Body image is something pretty much all women, if we are honest, struggle with.
Personally I have struggled with my weight my entire life with dieting down to basically unhealthy proportions, to a semblance of normal (whats that anyway) and my now more curvaceous form.
The media thrusts such crazy expectations on what is beautiful and what is not, and can send even the most self assured person into a spin.
Pittsburgh Photographer Sandra Chile recently did a shoot with a Bride to show that whatever you struggle with in your body image that you are a beautiful person…
“In a society lead by fitness maniacs, diet pills and shakes, plastic surgery obsessions, and extensive emphasis on corrective makeup (hello contouring); we have been told that the value of each individual relies strictly on the looks, with absurd standards imposed by an unrealistic media.”
“As a photographer, I am always faced with the need to digitally “perfect” the human body.”
“A body that is already perfect in its nature, and I am one of the very few photographers who does not offer retouching services (at all), because I believe what makes people pretty is who they are, and how they embrace candid life (not how smooth their skin is, how white their teeth can be, nor how many stretch marks they “don’t” have).”
“Since she was 8 years young, Megan has suffered from Alopecia Areata, a condition that affects her along with 6.6 million Americans (and 8 million people in the UK), and makes her hairless.”
“However, Megan is beautiful, and she has tried since a young age to open the door to the modelling industry, an industry that has the door only halfway open to her.”
“Until the day I photographed Megan, she had only been publicly without a wig a handful of times.”
“This was nerve wracking, but the beautiful dresses and accessories of Kata Banko Couture, the amazing flowers of Sapphire & Lace and the support and talent of Mashaida from Anywhere and Somewhere Photography convinced Megan to step out of her comfort zone, and to embrace her beauty “boldly”.
“Together we want to scream out to a world that sees hair as a beauty statement, that ANYONE can be gorgeous and be an inspiration to anyone struggling with their looks, specially due to a medical condition.”
Megan, our stunning Bride herself shares her voice…
“There’s a huge reason why I want to become known and be more in the public eye.”
“I dealt with a lot because of my alopecia growing up.”
“Bullying was one, all through middle school, which helped me decide to switch to homeschooling (best choice ever!)”
“But I also struggled with who I was. I tried to be something I wasn’t. I didn’t want to face my real reality and I tried making up my own reality.”
“But the second I accepted everything and started embracing it and lived my life truly as myself, I was much happier.”
“I go to bed at peace with myself now. It is such a huge difference between living your life trying to be something you’re not and living your life truly as yourself. Don’t be afraid to do the same.”
“You start to appreciate and love yourself more because you’re finally living how you’ve always wanted to.”
“It may be hard to get there, but you WILL get there.”
“Don’t worry about others. The ones who matter will support you and be there, and the ones who don’t support you and aren’t there, don’t matter!”
“You will always get support though for being yourself.”
“These are huge lessons that I have learned in my life growing up.”
“All I want to do is have a voice in this world and show everyone what I went through!”
“Show them how awesome it is to be yourself and to show that off to the world.”
“Also to show women that they are beautiful inside and out no matter what, and no matter what they’re given in life they can still do whatever they want and be whoever they want no matter what!”
“If we all just start with ourselves, then WE can make a difference in this world and slowly make it a better place.. A more accepting of others kind of place, and supportive, loving, etc!”
“I also want to bring more awareness to alopecia and bullying.”
“I don’t think people really understand what it’s like to go through something that affects your image, that affects how others look at you and think of you and treat you over it, and most importantly what it does to your self esteem and everything emotional.”
“There’s tons of other conditions that people don’t realize these things about that also need more awareness.”
“So if we can just be more understanding to others and what they go through, we can really change things.”
“I really want to use my experience and hopefully help others with theirs for better.”
We need to have that confidence to blast those perceptions that we have about our own body image and the expectations that are lambasted upon us every day by the outside world and saying hey, I am an amazing person.
We need to show the beauty inside us, as well as the beauty on the outside.
The human body does amazing things, and whether we are curvy or slender, have scars, have alopecia, or any other insecurity its about taking hold of that and saying hey, I am bigger than you and embracing that fear.
Sandra has captured a special kind of magic and these images turn societies body image filter on its head.
Megan goes beyond embracing fears to stratospheric levels of jumping outside that comfort zone and I think she looks utterly incredible.
We must always remember, we are not the sum of our own or societies beauty expectations, we are the sum of ourselves.
Showing your beauty as a person in a sometimes ugly and unpredictable world makes you shine…
Shoot Dream Team
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA