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“Scars, rolls, bones, big or small breasts, wrinkles all tell a story,” says the photographer Jade Beall. Last summer, we featured Ashlee Wells Jackson’s remarkable and powerful series of photographs celebrating the post-pregnancy bodies of a diverse group of women; Beall does something similar in her new book A Beautiful Body Project: The Bodies of Mothers.
Like Jackson, Beall struggled with body image after giving birth; faced with media outlets that invalidate changing female bodies, she felt uncertain in her own skin. She fell into a postpartum depression, and she turned to her camera, shooting beautifully honest, un-doctored self-portraits. When she released an image of herself breast feeding her child, it went viral, and women around the world reached out to her, feeling that her lens could finally give them a voice in a world where beauty and conformity and inextricably linked. Aided by Kickstarter, the artist raised the funds to create this emotionally raw and powerful series that features women of diverse shapes, sizes, and races.
Also like Jackson, Beall shoots her subjects in black and white, but she also mixes in the occasional color shot, which adds a certain blissful ecstasy to the narrative. Unlike Jackson, however, Beall avoids cropping or visually slicing the body in celebration of particular body parts; instead, she creates personal portraits that almost always include the subject’s face and the majority of the body, thereby expressing the individuality of her subject and telling a more linear story. The story, she says, is one of self-love, the “‘I Am Beautiful’ story.”
Here, imagery that is normally thought of as sentimental or saccharine by a sexist aesthetic canon is seen rightfully as fine art; soft portraits of lovers and children (even of breastfeeding mothers) accent the lovely tones and marks of female flesh. Not all women are mothers, but all women deserve to feel valuable and worthy of representation in stunning images like these, which sadly, appear far too rarely. The book will be released this Mother’s Day.
Thanks to Daily Mail
Images via Daily Mail