Health

These Women Stripped Down to Reveal the Side of Them Most People Don't Notice

August 15th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

An Australian photographer's new project is sparking a debate online about the power of accepting and loving your body the way it is.

Photographer Amy D. Herrmann's photo series "Underneath We Are Women" includes portraits of 100 different women posing in underwear, and in some cases, nude, in celebration of their bodies. The photos feature a broad range of women — some of whom are transgender or have disabilities — and tell their stories of body acceptance.

One such example is the photo below of a disabled woman named Ruby Allegra, who wrote on Instagram that she has harbored "quite strong feelings of resentment toward [her] own body for a lot of [her] life."

"I wish, as a little girl, I had seen something like this," Allegra wrote on Instagram. "A disabled role model telling me that I was allowed to love myself, that I didn't have to hide, be ashamed of or apologize for my body. That I existed. I had to figure this out (for the most part) on my own, and at times it was incredibly lonely, traumatizing and isolating. This shoot was incredibly liberating and has taken me a step further toward my self acceptance and ability to live unapologetically in this body and in this life."

In another photo, one woman praises her own body for making her a mother:

In one image, a woman named Sarah embraces her stomach scar for reminding her of the medical procedure that she survived:

"After I had my surgery I was never really self conscious of the scar, it was just a reminder of what I had been through... I don't want it to fade," Sarah wrote on Instagram. "I always want this reminder of how amazing my body and mind really are."

Underneath We Are Women

Underneath We Are Women

Herrmann, who created a Kickstarter with the goal of turning her photo collection into a book, told BuzzFeed in a new interview that it has been amazing to watch a lot of the women "let go" of their self-consciousness during each shoot.

“The most surprising thing about this project is the change that happens when these women are photographed,” she said. “They come into the studio extremely self-conscious…but during the shoot, there is always a moment when I see them let go. It’s a beautiful thing to see a woman who has been so unhappy in her skin for so long completely let her guard down, even just for a couple of minutes.”

She made similar comments in an email to ATTN:

"After we photograph each woman, we upload the images to the computer and go through the shots to find the final image that will be included in the book. This is by far the most rewarding part of the project. That moment when women look at an image of themselves and truly fall in love with what they see looking back at them is an incredible thing to witness!"

The photos are resonating with a number of people:

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"The response to the project on social media has been overwhelmingly positive," Herrmann told ATTN: via email. "We've built a beautiful community around a common issue that so many woman can relate to: body image. It has become an online community where women feel safe and included, which is exactly what I hope the book will continue to do in a more permanent way."

Body positivity campaigns have become more popular than ever on social media.

Several photographers have gained attention for conducting body positive photo shoots in recent months and years. Individuals have also started their own body positive campaigns through the help of hashtags and social media. Plus-size model Tess Holliday famously started the viral #effyourbeautystandards hashtag a few years ago to call out societal beauty standards for favoring just one body type.

[H/T BuzzFeed]