you capture – shapes

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!

youcapture_shapes6aThen 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.
youcapture_shapes3The 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.

youcapture_shapes4I 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.
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(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.)

youcapture_shapes1So I reiterate: all shapes are beautiful. Skinny, square, or short, luxuriously curvy or lanky and lean. All shapes are beautiful.
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If only we can allow ourselves to believe it too.

Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

For more shapes (and perhaps less soapbox!), head over to Beth’s site, I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in this week’s You Capture challenge!

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22 thoughts on “you capture – shapes

  1. I love this so much. It is the truth. Up until about 2 years ago I was the most unhealthy 110-pound woman around, but now? Taking care of my body, which meant exercise and eating better, has lead me to a place where I have a healthier body and a healthier mental outlook on life. We are all worth it, we just have to find it.

  2. It's a great soapbox to be on. Great message. The term "body-shape" should be indicative. There is no one perfect shape… just a perfect shape for you. You know? Right now my perfect shape is less than the industry ideal, but I'm happy with it. I'll be happier with it when I'm healthier, but it's a process. =)

    By the way, love seeing the sun in your photos. I miss the sun!

    • Thank you! Obviously, I can't talk for anyone else really, but I just know for me, I worked my butt off to get down to my "ideal weight" for my wedding and was really excited, and proud, when I got down to it. … But then I wasn't happy. I was obsessing over my weight every single day and my entire mood for the day was determined by whether my weight went up or down half a pound. I didn't socialize as much, and when I did, I had to "pay" for it later. I ate a lot more processed foods because calories were easier to count than in home cooked meals. It was nuts. And I was skinny and had no idea how skinny I was. All I could see were my chunky thighs and round hips. (Nevermind that x-smalls and size 2 clothes were too big on me so shopping became a whole different kind of ordeal.) I might have been tiny, but my mental and emotional health were in question. That's why I say, having your ideal body is no guarantee that you'll be happy and comfortable in your own skin.

      So I spent a lot of time thinking and taking a good hard look at my body and realizing my shape is what it is, no matter what size of it it becomes. And I started to gain a little weight and I watched what happened to me and decided I liked it. I like having soft rounded parts. It makes me feel womanly. I don't have bony angles all over the place and I don't get bruises on my hips anymore from banging them on counters and such. It looks less flattering in some clothes because our industry doesn't produce clothes for a variety of shapes; it's not cost-effective for them. But when I look in the mirror, I like who I see. I can eat what I want (within reason of course, and reasonable portions) and I don't have to hide from friends because I can't control the calories in restaurant food.

      Sorry for the long-winded reply! Phew. But thank you for your comment! And congrats on winning the You Capture giveaway from last week! Here's hoping the sun finds its way to your neighborhood soon! ;)

  3. Beautiful post. I'm sad that people have such low self esteem about their bodies that they didn't want to be photographed. I am far from the ideal and do struggle sometimes with balancing what I want to look like with what I have to work with but I wouldn't hesitate to pose (unless you wanted a naked shot – but that's a whole 'nother story). I'm glad you were persistent. Your post and the photographs in it are a wonderful encouragement for all of us to embrace who we are.

    • Thank you. It is possible that for some people, it's not an issue of self-esteem so much as privacy. But when there appears to be a trend between closeness to the "norm" and willingness to participate…one does have to wonder.

  4. Well, that is a really beautiful post. I do not know what I would have said if you asked me. I mean I kind of hate to have my picture taken. I certainly do not feel beautiful. Not in the take a picture of me kind of way. But I really like your point. And this is a really powerful message. I appreciate it.

  5. That's a great idea (shapes and women).

    I agree with you about not necessarily being comfortable with my body when I'm thin. I was thin and I just was so stressed, squished inside myself, so not at ease. I'm rounder now and I feel so more alive and beautiful ! Your pictures made me smile.

  6. What a fantastic result to the simple challenge of finding shapes!

    Body image is a serious issue, and unfortunately the majority do not view their shapes as 'acceptable'. Part of me is thankful for the movement towards a healthier lifestyle, but another part is saddened because many people make weight their main priority, and loose focus of everything else. We are continually evolving though, so maybe one day soon it will all shift into proper places.

    Lovely post!