Society norms have shaped our ideals of how women and men should look to be seen as ‘attractive’. If we don’t look like thin, shapely female celebrities (or sculpted, muscular male celebrities with ripped abs), how can we possibly hope to attract a member of the opposite sex when our physical appearance is the first thing people notice about us?
Women feel great pressure to look our best in a bikini, be strong and independent in a society where inequality is a constant battle we fight on a daily basis. When I recently read an article (see here) that empowers women to embrace their bodies (shape, scars and all) through the Underneath We Are Women project.
Note: All photos in this post are copyright of Adelaide-based photographer, Amy D Herrmann, for the Underneath We Are Women project.
“The biggest thing for me is visibility,” she tells Mashable. “The bodies we see in general in the media, they’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with those bodies. But there’s not much diversity. When people can see these images and they go ‘She’s got a caesarean scar like I do’ or whatever it is, there’s something there that’s relatable.”
– Stylist magazine
The project celebrates 100 women, their bodies and their stories. At the moment, the women who have been photographed are all based in Australia. What started as a fun photography project for Amy and her 4 friends turned into a bigger photoshoot where women from all over the world were eager to sign up and be a part of the project. Now to help make this project a reality and allow more women worldwide who are brave enough to strip down to their skivvies to get involved, they need your support on their Kickstarter page.
Ask yourself, how much time per day you spend focusing on self-doubt or negative thoughts? Now imagine what could be achieved if all those negative thoughts became positive. Imagine all the things we could achieve if we focused that same time and energy into things we loved rather than on hating our bodies and minds.
This project is about showcasing the diversity of women’s bodies and sharing the stories that shaped them rather than succumbing to the fictitious default stories that have long been associated with various body types.
– Amy Herrmann, Underneath We Are Women Kickstarter page
How we look on the outside doesn’t define us as people; our life experiences and our outlook on our lives do. How we choose to live our lives and interact with others define who we are. The project gives women the confidence to love their own imperfections on photo and to define themselves with one word. The photos are then accompanied with a brief story about them and the word they chose to define themselves. You may have overcome adversity but your scars are hidden or invisible to the world and sometimes this can make you feel like people don’t understand you because they’re too busy judging you by how you dress and present yourself.
The Underneath We Are Women project has so far has allowed for women in 3 states of Australia to be photographed through sponsors and self funding from Amy herself. To allow for the book to be published and promotional book launch events take place, the project is looking for backers to fund their AU$30 000 (approximately £17 000). The women behind the project hope to exceed their goal however to include as many women across the world as possible from a wide range of different gender and ethnic backgrounds to encompass a wide variety of women.
You can back the project by donating as little as AU$5 (£3) to become an official sponsor, order ‘Underneath I Am…’ vests or T-shirts, AU$85 (£49 + postage) for the book once it is published or AU$210 (£120 + postage) to receive a custom made ‘Underneath I Am…’ sterling silver bangle by Australian jewellery designer Kate Sutherland. If you haven’t backed a Kickstarter project before, the funds you pledge don’t come out of your account until the target funding goal has been reached.
I share a lot of my favourite inspirational quotes on this blog and I feel this is really important message the project is spreading to all men and women around the world. I might not talk about my personal life a lot on here (I feel that what’s private should stay private, so I don’t speak about it much to even a lot of my friends), but this is something I can definitely identify with, as I’m sure a lot of women will also do. Regardless of how fit you are or if you’ve got scars, each one of us has our own insecurities that we don’t bare to the world. These brave women featured in the book have come forward to bare themselves for everyone else to know: you are not alone. We might all go through difficult times and different experiences, but the struggles are real and that is where we are not alone in this. No matter what we are going through, or what stage in our lives we’re in, the thoughts and insecurities in our heads unite us as women.
With less than 9 days to go (the campaign ends on the morning (British Summer Time) of Wednesday 7th September), let’s all help empower women to embrace their bodies instead of creating an impression that every woman looks more beautiful as skinny models that fit into unrealistic ideals of beauty. We should celebrate the diversity of women’s personalities and life experiences, love their scars and for the people they’ve become.