A photographer has been praised for sharing an un-retouched photo of herself after admitting that photographing “desirable” women for a living has “broken” her body confidence.
Alexandra Cameron, from Cambridgeshire, said she had wanted to take the photo for years.
“The reason it’s taken me so long is it terrified me, the idea of taking a photo showing the real me, the un-retouched me, was an idea that filled me with dread and empowered me at the same time, equal measures of the opposing emotions,” the 31-year-old said on Instagram.
“When you’re a photographer you have Photoshop and the skills to use it at your fingertips. And it is so easy to touch myself up - I can mould myself into the most ideal version of myself.”
Alexandra added that over time, she’s felt her body confidence decrease because of her job.
“I live in a world where I am constantly photographing the most ‘desired’ women. I shoot them so frequently that slowly but surely, over the years, it has broken down my self confidence to zero,” she said.
“I compared myself and saw I came up short, so short in fact that I felt like a Hobbit next to everyone.”
She said that often, the things she notices and likes about people are their “imperfections” - for example, their scars or their moles - so she’s not sure why she feels pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards herself.
“It might be that the entire world celebrates thin people, attractive people, and if you don’t fit the ideal you’re told to try and be that way, to lose weight, to have better skin, to work out,” she said.
“You’re shamed for being fat, and more so nowadays, your shamed for not being ‘healthy’. The health culture has turned into its own elitist club where you’re frowned upon if you eat a burger.
“I don’t want to be invisible or be ashamed of my size, my belly, my cellulite. I want it to be ok to be unique and be accepted, no elitism, no beauty hierarchy, no shame.”
Alexandra confirmed that she hadn’t “nipped in” or “smoothed out” any of her features on Photoshop and purposefully didn’t pose in a way intended to flatter her body.
“This is me. I hope that this makes those who also are scared of their truth to feel braver, more accepting, and I hope that those out there who are lucky enough to currently fit the world’s ideal of beauty and size... don’t look down on me,” she said.
“I am flawed and I’m not going to hide from it anymore. I can create photos no matter what I look like, and that’s empowering too.”
More than 3,000 people have liked Alexandra’s Instagram post, with hundreds commenting to offer their support.
“That’s what beauty is about: being yourself. Thank you for being this inspiration,” one user said.
Another added: “You’re stronger than a lot of us. Thank you for doing it for yourself and for us.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK, Alexandra said she was surprised by the volume of positive reactions she received for the post.
“It’s a testament to how many women, people really, struggle to fit an ideal,” she said.
“We stretch our bodies, we manipulate photos, all in the hopes that we fit in and that people might want to look like us.”
She said she’s spent the last 13 hours “welling up” while reading each of the comments on the post.
“I wasn’t prepared for the response. I’m not alone, and more than that, I’m maybe not as horrific as I see myself,” she said.
“Every comment reinforced the message that we all want to be perfect and the shame we have in ourselves when we can’t achieve it.”
She added that she hopes one day, sharing an un-retouched photo of yourself won’t be a big deal.
“I’m excited for that, because living with the fear and shame of not being built like a model is exhausting,” she said.
“One day we’ll remember that all different shapes sizes and colours are pretty damn beautiful.”