Self-esteem is, for many of us, a fragile thing. The reasons we’d each give are diverse, from personal failures to intimidation. Be it our inner demons or external pressure, our confidence and self-esteem are constantly put to the test.
Out of all the soft spots, the way we look is the easiest target for discouragement.
Glossy magazines preach the current beauty standards, they signal our flaws and proceed to teach us how to fix them “by following these 5 simple rules.” Because, apparently, bodies are a problem.
The strategy is simple: plant an insecurity, then offer a paid solution. From express diets (- 10 pounds in 7 days, click now!), rainbow powder pills and SuperchargedInsaneWorkoutTM to slimming spandex gear, anti-wrinkles cream with guaranteed pre-pubescent skin effect or your own set of juicy Angelina Jolie lips, every fault has a fix.
We know that perfection is fabricated, we know all that. Yet we’ve gotten so used to it by now that we actually expect to see a perfect body on the cover. So it’s easy to assume that people who don’t look picture perfect wouldn’t have the courage to expose themselves (almost) naked, in broad daylight and natural postures.
Hey Mărie! is convinced that what is beautiful is much more diverse than we are shown, and that self-esteem doesn’t come from fitting a standard.
Some people know this and feel pretty damn good in their own skin.
In an effort to discover where does confidence in the way we look come from, Hey Mărie! challenged five people to let themselves be seen in a moment of honesty with their bodies. We photographed them in an intimate space in which little or no clothes are expected: their own bedrooms.
If the goal wasn’t to make them look good on camera, what made them accept our challenge? Sensing that it might have something to do with the body being more than a skin wrap, we asked:
What does your body do for you?
The photos show the unpolished, unadorned (tattoos aside) truth: courage, yes. But also awkwardness, indifference, shyness, tension and absent mindedness. The natural has many nuances; it is complex and sometimes contradictory. We see pride, but also embarrassment; there’s boldness, but also fragility.
So where does body confidence come from?
A safe bet is to look at your body as a medium, as a tool. That’s where an appreciation of what it does for you, for what it makes possible may come from. Thinking of your body as an instrument is also a way for you to feel proud for all the marks collected on your skin from the roads you have travelled with it.
I confess that when I saw the results of our challenge I felt a bit of envy. How strikingly attractive you can be when you’re not trying to look in a certain way. How liberating it must feel to shed your clothes, masks and appearances and to rejoice in your uniqueness. “Could I ever do that?”, I asked myself. I instantly visualized myself in my natural posture – hunched over my laptop, in an intimate space – on my bed/office, in nothing but my underwear and having a camera pointed at me. Ha, no way! I wouldn’t. I can’t. I don’t have the courage… yet.
Let’s keep the challenge open. We won’t ask for pictures in your underwear (which are probably long johns, at this point), but you could add your own answer to the question “what does your body do for you?” There’s gotta be more than five people who know how to appreciate their bodies…
Text by Alexandra Ștef
Photos by Vlad Bîrdu