In this vulnerable photo series on self-love, Emily Lampard Partono reaches out to her closest friends for inspiration.
Out of curiosity and a desire to encourage body positivity I asked some friends to send me a photograph of their favourite feature or body part and their reason why. Some sent a few, some sent one and others couldn’t decide on any – but everyone took a bit of time to reflect on and consider what it was that I had asked them to do. When the first few responses popped up in my inbox, I started cropping them and cutting down the captions accompanying each image, but realised this was beside the point as the images and reasons from each individual were so purposefully focussed and genuine that I felt it would be wrong not to leave them in their original form.
After reading my friends’ responses and turning to think about my own answer, two contrasting yet interconnected obstacles appeared which forced this seemingly simple question to become such a difficult one to answer. The pressure for ‘perfection’ conjured out of oppressive societal beauty standards perpetuating reductive images of what women’s bodies should look like in the media, sparks a futile pursuit of these ‘ideals’ and can make it almost impossible to feel attractive. I was pleased to see that, despite this, many of the responses paid homage to individuality through ‘imperfection’, yet even some of those I consider most beautiful in my eyes found it hard to think of a single feature that they admired about themselves. On the flip side of this is our tendency to shame body positivity and overt self-love. It can feel embarrassing to highlight and compliment ourselves but this should be encouraged rather than classed as vain. I asked people to take ‘selfies’ so it was a personal response that avoided comparison but from the pictures I received, it seems clear that complimenting and feeding off one another’s differing points of positivity can be really positive. We should find internal strength and stand as individuals, but at the same time support the women around us on their own individual journeys towards unapologetic self-admiration and love.