The photographs are beautiful, and the message behind them is anything but superficial.

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.  


Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

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."

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

"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.

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

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.

Photo via Emily Lauren Dick, used with permission.

Want to help make Dick’s vision a reality? You can support her Kickstarter here.

Family
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's