'CURVES: The Book' By Victoria Janashvili Features Nude Models Of All Shapes & Sizes Revealing Their Self-Love Secrets
Fashion photographer Victoria Janashvili has shot all kinds of women with all kinds of bodies. Through getting to know them on and off set, she's realized one thing creates their true beauty: confidence. This is what pushed the photographer — renown for her work with the nude, or nearly nude, women's bodies — to create CURVES: The Book , a nude photo art project that was about more than just the images.
Janashvili has had that work published in GQ, Maxim, Sports Illustrated, and on billboards. She is, however, most known for her work with plus size models and specifically her iconic photos of plus size model Denise Bidot, who covers the book. I was lucky enough to speak with Janashvili by phone about the body image, the book, and the happy accidents that led to its creation.
For someone whose nude photography has become her hallmark, the work that first garnered huge attention for her happened by accident. While shooting images for a client, the plus size model on set didn't like any of the wardrobe that has been pulled for her and they ended up shooting nude photos of her instead. Much to Janashvili's surprise, these went viral and caught the eye of people on the internet, body positive activists, and ended up on the news. Janashvili was excited that her work, but it was what was being done with her photos that disheartened her.
No, trolls weren't defacing them: Misguided body positive people were emblazoning them with slogans like "Bigger Is Better" and derogatory comments about skinny women. As someone who was just creating images that intended to show beauty in its many forms, Janashvili was disappointed to see her work with plus size models continue to be appropriated and distorted in this way. Celebrating all bodies (without comparison) was her goal.
"At one point I decided to show, through photography one way or another, that everyone is beautiful and I absolutely think that way. Every woman is beautiful and she finds her own way of seeing the beauty in herself," she explained. The project ended up taking on a life of its own and became a book that Janashvili calls "the shortest version possible." She wanted to show as many different depictions of beauty as possible and bind them together, while letting the women also tell their stories.
"Every woman is so different in her beauty. To me, the beauty comes through her story and her challenges. Learning about someone's challenges and finding out more about them makes you more attached to their beauty and their beauty shines through more. That's exactly what I tried to show through this book," she says. And the stories? Well, Janashvili said that nearly every single one surprised her or gave her a "revelation." Despite working with and knowing some of these models and women who are featured in the book, and even being friends with them, she had no idea of the stories some of them had.
Amanda Lepore's story stuck out to her as particularly illuminating. Known for her OTT sensibilities, Janashvili says that Lepore told her when she was growing up all she wanted to be was a housewife. "She never wanted to become this crazy drag queen person," Janashvili told me. "But that turned her life around and that's what she became after her marriage failed. She's actually a shy and reserved person, she just tries to get attention to legitimize her looks," she told me.
Perhaps the most illuminating part was having to strip down for the camera herself and tell her own story. "I had my own journey with this," Janashvili says. Hers was one of the last ones to come in and she wrote it, already entrenched in the project, on a cross-country plane ride and it brought her to tears. "It took 6 hours to get it out of me. I was reading and going, "This is wrong. This is wrong. Here's where you're lying to yourself. Here's where you're lying to other people." Getting to the root of her own insecurities and having to admit her struggles with body image to herself was a challenging and transformative experience.
While, originally, the purpose of the book was simply to showcase beautiful women of all sizes and from all types of backgrounds; Janashvili found herself transformed and stunned by both the stories and the beauty of the women. "I thought it was all about sizes, but midway through the book when the stories started to come in I realized that all of the physical aspects really didn't mean anything. I saw so much beauty in women than I ever knew before," she said.
According to the photographer, the book is for any and all women — using female nudity and removing the male gaze is one of the other things that makes this book so powerful — but Janashvili says that her own younger self was who she had in mind when putting it together. "I wish somebody put a book like this in front of me at the time. I think it would have made me look at myself differently."
CURVES: The Book will be released on July 15th and can be found on Amazon.
Images: Courtesy Victoria Janashvili