Photographer Alyscia Cunningham, mother of three, knows what it felt like to be a young girl questioning her beauty. So when she was told by a well-known photographer that she "should never take a picture of a pregnant woman's stomach and give it to her without Photoshopping the stretch marks," she realized that something had to be done about the way women are depicted in the media.
"I was so fed up of these photographers and the media," she told A Plus. "I remembered the moment I questioned my own beauty as a child. Being the mother of 3, I couldn't see myself participating in something that negatively impacts people, particularly our younger generation."
She was then inspired to create Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty.
Feminine Transitions is a book of photography featuring and celebrating the natural beauty of women — with no Photoshop, no makeup and no retouching.
While doing this project, Cunningham realized that for many women, it was difficult seeing pictures of themselves without makeup or Photoshop effects.
"I learned about the seriousness of women and our issues with beauty through working on Feminine Transitions," she said. "I had a handful of participants who saw their pictures and asked that I don't include it in my book. Unfortunately these women never took a photo without makeup and didn't like the 'look' of themselves in the picture."
Although it was difficult for some, a number of her participants were ecstatic to really see themselves as the naturally beautiful women they are. This, Cunningham explained, made the four years dedicated to the project worthwhile.
These women, age seven weeks to 103 years old, show us why we should always celebrate natural beauty.
Cunningham's project not only captures the natural beauty of women, it supports the idea that natural depictions of women can empower other women. She believes more diverse depictions of both women and men can help with self-esteem and positively help the way society views beauty.
These natural pictures of these beautiful women say it all.
For more photos and information, visit Cunningham's website, www.alyscia.com.