*THIS IS AN OLD BLOGPOST I WROTE RIGHT BEFORE STARTING QUEST FOR BEAUTY .
beau·ty / ˈbyo͞odē/ noun
- 1.a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
WHAT IS BEAUTY?
How do you define something so special? For me beauty is a feeling. What makes us think something is beautiful? Beauty happens when we look at something and we feel something inside and a voice in our head makes us go “WOW”. There are two different kinds of beauty: the one that is REAL, and instantly recognized by your soul; and the one that is put in our heads by society, the media and the man made world around us. There’s a big difference between the two! I truly believe that if all of our memories were wiped away and we were put in front of an image of a Kardashian and an image of a random average girl most people would pick the random average girl as beautiful!
MEDIA & BEAUTY
The media can easily condition our thinking. When they force feed us images of statuesque women with impeccable bone structure and flawless luminous skin in magazines and advertisements, they make most of us think that THAT is the only kind of beauty there is, and that’s what we should all aspire to… but that’s obviously bullshit!
If you’ve read a little bit of my blog, you know I am a fashion photographer and unfortunately I’m contributing to this problem. Lately though, thinking about it has been keeping me awake at night (and I already have heavy insomnia problems so you can imagine how sleep deprived I am lol).
Before getting deeper into this conversation I want to make a few points very clear : A) I have a deep love for fashion as a form of art. I think there is an immense amount of beauty and talent in it B) I respect the people that work in this industry (designers, models, make up artists, stylists, art and creative directors etc etc) C) I am not trying to declare war, I just think it’s important to make people aware about some issues that I was put in front of.
That said, the reason I got into photography in the first place is because creating art is what I live for. I have a passion for story telling and obsession with fairytales. I wanted to create beautiful and magical images that would make people dream a little. The photographic field that best suited my feminine and romantic vision was fashion photography. The first year and a half I was doing it I was so caught up in the novelty of everything that I never even thought about the bigger picture. But this last year my conscience has started to creep up on me.
I shoot mainly womenswear and fashion editorials. My job basically consists of photographing gorgeous professional models wearing gorgeous designer clothing. It’s a great job: I’m my own boss, I get to be very creative and I get to create beautiful images that sometimes can be considered art. The reason why being a fashion photographer is making me feel so torn is strictly ethical: I’m contributing to setting a very unrealistic standard of beauty for the world and many women are suffering because of that.
To get a great understanding of the demages this can do you should watch this great Ted Talk by Meaghan Ramsey.
Here’s some data:
- 17% of women will not show up to a job interview on a day they don’t feel confident about the way they look.
- 8 out of 10 women are not happy about their body.
- 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
- 70 million individuals worldwide suffer from an eating disorder. 10% to 15% are men.
- 68% of Women say they feel worse about their appearance after looking through a women’s magazine.
- The average American woman is 5’4″ tall and weighs 140 pounds. The avarage professional model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.
- 19% of people with body issues have thought about committing suicide. 9% have actually tried.
The images I create, the images we see in magazines and billboards are not real: it takes hours and hours of work and large teams of people to achieve these results. After a few hours of hair and make up, professional styling, and lots of retouching the girl in the pictures doesn’t even look like the girl in the picture! The gorgeous girls I photograph are professional models. They are beautiful but it’s important to remember that only a very small percentage of women in the world look like that and their specific look is not the only kind of beauty that exists. Yet their specific look is the standard we grow up seeing, and unfortunately many young women are negatively affected by it (I’m focusing specifically on girls here but guys are definitely also affected by this issue). Growing up as a dancer i witnessed this first hand. Unlike many of my dance mates, I never had an eating disorder but i also never had a happy relationship with food and body image either…let’s just say that being in front of a mirror 6 hours per day makes people become quite self conscious!
I think it’s really really important for everyone to understand that beauty comes in a million shades! In my opinion the truest form of beauty comes from within. There is nothing as beautiful as being kind to others, being unique and being true to yourself! We should find beauty in what WE think is beautiful. We should all start to decondition our thinking.
Have you ever thought about how every sunset is different from another? You’l l never see the same sunset again, once darkness comes and absorbs the light, what you were just contemplating is gone, forever. And that is what makes it so damn beautiful! It is one of a kind. And guess what? We are all one of a kind!
The ideas we have about the way we look impacts our entire life…embrace who you are and don’t follow the masses! Choose identity over appearance. Good looks will fade with age but who you are will always be there. If you put a lot of effort into looking hot and pretty but you’re an asshole to others and a shitty human being in general, trust me , you won’t have a good run!
Love yourself and your body (and please stay healthy, it’s not good to be underweight but it’s not good to be overweight either!)
LET’S CHANGE THINGS!
It’s not fair to let the media decide what beauty is for everyone else, to let society judge and reward people based on what they look like instead of what they do and how talented they are. The only way to change this perception is to actively DO something about it instead of just talking about it.
If you feel like shit looking at a magazine, don’t buy it! If you feel like you want to cry after watching the news or other stuff on TV, stop watching it! If you don’t like something, say it out loud and do what you can to change it!
Images are very powerful tools. I decided to put my skills to use and DO something about it! I am starting a new project: throughout the next few years I will be creating a series of creative portraits where—still using my feminine and romantic photographic style—I’ll photograph women of all ages, sizes and cultures all around the world to show that every woman is beautiful in her own unique and amazing way.
Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves, everyone deserves to be happy, and when we are happy we are all beautiful!