As often as women-positive publications and companies use the word "real" to describe the female bodies they portray, there are a few problems with this. First, "real" often acts as code for "unlike the vast majority of women's bodies shown in the media." Second, there's the implication that if your body happens to be thin (or reflects whatever society is prescribing as "ideal" these days), then it must be fake — less-than-real.
Every body, of course, is as real as any other. The trouble arises when the only bodies we see conform to a single mold — and when each one we see is so Photoshopped or otherwise altered that we forget what au naturel even looks like. The Expose project, a joint effort from feminist blogger Jes Baker and photographer Liora K, is the antidote to this problem. The pair gathered 98 women in Tucson, Arizona for a photoshoot you won't likely see gracing the pages of a lingerie catalogue. Not only are the photos all unretouched; they also depict a wonderfully realistic range of shapes, colors, sizes, textures, ages, hairstyles, and attire.
"So much of the female body that we see," Jes and Liora write, "is pushed up, pinned down, sucked in, tucked in, and airbrushed. Its only presentable state is when it's altered, and so when we look at ourselves in the mirror (naked, untucked, and vulnerable) we say, 'My body must be wrong.'"
"We all know that what we see in the media isn't the whole story," they continue. "It's not representative of all of us. And, because of what we see (or rather DON'T see), we start to believe that we are the only one with our particular stretch marks. Our uneven boobs. Our scarred legs. Our asymmetrical nipples. Our belly shape....Your body ain't wrong, girlfriend. And, Expose is here to prove that."
Click through for 15 photographs that provide a refreshingly real representation of women's bodies, in all of their unretouched glory — no Mayfair- or Amaro-colored glasses here. Heads-up, the photos are NSFW, and nipples are encouraged.