This Insta-Account Will Make The Thigh Gap A Thing Of The Past

Photo via @stace_a_lace.
How do you feel about your legs?

Stacey Baker, a photo editor at The New York Times, considers hers curvy...and they've been a constant source of anxiety and insecurity. "We want something we don't have — to be taller, have larger breasts or smaller breasts," she tells Refinery29. "I always wanted longer legs. I've always paid attention to and noted legs."

Over the last three years, Baker has been trekking through New York City — and traveling the world — taking pictures of women from the waist down for her personal project, Citi Legs. The result? More than 1,000 photos of legs large, small, thin, tall, brown, white, panted, skirted, and everything in between that have not only gone viral via her Instagram feed, @stace_a_lace (in the fall, they'll also be pared down and released in a book called Legs), but also helped her combat her own self-doubt.

Ahead, Baker opens up about her body-positive (and quite beautiful) series. Forget the thigh gap: The latest in leg trends is all about embracing yourself exactly as you are.
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
Why did you choose to photograph legs?
"I have always paid attention to other women's legs, because I always wanted longer legs myself. When you're walking around New York, you see so many different people and different shapes. Women feel conscious."

Seen on: 40th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
Would you say you are satirizing other blogs, like Humans of New York?
"I’m really not that familiar with a lot of the fashion blogs. I look at The New York Times, with Bill Cunningham; I know about The Sartorialist. I didn't set out to do a project on legs; it just evolved. But I didn't have any particular photographer influence in mind. What I was most interested in as time went on was how legs make for a beautiful, sculpture-like image. I think the most successful pictures achieve that sort of thing."

Seen at: 1815 Park Avenue (at East 125th Street).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
So are you influenced by certain sculptors?
"No. I wish I knew more about sculpture. I think what I have come to appreciate is the beauty of the female form. It's the legs, generally, that have more shape and more curves. Curves make for more beautiful sculptures, which, in terms of body image, is good for me to see. Nothing is wrong with my legs, but I don't have Christy Turlington's. I have something more curvy."

Seen on: 51st Street (at Eighth Avenue).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
How do you approach women on the streets?
"I just tap them on the shoulder and say, 'Excuse me, this is going to sound really strange, but I love what you're wearing and I do a project on legs.' I have my iPhone ready with my Instagram feed, so they can see the grid and know exactly what I do. Most women are more than happy to cooperate. I promise that I will show them the pictures and delete them if they don't like them, and that they're welcome to be anonymous, though many people want to be tagged."

Seen on: 40th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
Do women seem pleased by the images?
"A lot of people find it flattering. People don't really know what their legs look like. It's silly, but it's just seeing their body from a different perspective. A number of women have hugged me, and I don't even know them. Plus, I've met the nicest women. We have very nice, very artful exchanges, and then we go our separate ways."

Seen on: 40th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
You seem to photograph a lot of women in leggings. Is that intentional?
"Yes and no. Sometimes, people who look at the feed think that it's a feed about leggings, and it's really not. That said, leggings show your form well. If someone's wearing a flowing or maxi dress, you're not going to see their figure as much. Leggings definitely show the shape more, and that's what I'm interested in."

Seen on: 40th Street (between Seventh and Eighth avenues).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
Where have you shot women?
"The vast majority of my shots are in New York City, where I live and work. I've photographed them in London, in various cities and towns in Ireland, in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. So, not so many. Wherever my job takes me, I keep any eye out."

Seen on: 40th Street (between Eighth and Ninth avenues).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
Which city is your favorite to photograph in?
"New York, for sure. I especially like shooting outside The New York Times building, where I work. I like the walk between Eighth and Seventh avenues, because you have this convergence of people walking to and from the Port Authority, so you have commuters; we're on the cusp of the Garment District, so fashion types; and a lot of tourists. It’s a nice mix of different types of people and different types of style, and it’s not quite as homogenous as other parts of the city. I'm always looking for something different or something new, and I think Midtown really offers that."

Seen on: West 4th Street (at Sixth Avenue).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
How has this project affected your insecurities about your own legs?
"I'm always going to struggle with my body image and wish I had Christy Turlington's legs, but it's given me a much greater appreciation for shape and for the female form. I would say that I feel a little bit more secure about the way I look. I'm not going to tell you that it's solved all my body-image problems, but it's made me feel that, while my shape is a little different, there's something beautiful there, too."

Seen on: West 4th Street (at Sixth Avenue).
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Photo via @stace_a_lace.
So, have you ever photographed your own legs?
"I asked a friend to photograph me one time. I thought, if I'm asking other women to do this, I might as well do mine, too."

Seen on: 16th Street (at Fifth Avenue).
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