I’ve recently been looking at the subject of body shaming in a little more detail with reference to my project on ‘real women’ and the possible harmful effects of body enhancement using photoshop (or other editing software) in the media.
There are many cases of body shaming that go on daily, from newspapers that criticise celebrities for being overweight, underweight, having pimples, looking tired, having grey hair, etc. Sometimes it comes under the guise of being used as being aspirational to help people – possibly to lose weight, or have plastic surgery, etc. Whatever the reason I feel that to make another person feel uncomfortable/unhappy in their own body is an unkind thing to do.
This article from Ellie Woodward, for Buzzfeed, has some really good examples of body shaming of celebrities in the media, and their responses.
and this one
My current photography project has profoundly changed the way i think and feel about people. I have journeyed deep into my own mind to consider how I use instant judgement to make decisions about what a person is like, and how they live and whether I want to interact with them, without even knowing them. It has changed the way I look at people as I hadn’t realised how superficial we are (I am!) as human beings in that we judge a person on what they are wearing and how their body looks rather than their personal traits and achievements. Its a difficult thing to admit to, but the more you realise you are doing it the more you are able to change your behaviour. I’ve corrected myself many times these last few months, and in the process have had many happy chats with people that I would never have interacted with before – my life is happier for having changed my attitude.
Part of the reason for doing my ‘Real Women’ photography project is to provide inspirational images for women to see what real bodies are like, and that all bodies are not the same, and that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ methodology for body shape and size and that we all have the right to look different and feel good looking different.
I have been awed and humbled by the women that have selflessly allowed me to photograph them as bare as they dared to provide inspiration for other women. Rather than being a project that was a ‘fine art’ project about nude women’s bodies being viewed sexually, these images are aimed for a women’s gaze and more a bonding of sisterhood. These brave ladies are not usually behind the camera, all have the usual insecurities about how people will view them, and yet each has bravely stepped forward and said … “This is me, I am a real women and I am proud of that. Be proud to be you too.”
I came across this poem, The Journey, by Mary Oliver, which I found really inspiring. It could be used as a metaphor for many different things/journeys in life, and in my mind it fits perfectly with the journey of feeling happy in your own skin.
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice—
though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life!” each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice which you slowly recognised as your own,
that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do—
determined to save the only life you could save.
by Mary Oliver