You know that horrible feeling when you look in the mirror and all you can see are (what you think are) flaws? Well, Kelsey Higley's photo project “Body Image" tackles those thorny issues of body insecurity and self consciousness in a stunning way. Higley is a photographer and video artist who got her BFA from the University of Oklahoma. She focuses her work on issues of feminism, gender equality, and body image — and her latest project deftly navigates them all.
Earlier this year, Higley's video project “Manipulated" got attention for bringing notice to the media's unrealistic standards of beauty and the negative role that Photoshop plays in our self-perception. Higley explained the project as "a stop motion self-portrait created by combining roughly 126 digitally manipulated photos that create the illusion that I am molding my body like modeling clay."
Now, with "Body Image," the artist has shifted her focus slightly to the pernicious issue of (you guessed it!) body image. She photographed her models in a straight on portrait; then took pictures of what each model told her were their least favorite and favorite features, placing these two additional imags on either side of the portrait. The kicker is this: It's impossible to tell which image is the feature the model likes or dislikes. Higley's point, which is so important, is that the one physical feature you obsess over might be something other people never even notice. And even crazier is the fact that people might not be able to tell your least favorite feature from your favorite feature.
It's so easy to get bogged down in our dysmorphic self-perceptions. When we look in the mirror, we often zero in like a laser on that new pimple, or our weird knees, or that cellulite (or all of the above), as opposed to seeing what other people see: The bright eyes, the warm smile, or the super shiny hair. And of course, we often fail to acknowledge that beauty is subjective.
Some people bemoan their tiny breasts, or large thighs, or flat hair, while on the opposite side of the fence there's someone who hates the three sports bras she has to wear, or their bony legs, or their untamable frizz. The only objective fact about beauty is that no one thinks he or she is perfect. Everyone has their love handles or muffin top (both words I would LOVE to retire, please), or their nobby toes. Let's start looking at our insecurities the way Higley showed that other people already do. That thing we hate could be our most beautiful feature.
Check out the full "Body Image" series at Higley's website.
Images: Courtesy Kelsey Higley (3)