Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jade Beall's Mother's Day Book Launch (Video Possibly NSFW, but Cool)

Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Jade Beall's book, The Bodies of Mothers: The Beautiful Body Project, is ready for readers and supporters of the Tucson photographer's body-positive work.

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From Weekly contributor Chelo Grubb's interview with Beall in "Body Revolution," (March 20, 2014):

Because she grew up in a small Mexican village without electricity, you'd think that local photographer and dance teacher Jade Beall would have been able to start life without feeling pressured to look like a fashion model. However, weekends in the city were enough to start her thinking about body-image issues when she was just 10 years old.

Beall was confronted by a beauty ideal that she, with her dirty feet and secondhand clothes, simply didn't fit. Things only got worse when she moved to Tucson for high school.

"TV was, like, where the 'important people' sent their messages. My parents told me I was beautiful, my family was incredibly supportive, but media was way more powerful for me. I believed it more," Beall said. "Some people escape from that but a lot of us don't."

As she grew up and started a family, she found the societal pressures becoming even more destructive.

"I gave birth, gained 50 pounds, wasn't able to shed it, and was suffering from postpartum depression," Beall said. "I decided to do some images of myself and they resonated with a lot of women. Women started reaching out and wanting to tell me their stories about giving birth and loathing their bodies. ... It wasn't until I was well into that, that I realized body work could be pretty powerful. Being photographed is empowering."

Her book, A Beautiful Body Project, is a collection of images celebrating mothers' bodies—pregnant, just after birth and years later. Beall credits that work, and the hours she spent poring over the photos, with her ability to accept herself.

"Taking photographs of hundreds of women, strangers most of them, has allowed me to really love myself," Beall said. "Looking at every line, every detail, every roll, every bone, well, you can't deny it. The diversity is amazing and that is the truth. I couldn't have predicted that taking those photographs would be so healing for myself."

The book is due out around Mother's Day. There have been more than 1,000 preorders, and there's a fair amount of interest in international publishing rights. Beall says the reaction to the photos, along with the images themselves, allowed her to see the honest and natural beauty in bodies.

There is a "relentless selling of insecurity by corporations that want to make money off of low self-esteem," Beall said. "You can't sell these things to a woman who is like, 'I like my wrinkles, I'm totally good here,' or a teenager who isn't obsessed with her weight." Beall thinks the culture is moving beyond that. "You don't have to be a prisoner to the scale anymore. You don't have to buy products to help your wrinkles or your acne or all these things you think are unworthy of being on your body. They're signs of life and they're precious."

Beall said that after giving birth, her acceptance of her body was at "an all-time low." Her goal is to show a more honest, less damaging story about motherhood.

"It's about changing how we think about our bodies and how we think about other women. We've been fed this really destructive lie that if we don't bounce back after birth, that we're failures and we're no good," she said. "That needs to change because being a mother is absolutely hard enough."

Beall's talk at the conference will focus on loving your post-birth body, which she says ties into loving your body always. "Your body is precious and worthy of being photographed without Photoshop," she said. "It's about loving one's every molecule."

Beall said that when she looks for beauty in other people, it helps her see it in herself.

"It's not a perfect thing. I have about 20 years of self-loathing to undo so it's not like 'Oh, I love myself. We're good now.'

"It takes practice, and there are bad days. But that's OK and I honor that, too. I allow myself the bad days and really rejoice in my fluctuating body," she said. "Everyone walking down the street has something completely authentic that is irreplaceably beautiful."

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