I was particularly interested in this as my A-level art exam project was about the changing idea of the 'ideal' body shape throughout history, I might show you some of my work as a follow up post. :)
She was kind enough to let me interview her and give us all some more insight into the significance behind the project.
Why did you start this project in the first place? Was there a particular thing that made you want to do it?
I am so inspired by the body acceptance revolution. My personal journey towards self acceptance started as I found an online community of women who loved themselves unconditionally; I felt like I could be a part of this. I also just finished contributing to the Sexy Lady Bookworms project and saw first hand the transformation in first time models and their self esteem as they were captured in a photograph. There is something about the camera becoming an honest third party and showing you that you are indeed beautiful. It negates any doubt that you may have in yourself. I love offering women a chance to have “proof” that they are exquisite.
What do you hope to achieve from the project?
Initially, I started this project to give women around the world a positive point of reference in which to accept and love their bodies. I know that seeing pictures of confident women that are my size gives me the boost that I need to stand a little taller and strut a little more confidently. This was my original hope, but it has evolved into so much more. I felt like I was really pressing my luck in asking for a dozen women in Tucson to bare all in front of my camera and ultimately, the world. When I put my request out there I thought “Ten. Ten is a good number, right? What the hell, I’ll ask for twelve.” I was so delighted and honestly, amazed when my inbox filled with volunteers. I still receive participation requests on a daily basis!
My main focus of this project has now shifted. Every female that comes to the location is greeted by a comfortable, emotionally conscious and sometimes silly photographer who truly believes that they are beautiful. I really, really do. This translates into the shots and the model eventually relaxes and embraces their body in the moment. Every single shoot ends with a “Thank you so much for a positive experience” and I am inspired repeatedly by the confidence that they leave with. This is reinforced when I send them several photos for their personal use and am met with surprise and excitement about how wonderful they look.
How many women have you photographed and what has the general response to the photographs been?
I believe there have been 16 or 17 shoots so far, and my Sunday openings are filled through January with more spots in February that will be opening up. I jumped right in at the beginning, booking my weekends with 5 to 6 shoots a day… and then I realised that I’m going to need to pace myself in order to be emotionally present for each woman that participates.
The response to the photos has literally been overwhelming. Through supporters in social media, the following has grown exponentially and is continuing to expand. I am so happy to see discussions on the Facebook photos, not only for the self esteem boost of the model pictured but also because we often address the issue of embracing ALL body types. Often, because many of the women are not “traditional” models there is a celebration of larger women, but demeaning comments about small women. I personally do not subscribe to the belief that fat women are beautiful and skinny women are sellouts. I believe that each woman has her own inherent beauty that is unquestionable. Every body is a perfect body, and this is a fact. The negative comments become a teaching experience, and I hope that people leave the site with a new perspective. This is what the project is all about: educating the public that beauty is not exclusive.
Why do the women you photograph want to be involved?
Almost every model has expressed anxiety about the photo shoot, but have forced themselves to participate because they know that their bravery will inspire others. Embracing their “perceived flaws” and confidently showing that self love is possible seems to override the initial nervousness. I find this so admirable.
Aside from the women in them, the images themselves are beautiful, have you been inspired by any particular photographers/artists?
Liora K has been working on a political and feminist photography movement that I participated in several times. This honest representation of female bodies most certainly helped me see how powerful physical vulnerability can be.
Have you got a particular highlight of the experience?
I almost feel like I get more out of this project than the models! With every lady I meet my self confidence soars and my commitment to body acceptance promotion increases. I am a lucky girl!
Thank you so so much to Jes I loved putting together this post!You can visit her blog at The Militant Baker. You can also visit The Body Image(s) official site
or you can join in the discussion on the Body Image(s) facebook site - new images are being added all of the time!
What do you all think of the project? What have you seen lately thats inspirational?