If you’ve flipped through a magazine since, oh, the dawn of time, you’ve probably seen photographs of women who are retouched almost beyond recognition.
These girls become "flawless," losing anything — bruises, scars, cellulite — that could identify them as less than what our society considers perfect. Emily Lauren Dick, a photographer, is not having any of that.
With her book "Average Girl: A Guide to Loving Your Body," Dick hopes to redefine what we consider beautiful by showing women just as they are — bruises, scars, cellulite, and all.
Like most humans, Dick was tired of feeling like she didn’t quite measure up to society’s standards.
In fact, the idea for the "Average Girl" series was inspired by the photographer’s own experience.
"I called my project Average Girl because personally, I’ve never been a fat girl and I’ve never been a skinny girl … I‘ve always been in the middle … an Average Girl," she wrote on her project's Kickstarter page.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with average. In her mind, "Average was where we all fit." She set out to create something for "any girl who has felt mediocre and who has struggled with not being considered ideal by social standards."
"Average Girl" is more than just a book of beautiful photographs. Dick hopes it will be a tool to convince women they don’t have to constantly improve their bodies to fit society’s narrow definition of beauty.
"I think we all wonder if the way we look is normal and although we are all different, we are all very similar. Young women need to see that we have a lot of similarities!" Dick says of her choice to photograph women in their underwear. "The things we are embarrassed about having (stretch marks, scars, bruises, acne, etc.) are things that are very common. We've just been told by the media that we should not have them."
"When we see stretch marks, blemishes and bruises we have started to question why they are present … and that is the reason for this book," she explained on the Kickstarter site. "I want them to see the stretch marks, blemishes and bruises as markers of living their lives to the fullest."
She interviewed more than 80 young women for the project and filled out the text of the book with reader-friendly facts and even worksheets about the value of a positive body image.
"The photographic component only reinforces the message that we need to practice self love and we are only going to do this if we change social beauty standards," her page reads.
The photographs are stunning, but the topic of body image is anything but superficial.
Think back to those magazines you’ve been flipping through forever. Have you ever stopped to gauge how you feel when you see them? Would you even notice if you started to hate yourself or your body as those images flashed before your eyes?
When 3 out of 4 teen girls feel depressed, guilty, and shameful after three minutes of looking at a fashion magazine, it’s time to offer them some alternatives. Dick hopes her book will do just that.
"I want the conversation about women’s bodies to be focused on all that they have been through, what they can accomplish and what their bodies have done for them," she said.
Want to help make Dick’s vision a reality? You can support her Kickstarter here.