Don't miss the latest stories
‘The Honest Body Project’, Intimate Photos Of Women Baring Personal Stories
By Valerie Chang, 19 May 2015
Photographer Natalie McCain & her daughter
“I started this project for so many reasons. She is one of them. I want my daughter to know that she is more than what size her pants are. I want her to stand up to bullies, to anyone who may talk about the way she looks, or the way her friends look. I want her to love herself. I want to show her that I am comfortable in my own skin and that she should be, too.”
‘The Honest Body Project’ is an intimate photo collection with the aim to encourage women to love themselves, and to remind them that they are not alone in their battles.
The brainchild of photographer Natalie McCain, the photo project was started when she saw how her friend struggled with body image and depression, and realized how these similar issues might also increasingly affect young girls today.
Hence, ‘The Honest Body Project’ was born, where mothers are featured as positive body image role models.
She said, “Learn to love your body, and in turn, set a good example and start conversations with your children about how women really look.”
Practicing what she preaches, McCain told Huffington Post, “My son thinks my soft, mushy stomach is the best pillow in the world. My daughter once told me that my ‘muffin top’ looked like a pool floatie around my stomach. I could’ve been upset and hurt over the comment, but instead I chose to laugh and picked her up and said, ‘Well let’s go to the beach then!’ When you change your inner voice, your entire world changes.”
The revealing captures in the series are accompanied with very personal anecdotes of each mother.
She wrote: “The portraits show their joy, their beauty, their imperfections, and their love for their children. Paired with their stories, it paints a beautiful, honest picture of motherhood.”
McCain also said her photo subjects were initially nervous about baring themselves visually and emotionally, but these jitters gave way for what they described as an ‘empowering’ and ‘healing’ experience.
“The truth is that this has been healing me, as well,” said McCain.
Get a glimpse of these empowering portraits below and head on over to The Honest Body Project’s Facebook page for more photos in the ongoing series.
“Sometimes I feel damn proud of my stretch marks. Sometimes they are a gross reminder that my body will never look the same again. I struggle with the idea that I will somehow return to my former pre child physical self. I look at myself in the mirror and my belly squishes over the top of my pants. I stand up straighter, suck it in, try a couple different angles and then say to myself “F**k it. This is what I’m wearing today. It is appropriate for my body because I just put it on my body.” Motherhood is not always beautiful. In fact it can be pretty gross and awful sometimes. I of course wouldn’t change it. I love raising these fun, smart, crazy, wild, loving and kind children. They force me to overcome my own personal issues everyday. They love me unfailingly. They love me when I yell, when I feel worthless. They love me for me, for all of my imperfections and scars. They truly see the messy, forgetful person that I am, and they love me anyway.”
“I was 19 when I found out I was expecting my son. My boyfriend was young and unaware, my sister was busy with college and working full-time, my mom worked a lot of hours and my best friend was leaving for the Army. I felt very much alone. I was the first of all of my friends to get pregnant and I watched my friends go out and party and live a life that I could not be a part of. I stopped being invited to hang out or go places. Nobody wanted to hang out with the pregnant girl, or so it seemed anyway. But having my son was one of the best things that ever happened to me. For years I had suffered very quietly with depression and anxiety and only a year prior I had attempted to take my own life. My son brought incredible purpose and meaning to my life and I couldn’t imagine not being around to see him grow and learn and prosper.”
“At 24 I am a mother of two and my life looks entirely different from what I imagined it would look like at this age. And my body is certainly nothing like the bodies of most 20-somethings: soft, formless breasts, loose skin on my stomach and stretch marks on my butt, breasts and stomach. But the thing I have to tell myself is that my body has done something incredible! I have carried and birthed not one but TWO 9 ½ pound babies and nursed them to 2 years and beyond. For nearly 5 ½ years my body has been dedicated to motherhood. I nursed my son from birth until just before his 2nd birthday and I was almost 3 months pregnant with my daughter. And here I am still nursing my daughter nearly a month after her 2nd birthday. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to nourish and grow two such beautiful and healthy babies, not only in my womb but outside of it as well.”
“I try more to advocate to women as a whole, that we all have our hardships and we are never alone. And while no two stories are the same, we can always rally for each other and love each other and the gifts our children (alive or not) bring to us.”
“I was raised by several family members who were not my parents. Having parents who chose to not be in my life as a child was challenging. Now as a mother I can’t see a world where I would choose to be away from my children. I am so incredibly lucky that I get to be with them every single day. Through all the times that I just want to hide in the laundry room with the rest of the Halloween candy I know that I could not leave them. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
“I’ve always been somewhat insecure about my body, especially my stomach and hips. When I was 16 I was part of a music group and our manager was constantly on me to lose weight. “You should look like the other girls,” she would say. The other girls would snack on whatever they liked during rehearsal but I was reprimanded and told I could only eat veggies. During photo shoots I was always in the back where they could hide my body, or I was severely photoshopped so I didn’t look natural. At 16, the last thing you want to hear is that someone doesn’t like the way you look. It sent me into depression, and I began starving myself. Thankfully my parents and friends noticed before it became too severe and I was able to snap myself out of it, but there are still days I struggle.
“I used to be embarrassed to say I used formula. I would go out of my way to avoid mixing a bottle in public because I was afraid I would be looked down on. Then I came to my senses. Why should I be embarrassed? I’m feeding and nourishing my child and he’s happy and healthy. That’s all that matters."
“I am the product of rape. A lot of women would have aborted a child like me; a constant reminder of a heinous, depraved act. Not my mom. At 19 years old she not only gave birth to me, but struggled to keep and support and love me. She is a strong woman. She is my mom.”
[via The Huffington Post, images via Natalie McCain, The Honest Body Project]
More related news
Also check out these recent news