An evocative and unsettling photo series on contemporary female body culture is striking a chord with women around the world.
The Monstrous Feminine series by the Melbourne-based artist Jessica Ledwich, now an RMIT University Master of Fine Art student, critically examines standards of beauty and the lengths women go to in order to meet them.
The surreal series – which has received media coverage in the US, UK and Europe – portrays everyday beauty rituals through a dark and disturbing lens.
Ms Ledwich said she hoped the series would inspire questions about the normalisation of beauty treatments that were once considered extreme.
"The Monstrous Feminine aims to hold up a mirror to the value society places on vanity, consumerism and the pursuit of perfection and eternal youth," she said.
"What is really disturbing is how the expectation of women to engage in beauty treatments, procedures and cosmetic surgery has become so ingrained in our culture that we don't even think twice about it.
"These procedures are almost so mainstream now that you book them to fit between your grocery shopping and your laundry.
"There is a whole generation of young women who not only think it is normal to do this, but that it’s desirable and worse, expected."
The series, which took months to complete, was largely created through special effects make-up, rather than digital manipulation.
Master of Fine Art lecturer Dr Laresa Kosloff said Monstrous Feminine captured the complexities of contemporary body culture in highly imaginative and evocative ways.
"It's not surprising that these images resonate strongly with the broader public and international media, as they are so topical and engaging," she said.
RMIT’s Master of Fine Art is open for applications at midyear. Find out more about the program.