The Important Message Behind a New Body-Positive Photo Campaign

In the latest awesome, body-positive, Photoshop-free portrait project, women of all shapes and sizes came forward to take part in the Expose Project’s second annual photo shoot.

The Expose Project is a photographic effort to rethink the media’s narrow beauty standards, by spotlighting the under-represented beauty of a cross-section of women. The project first debuted in 2013 featuring 68 woman. This year, creators Liora K. and Jes Baker looked to build upon their powerful message, by featuring 96 unaltered and mostly undressed women of all ages and sizes. The goal is simple: feature women’s bodies as they are, in all their glory.

“We all know that what we see in the media isn’t the whole story,” the project’s website reads. “It’s not representative of all of us. And because of what we see (or rather DON’T see), we start to believe that we are the only one with our particular stretch marks. Our uneven boobs. Our scarred legs. Our asymmetrical nipples. Our belly shape. Our body hair. Our what-ever-it-is-that-you-don’t-see-on-display-any-where-else. . . Rarely do we see our beautiful and complex combination of body parts that makes us magnificent.”

This campaign is not about defining what a “real woman” looks like. This campaign isn’t about shaming women who happen to meet the standards of beauty as set by society. This campaign is about showcasing all women—curvy, skinny, tall, short, young, old—and spreading the message their body is not something to be ashamed of.

“At the end of the day though, what I really wanted the women to get out of our time (however brief) together was that they were IMPORTANT,” Liora K. writes in a blog post. “That their bodies deserved to be seen, that what they perceive as faults are simply THEM, and are neither right nor wrong. That showing their bodies won’t innately cause them harm. That their breasts won’t cause damage to those around them, or their bellies or thighs either. That their nudity, while making them vulnerable, does not make them at fault. And that lastly, their bodies are their vehicles through life, and to treat them with kindness. I hope that came across.”

Like most women, like most people of all genders, I struggle with self-image. I struggle to accept my body, flaws and all, for what it is. I’ve broken down in tears in a Gap dressing room after accepting the fact that the cute dress from the clearance rack clearly wasn’t made for my body shape. I’ve become anxious, depressed, and self-conscious. I’ve un-tagged and deleted more photos than I’m willing to admit.

Projects like these reaffirm all that is good in the world. They quash the lonely feeling of being the woman who can’t zip up the dress or feels like she’s the size of a house from certain angles. They remind us that platitudes like, “People come in all shapes and sizes,” really are true. This isn’t about selling a product, and it’s not about telling people that we’re all beautiful in our own special way. This is about encouraging self-acceptance, and that’s awesome.

As the website says, “Your body ain’t wrong, girlfriend. And Expose is here to prove that.”

Photos from this year’s Expose photo shoot (which are NSFW, but definitely worth checking out!) can be found at their website.

(Featured images via Expose 2014Liora K. and TheMilitantBaker)

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