10 Gorgeous Photos That Redefine American Beauty

If you recall one thing about American Beauty, it's probably the image of Mena Suvari on a pile of blood-red rose petals. A San Francisco-based photographer, Carey Fruth, is reinventing this memorable scene with the goal of empowering women and challenging today’s standards of beauty.

In Fruth's latest project, she recreated the classic American Beauty shot with a powerful twist, which features models ranging from 21 to 67, and various body types and races. Fruth has been producing pin-up, retro boudoir, and old Hollywood imagery with a body positive theme since joining S.F. and New York’s Shameless Photography in 2011.

"I started this project because I wanted to recreate iconic Hollywood images with more diverse models," Fruth says. "I chose the American Beauty image for three main reasons: First, because I thought it would be a great way to really show how diverse bodies can be, second, because I knew it would be immediately recognizable to people, and lastly, because it was an image that clearly represented the male gaze. Plus, who doesn't want to lie in a bunch of flowers!"

Local S.F. figures were also a big part in this project, with volunteer models coming from Fruth’s work at Shameless Photography, along with body positive and burlesque groups.

"[Fruth] helped each person to think about her own sensuality, and allow the pose and expression to flow from that," says Shameless Photography founder Sophie Spinelle, who is also a model in the series. "These images are all about that honest and vulnerable moment that happens when a photographer genuinely cares about her subjects, and creates a space for them to be empowered and true to themselves in front of the camera."

Fruth’s spin on American Beauty will leave you in awe. Take a look at the moving photo series ahead.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"The ability to have our differences —race, age, and weight, celebrated and seen as examples of beauty, that is the truth I want the whole world to know," says The Body Is Not An Apology founder Sonya Renee Taylor.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"Those of us with 'unconventional' bodies — especially trans women, are usually treated as a punchline in so many ways. So it was moving to be treated with the same love and respect that's usually only given to women with the 'right' kind of bodies," says burlesque performer Joie de Virve.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"The American Beauty image holds a very special place in my heart. There is great power in taking an iconic image and flipping it on its head," says Be Beautiful Project founder Denise Jolly.

"Every body in this collection is beautiful and the photos are stunning. Even if the bodies represented are not someone's personal affinity, the images are a gorgeous honoring of beauty."
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"America is made up of so many different types of bodies, and all of them can be seen as desirable if they want to be," Fruth says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"The meaning [of the project] is just that beauty is a part of everyone. That beauty isn't one type of person," Fruth says.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"To me, this project is more than just the "fat, skinny, young, old" construct that I've seen in comments," says model Shai'La Yvonne. "This is about me being me all the time, with no shame. Not worrying what others think or say, but worrying about myself, and how I can make this life the best it can be for me, and those around me."
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"Part of what makes these images so special is the fact that they are
not about the surface of a person, but the interior," says Shameless Photography founder Sophie Spinelle.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"I wanted to create a space for woman of all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, and ages to express their sensuality and step into the fantasy girl role, but on their own terms, in their own way," Fruth tells Refinery29.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"I wanted to give the power back to the models, to us as woman," Fruth says. "Instead of having images where the model is objectified and sexualized by another person, I wanted the model to have the chance of expressing her beauty and sensuality on her own terms."
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Photo: Courtesy of Carey Fruth.
"I want everyone to realize that they are beautiful and worthy of love and respect, no matter what we look like," Fruth says.
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