what is The Bare Beauty Project?



About a year ago, I had asked my friend if she would model for a boudoir photo session for me. (You can see it here). She showed up to my house in the late afternoon, after work. Upon arriving, she immediately gave me fair warning that she had been up late the night before, up early to get her daughter to school, and was pretty sure she was coming down with a cold. She had applied her makeup at 6:30 in the morning, and it was starting to wear off. She apologized for it.. and my response was, ‘perfect!’ That’s real, and that’s what kind of photography I want to make: real life, imperfect, tired, messy, beautiful photos of people. That’s sexy! That’s real beauty.

I have been a hairstylist and makeup artist for over 12 years. I have met many women, and men, who are just not comfortable in their skin and who feel the need to apologize for who they are or what they look like. I have battled some of my own body-image issues in the past. I have judged others, as well as myself. I don’t want this for my children.

After doing this session with my friend, I remember thinking, I want to do a lot of these. I want us as women to see ourselves differently than we do. I want to help redefine the definition of beautiful. I want my daughters to grow up seeing a beautiful woman as more than nice makeup, perfect hair, pretty clothes. I want them to see the young student who doesn’t let the influence of her peers define her appearance as beautiful. I want them to see the twenty-somethings bravely and honestly pursuing their dreams as beautiful. I want them to see the young mothers who’s hair is a mess and and who’s breasts are extra large from breastfeeding, who’s stomach is now covered in stretch marks, and who may or may not be walking around with food on her clothes and in her hair as beautiful. I want them to see the working woman with the circles under her eyes because she isn’t able to sleep since she has been going through a divorce as beautiful. I want them to see wrinkles as signs of living and fighting and loving and beauty. I want judgment between people, but most specifically women, to stop. I want  to live in a world where we can recognize these flaws in one another and embrace them. I want us all to be able to embrace our own flaws, and stop feeling like we need to cover them with lies, or plastic surgeries, or judgments, or makeup even.

This project is not about me. It’s not to tell my story. It’s about every single woman who is struggling to find herself, or who has already and is working hard every day to stay true and honest and loving and accepting and who want to help others find that in themselves as well. This project is to help us as a people redefine what we have been told is beautiful. I am continuing to photograph women who are brave enough to bare themselves before the camera, without makeup. Without staged and controlled lighting. Without photoshopping wrinkles or dark circles. Along with these images, I will share these women’s stories. And I hope that through these sessions, we will all start to see each other differently. That we will start to see beauty differently. That we will start to love ourselves more, and in loving ourselves, we will love each other more as well. Call me a dreamer, tell me my head is in the clouds, I don’t mind. I have to say that the view from up there is a whole lot more beautiful anyway.


If you want to become a part of this project, email me at jennifer@jennifermarcuson.com.



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