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In June of this year, I had the pleasure of working alongside some incredible women and artists to create a project built around loving and celebrating our unique bodies.

We’ve all been bombarded with the media’s idea of the “perfect” body since the media came into being and it would be an outright lie to say that this didn’t affect each and every woman’s relationship with herself. That’s why I decided to work on The Body Love Project.

Before Instagram, all we had as reference for “the ideal body” was television, movies, magazines and eventually the internet. And it always depicted slender, dainty female characters. We rarely, if ever, saw a cast featuring mid or plus-sized people and I always felt this was a problem. Where was the representation?

We are so impressionable as young people and this lack of representation of average and plus-size bodies is so detrimental. Young women are targeted in these ads for “the ideal body” when what we should really be teaching them is that there isn’t an ideal beauty standard. You’re beautiful just because you are.

That’s why I’ve fallen in love with photographing women and their beautiful bodies in every shape and size. I’ve fallen in love with how the women I worked with could see their bodies as beautiful and let go of this idea of “perfect.” Not only is it liberating for the subject, but watching women walk out more comfortable than when they started is so empowering. Watching them share their self love in images and stories online only instills this further.

On Sunday, June 13th at the gorgeous Venue 308, we gathered a collaborative group of women to help support and spread this message. Along with the talented stylist @hairbymelly_ and makeup artist @thesapphireroom.yyc and six incredible and gorgeous women comprising both models and everyday gals, we brought the vision of The Body Love Project to life. From individual portraits to embracing their bodies in full group shots, these women showed so much love and support for each other. Watching them start to trust each other, posing closer and holding hands without my direction, was only further proof that when we start to love our bodies, it spreads outwards. It was a day full of magic and one I won’t ever forget.

We ended the session with a bubbly toast and everyone walked away feeling more confident than before. It was the perfect high note for The Body Love Project to begin on.