Moscow's Chayka pool looks exactly as it did in 1957, when it opened as a training facility for the national diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo teams. Although it's maintained its Soviet-style design, the pool's clientele has since expanded to include families and tourists (in addition to the occasional athlete).
Photographer Olya Ivanova visited the hub of summertime activity to find out how the Russian women swimming there really feel about their bodies. The first thing she noticed was a confidence age gap. "Previous generations of Russian women are often ashamed of their bodies and don't want to show them," Ivanova tells Refinery29. "But now, a lot of young women accept their bodies as they are."
Many of the women told Ivanova that, after years of worrying about their appearance, they finally learned to love their bodies when they stopped caring what other people think — even those closest to them. "They usually heard the most critical things about their bodies from their boyfriends," Ivanova says.
Others mentioned that their journey to self-acceptance is ongoing — and admitted that it's difficult to silence their inner critic. But Ivanova takes their honesty as a sign of progress toward self-love: "Being fragile and accepting your body are connected," she says.
Ahead, learn more about the women of Moscow and how they talk about their bodies.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.