Carey Lynne Fruth's Body-Positive 'American Beauty' Photo Series Proves Mainstream Media Beauty Ideals Have It All Wrong

Mainstream American media's ideal of beauty is still dramatically lacking in diversity, but one brave photographer is out to change that. San Francisco-based photographer Carey Lynne Fruth's body-positive "American Beauty" photo series celebrates models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. In a world full of photoshopped realities and unattainable ideals of beauty, the series is a breath of fresh, gorgeous, and empowering air.

Fruth was originally inspired by the sex fantasy in American Beauty in which a middle-aged man imagines a thin, white, blonde-headed teenage girl on a petal of roses. But instead of depicting her models as sexual objects, they are empowered subjects emulating sensuality, complexity, and strength. Additionally, Fruth swapped roses for lilacs, which are "meant to represent beauty, pride, and confidence." The results are stunning.

In case you weren't aware, we currently live in a world where Instagram recently banned the hashtag #curvy and black models reportedly have to bring their own makeup to runways. For this reason, Fruth's attempt to redefine beauty standards comes at a crucial time. Doing so, however, is not easy. She shared,

"Photographers are scared. They are scared that if they do something all inclusive and different from the current ideal of beauty that people will not come to their business. America is made up of all types of women. Women who are hungry to see themselves represented in a beautiful way. And why shouldn't they?"

Fortunately, Fruth has not let fear stop her, and continues to find models equally as brave. Fruth's models talk to Bustle about what it was like taking part in the shoot.

1. Old Is Sexy

"I have always wanted to lay in a bed full of rose petals, this was the closest I could get. It felt great. As an older women, I have been challenged to see myself as beautiful. As a Burlesque dancer I am aware of my age and the condition of my body but still undressing in front of young women and being photographed was scary. I am slowly learning to appreciate my body and how I look. This photo shoot made me feel good."

2. Beauty Is Power

"Carey put me at so much ease I forgot I was even in a naked vulnerable place. Personally I was in the middle of a difficult life event, so even though I transformed I felt very honest and ok just being as I am. When I saw my actual picture I was so proud. It reminds me art has the power to pass on messages of healing, tolerance and the resilience of being human."

3. Posing Nude Can Be Empowering

"To pose nude for a woman's empowerment project, shot and run by a woman was liberating and empowering!! Being naked is liberating and then showing it to the world is the biggest it can be. I have never thought I would pose nude for anything or anyone or even selfies for my partners but I did for Carey because I believe in her vision to really bring to light the truth about women, and the shapes colors ages and sizes we come in. It's real."

4. There Are Endless Definitions Of Beauty

"Working with Carey was great and this project really spoke to me. I was beyond excited to see my final image and I couldn't be happier with how it came out. The women in this project are all beautiful and showcase an amazing array of different body types. It's hard to bare yourself and not worry about being criticized, but in the end this project was really worth it. It's a wonderful and empowering message."

5. Love Your Body

"New York burlesque performer Fruitonthebottom originally said this about performing while fat, but it's so applicable here: "For many people it may be the first time seeing someone with a body like mine, nearly naked, loving a body like mine."

6. Be Fearlessly Beautiful

"Seeing your naked body out in the world is like jumping in a cold pool. It is always jarring at first. But once i saw myself along side the beauty of all these other bodies it was so clear that there was no other way see these images, including mine as absolutely beautiful!"

The full American Beauty photo series can be viewed here.

Image Credit: Carey Lynne Fruth