These photos celebrate women unafraid to be 'flawsome'
MANILA, Philippines – No matter how beautiful people truly are, it's not unusual to find fault with some aspect of one's physical appearance, and spend quite some time trying to "fix" it.
We all have an idea of physical perfection that we're striving for, fueled by media's non-stop refrain that we have to look a certain way to be beautiful.
Tired of society's "commands" to live up to an impossible ideal, Danah and Stacy over at Plump are trying to change the way people see their flaws. For the October issue of their online magazine Plump, the twins decided to launch their version of #IAMFLAWSOME, a campaign dedicated to helping women "embrace their flaws and know they’re awesome regardless."
"Flawsome" is a term that was made popular by Tyra Banks in 2014.
As part of their campaign, they had 9 women from different backgrounds share their flaws, how society responded to their flaws, what made them fight back against the negativity they felt because of these, and what made them flawsome.
They were also photographed in their underwear by Sandra Dans, who "is very particular that her work doesn't come across as oversexualized or objectifying," according to Danah.
"We made sure that they feel okay wearing just their undies, because we assured them that this shoot is made by women, for women," Danah added, and shared that the girls were so comfortable they ended up with 2000 photos from the shoot. There was no cosmetic retouching in the photos in the campaign, too.
The flaws that these women found in themselves were eye-opening, and their commitment to see the best in themselves, even more so. "I sincerely believe that my entire being is the flaw," wrote Rika, who was not only bothered by her physical features, but also by the endometriotic cyst that causes her pain and may cause her infertility.
Others spoke about skin color and weight, moles and birthmarks, breast size and self-esteem. Elora, who has a birthmark on her forehead, shared that she didn't realize that she was different until she met people outside her family. "As if the mark on my forehead wasn’t enough, someone up there had to make me fat too," she said. "Just like every fat woman has experienced, being the biggest girl in the room makes you feel like the smallest person."
Stacy herself shared that the stretch marks from her recent weight gain made her uncomfortable – where others' stretch marks were light, the ones on her stomach were "embossed like scars – unforgiving," and couldn't be hidden by her high-waisted bottoms.
It was these marks that inspired Stacy to have this shoot and campaign. "I just want to invite women that they too, can be vulnerable with me, conquer our own fears and self-consciousness in front of the camera," she said. "We live in an image-obsessed age, where photos of yourself on social media is given way too much importance. Getting raw and real in this shoot is our way of going against this norm."
True enough, these strong women embraced their flaws and even turned them into opportunities.
Minxie, for example, said that embracing her flaws made her more confident: "Changing my mindset has made me self-confident than ever before. Sure, I have a big body, dark skin, flat nose, and tattoos. People may hate it, but I love every bit of it. I’m proud of who I am. I am not perfect but I’m real."
She became a model for an online shop, was featured in a TV documentary, and was featured in Danah and Stacy's blog, too. "I even started receiving messages from fellow Pinays, saying that I inspire them, and it really hit me! I didn’t realize that I can motivate other people as well," Minxie wrote.
For Elora, on the other hand, a big change in perspective came when she realized how unfair it was that people valued looks over ability. "[My best friend has] always been stick thin, the whole time I’ve known her. But when she was starting out in the media industry with a hundred pounds on her, she was told to lose more weight. I got mad," she recounted.
Today, Elora does things for herself – if she decides to lose weight or to put on makeup, it would be to be healthier or for a special occasion, and not because of what other people think. She said, "Today, I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t see the trace of a fat girl with green stuff on her face.
"I see a girl who’s trying hard to make a name for herself, one who’s confident enough to wear a sleeveless shirt and not have the urge to say sorry about it. One who hasn’t worn makeup for months because dude, it makes me oily and I can’t bury my face into my hands during a hard day. And when I do get to wear makeup, I never try to hide my marks. They make me Elora."
Realistically, not all the women in the campaign could be at the stage Minxie and Elora are at – but they had nothing but positivity when it came to the future. "I do not consider myself flawsome just yet—I am FLAWSOME-IN-PROGRESS, but I’ll get there. We will all get there," said Precious, a teacher with vitiligo, a skin condition that causes white patches to appear on the skin.
"I do not want to be remembered as the girl with the white patches on her skin. I want my students to remember me as the teacher who taught them how to read, the teacher who made them learn, the one who always taught fun classes every student looked forward to," said Precious, who added that beauty can be seen through our actions and how these have allowed us to make a difference.
This empowerment is exactly what Danah and Stacy wanted to inpspire in other girls through the campaign. "When women embrace who they are—flaws and all—it unlocks their confidence, and it gives them room to explore their strengths, and acknowledge their weaknesses. When a woman knows that her physicality cannot be used against her, she becomes nonchalant towards negativity," said Danah.
A lot of girls have already posted their own photos on social media to join in on the campaign too.
I am fat, overweight, obese or whatever it is you would like to use to describe my body. I have huge thighs and arms. I have folds in the abdominal area, cellulite, stretch marks, side boob fat and love handles. I have a small nose, a double chin, and to top it all off, I have ugly feet! Over the years, I have battled (secretly) with my weight and other insecurities, I pretended not to care, pretended to not be affected by mean comments. I pushed all those feelings at the back of my mind in hopes that I can become numb from all the negativity and hatred towards my body. And I did. My so-called strength was only a facade. And it wasn't the best decision I've made. I became relentless in proving my worth - in proving that I can do better. In return, I looked for love in all the wrong places, went on crash diets, and tried all the diet pills that claimed to be the best. I allowed my worth to be measured by the people who valued me and gave me the time of day.... I was far from the woman I wanted to be all because I was so desperate to hide my insecurities. I allowed myself to be defined by the fact that I am flawed, that I am fat. But is being fat really the worst thing I/we can be? Because I know in my heart that I am kind, understanding, loving, and caring. Although I am not the most patient person... I'm trying to be! I have compassion, a burning desire to help and inspire others. I have a heart big enough to fit the whole world. I love, and when I do, I do it unconditionally and wholeheartedly to the point of loving too much it hurts. I care deeply for everything and everyone to the point of being called stupid or a fool. But at the end of the day, I'd rather love/care and feel deeply than not experience any of it at all. What I am and what I am not makes me who I am. And now, I can wholeheartedly say that I love being me. And I'm not the only one who does... I am loved by God, my wonderful family and by my amazing friends. They are all I need. #IAmFlawsome and there's nothing you can do or say to make me feel less loved, less prized and less worthy. I am flawed, and proud because I. AM. ME
Some may and will try to dissect and judge me through this picture. I have put on some weight, kept the loose skin from a previous weight loss, 70% of my body is not stretch mark free, I have moles that may look like constellations in the sky, I have over plucked my brows, and my gums are pretty much the same ratio as my teeth... I am a strong independent business owner, a wife, daughter, sister, friend, motivator and most of all #IAmFlawsome Liberate your magnificence by embracing your flaws that makes YOU who you truly are. Join our #IAmFlawsome Movement ... There is strength in every flaw! #PLUMPmag #plumpinay #wheninmanila #BodyImageWarrior #EffYourBeautyStandards #HonorMyCurves #Dagdagalindog
Would you know I'm a good cook just by looking at my thick thighs? Would you know I love writing poetry just by looking at my untoned, flabby arms? Would you know that I am able to play different kind of sports just by laughing at my muffin top? Would you find out that I am fun as hell to be with just by counting how many layers of chin I have? NO. I'm a good listener, a loyal friend, a daughter and sister who would do anything for her family and a whole lot more. I am more than what you see. I am capable of a lot of amazing things. I am fat but also healthy (yes, it's possible). #IAMFLAWSOME #beautyfullfigured @plump.ph
Some gymrats would compliment me and tell me I'm growing #wings. But I just call them back flabs. Years ago, I told myself to gain all kinds of fats but this. Now I find myself sporting each on my sides and I hate it. But it doesn't change the fact that this chunky back of mine is what helps me run errands everyday with ease. With work + house chores + pets I juggle on my plate, I sometimes wonder how I can still manage. This same back I hate is what allows me to perform deadlifts perfectly, do numerous reps of back extensions, and carry heavy load that others would struggle with. It's not really a big deal but for me, it's a flaw. And because I can acknowledge it and strive to improve on it, #IAMFLAWSOME Big thanks to @plump.ph for making #bodylove happen.
So happy to have POWER MOM, Ana Rojas of @powertoprevail, join our #IAMFLAWSOME campaign!・・・ I am a sucker for a great hashtag so when @plump.ph asked me to create a pic to support their new #iamflawsome campaign how could I say no!? I do believe it is our individual responsibility to keep the momentum of this body positive movement going. It's not up to celebrities or models, it's about us. Social media is a powerful tool to bring attention to many causes and movements. I hope you know I'm just a regular person sitting on my couch with a sink full of dishes and 2 homemade Halloween costumes that need to be made. This project means so much to me because I want my kids to see that we are all different and unique and beautiful in our own way despite being scared to do what no one else is doing. I am a mom and my stretch marks do not define me, they tell a part of my story. I work hard to balance my mental, spiritual, and physical health because I deserve nothing less and everyone benefits from it the most.#iammorethan #stretchmarks #scars #curves #embraceyourbody #loveyourlines #loveallofme #swimsuitsforall #mombods #positivebodyimage #healthybodyimage
Yes, I am all of those things. But you know what that also makes me? Funny. Unpredictable. Me. Maybe I walk too fast, talk too fast, am not the ideal "lady" that some people (myself included) would like me to be. Maybe I'll never be as graceful or "feminine" as I'd like. Maybe I'll never live up to the girls in the pictures with the boys on their arms and their glittering smiles. I'll take my own pictures. I'll find happiness. #IAMFLAWSOME and hey, so are you. @robbinalyssa @theviviscribbles @livingdanna #PlumpPinayGiveaway #OwnYourImperfections #PinkSugarPH
This reaction on social media is exactly what Danah and Stacy hoped to kickstart. Danah said, "This world needs more authentic connection and honesty, and this is what we aspire with this issue. We hope that women get to say, 'OMG this is me,' and that the stories of the girls featured inspire them to be flawsome as well."
What makes you flawsome? Share your experiences in the comments below! – Rappler.com
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