By Marcia Barhydt
I recently heard of a woman in my area here in Canada who has started an amazing project called Beautiful Woman Project. I’ve not met Cheryl-Ann Webster and although I hope to sometime soon, the information I have here for this article is from her website.
Cheryl-Ann Webster is the creator, artist and speaker of the Beautiful Women Project, a nationally-celebrated exhibition with a social message of self-acceptance. Cheryl-Ann created this exhibition of 120 clay sculptures to act as a visual role model for natural beauty. Each life-size sculpture is made from a cast of a woman’s torso from neck to bikini line. The models, ranging in age from 19-91 years, came from all walks of life. Each volunteered to participate to empower others and sometimes for their own healing. Cheryl-Ann decorated sculptures to represent each woman’s life journey or spirit, passing along their wisdom and courage to those who view the work.
So, when you look at her website or at the live exhibit of her sculptures, what you mostly see is women’s breast. All kinds of them. And not many of them are, um, perky. But they are all, of course, beautiful, because that’s Cheryl-Ann’s whole point – our beauty doesn’t depend on our bra size or on how much pressure we carry on our shoulders now to keep our breasts at the level garment manufacturers require us to do.
“As many of you will know, I’ve been working on the Beautiful Women Project since 2003. In that time I’ve used my art and my voice to publicly express my feelings about the creation of body image and the all important link to self-acceptance. Every day, we are bombarded with messages that tell us we need to alter ourselves physically, but based on what? I say it’s time to celebrate natural beauty! Don’t you?”
“Our bodies tell our life story; they are portraits of our journey’s and experiences. Knowing our body is beautiful, just as it exists, is a message more people need to see and hear.”
“Imagine, just for a moment, if we were reassured that aging, weight change, lumps, bumps and even scars were all natural and therefore acceptable. Imagine comparing ourselves to reality. Imagine if we all celebrated our natural beautiful, every day. We could finally focus our attentions away from the mirror, and away from self-dissatisfaction. We could turn our attention to our dreams, our aspirations.”
– Cheryl-Ann Webster
How it works: http://www.cawebster.com/bwp/journey/
Thank you Cheryl-Ann, for helping me revisit my priorities.
I’m reminded of another project that I wrote about a few years ago – The Full Body Project, photographed by Leonard Nemoy, that sage, pointy-eared Vulcan from Star Trek. To see The Full Body Project, visit http://www.leonardnimoyphotography.com/7body.htm
Both of these exhibits are in-your-face proof that our beauty has nothing to do with accepted body norms.
Here’s what I wrote about The Full Body Project; these thoughts apply equally well to The Beautiful Woman Project. “Look at the expressions on those model’s faces. Now look at your own face in the mirror. If you see a similar expression, congratulations. If you don’t, then start working on it. Now. This part of our lives promises to be so rewarding, so affirming, so empowering that we need to let nothing stand in our way to receiving all this bounty. If we’re not proud and accepting of our bodies, and maybe especially our torso, then we taint our experiences of being this age.”
“We are comprised of so very much more than our bodies and I believe it’s essential that we embrace that thought as we move ahead. My beauty neither starts nor stops with the shape or condition of my body. My beauty is completely removed from the externals of me. My beauty is in my soul and in my mind and in my heart. And I will still believe that I’m beautiful on my 90th birthday.”
I’m a woman of a certain age and I’m certain of my own beauty.
©Marcia Barhydt, 2011