Beauty will always be subjective. It will also continuously be a subject matter that will draw interest and debate. One can even argue that there is no such thing as the un-beautiful, or the ugly. This is the message at the core of Carey Fruth’s American Beauty portrait collection.
“The images are meant to speak about real life sensuality and femininity,” said the San Francisco-based photographer, who borrowed the project’s name from the movie with the same title. “America is made up of all types of women. Women who are hungry to see themselves represented in a beautiful way. And why shouldn’t they?”
Carey’s growing portfolio has seen publication by a number of magazine institutions, such as Playboy, Jezebel, Redbook, and Cosmo. She is also a firm believer that true beauty is as much about personal acceptance as it is about ignoring shallow standards.
“Body acceptance is important. To some it may seem anti-feminist to create images that deal with the idea of beauty at all. But I think that we are creating a channel for women to re-envision themselves. When women come into my studio, I want to prove to them that they ARE as beautiful as they always feared they weren’t, than maybe they can let go of that fear. By stepping into a fantasy dream girl world and by letting go of that fear, they free themselves up to direct that energy they once wasted on telling themselves that they weren’t good enough to elsewhere in their life.”
The majority of model-volunteers were acquaintances that Carey had previously made through her work and with a variety of social outlets throughout the Bay Area. “I was not only looking for diversity but also for people who believed in the message of this project.”
During the photo shoots, they were not directed as traditional models, but instead as “self-possessed, empowered subjects rather than as sexual objects.” Carey had all of them lay down on a real bed of artificial lilacs which was digitally enhanced.
This was inspired by the Kevin Spacey daydream sequence in the American Beauty movie. While mainstream media’s ideal of beauty is still most definitely wanting in diversity, Fruth’s efforts are geared to alter that, featuring all shapes, sizes, ages and even ethnicities.
In its honesty, American Beauty is perhaps one of the most rebellious portrait collections to emerge this year.