Photographer Peter DeVito and “America’s Next Top Model” finalist Khrystyana Kazakova want to take the movement back. That’s why they created “More Than Just a Trend,” a photo series that digs a little deeper into viral hashtags and addresses stereotypes about inclusivity, gender, diversity and sexuality.
“Peter and I wanted to create this project to declare that diversity isn’t just another trend,” Kazakova said. “Diversity is reality, and the fashion industry should always mirror how wonderfully diverse humanity really is.”
To that end, the pair asked friends to pose with the “trendy” labels or stereotypes that people use to describe them. Each photo also includes a handwritten note outlining how the label has affected the person:
Kazakova posed, too, and wrote an essay detailing how fussy online followers can be about what counts as “body positive.”
“When I look curvier, they call me ‘body positive.’ When I look slimmer, the comments are ‘you are no longer body positive,’” she wrote. “Body positivity evolved around so many people and their/our body. [You] can’t define body positivity by my shape or size.”
The series received positive press, but when DeVito’s face began to clear up, many of his new followers criticized him for it, as if people thrust into the spotlight for embracing their perceived flaws aren’t allowed to change.
“When my pictures started getting attention it was because acne positivity was a ‘trending’ topic, but at that time, my skin was starting to clear up,” he said. “When I would post a picture of myself, people would always send me messages saying that I couldn’t be promoting acne positivity with clear skin.”
Those critical of DeVito’s skin were missing the point.
“I was never creating my work to be ‘trendy,’” he said. “I create this work because I think it’s necessary. A trend is a short-lived statement and these things are an important part of the people’s lives who they affect.”
DeVito has shot eight portraits for “More Than Just a Trend” and intends to keep the project going. For more images from the empowering series, scroll down. Follow DeVito and Kazakova on Instagram for more of their work.
"I am queer ― 365 days a year. I still do not feel safe to be myself always. My feelings are valid. My truth is valid. My existence is valid." Follow Liz.
"Almost every day I'm asked by a woman on the street: 'Where do you color your hair. It's such a trend that people actually think it's not authentic!!! Eight years ago when I decided to go with my natural hair, it was not a fashion statement at all! I woke up on morning and decided, 'That was it!' I just wanted to be myself regardless of what my friends and family thought about it! It was about how it made me feel. It felt free! Not just free of toxic chemicals that we as women offer to put on our body to please society or a man. I wanted to free myself of all imprints society had ingrained in my brain on how I should look! I am pro-aging because it can be sacred, something we actually look forward to. Those silver hair and wrinkles ― I earn them!" Follow Fabienne.
"As a black woman who owns her body, I often feel that we are oversexualized and made a fetish. Whether or not I wear a full gown or a microbikini, my curves, my clothes are my expression and not an excuse for assumption, allegation or attack." Follow Samirah.
"Who said Asians have to be skinny? Once someone said to me, 'You can't be Asian, you are too curvy!' That's what I realized I'm not the 'stereotypical Asian' in people's eyes because of my body type. Please remember there is diversity in every race and culture, different body types, different shades of skin, different facial features and different personalities. I am Asian ― And I got CURVES!" Follow Scarlett.
"I am not your feel good check list. Your I'm glad I'm not you list. Your I rather die than be me list. We don't need a celebration, we just need want to be acceptd as one." Follow Jillian.
"'Why don't you lose some weight?' It will make you so much prettier.' Well, I tried that. I lost a lot of weight and I still felt insecure. At one point in my life, I was a size four and still felt as if I was not good enough. I was wondering, 'Why can't I just feel pretty at the size I am now without someone telling me what I should do to feel prettier? I see #plussize and wonder why we have to be categorized? Why do I need to be labeled plus-sized and not just be a woman?' Let's stop with the labels ― we are all one." Follow Denise.