Finally, Comic Book Women Get A "Real Bodies" Makeover (Spoiler: They Look Healthy, Awesome, and Badass )
Surely some comic book fan woke up this week and decided they were going to set out to win BUST's heart. There's been news of all female spinoffs, characters coming out as bisexual, and now, members of bulimia.com are re-envisioning the bodies of super-heroines as more down-to-Earth figures.
When the team at bulimia.com saw Buzzfeed's Disney princess makeovers, they decided they should take these super-human ladies and give them some super human bodies. Their hope is that when viewers see these realistic waistlines, they will be able to better relate to the characters. After all, being powerful doesn't have to correlate with being a double-D, size 2 cat lady, or being a lady at all (lookin' at you, Captain America). But hey, if you happen to be Selina Kyle and have those idealized attributes, you're great too.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, be your own Superwoman and reach out to (888)920-1501.
Images c/o bulimia.com
22 Gorgeous Pics That Show Just How Differently Beauty Is Defined Around The World
It seems like worldwide ideals of beauty have been all over the news lately. Ester Honig, for example, asked 40 Photoshop techs in 25 different countries to edit her according their culture's standard to prove that there isn't one standard of beauty that extends around the world.
Now, Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc has taken Honig's project to the next level by traveling the world to capture women of all creeds in a series called The Atlas of Beauty. "Beauty means to keep alive your origins and culture," Noroc writes on her website, "to be natural, sincere, authentic, particular, not necessarily fashionable or skinny."
The photographs from the Atlas of Beauty project embrace all shapes and sizes, skin tones, and personalities. Noroc has travelled through 37 countries thus far and hopes to raise donations so that the project can continue.
13 Gorgeous Photos That Prove Love Has No Shape, Size, or Limits
“Adipose: Of or relating to fat. / Positivity: Characterized by or displaying acceptance or affirmation.”
This is the inspiration for photographer Substantia Jones's incredible photo series, The Adipositivity Project. When Jones first began her project, she knew she wanted to create change, but she didn’t fully grasp what that change would be. It was only once she began photographing women and hearing their stories of body shaming that her goal became clear: to encourage self-acceptance and broaden our culture’s strict definition of outward beauty. When a subject's boyfriend joined his partner at her shoot and suggested Jones add photos of couples, Jones asked him to drop trou, and the Valentines Series shown below was born. We dig the idea for the same reason Jones does: it’s a “royal middle finger to those who think fat folks are unworthy of love and sex.” Love her attitude? We do too. Check out the badass photographer's heartening interview below, along with 13 gorgeous photos that prove love is always worth celebrating—no matter its shape or size.
What’s the message behind the project, in a single phrase?
Part fat, part feminism, part "fuck you."
Why do you think it’s so important for people to accept their bodies and find them beautiful?
I don't think it's important we find ourselves physically beautiful. Surface beauty is pleasant. It can be useful. But it's the parsley garnish on the plate of life. Self-acceptance and body love, on the other hand, are wildly important. If we don't love our body, we're less inclined to respect it, take care of it, and push back against those with ill intentions toward it.
How do your subjects respond to the process? Are they shy at first? Do you see any transformations?
There are transformations aplenty. Some are not apparent to me, and I only hear about them later. But others happen before my eyes: I once photographed someone who had issues getting naked in front of their pet cat, no exaggeration, but by the end of our shoot they were jolly-well, lounging around wearing nothing but a smile.
Do you ever receive criticism?
Sweet sweaty Jesus, do I get criticism. I've gotten death threats and threats of rape, as have some of my Adiposers. Those lacking the energy for actual threats have sometimes simply compiled lists of how they hope I will die, fingers-crossed style. I get a lot of "how do you sleep at night?"—like a drunk-ass baby, thanks for asking.
How do you handle it?
Unless they start talking about where and when they're gonna off me, and it happens to be on my itinerary, I just ignore them. I got shit to do.
Some criticism, however, is earnest and thoughtful and deserving of response. I truly understand how counter-intuitive some of what I'm preaching seems—the lack of a proven causal relationship between weight and ill health, for example—so I'm happy to answer those questions… as long as they're not tied to a brick and tossed through my window.
What’s one of the most inspiring responses you’ve seen to the project?
I once heard from a woman who'd just discovered the project and told me that morning was the first in memory that she'd not cried about her body. She doesn't know it, but I think of her every single day. So if you're asking about true inspiration, that one email might just surpass all I've experienced. It's the best example of what keeps me at it.
What are some of the responses you have gotten from your subjects for the Valentine Series? Have you found that it brings them closer?
In preparation for a talk I gave at a college a few months ago, I interviewed some Adiposers about their experiences. I was surprised to learn that, in a couple of cases with couples, their shoot and resulting photographs caused her to realize she was perhaps with the wrong partner, which they then did something about. But I don't consider this negative—not all happy endings are the Hollywood sort.
But the occasional Hollywood ending is fun, too. One of the couples in this year's Valentine Series met in part because of her photo on the Adipositivity site a few years ago... and now, they're planning their wedding.
Images c/o the amazing photographer's site, adipositivity.com
Rare Skin Condition Won't Keep This Top Model Down
You’ve no doubt seen her somewhere—maybe in one of two episodes of ANTM, in pics on her popular Instagram account, or in the giant Desigual ads on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Chantelle Winnie is a modeling force to be reckoned with, and it’s in part due to her rare skin condition, vitiligo.
We’re so bored with used to the homogeneity we see among runway models, so Winnie’s quite obvious physical difference is a welcome departure. What was once a hindrance to her well being is now her source of empowerment. Every photo she’s in is completely striking; no item of clothing can compete with her looks. The fact that she owes her success to her skin condition is no doubt a form of objectification, but there’s no denying her power as a model. If it’s her vitiligo that’s going to get her the modeling career she wants, she’s not afraid to use that to her benefit.
For her own sake, she doesn’t define herself or her worth by her skin; in an article, she states, “If one day I’m all black I’m still a model. If one day I’m all white I’m still a model. I am not my skin. I am a model with a skin condition."
Winnie’s TEDx Talk encourages others to adopt the mantra she herself lives by: find beauty in everything. Perhaps that seems easy for a fashion model to say, but Winnie speaks without a hint of self righteousness—she was bullied as a kid for her condition, which is shared by 1% of the world’s population and eventually decided to cope by becoming a bully herself. She had to learn from this mistake, and decided the best thing for herself was to seek out the beauty in all things—not just by how fashion magazines and social media define it.
Winnie’s self-acceptance in a world that constantly threatens rejection to any sort of difference is truly powerful. We’d love to see more models like her on runways and in photos—that is, models who are “different,” who represent every faction of society. The fashion industry needs models of different skin tones, sizes, and shapes. It’ll be a long time before difference (or, you know, just fair representation) in the modeling world becomes normalized, but Winnie’s success gives us hope.
Images c/o The Guardian Photos by Mary Rozzi
Badass Artist Spotlight | Sophie Spinelle Celebrates The Female Form In Every Size
In a world where it seems we’re always being told what to fix about ourselves, it’s hard to imagine a professional photography studio that actually celebrates diversity among women’s bodies. So when we came across Shameless Photography, a Bay Area and NYC-based studio specializing in pin-up and retro boudoir photography, we were more than a little surprised (in the best possible way).
Sophie Spinelle left her career in progressive policy to form Shameless in 2009. The studio is a perfect combination of her creative and political passions, comprised entirely of women photographers and stylists. We recently chatted with Spinelle about Shameless, launching a staunchly feminist company, how she inspires confidence in her models, and why empowering other women had to start with empowering herself.
Can you walk us through one of your shoots?
We kick things off with a pre-shoot model questionnaire that asks all sorts of questions about the model's life, self-concept, and her secret dreams. When the model arrives on shoot day, we talk more and go deeper, then launch into wardrobe and hair and makeup. Our models play dress up in a walk-in closet chock-full of all manner of wardrobe from size XXS to size 5X; [we have everything] from a lion-tamer costume to a 1950s gingham playsuit to glamorous red carpet gowns to steel-boned corsets.
The shoot itself is really different depending on the theme of the shoot and the personality of the individual. We could be blasting salsa, with model, photographer, and assistants all dancing about and laughing while we shoot. Or we could be listening to Nina Simone and allowing a model to silently remember, honor, and embody her deceased grandmother, whose pearls she is wearing.
For me, there's nothing more fulfilling than creating a portrait that helps a person see herself in a new way—for her to see how exquisite and layered and valuable she is.
What do you do in the environment of a shoot to make your models comfortable?
Everybody needs something a little different in order to build trust, but we always try to have the following in the studio: a lot of laughter, good conversation, delicious snacks, and presence in the moment. We want it to feel more like a girly sleepover with your best friends than an intimidating pro studio shoot.
What inspired you to create such a body-positive project?
My grandmother was anorexic, and strictly monitored both her own food intake and also my mother's throughout her childhood and adolescence. My mom pledged to break the cycle with me. She always told me I was beautiful. And not just that I was beautiful now, at a certain moment, at a particular size and shape—but that I had always been, and would always be, beautiful. I didn’t believe her, of course. Our culture scrutinizes women’s bodies, and I scrutinized my own. But when I began to emerge from that self-hatred, I realized that I was longing to do a photo shoot—to model in one—in a safe and supportive space. I started Shameless because I wanted something like this to exist; I needed it just as much as it turned out other people did.
Has Shameless received any negative pushback?
The most negative pushback usually comes from people who think of these images as pornographic. Last year we paid a fair sum of money to advertise on a mainstream wedding blog, and at the last minute they pulled the plug, saying our images were too provocative. They had previously featured several boudoir advertisers whose models were more scantily clothed than ours, so it wasn't about skin. I think more than anything, what's threatening about our work is that we aren't photographing women as sexual objects. We're photographing them as sexual human subjects.
Did you find that your project had some large barriers to break though?
I have to admit, I was fearful when I first started, believing that if people knew I was body-positive and feminist, I wouldn't get enough clients to survive as a working artist. I had potential clients hang up on me when I told them I didn't Photoshop people's bodies. At that time it was rare to see curvy women in a boudoir or pinup portfolios—much less women of color, trans women, women with different abilities, or older women. In 2012, the amazing Carey Lynne joined me as a Shameless photographer, and my conversations with her changed everything. We both wanted our politics to be more front and center, so we took the leap. When Maxine Nienow joined us in 2013, she was on exactly the same page.
What’s the difference between empowering pinup photography and exploitative pinup photography?
I think it's all about how the model feels about the process. Did she feel safe during the shoot? Did she feel valued for more than just her surface? Did she feel engaged as a creative partner? Did she adore the images that were created? Did she *want* the public to see them? We don't share images unless we are given explicit and enthusiastic consent. Every person should get to decide whether their images are for their eyes only, or whether it would be empowering for the world to see and admire them.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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