Undefining beauty standards

Vogue just released their March 2017 cover, one that celebrated 125 years of print and made the case that, “there isn’t just one type of American girl—nor has there ever been.

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“Each of these cover girls proudly inhabits her own particular gorgeousness in her own particular way. Together they represent a seismic social shift: The new beauty norm is no norm.” —Vogue

However, there has been a bit of backlash from the public regarding the cover. Many social media users are pointing out that while the cover claims to be diverse, all the models appear to be medium to light skin toned and have very similar body shape and facial structure, the one exception being plus-size model Ashley Graham.

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There are speculations of photoshop, and questions about why Ashley Graham is the only woman with her hand covering her thigh or why Gigi Hadid’s hand seems to extend to cover Graham’s stomach.

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Vogue is trying to send a positive message however, one that says we shouldn’t hold everyone to the same standard of beauty because each individual defines beauty differently. But while their accompanying article is telling one story, pictures do speak a thousand words… and so far there hasn’t been a consensus on what those words are saying.

Nevertheless, Vogue inspired me to take some pictures of my own. If you’ve ever witnessed someone in a moment that made them feel so happy and beautiful, and seen that they’re just shining, you’ll remember how infectious that light is; you can’t help but smile with them.

To explore this concept, I asked some friends if they would let me photograph them in the state in which they felt the most comfortable and confident, where the only beauty standards existing were their own.

The results are so sweet and pure.

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“My mom and I would always go shopping and she always taught me to love myself and that I don’t have to change myself or personality to fit anyone’s expectation.” —Sidney Williams
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“Ummm I feel at home at the beach.”—Mya Hauck
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“There’s something so raw and real about spending time in nature; the peace I feel makes me feel beautiful and connected to my surroundings.” —Chloe Knowd
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“I am at my best when I’m surrounded by my closest friends. It really is the little things in day to day life—like drinking coffee or sitting on the couch with your best friend—that make me fully content.” —Kelsey Dunkelman
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“I just love the way I feel in a big sweater, dancing around my kitchen to groovy tunes while making dinner. I feel so in my element. I truly dance like no one is watching and I feel my entire personality come out with no shame or purpose of hiding. I feel confident, quirky, beautiful, independent, me.” —Mikaela McGill
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“I feel most beautiful when I’m giving all of my love, attention and admiration towards something else—often times that’s exploring Mother Nature.” —Lauren Zaragoza