Kit Steinkellner
Updated December 09, 2014 5:13 am

What if someone asked you to pose for a picture in which you stood in your underwear, looked at yourself in a full-length mirror and confronted the parts of your body you find most problematic. Would you run screaming into the night? Or would you screw your courage to the sticking place, strip down, stare into that mirror, and confront yourself while the camera clicked?

If you’re a braver woman than me, then you have a lot in common with the women who posed for Lithuanian photographer Neringa Rekasiute’s “We. Women” photo series. By urging women to be vulnerable and let the camera capture their own deepest and darkest insecurities, Rekasiute aims to give women back their power, to let each of her subjects decide that they are beautiful and then harness the full-force of their own gorgeousness.

Rekasiute teamed up with communications specialist Modesta Kairytė and Lithuanian actress and TV host Beata Tiskevic for this series and Tiskevic mined her extensive fanbase for volunteers to participate. Women wrote into Rekasiute and Tiskevic with their stories, and the two were immediately staggered by the brutal honesty of the would-be participants and how much they just didn’t like their bodies.

“Women were writing about bulimia, anorexia, fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, violence from men,” Rekasiute told the Huffington Post. “This project showed us lots of deep scars in our society.”

The project, which ultimately involved 12 women, served as a kind of protest against mass media’s control over our personal beauty standards. In the photo series, all of the women stand in front of the mirror in only a bra and underwear. The images capture them as they are telling their most painful stories about their bodies, from being shamed to battling eating disorders. What’s striking about the images is how strong and grounded the women appear to be, having made the choice to confront their fears. There’s something about standing in front of the mirror—not picking yourself apart—but being compassionate towards yourself and examining the root of your insecurities, that’s not only brave but cathartic.

“Beata and I wanted to … bring the natural and real bodies of ordinary women back into public light,” Rekasiute explained.

“Media tends to sell the perfect woman image which is one dimensional and usually photoshopped. Yes, we are perfect, with all our stories, scars and experiences,“ Modesta added in a statement to press.

The women behind the project fully believe that giving women permission to love the way they look is synonymous with giving girls their power back.

“Imagine how much energy is released once [women] accept their bodies,” Rekasiute told the Huffington Post. “They can achieve so much during that time, it is unbelievable!”

Tiskevic also brings up the super-important point that once women love and accept the way they look, they can stop worrying morning, noon, and night about they way they look and making their appearance the alpha and the omega of their existence:

“We are not only our body — the body is only form rather than content,” Tiskevic said.

Big ups to our Lithuanian sisters for using their art and their platform to empower women to love and accept themselves AND use all their newfound room in their lives (self-loathing is a time AND energy suck) to kick ass and take names.