Becoming a mother and nurturing a newborn is a beautiful, and extraordinary blessing. Yet, so many new mothers feel shame over the changes that have occurred with regard to their bodies -- and being surrounded by a media culture that creates impossible expectations for physical attractiveness and holds women to unrealistic standards exacerbates the issue. Jade Beall has been a photographer since 1997, but it was not until the birth of her son in 2012 that she found a subject that was her true passion. She began taking pictures of "the unPhotoshopped bodies of women" during and after their pregnancy in her "A Beautiful Body Project." Each of her gorgeous black-and-white photographs show the realities of the female form as a vessel for human creation. Read on to learn more about Beall's inspiration and about why these provocative images are so vital for the world to see and embrace.
Beall describes her work as “Medicinal photography for women,” a medium that allows mothers to see a true representation of the female figure. She also hopes that her images will help women avoid the pressure of having to quickly “bounce back” after giving birth. Being a mother is challenging enough without also having to add in the shame and stigma of achieving the perfect body on top of taking care of a baby, dealing with sleep deprivation and adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle.
“There can be so many stories shadowing a woman in our culture. We are, however, also incredibly blessed with tremendous amounts of freedom and the ability to shape-shift concepts and ideas in our country. We have the ability to feel worthy, to believe we are beautiful and to be a part of a community of people who wish to share beauty and joy in this world,” she says. “I personally gained over 50 pounds during my pregnancy in 2012, and even after an easy and beautiful birth, I quietly slipped into postpartum depression because I felt ugly and confused when I knew I should be nothing but grateful and happy.”
She offers the pictures to her subjects for free, and in the process helps to heal scars from histories of abuse, self-hatred, addictions, and disease. Her images allow both the sitters and viewers to reclaim their bodies. Some are taken individually while others involve partners, newborns, or grown children. This first volume is dedicated solely to mothers, and the money from her Kickstarter project will be used to publish her book and fly women who cannot afford to travel to her studio in Arizona. The next editions will focus on aging and cancer..
“When a woman believes she is authentically beautiful she frees herself from the overwhelming prison of self-doubt and feeling unworthy and instantly becomes a role-model of self-love for our young girls and boys,” says Beall. Using images to empower instead of demean, her compilation of truly beautiful women helps those with bodies of all types to heal their views of themselves and take back their images from the media, negativity, and pain.
via Daily Mail
Images © Jade Beall