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Melamed: "This is one of the first portraits I took of Abby. I asked her to sit on her bed, and in that moment, I realized she was sitting right underneath a framed photograph of her son. She sat down, and she kept on asking me what I wanted her to do. I told her to just sit and take a deep breath. It was quiet, and I wanted it to stay that way. This was a kind of meditation for us. I remember waiting for her to take a breath. I snapped the image and looked at it, realizing the power in that moment; her son was looking down on her, quite literally. For me, it was an extraordinary moment. Later, Abby told me that this image made her cry."
Stein: "I was just three months on HRT [in this photo]. To be bold, it was a kind of emotional moment for me, reflecting on myself and my offspring. I remember the thought in my head at the moment was 'Which kind of role model do I want to be for my child?'"
Stein: "This picture is from fall 2015 in my room in a Columbia University Dorm. At the time, I felt like I was pushing the boundaries of body confidence, but in the long run, seeing the picture actually helped me a lot with body positivity."
Stein: "This picture is from my visit to Williamsburg — my birth place and an enclave of Hasidic Jews — in December of 2015. I wasn't sure if I should go, and I am grateful that Melody encouraged me to visit. It was an amazing experience visiting my hometown as an outsider."
Melamed: "In order to contribute to the integrity of her story, I wanted viewers to at least have a glimpse into the world she came from: The Hassidic part of Williamsburg is unlike any other part of NYC. It is insular, isolated, and judgmental."
Melamed: "There was a huge risk in taking her back there. Everyone knows her — who she was and who she is now. She asked me to bring along a few friends so that we would not be alone as we walked through the streets she grew up in. Abby knew that all eyes would be on her, and she was not comfortable with our mission, but she conquered her fear with tremendous power."