A Lesson In Body Positivity Through Photography

I’m doing a self portrait series for a university project and it’s taught me a number of things about loving the body I’m in. I shared the picture below on Instagram with the caption: “I’ve had the hardest time with this first semester of my final year of uni. Choosing to do self portraiture is hard, choosing to shoot film is even harder, and fighting the urge to alter my appearance in Photoshop was the hardest. When I first saw this image all I could see was my lil blonde body hairs, acne scars and cellulite – I had to remind myself why I’m doing this project. But I’ve done it and I’m so proud of myself. The work is not even close to finished but I’ve impressed myself with how quickly I’ve managed to pull my motivation back from the abyss.”

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I had the most overwhelming response of love and kindness from friends, acquaintances and strangers. People telling me that I deserve to be proud of myself in almost every comment, compliments bringing tears to my eyes, others telling me they’re proud of me.ย It meant the world to me and it helped me be brave.

I’m not looking for approval or validation because I’m more than capable of giving myself those things, but receiving an astounding amount of support in that way was phenomenal.

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Shooting medium format film is something I’ve loved since starting uni, I love my course and the equipment we have access to is incredible. Being able to work with Hasselblad cameras is a dream and no matter the subject, the photographs always look beautiful.

I’m at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been but I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m using this opportunity doing a self negotiated project to combine beauty, satire, feminism and politics in a theatrical manner to create a portfolio of self portraits. Things that seem separate and unrelated become cohesive through this body of work.

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I’m challenging the male gaze by showing the power of femininity and visualising the struggles of the suffragette movement that has begun our journey towards equality. Feminism isn’t ‘man-hating’, we don’t all burn our bras and grow out our armpit hair.

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I’m creating this work to feel more connected with myself as a woman. I can always be better educated, more informed, and I want to learn to express my passion for something without it turning to anger. We are monster beauties, aggressive, sexual, imperious, unconventional and frightening.

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‘The Women’s Movement is not an attempt to arrogate man’s prerogative of manhood; it is not even an attempt to assert and emphasise women’s privilege of womanhood, it is simply the demand the in the life of a woman, as in the life of a man, space and liberty shall be found for a thing bigger than either manhood or womanhood – for humanity.’ย  Jane Ellen Harrison.

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