The mainstream idea of beauty seeps into every corner of our lives — between the media and the intense body-hate that’s inscribed onto most of us from a young age, it’s rare to find anyone who’s totally happy with their body. As a part of the Business & Nonprofit Basics class, three students — Christi Beddiges ’18, Carolyn Tlaseca ’18, and Emma Flaherty ’17, have started a photo project to combat the negative views we’re taught to feel towards our bodies. The project, called Real Humans, Real Bodies, has a simple goal: to show what real human bodies look like. By flooding the internet and COA campus with photographs of nude and semi-nude “real” bodies, the three hope to foster a better sense of self-esteem on the COA campus and beyond, and end the negative narratives we’re trained to tell ourselves about our bodies.

I met with Beddiges to talk more about the project’s intent.

What is this project?

It’s for Jay’s Business & Nonprofit Basics class. We had to leverage capital. He gave us $20, and said “make social, environmental, or financial capital”. And we picked social. So our crazy spaced out idea was to eliminate the media’s standards on what a body is supposed to look like, because they show all these polished, photoshopped, made-up, plasticized bodies, and it just makes you feel [bad] about yourself. So we want to do the opposite — we want to litter the world with pictures of real human bodies. We want to say, “this is your body, this is a real body, you should love yourself.” 

How have people been responding? Has there been a lot of positive response?

We sent out the email [asking for volunteers to be photographed] the beginning of last week, and within 30 seconds I had one person respond, and we must have had 40 responses, maybe more than that. Not everybody could come to the photo shoot… but we had 26 people do the photos.

Is it going to be just an online thing or do you plan on making something physical you can distribute?

We were going to try and print out a lot of pictures and hang them all over campus. We’re talking to Jarly and we’re going to get four different posters printed out with one picture of each participant. So they’re going to be hanging in the library, probably — that’s the only permanent place we’ve gotten permission for.

Do you plan to keep this going beyond the class?

I think all of us plan on keeping it going because we’re all really passionate about body image. I know I’m still working on getting Instagram off the ground. It was a great experience to be taking pictures again, so I want to continue taking body positive pictures and continue promoting this. For me honestly, this isn’t just a final project. I want to start a revolution.

More photographs can be found on their Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram