Monday, May 2, 2011

Uncovered: Photographing the Way You're Supposed to Look

When I was working on Uncovered, the BBC flew in from the UK to do a feature on me. They asked me to set up a few shoots, and I preferred women who hadn't participated in the project already because their reactions to being shirtless in public would be more dramatic. However, there was one exception. I knew I had to recruit Kim, who is quite possibly the most inspiring person I have ever photographed. I wanted Europe to hear what she had to say.

I called Kim. She had tragically just lost her fiance in a drowning accident. She was devastated, but chose to join me anyway - she was trying to move on with her life. I told the BBC producer, Betsy, about the accident, and when she met Kim, she offered her support. "I'm part of an online support group - I lost my sister in a drowning accident." Kim said, "Betsy? Betsy from England?" Betsy's mouth dropped open. "Oh my God, Kim from Brooklyn." They had been communicating every day for weeks.

Take a look at the BBC feature by clicking on the image below-

Below are two passages from Uncovered. She has much more to say, but I have to hold something back so you'll buy the book.

“I’m very comfortable with my body and I know that everybody is not supposed to look the same. My grandfather always said to me, ‘We’re not all the same. And you’re not meant to look like Gretchen who lives down the road; you’re meant to look like Kimberly. That’s who you are.’ He was telling me this because I developed breasts at a very young age — I was a size 34D at age 11. The kids used to tease me and I would cry because I felt like a freak. But he said, ‘Don’t feel that way. You look the way you’re supposed to look.’ So growing up, I knew this. And I know that no matter how much weight I lose, I will never look like Tyra Banks, so why not be the best Kim I can be?"

When I was invited on to the Tyra Banks Show to discuss Uncovered, I brought Kim with me. She told Tyra about this quote, and Tyra got a big kick out of it. To take a look, click on the image below.

“I asked my 11-year-old son, ‘How would you feel if Mommy took her shirt off in public and people saw?’ And he said, ‘Well, Mom, I’m 11 so I’d be embarrassed . . . but they were my food at one point, and that’s fine.’ So I showed him my picture. And he looked for a long time, and finally he said, ‘You know, that’s right! You are beautiful. You should stand up.’ My son doesn’t care about the size of a woman’s breasts. He says he’s much more concerned about her being happy with who she is. He says, ‘If she doesn’t like herself, what good is that going to do me?’”