“To be able to uplift other girls with these photos is something that appealed to me”.
Ever since I started taking photography seriously, I knew I wanted to have a project that was somewhat based on nudity. In my work I’m influenced a lot by artists like Ryan McGinley, because he presents so many people within his photography in the most beautiful of ways. Last year I saw a photo up on Oyster mag of a girl who was almost ‘flashing’ the photographer, and her breasts weren’t necessarily what you always see in mainstream media; it was then that I knew I wanted to do a series where I shot several girls who had different body types and try to create more of ‘that’ representation. It’s something I’m quite self conscious about, so to be able to uplift other girls with these photos was something that appealed to me too, I’m very much a person who likes to make others feel good because I never really feel that way myself. When I was casting people for the shoot I had no idea what their bodies looked like, which was nice because it proved how much it didn’t matter. I wasn’t picking people solely based on their appearance – just on the fact that they were comfortable being shot topless and were down for being in the zine. I wanted to play on my typical ‘aesthetic’ which is kinda why we went all out with glitter/pink backgrounds/roses etc.
Once I got the photos developed I started posting a couple on instagram, and I’d get comments like “it’s so great to see a girl with a body like mine for once” etc. I think it’s so important, especially for young people, to feel like they are represented because it almost creates a sense of validation. Not once in my life have I ever looked a photograph and thought “she looks just like me, I’m not the only one” and that is damaging, because I’ve grown up knowing that the way I look isn’t normal and that I need to change, and not being represented within the media makes you feel like you somewhat don’t exist. So all I really wanted from this zine was to try and make some people feel more confident in themselves, whether that be the girls who I shot for it, or a younger girl looking through it and seeing herself in one of the girls in the photos and knowing that the way she looks is totally fine.
The words scribbled throughout some of the pages are mostly lyrics and other random ramblings of mine, it was a way of making the zine more personal. The past few months for me have been a bit mad, my feelings have been all over the place and I feel like splurging all these words over pages that relate to those feelings is a sense of catharsis. It’s cliché, but art really is the greatest form of self expression, and it’s the only way I feel like I can put something back out into the world, so hopefully that something comes through in this project.
You can purchase the Zine here.
Words and photography by Chloe Sheppard.