Did Society Ever Say You Weren't Beautiful Enough
Over the past few months, I have realized one of my talents as a photographer is helping people see themselves beautiful through a photograph. There are many men and women that struggle with body image. As a young woman, I know how hard it is to see yourself beautiful as you're growing up.
Dove did a photo shoot awhile back on body image. I recreated it in one of my classes last semester, and tried to expand the different shapes and sizes of women.
No retouching were done to these photos because our 'flaws' make us beautiful and unique!
Has society ever said you weren't beautiful enough? Hear the stories of girls who learned how to love themselves in a world where people would rather put us down than lift us up.
Emma Wilson is my classmate who offered to model last minute! She heard what I was doing, and I loved the message behind it. Emma is one of the sweetest girls I know with an adventurous soul.
"What I would tell to girls growing up would be do not depend on media to tell you how to look/feel. When I was younger I had such a bad body image about myself because I did not look like the women in the magazines or the girls I went to school with. Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes regardless if you're big, tall, fat, short, or skinny everyone is beautiful in their own way! Always stay true to yourself!"
Lara Richardson is one of my best friends I've made while being in Nashville. She is a genuine person who loves to love people! When I asked her to model for me, she was more than happy to be apart of this project. We went to college together for the past two years and she has blossomed into such a confident photographer and young woman in those years I've known her.
"I think it's one of the most valuable lessons everyone needs to learn. We are attacked daily on how one look is the prettiest. How you need to be a size 00, hair down to your ankles, legs longer than the years it's gonna take me to pay my student debt. It's so important for us to appreciate ALL beauty."
- Lara Richardson
Michiah is my roommate, classmate, and college best friend. I asked her to model for me because she has struggled with her height throughout her childhood. Over the two years of living together I have seen her find herself and love herself more and more each day.
"Growing up I never really felt like I was beautiful, and in society's standards I'm not. I'm not a size 0 with 6 ft. legs. I learned that I could change my hair color, and I could go to the gym every day, but I couldn't change my height, and it's the one thing about me I wouldn't change. My height and size don't define me. Society's standards of what's beautiful will always be a struggle for me. It's going to get worse with future generations if we don't change that now. Everyone is beautiful no matter what pant size you wear, or how tall you are."
Alexis is one of my new friends! I didn't get to know her as well as I wanted to before she moved away from Nashville. She worked with my friend Lara and as soon as I met her, I knew why she had so many friends. She has such a beautiful and adventurous soul. Her story is one of my favorites.
"Growing up, I didn't realize that people looked at the way I looked until one day we played a game in class, and people were seperated into groups based on long hair vs short hair, boys vs girls, etc. There came a point where it was myself on one side of the room and and the rest of my class was on the other. My teacher asked what the difference was between me and my classmates, and a girl raised her hand and said "She's fat and we're all skinny." Ever since that moment, I've seen myself as overweight.
The fashion industry really taught me that there was something "wrong" with me. I was too heavy and too tall and my nose was too big and my eyes were too small. There was no way I could be perfect. I would look at magazines, and pictures on tumblr, and I would long to look like those women. It still has an impact on me today. It's hard to completely cut out those influences in your life.
Now, my thoughts on body image are simply that you are never going to look like anyone else and that is OKAY. How boring would it be if we all looked exactly the same?! I still have days where I think I am fat and ugly and undesirable, but I have to tell myself over and over that I am beautiful and strong and I don't need anyone to tell me that I'm worth something.
I would tell girls today that no one likes how they look, and that's okay. But after that, I would ask them who told them that there was something wrong with their body. Because it sure wasn't just something they decided one day. In a world where we are constantly being told to change ourselves and that we aren't good enough, it is so unique and valuable to find a woman who loves herself exactly as she is.
To women across the world: You aren't going to wake up one day and magically love your body. You just aren't. You are going to have to make the choice every. single. day. You are going to have to look at yourself in the mirror, you are going to have to make eye contact with your stretch marks, and acne, and rolls, and body hair, and you are going to have to choose to love each and every one of those aspects of who you are, regardless of what society is telling you. Your body is strong and capable and beautiful, so who gives a shit if you have perfect eyebrows?"
I was posting one of these photos on Facebook and two of my Facebook friends commented on the photo about how they felt beautiful during cancer. I felt the need to share their comments on here.
"The most beautiful I have ever felt, was when I lost all of my hair from chemo due to Ovarian cancer. When I looked in the mirror after it all fell out, I saw ME! Not the girl with the long black hair.... but Juli! Beautiful Juli inside & out! And I rocked it! I rarely wore a head scarf or a wig. I'd just walk out the door with my bald head, feeling beautiful & grateful that God blessed me with another day. Unfortunately, all of my pics were lost with my phone, or I would proudly share!"
"I just finished 16 weeks of chemo and I feel exhausted all the time. I think society doesn't except women/girls unless they are a size 0! I am not a 0! But I think you need to be healthy no matter what size you are. I don't feel that I am beautiful but I am okay with that! I have my two cats that love me and that's all that matters and I kick Cancers butt again!"
I dealt with a lot of insecurities in middle school through high school. No one would have thought it though. I was the perky cheerleader who wasn't afraid to be herself. I was the popular girl. Inside, I had so many insecurities. Every girl has dealt with the mean girls, the insensitive guys, and the cliques. I let that get to me all through out my childhood. You should have seen me before I knew how to tame frizzy curly hair. So many girls were so mean to each other. That had a huge affect on how I saw myself in the mirror. I want women to know we don't have to put each other down so much. We learn that when we're young. Let's teach young girls to compliment each other and lift them up. Just because we have different body sizes, different hair types, or different skin tones, doesn't mean we are all that different. We all want to be loved and accepted. Lets take a vow to love each other, and love ourselves.
"I used to want to fix people. Now I just want to be with them." -Bob Goff
I put a lot of heart into this photo shoot and I hope you guys liked it! Do you have a story about what you go through with body image? Send it to me! I would love to get to know you and your story.
Make sure to come back next week to see my blog on Caroline Kelley!
Lara Richardson // @llrichardson_
Michiah Posey // @michiah1122 @photography.behindthelens
Emma Wilson // @emma_may_wilson
Alexis Nowling: @lexbex17 // alexisnowling.wordpress.com
Mary Lee Palmer // @maryleephoto // email@example.com