I just finished This Is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Sizes by photographer Rosanne Olson. In the book (which I've added to the EWHAED book club list--scroll down to the right), Olson captures the bodies of women of all shapes and sizes. . . women of various ages, ethnicities, professional backgrounds. . . modestly posing nude or nearly nude and then discussing their thoughts and feelings about their forms.
Olson's project was born of early influences. In her introduction, she reveals: "In a sense, this book arose from my own experiences. As a teeenager, I encountered anorexia, which helped give me insight." She had me right there--what an interesting way to phrase it, not "struggled with," or "suffered from," but "encountered."
And so, Olson focuses on encounters, on the experiences of the women she captured on film--experiences of being in the world with their particular bodies, experiences we've all had working toward certain expectations of and standards for our bodies, experiences we've had judging others' bodies and ourselves.
I wondered what would happen if I invited women of all shapes and sizes to discuss their feelings about their bodies and then let me photograph them in the nude. My goal was one of completel revelation--not hiding behind clothing but exposing both body and mind. What would we learn about ourselves? What would we learn from each other? Would we--could we--become more compassionate? Not only toward ourselves but toward one another.I emailed Olson to tell her how much I enjoyed reading her book, and she noted that other therapists have contacted her with analogous types of praise. It seems we similarly appreciate the therapeutic and socio-political implication of Olson's work--observing other women's bodies and what they have to say about them can be a tranformative experience. The women are beautiful, their stories compelling, and I recommend you take a look.