I have had the privilege of taking Jade Beall's yoga and dance classes in the desert and was thrilled to see the popularity of her A Beautiful Body Project touching the central nerve of so many women. As a media consultant and television producer, I could instantly see why so much attention was paid to such a simple and obvious message. I believe that so much of the content we put out in the media directs women to be something that they aren't: "Be skinnier", "Be a loving, unconditional wife -- all the time", "Be a Better Parent (or your children will end up messed up)", "Have a cleaner home (or your neighbors will notice)", "Don't eat this (or you'll be fat)." Being confronted with all these messages on a daily basis, I believe Jade Beall's photography showed women that it was simply perfect to be exactly as we are...and that is already beautiful! What a relief in that message. What an absolute exhale.
"It's dangerous that women are fed on comparison instead of acceptance," says New York Times Bestselling Co-Author of Taming Your Alpha Bitch," Christy Whitman, "Her photo exposé, which boldly redefines our culture's concept of 'beauty,' rings out in defiance against the message perpetually drilled into our heads by pop culture and Madison Avenue; a message so pervasive that many women have internalized it as if it were the truth. That message, simply stated, is that who we are is not enough."
Professionally, I produce media content for a living, and Jade Beall hit a tipping point with hits on the Today Show, BBC, The Guardian, and numerous other outlets worldwide which started here on The Huffington Post. In order for a news story to hit with that kind of press with extended momentum, it usually has to be centered on a tragedy, and yet this was simply a beautiful message, a turnaround in terms of media interest. I think women are simply tired of being told what to do and who to be.
"We commit a form of suicide. As long as we use our economic power to buy into messages, without realizing it, this 'if only' mentally has become the lens through which many of us view ourselves," says Christy Whitman, founder of the Enlightened Kid Program and mother of two boys. "Happiness, peace, and contentment live 'out there' somewhere, just outside our reach, and the more feverishly we seek the next quick fix, the less able we are to see, enjoy and appreciate everything that is working perfectly, right now, in this moment. When we are operating under the false belief that we are not enough, we temporarily lose our connection with our essence -- the inner presence that lights up our eyes and breathes meaning to all our outer experiences."
"One of the things I find the most damaging is the idea that there is a one-size-fits-all mentality about women," says Gina Cloud, Founder of GinaCology, who believes that a woman's physical distortions start in their teenage years. "That our bodies and psyches must conform to what someone else has decided we should be; that anyone outside of us defines what beauty is."
So far, the media ate the story up. Naked -- perfectly imperfect perfect women. The Daily Mail wrote on June 25, "Jade Beall, a mother-of-one from Tucson, Arizona, began by publishing a series of semi-nude self-portraits on Facebook, revealing all the scars and imperfections that came with pregnancy and the birth of her son, Sequoia." Hundreds of women around the world reached out to Beall asking for their portrait to be taken. Maybe the shift here is that finally the media took notice of reflecting who women are instead of telling them who they need to be.
Anyone can get the project currently titled Volume 1: Mothers by clicking here.