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3 Photographers Who Reject Society's Beauty Standards Through Imagery

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Yvesmark Chery, Photographed by Peter Devito

As civilization evolves, so are the beauty standards the media set for us. Everyone wants to look like the perfect model on Instagram or have a body like that of an Instagram influencer they've been following for years. Barely anyone sees the subtle manipulation these images are causing to our perception of beauty, and it has gotten so deep that we now compare ourselves with these photos we see online. 

These three photographers listed here: Peter Devito, Waleed Shah, and Miss Sophie Gee, have taken it upon themselves to challenge and reject society's beauty standards via photography. They take photographs of real people and places and do not attempt to manipulate these photos to fit into society's standard of beauty, and through this, they're getting more people to see that they are okay the way they are. People don't need thinner calves and longer legs to be beautiful. They certainly don't need smaller eyes and faces, too. 

Slowly, the world is getting to understand the amount of photo manipulation that goes into creating the perfect picture for Instagram. All these things construct what society now sees as "normal." Here are what Melotti, Shah, and Gee have to say about that:

Waleed Shah

A-picture-depicting-mentalahealth-struggles-by Waleed Shah.
A picture depicting mental health struggles, cuts and bruises by Waleed Shah.

Waleed's outlook on photography, using black and white, is based on the different stories behind how people look. Stories like alopecia, self-harm, obesity, depression, and the like are reflected in each of the photos he takes of people. 

This project and fight against the dehumanization of people through society's beauty standards started when he made a post about his insecurity regarding his body. He made the post on Instagram, and afterward, people started reaching out to him with their stories. 

The perfect body and skin that society portrays as the ideal beauty standard has stripped people of everything that makes them humans and left them looking like objects. 

Peter DeVito

@nazhayabarcelona photographed by Peter Devito

#AcneIsNormal, a social media movement that eliminates the taboo associated with acne. The Biebs isn't the only person to embrace the expanding body acceptance movement that now includes acne. Look at Kadeeja Khan, a beauty blogger who has amassed a massive following thanks to her raw, unaltered self-portraits. 

Photographer, Peter DeVito is an outspoken advocate for body positivity. Frustrated by the ubiquitous faked perfection, Peter has set out to transform the fashion photography industry completely. For the past year or two, Peter has taken close-up, unretouched pictures of people with acne, with encouraging messages like "acne is normal" and "love yourself" plastered across each subject's face.

A lifelong acne sufferer, Peter is all too familiar with the social consequences of poor skin. In fact, until recently, he could not post an internet photo of himself without first editing it. Now, the reverse is the foundation of his professional life.

Miss Sophie Gee

Ms.Sophie Gee series on challenging representation in Korea.

Often expressing herself in bursts of colors, Miss Sophie Gee uses a lot of portraiture in her photography as it helps her to establish a connection and feel closer to the individuals whose pictures she was taking. 

When she first started taking photographs of unconventional people, she said she remembered a pattern: they often asked her to edit their photographs and make their legs thinner, eyes smaller and make them generally longer and slimmer, and it often saddened her because she already saw them as perfect the way they were. Her images are geared towards self-expression.  

For many people, it can be terrible to continually be exposed to society's expectations of beauty, especially when you do not measure up. These photographers are doing a great job of helping us see the light. 



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