Project: Real Beauty

Babalwa -The people I admire, well, first it has to be my mom. By the way she's doing everything and she's been there for me and all, being a single parent raising a daughter, all alone, ja. And, basically, I think I love Oprah. She?s just everything. She's just a phenomenal woman. She just wants to be there for everyone and do, do things right and she even tells you,to be comfortable in your body, basically, cause a girl's not all make-up and all...My race group, which is Xhosa, you have to carry yourself as a lady, in public, in, , in your house. You have to carry yourself as a lady, and respect other people . I don't want to lie to you because the older generation I was told, that they were only allowed to put a cloth in front just to hide their private part and walk around with your breasts, but now, we can't do it because of many things, like rape and crime and all. So, we've been modernised anyway, so you just have to wear cloths. Photo by Jodi Bieber

I think I love Oprah. She’s just everything. She’s just a phenomenal woman. She just wants to be there for everyone and do, do things right and she even tells you,to be comfortable in your body, basically, cause a girl’s not all make-up and all…My race group, which is Xhosa, you have to carry yourself as a lady, in public, in, , in your house. You have to carry yourself as a lady, and respect other people . I don’t want to lie to you because the older generation I was told, that they were only allowed to put a cloth in front just to hide their private part and walk around with your breasts, but now, we can’t do it because of many things, like rape and crime and all. So, we’ve been modernised anyway, so you just have to wear cloths. Photo by Jodi Bieber

This project is an extension of a Dove billboard advertising campaign in London showing ordinary women in their underwear advocating and speaking up for Real Beauty. Advertising campaigns don’t usually draw her attention, but this one did. A model sitting next to Jodi on the way from London to Paris emphasized the extent to which Photoshop is used to enhance beauty. She was not in the least bit concerned about the rings under her eyes as these imperfections would easily be erased after her photoshoot.  The work deals with reality and no photoshop has been used to remove blemishes, scars, cellulite and any other form of ‘imperfection’, but also touches on fantasy.

The photographic shoot was a collaboration between Jodi and each woman, whom she photographed at their homes. The setting within their surroundings was her choice but each women’s pose was pretty much self directed. Jodi wanted each women to project their personality or their fantasy into their shoot. The shoot created a space for each women to explore their own identity in relation to beauty and to live for a couple of hours in an environment of elements of fantasy.

One of the issues that came to the front in Real Beauty was that in general South Africa is conservative as a nation. At times Jodi felt people thought she was recruiting women for a pornographic shoot. She did not discriminate against anyone who approached her. She photographed each and every women. Three main reasons that people used for saying no to being photographed (besides body privacy rights) were; “my” husband wouldn’t agree to it, religious views, and just feeling uncomfortable with their body shapes. Most the women that participated in the shoot, did so because they believed in the project and supported her concept of Real Beauty. A second issue that arose from the images produced from Real Beauty is the different belief systems held amongst different communities. Very thin and tall women might be perceived by their communities as being sick, possibly with HIV/Aids and more full figured women as healthy. In other communities thin women are often more desirable.

From the interviews Jodi carried out most women believe that their is no real perfect body shape and it is more about being healthy and feeling comfortable in ones own skin. The general trend was more accepting of thinner and curvacous women and less accepting of the ultra thin models we see in the media. It is said that Tswana and Xhosa women are the most beautiful, the lighter your skin, the more beautiful you are.

  See This Project

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