This digital painting by Christophe Young is called “Post-Race Breather” and I chose it because it’s a self-consciously sexy image. This to me is an example of doing it well.
Presumably this woman has been racing inside some sci-fi mecha or spacecraft, and she’s quite hot. She’s sweaty and exhausted from being under that helmet in some kind of cockpit moving at ungodly speed. What’s more, unlike many images, her breasts, while full, are not overly large, and she’s showing less skin than you’d see at the beach. The artist uses her form-fitting suit, practical attire for a sci-fi racer, to reveal her taut muscles.
What’s more, her pose is blatantly sexy, but it’s confident. She’s not covering anything coyly. She’s not peeking coquettishly at the viewer. She’s fucking tired, and she’s collapsed on the ground and she doesn’t give a shit if anyone’s looking. Indeed, her eyes are closed. Her head is up, indicating that exhaustion, but in a way that could be indicative of something else, especially in conjunction with her spread legs, to which the dual-tone of the suit expertly directs our eyes. And then there’s the way the knobs of the suit grip her torso.
I’m heard to say many times that there’s nothing wrong with depicting either gender sexually. The problem is depicting one of them predominantly that way and in lieu of any other aspect of our humanity, of which our sexuality is one. In other words, the problem isn’t within any single image — despite the recurrent cries that pop up on the internet. It’s in the collective mass.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t better and worse ways to go about it, and if you’re going to do a “sexy sci-fi girl,” it seems to me this is one of the better. This image is blatantly sexual. You’re meant to imagine more. But the subject is not simply a sexual object by virtue of her being but by virtue of her doing. She’s sexy because, whether she won or lost, she’s a confident, athletic competitor — of course, with an amazing body.
And here’s an example of another well-done image, this by Oscar Chichoni.