The All Woman Project Showcases Unretouched Models

by James Hale

For spring 2017, runways may showcase the most diverse group of models in history. While the push towards inclusivity is notable, some are still cognizant of the fact that an overwhelming majority of models are white, thin, cisgender, and able-bodied. That's exactly the inspiration behind the All Woman Project, which showcases diverse models without digitally retouching campaign images. The campaign aims to push a movement for significantly diverse casting for fashion industry runways.

Models Clementine Desseaux and Charli Howard (who was famously dropped by her agency in 2015 for being "out of shape" when she was a size 2) started the All Woman Project in Sept. 2016, launching the project's first series just before New York Fashion Week.

For its second installment, which went live on the All Woman Project site Jan. 31, the project teamed up with body positive clothing company Aerie to highlight a group of women which include #AerieREAL Role Model Iskra Lawrence, Montauk surfer Quincy Davis, Senegalese model Khoudia Diop, fitness expert Holly Rilinger, style blogger and university professor Lyn Slater and models Mari Agory and Paloma Esser.

Models wore Aerie and were styled by Calvy Click, with makeup by Alyssa Lorranie. Les Mijotés produced the campaign, and photos were shot by duo Heather Hazzan (who is also a model) and Lily Cummings.

According to a press release, the project's goal is to "represent all women exactly as they are. Never retouched, always beautiful."

Desseaux and Howard explained in the release, "We started the All Woman Project to change the global perception of women's beauty and to show that a woman can be gorgeous at any age, color, and shape."

Images from the campaign are totally unretouched; models' curves, wrinkles, uneven skin tones, blemishes, and any other "flaws" which would normally be digitally airbushed from existence are let be, and models are presented exactly as they appear in real life.

The team chose Aerie, a brand with a history of producing campaigns with unretouched images. "[Aerie doesn't] just talk about body positivity, we live it," Lawrence said in the campaign press release. "Working with the All Woman Project is a natural fit for Aerie. They are providing an honest and unretouched look at beauty and that's exactly what Aerie is about — making women of all ages feel gorgeous in the skin they are in."

Howard tells Bustle in an email that not only does she love unretouched photos in campaigns, she actually prefers unretouched pictures of herself.

"I love seeing myself unretouched, it makes me feel powerful," she says. "So much so, in fact, that I don't retouch my pictures on social media anymore. If I get photos back that are super retouched, I don't post them. Girls need to realize they are beautiful enough the way they are!"

Desseaux expresses similar sentiments, saying, "I love seeing unretouched images of myself just like I love ones where I don’t wear makeup. It makes me feel free and beautiful and I wish I could work like that more often and only release images that show me just like I am."

She adds, "Sometimes being a model is hard because you do not control your image and often, you can’t recognize yourself in images brands put out. I struggled with that in the past, so much that now I really only love myself in bare, unretouched images!"

And campaign model Rilinger tells Bustle that, "This campaign hits home for me. I've been told repeatedly I look too strong for fitness campaigns. I'm not young enough or feminine enough. [...] I'm proud of the way I look in the campaign photos. Just as I am. I feel like myself and hope that women everywhere can feel proud of who they are as well. Life is short. Love yourself."

The All Women Project is ongoing, and will produce campaigns at least twice per year, each time featuring diverse women.

A project rep tells Bustle that transgender and disabled models were tapped for the Jan. 31 series, but "scheduling did not allow for it this time around." He added, "The team is hopeful and excited to feature a transgender woman, as well as other diversities in the next campaign."

Images: Courtesy Brands