For this challenge, I had the idea to go and take lovely, flattering pictures of women of all shapes and sizes to show beauty comes from within, not from squeezing into size 00 jeans and filling out a 32D bra. It was to be a beautiful f— you to corporations pushing on us an industry standard “ideal” that does not reflect reality and only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we buy more products. It was to show that all bodies can be beautiful: round cut or pear shaped, athletic, lanky or motherly, there is beauty in every shape, if only we look for it. And refuse to allow our minds to be boxed in by corporate dictates.
So I set out to take such pictures. I started with my beautiful friend, who is expecting. And, oh my, she’s just gorgeous and glowing!
Then I started approaching women of all kinds, targeting every shape and size I could find, with only a mind for possible compositions and workable lighting. But my job quickly became more and more difficult.
The rounder a woman was, the less likely it was that I could get her to volunteer for a photo. If she was older than 25 or 30, then it got even more difficult. One woman, who had some facial scarring I hadn’t noticed until after I approached her, positively shooed me off. I began to suspect that the less comfortable a woman was with her body image for not fitting in the “norm”, the less willing she would be to let me photograph her.
I began to fret, wondering if I should just scrap the idea altogether and just go with pictures of circular and rectangular shapes and whatnot in still life form. But then I got mad. No! I would not cave in. This is exactly my point!
All shapes and ages are beautiful, each in their own way. Beauty comes not in shapes but in how we carry ourselves and from loving our own bodies. A woman could have the “ideal body”, but if she hunches over and shrinks back, you’d never notice it. When a woman is truly comfortable in her own skin and carries herself like she means it, then others will find her attractive. And having the “ideal” body doesn’t ensure you love your body and are comfortable in it. That is just a lie we tell ourselves when we want to lose those extra pounds. Perhaps if it comes fairly naturally to you, it might. But if you have to fight for it tooth and nail, and every day you’re weighing this and scrutinizing that, you might easily hate your body, no matter how well you look doing it.
(You might think I’m being hippy-dippy, oh, everyone is beautiful…and I’m not. In all honesty, not everyone is a beautiful person. But I’ve thought a lot about this and I do truly believe beauty can be found in a variety of different shapes, of which the “ideal” is only one. Yes, health might be a factor…but I’ve seen healthy, round people and nonhealthy skinny people and every version in between. While there is a correlation between health and weight, they are not one and the same. Shape aside, the key issue is whether you’re eating and moving in ways that are healthy – mentally, physically, and emotionally – for your body and its peccadilloes. Because physical health is only one dimension. Mental and emotional health are equally important. But physical health is just happens to be the one that’s easier for others to see.)
Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.