“Be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it wants to be known. Without bravery, your life will remain small- far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be.”-Elizabeth Gilbert
We all have stories we tell ourselves. “You are fat, and ugly, and no one wants you” we say. Or, “You are strong and beautiful and I love you.” The stories change from day to day, hour to hour. Some of the stories were written for us years ago with other people’s words. Some we are writing now, willfully, choosing carefully, deciding what we will become. It isn’t easy.
In this project we explored the words we use to tell these stories, and the marks they have left on us. Most of the time, those marks are invisible. But we have chosen to show the world.
Each of us in the project found our words; the ones we use to love ourselves and the ones we use to hurt ourselves. The things we say when we look in the mirror, on our best days and our worst. Then we came together in a safe place, in groups of four to six women, and wrote these words on each others’ bodies.
Not only were we nude, but we were truly naked. Exposed in thoughts and feelings as well as in our physical bodies.
In my day to day work I am a boudoir photographer, working to show women their bodies in a new way, empower them, help them find confidence and embrace their sexy side. It’s powerful, entrancing, transformative work. Using beautiful light and skillful posing I show women how the people they love see them, without the muffin tops and dents and niggling details that we all get so stuck on when we see ourselves. I am a passionate believer in what I do and the incredible difference it can make in a woman’s life.
In this project, we continued that work on a different level; rawly exposed, embracing every curve and fold as a natural and beautiful part of the human condition. Using light that reveals the variability and “flawed” nature of our bodies while admitting to ourselves that this, too is beautiful. Artistic and gorgeous, these photos are meant to make us think. They are not intended to be easy.
The response I have had to this project has been staggering; messages of support and love, and stories that are heartbreaking and uplifting and inspiring. I am incredibly grateful for the honesty and vulnerability of my models, and all of the people who have written me with their stories since.
Let these photographs be a collection of voices pushing back the darkness.