Women...so many of us have a complicated relationship with what we look like. Too skinny, too fat, too wobbly, too wrinkly, too bony, too tall, too short, too lop-sided, too spotty, too scarred, too hairy...not hairy enough, not smooth enough, not curvy enough, not flat enough, not defined enough...PHEW!! The list goes on. Too many of us are constantly judging ourselves, and find ourselves lacking. We are our harshest critic, and there is no escape...UNLESS we change the way we think. We should be able to look in the mirror and LOVE our bodies. These amazing, unique and beautiful bodies that are carrying us through this life, designed to withstand all manner of endurance.
The use of make-up is one way that so many women try to cover up / enhance their faces, no matter what age. And I decided that I wanted to explore this in more detail, alongside the inner (or in some cases, outer) critics, as well as hoping to help make women realise how beautiful they are without enhancement. The project 'Unmasked' was born!
I interviewed and photographed 18 women in total, who all signed up willingly, for a variety of reasons. For the interview, the women had to answer three prepared (and one unprepared) questions:
1) What made you sign up to this project?
2) What hurtful things have been said about you, or do you say to yourself?
3) What do you love about your body?
4) What do you love about yourself?
The replies were fascinating. From signing up to challenge themselves and push themselves out of their comfort zone, to setting a good example for their children, to just having some 'me' time whilst supporting a local artist. The honesty and trust that my sitters gave me during the interviews was really appreciated, as I was able to find out how and why some women felt the way they did about their looks.
The final two questions were really important, and one that I feel we should regularly ask ourselves. I even made myself answer these questions prior to the project commencing, and realised that it was more difficult than I'd expected. However, I felt really positive after answering the questions myself, and I hope that my sitters did too.
Following the interview, was a mini portrait shoot. The requirements? No make-up, no hairstyling, no editing. The women could bring whatever clothes they wanted to wear - be it casual, lingerie, glam - whatever made them feel fabulous. I also produced black and white portraits only, which gave the project a unified feel. I absolutely loved working on this project. It was wonderful to see how some women came to realise that they could leave the house without make-up on; many saw beauty where they'd struggled before.
This project became so much more than about make-up - it was about body positivity, acceptance, self-love. This is so close to my heart, and I thank every one of the 18 women who made it into my studio to support me in this project. As well as this, thank you to the countless women who expressed an interest, but weren't able to attend for whatever reason - your support means so much to me.
I have decided to continue with offering 'Unmasked' sessions alongside my normal portrait shoots. They will last for 1 hour and cost £45 (portraits to be purchased separately). The portraits will be in black and white, and include very minimal editing (at the request of the client). If you think this would be of interest to you, please get in touch as I would LOVE to photograph you!