear,” and his powerful images have most certainly left an impression on us.

Women You Should Know had a chance to speak with Justin, who has been taking and creating images since he was a pre-teen, about his inspiration behind the series. This is what he shared…

“The IMPRESSION series came about from my dating experiences in college, noticing the different trends and styles that women wore to ‘impress’ or gain attraction. It interested me that so many women would wear binding or uncomfortable clothing, to either impress or attract others, or for their own self-esteem. Having degrees in both Sociology and Photography + Imaging, they definitely combined in this project to show my interest in how society functions, but to also show it in a visually compelling way. I hoped this series would reach women, and inspire them to question what they wear, and why they wear it.”

Clearly he has hit a nerve because the response to the series has been astounding, Justin tells us, adding that he continues to get “great feedback from around the world!”

Justin says that every image or video he makes is a journey, from its inception, creation and completion. So we thank him for taking us down this very thought provoking, visual path.

All images ©justinalexanderbartels.com and are published on Women You Should Know with the expressed written consent of Justin Bartels.







  • leah

    I mean under wear is more of a hygiene thing not so much as ‘I’m going to attract some hot people today!’
    And the shoes? I get imprints from wearing tennis shoes, and I definitely dont wear those to attract people.

  • Jim

    So now, bra imprints are LITERALLY whip marks on a slave’s back. Got it. Somewhere in the Middle East, a woman who’s had acid thrown in her face for not wanting to be someone’s property is wishing that having an undersized bra was her biggest problem.

    • flyingphonebooth

      Where does it say that? Why can’t someone point out women’s fashion is super uncomfortable without having their suffering compared to acid victims in the middle east?

      • Matt Addison

        It’s optional, they don’t have to wear heels and they don’t even have to wear a bra. If they do decide to get them, there are plenty of options which do not cause marks. Tight fitting clothing generally leaves marks around the body, deal with it!

        • flyingphonebooth

          And society judges women on their looks. There is an intense pressure for women to conform to a certain ideal. The choice comes with consequences, and it shouldn’t . But that isn’t even the nifty sexism that this piece brought up- uncomfortable clothes for women are old news. What is interesting is the reaction people have to the mere mention of restrictive female clothing. Why does pointing out somethign that is clearly unfair hurt people’s feelings so much? It’s not like there are people marching in the streets over it, this dude just made a visually interesting photoshoot.

          • Oni Deus

            PROTIP: Society judges EVERYONE on their looks… not just women. Amazingly enough though you have this crazy thing called “free will” where you can actually do whatever the heck you like REGARDLESS of how others might judge you! WOW! I know, I know, it sounds pretty crazy, but seriously, it’s gonna be BIG!

          • flyingphonebooth

            Really? You think the pressure for looking good is the same for men as it is for women? Have you been living in a cave on mars since society was able to produce art of any kind? Oh, with that nifty thing called ‘free will’ comes ‘consequence’- I can chose what I wear but I also feel the negative impacts of doing so. This means people treat me differently and usually more poorly for not conforming.

          • Oni Deus

            Depends entirely on the person. Some people feel an incredible level of social anxiety when it comes to looks… others not so much. The fact that you think it’s a problem that only women face only proves just how sexist and out of touch with reality you are.

          • flyingphonebooth

            Discriminatory trends exists whether you want to acknowledge them at all. Often times they are gender related and sexist. Pointing out sexism doesn’t make you sexist, dude. That’s like saying the reason we have to fix a car is because we told the mechanic the breaks are broken.

          • SillyImage

            People’s feelings aren’t hurt. They just point out the absurdity of acting like this is ‘powerful’,

            http://imgur.com/jXzjWg4 — if you think that this image is silly then you can now relate to what everyone ‘upset’ is feeling.

          • flyingphonebooth

            Seems like an over the top reaction for people to object to one adjective. And that last photo- clearly not the work of an artist.

          • ObjectivityIsKeyForEquality

            But… this isn’t unfair. Maybe an exhibit on the differences between the dress code for men and women at restaurants if the women are made to wear heels/skirts would better illustrate unfairness, stuff like this dilutes the fight for women’s rights. Bras are meant to be supportive not restrictive, most women I know wear bras for the comfort of support. And a man would get more backlash from society if he chose to wear high heels, than if a woman chose to wear sneakers.

          • flyingphonebooth

            I meant more harshly than men. And no, pointing this out does not dilute the fight for women’s rights. I can know that women are pressured into wearing clothes that are too uncomfortable more frequently than men do and still have lots of room to fight for equal pay and representation in government and all sorts of other issues with greater impact. And so can you. Now what really wasted your time was trying to rationalize this double standard away. What you should have done was think ‘yeah, that totally sucks’, maybe took a brief but hard look on how you judge women and their appearance, and then moved on to vote for the candidate who supports women’s reproductive rights or free daycare.

          • Oni Deus

            @Flyingphonebooth – So basically what you’re saying is that women should all be wearing burkas since they’re the most comfortable and relaxing of garments and that way they won’t have to feel any social pressure at all as far as how they look. 😀

          • flyingphonebooth

            Yeah, no social pressure to wear a burkas that I have heard of. Good thinking.

      • Apex

        Probably because they have a choice? Take a second to think about the stupidity of these images.

        • VoR

          Take a second to think about the stupidity of your question. Like a number of others in this thread, what you’re arguing FOR (the availability of individual choice) is EXACTLY what the photographer was making a statement about. I know it’s easier to just look at pictures, but it helps to read once in a while. The guy said in his artist’s statement above that he wondered why the women he knows CHOSE to wear uncomfortable and/or too tight clothing. So he very clearly acknowledges that they have choice. He’s simply questioning why they make the choices they do.

  • umadbitch0

    Dumbest article ever…

  • Alex Owens

    Can anyone tell me when knee-jerk reactions started to eclipse basic reading comprehension?

    • Oni Deus

      Probably at the moment when the “artist” decided to exercise the most blatant usage of a “begging the question” fallacy they could possibly think of.

  • Oppressed female


  • Vanessa

    Lmaoo ooo :’D
    This is hilarious. Women are not forced to wear these things, they choose to. I chose to wear a bra and tight clothes because I look fucking sexy. It’s just like the women crying that they “have to” wear makeup. This is such a joke :’)

    • VoR

      I don’t see the line in the artist’s statement where he says “women are forced to wear these things.” I do see that he says he wondered why the women he knew in college CHOSE to wear uncomfortable clothing. The irony is that you actually understood the point he was trying to make and railed against it anyway… that is a funny “joke.” Thanks for the laugh.

  • Anon

    I NEVER KNEW WOMEN HAD IT SO HARD! Imagine having to wear clothes every day oh my god so harrowing.

    • VoR

      I think you ducked way too low as the artist’s point flew right over your head… you wound up missing it entirely.

  • Daniel Crowley

    They should try buying things that fit them correctly.

    • flyingphonebooth

      That’s the thing, all of these clothes do fit women correctly- they are doing their intended job. Haha, I didn’t even think much of this piece until I read that comment. I assume everyone knows

      • Oni Deus

        Well, no, they really don’t. It sounds like you need a bra fitting.

        • flyingphonebooth

          Your bras don’t indent your skin? Have you made a pact with the devil or something?

          • Oni Deus

            I’ve never worn a bra but I’ve seen enough goofy “bra fitting” segments on television to know that the problem is identical to men’s underwear. Basically if you don’t buy the right size or if you buy really cheapo underwear… yer gonna have a BAD TIME. Socks as well. Pretty much anything with elastic in it really.

          • flyingphonebooth

            All bras leave skin indentations, whether they fit well or not. Unless the weight of balls can be measured in pounds comparing women’s bras to men’s underwear is incredibly misleading.

          • Really?

            My bras don’t leave skin indentations (34C since you bring up the weight), neither do my jeans. I agree, with the exception of the shoes and the corset, which are the women’s choice, these are just an example of improperly fitted practical clothing. And even the shoes are at least a size too small to leave marks like that. Kind of a useless exhibit.

          • flyingphonebooth

            Well clearly you are a magical being. I am very, very much impressed by you. After all there have been men pointing out that they have indentations from socks, and you are wearing a device used to fight gravity cinched around your ribs and hitched up over your shoulders and somehow your skin doesn’t even notice. Impressed and a little scared As has been pointed out of course there is a choice. And there are social pressures to look a certain way, too. The question is what pressures women to make that choice.

          • Really?

            Not magical, I just buy quality clothes that fit. The elastic from socks will leave more of an indentation, because they don’t have the shoulder straps to help keep them up, so the elastic has to be tighter. I might get marks if lay down while wearing a bra, but I would also get marks from baggy pyjamas in the same manner. It probably depends on skin/fat type too.

          • flyingphonebooth

            So if the shoulder straps are keeping them up, what happened to the indentations on your shoulders? Like I said- magical. Don’t deny it, revel in it. Not everyone has a mutant power, and we can’t all shoot lazers from out eyes. However, your personal, fortunate, and very awesome experience aside, 99.999999999 percent of women have skin that indents when they wear clothes designed to restrict their body. No amount of sizing will change that.

          • cseamunchkin

            I buy my bras at Lane Bryant. 36 G here. My bras are fitted properly with padded straps. I also do not sacrifice looks for comfort. They are sexy and do not indent my skin.

          • flyingphonebooth

            Two mutants. maybe it’s the water.

          • cseamunchkin

            Lol not a mutant. I just pay $80 for a good bra and take care of it properly. I also do pectoral exercises to keep the girls up.

          • flyingphonebooth

            Haha, I wear a sports bra most of the time on account of sports. It is nice to know there is a more comfortable option of regular bras out there, but dropping 80 dollars on something I am likely to wear out in a month just seems unfeasible to me. But now I have these fantasies of jell-strapped sports bras with special cooling material….

    • Joey ELem

      (guy) I get the waist marks from time to time, but those bra marks are definitely from a bra that’s too small or not fitted right.

  • gargouille

    I think the whole point here is that women wear these things to look “fucking sexy” (see comment below), but also that they wear them because their places of business, their churches, sometimes their own families, mandate it. And, sure, we can say we do all this for ourselves, but what do you look like when you are not leaving the house? And what do you wear when you just want to walk in the rain? I bet it’s not the clothes that make you sexy/cool/fuckable/hirable, which are for social (i.e., other people’s) consumption. For the record, underwear is NOT hygiene. It’s an American obsession with tight asses and breasts staying high all your life (which they never would left to their own devices). Confusing this artistic statement about American/Western fashion with women whining about mild pain (when other women have acid thrown in their faces) makes no sense. It is both a horror that women are the subject of disfigurement and horrible pain, and also shocking how liberated, modern women still Barbie Doll up. Not the same things, but both true.

    • cseamunchkin

      Actually it is more hygienic and recommended women wear panties that are cotton to avoid vaginal infection.

  • Lacy Marie

    Okay, most of these pictures are the result of someone who doesn’t wear clothing correctly. Everyone’s underwear leaves marks on their skin. Everyone’s pants leave marks on their skin. If you’re too incompetent to get a bra that fits, it’ll leave marks. And I don’t know what kind of weird corset she’s wearing in that last panel, but it almost doesn’t even look real… this is a really stupid article. Just saying.

    • VoR

      It’s not “real” in the sense that women took their clothes off at a photo shoot and the photographer was just lucky enough to find these deep clothing mark impressions all over their skin. It’s the artist’s interpretation of something he observed about society, done to make a statement. It’s called art.

      • Oni Deus

        No, it’s the “artists” overly transparent way of creating a “begging the question” fallacy in the most superficial, cliche, trying too hard, boiler plate way imaginable. One slight step up from taking a mundane picture of a package of Mentos and throwing a random pithy quote onto it. No “artistry” was involved here.

  • Dalton Reid

    Can’t go wrong with jeans and a death metal t-shirt.

    • Noa

      Best Response Ever. Take my +1

    • VoR

      Speaking of “spin,” I don’t see the line in the artist’s statement where he says women’s clothing choices are an “institutional form of oppression.” I do see that he says his photos are a statement about something he observed among the women he dated in college, and he wondered why they chose to wear uncomfortable clothing. Maybe browsers show text differently?

      • Oni Deus

        Speaking of “spin” maybe you should go and look up what a “begging the question” fallacy is… you know, so you can avoid looking so completely transparent in the future. ^__^

    • flyingphonebooth

      A person took some cool photos of women wearing common uncomfortable female fashion. This isn’t the suffrage movement, it’s just an excellent point made about a thing women deal with.

      • Oni Deus

        How are these photos “cool” exactly? I mean, I dunno, maybe you have a different definition of “cool” than I have, but uh, I dunno, if you want I can take some pictures of the marks my tight work-out shorts leave on my fat gut… I mean, if that’s your “thing” and all. Whatever floats yer boat as they say!

        PS – You are bizarre… ಠ_ಠ

        PSS – The person who created this is either dumber than a box of rocks or they they knew full well what a “begging the question” fallacy was before they even started.

        • flyingphonebooth

          I don’t think anyone wants to do that. And so they didn’t.

      • ItsSoHardBeingAWomen

        Deal with what? Clothing? None of these examples are of particularly restrictive clothing, and they are all 100% the woman’s choice. And yes, men get clothing marks too.

        • flyingphonebooth

          Not only are they restrictive, the point of spanks and corsets is to restrict. Same with bras. I imagine men do get clothing marks but these were perfect outlines of what they were wearing- a little more extreme.

  • Kappa

    Wow they should see what it looks like after i take off my socks. Its harrowing.

  • TheStrugglesareReal

    My socks also left me with scars 🙁
    I can relate a lot to this article.

  • mcinty12 .

    WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAH !!!! Stay in the Kitchen………. Problem solved !

    • Jenny Lorenz

      lol that was sooooo wrong but hahaha

  • ok assh

    Man, you guys should see my ankles after I take off my socks. It’s truly sadening. It just shows how oppressed feet are in modern society..

  • dank


  • Troy

    My watch leaves imprint on my wrist, and you don’t see me crying about it

  • Jenny Lorenz

    hmmm imagine that….. Clothes that are too small for them to wear leaving imprints on their skin. Shocking (sarcasm) Then there’s sandals…. that happens with sandals. Don’t like it? Don’t wear sandals.

  • emp1

    And we should feel sorry for these women because?

  • Jack Hammer

    First World problems

  • Oni Deus

    Wow, somebody is in desperate need of a bra fitting! ಠ_ಠ

  • james

    stop caring so much about what strangers think for fucks sake

  • Marwa Mahmoud Chehata

    It never been on my thoughts to think that it will attract MEN !

  • emily

    If a bra arches up in the back it means its fitted wrong. They should be low and fit snug on you but not leave marks like that one. It also pays for buying good quality underwear, shoes and such. Obviously cheaply made and bad quality things will fit worse and therefore leave marks. If you’re going cheap probably wouldn’t recommend buying a pair of strappy heeled sandals, been there. On the other hand I now have several pairs of good quality heels and love wearing them because they’re comfortable and amazingly cute and make me feel like a badass Dominatrix every time I go out walking around in them, not because society tells me I have to wear heels. It is completely your choice. People blame society for everything but we are society, and we watch fashion trends change year in and year out. If you don’t like what’s being sold start a new trend. Newsflash, you don’t have to wear what’s considered fashionable. Just remember that its a grand illusion, in the end were all the same.

  • NoteverythingisastatemenJustin

    Are these pieces meant to be ironic? It’s such a weak statement that I feel the artist’s intention is to point out the redundancy and/or potential harm useless arguments have towards the movement as a whole. I know the text says he is sincere, but the shots are so poorly composed and thought out, that I’m expecting him to come out and a couple of weeks and admit his original intention.

  • Oni Deus

    Why don’t you just move to the middle east and wear a burka? Problem solved! 😀

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  • Ana

    Okay, I can see how heels and garter can be uncomfortable but please leave the bra, socks and jeans alone. A body-hugging legging-style pant is more comfortable than a polozzo pant during winter.
    A well-fitted bra is essential for good posture and upper body support.

    Not everything is about attracting the opposite sex.

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  • Janniken Amalie

    If you have small enough breasts it’s possible you don’t need to worry about marks, but if you’re like me an bypass such things you’ll find that you have to choose about support and marks or just a piece of cloth which might as well be foregoed for going without a bra and suffering lewd comments and generally being uncomfortable.

    As for the comments about people having it worse -well I can’t recall anyone really arguing against that??? People still complain about their back if it hurts despite kids in africa starving don’t they?

    So either everyone should shut the hell up or we can stop using excuses like that when someone says something we don’t like.

  • Danny Gentile

    This happens to me when I wear socks and you don’t see me complaining?

  • 8DX

    I think the point isn’t the skin indentations themselves (perfectly normal, I had them my whole childhood from the elastic in cheap socks and underwear), especially since these are high-contrast shots – no permanent damage is done to the skin. The point is the cultural pressures for women to wear constricting and impractical clothing and shoes, due to an emphasis on appearance over practicality.

    So let’s take a moment to praise baggy clothing, it looks cool too =)

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