What we see when we look in the mirror fluctuates on a moment-by-moment basis.
This is such a difficult thing to keep perspective on, especially while being endlessly bombarded by media that insists on creating fictitious expectations through photoshop and lighting.
In her photo series, Illusions of the Body, photographer Gracie Hagen has something to say about this:
This series was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.
Have a look. This is the same person photographed under the same lighting at the same angle. But the subjects, in playing with body stance and contortions, could not appear more different.
Imagery in the media is an illusion built upon lighting, angles & photoshop. People can look extremely attractive under the right circumstances & two seconds later transform into something completely different.
Within the series I tried to get a range of body types, ethnicities & genders to show how everyone is a different shape & size; there is no “normal”.
I must admit, since seeing this photo series, I’ve been experimenting with my own brand of body-contortion in front of the bathroom mirror. This, for a girl who used to—for years—check her butt out of habit while walking passed any reflective surface, seems to be a colossal step in the right direction.
Here’s to allowing our bodies to be seen in an intentionally bizarre way.
Here’s to the fearless deconstruction of what’s normal.
Here’s to laughing in the face of what we fear most about our appearance.
To see—or be a part of!—Hagen’s evolving and ongoing series, click here.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Gracie Hagen