Lithuanian photographer Neringa Rekasiute poses a question as she introduces a new photo series: "What is a beautiful woman?"
The "We.Women" series, a social collaboration with actress Beata Tiskevic Hasanova, and communications specialist Modesta Kairyte, takes a shot at an answer.
The project began with an open call on Tiskevic Hasanova's Facebook page. The results exhibit photographs of 12 women posing in front of a mirror, only in their underwear. Rekasiute wanted to document how women view themselves: naked and alone. The portraits show the different way each woman bears the weight of cultural beauty standards.
Some women look directly into the mirror at themselves; others turn down their gaze. Rekasiute attributes this to how women have dealt with the ceaseless sexualization and objectification of their bodies in the media. The psychological consequence of all this judgement on women's self-esteem is noticeable: "About half of women are dissatisfied with their bodies," she said in a press statement.
"Each woman," Rekasiute writes on her website, "shared her hurtful and profound stories; they fought with physical and mental experiences such as fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, vitiligo, anorexia, bulimia, depression, self-harm and breast cancer."
"This project showed us lots of deep scars in our society," Rekasiute continues.
What this project proves is that all women face societal pressures to conform to standard notions of beauty. Each woman, however, deals with those pressures differently, in psychology and lifestyle.
"Media tends to sell the 'perfect woman image' which is one-dimensional and usually Photoshopped," Kairyte says on Rekasiute's website. "Yes, we are perfect, with all our stories, scars and experiences,"
"This project seeks to inspire women to accept and love their bodies as they are: with all their inner and outer scars," Rekasiute writes.
While the art form and aesthetics are modest, the goals of "We.Women" are not. Through the subtleties conveyed in these photographs, the project is addressing issues of body image and body positivity head-on.
h/t Bored Panda