13 Photos That Prove A Woman's Body Is Just One Part Of Her Story

A raw look at the relationship women have with their bodies.

05/09/2016 1:27 PM AEST | Updated 05/09/2016 7:03 PM AEST
Amy D. Herrmann
Raw, real and happy.

Fierce, resilient, unapologetic and remarkable -- these are just some of the words a group of women have used to describe themselves in a Kickstarter campaign called "Underneath We Are Women" by Australian photographer, Amy D. Herrmann.

The project is a photographic series of 100 women proudly celebrating their individuality and aims to challenge society's impossible beauty standards, while highlighting the need to embrace the journey you have with yourself, whatever place you're in.

"The idea came to me shortly after I'd had my first daughter. I was going through some old uni notes and saw a Bonds ad that I'd torn from a magazine. It had the words 'Use different bodies,' written in my handwriting beside it," Herrmann told The Huffington Post Australia.

The original plan was to shoot 10 friends in their underwear posing confidently, the same way a model would in a glossy magazine, though Herrmann's images would feature all shapes and sizes, finally fulfilling her younger self's wish for representation outside of a size eight.

Amy D. Herrmann

But 10 women quickly turned into 100 after a few of the images were shared on social media. Suddenly, women from all over the world were contacting Herrmann wanting to be involved.

From the woman who has self-harmed in the past to the mother who has had a mastectomy, the images reveal the women we see everyday -- on the bus, at work or at the supermarket -- regular women, who are not perfectly toned but who each have a story.

"I wish that I'd had images of these women around when I was younger," Herrmann said.

"We don't get this representation of disabled women, women with stretch marks or women with cellulite looking happy. The only time we see those images depicted is when we're being told how to reverse those things," Herrmann said.

Amy D. Herrmann
"Underneath I am unapologetic."

To date, Herrmann has had 970 women contact her wanting to be involved, many of them using it as a way to gain confidence in themselves.

"They've seen how strong, happy and powerful some of the women with these different bodies look and want to be part of that," Herrmann said.

"Yes we've seen bodies like this before but they're only ever represented in a negative light -- and that's the problem -- there's this idea that if we don't have the flat stomach then somehow we're failing," Herrmann said.

Each woman gets to select which image she likes best, and will write a short story explaining her journey so far to be featured in a coffee table style book.

Every single story is touching, although Herrmann said there are certainly some that have stayed with her.

"One of the women we photographed pulled me aside when she arrived at the shoot. She wanted to tell me something about herself that she'd left out in her application," Herrmann said.

"She told me that she had self-harmed in the past and had scars on the top of her legs. She explained she wouldn't mind if I no longer wanted to photograph her or that she would be happy to cover them with makeup," Herrmann said.

For Herrmann, this sort of thing was exactly why she was committed to the project.

"They weren't old scars either, but this project is about visibility and showing people that we all have different journeys with our bodies and that what's on the outside doesn't always reflect where we're at," Herrmann said.

The feedback Herrmann has received so far has been both good and bad, much of the negative feedback revealing itself in the form of trolls on social media.

One of her worst days was when Facebook pulled down an image she'd shared of a mother and daughter -- the mother had had one breast removed as a result of cancer.

"It shocked me that someone would have reported it. Facebook then removed the image and it resulted in a 24 hour ban for myself from the site," Herrmann said.

That night, Herrmann's three-year-old daughter happened to be flicking through her iPad and came across the very same image.

Amy D. Herrmann
Terri with her mother Val.

"I told her that Facebook had taken it down because they didn't like it. She asked me why, and I explained it was because she had one breast and a nipple showing."

"You could see her sitting there and thinking about it and then she said, 'It's OK to have one nipple -- I think it's really beautiful and nice,'" Herrmann said.

It did not traumatise her, but sparked an important conversation about illness.

And that's exactly what Herrmann hopes her project achieves, simply starting a conversation that builds awareness, rather than hangs on judgement and assumptions.

With two days to go, head to the Underneath We Are Women Kickstarter campaign to fund Herrmann's project.

1. "Underneath I Am Resilient."

Amy D. Herrmann

2. "Underneath I Am Boss."

Amy D. Herrmann

3. "Underneath I Am Persevering" and "Underneath I Am Evolving."

Amy D. Herrmann

4. "Underneath I Am Genuine."

Amy D. Herrmann

5. "Underneath I Am Creative."

Amy D. Herrmann

6. "Underneath I Am Flirtatious."

Amy D. Herrmann

7. "Underneath I Am Compassionate."

Amy D. Herrmann

8. "Underneath I Am Rebellious."

Amy D. Herrmann

9. "Underneath I Am Fabulous."

Amy D. Herrmann

10. "Underneath I Am Fierce."

Amy D. Herrmann

11. "Underneath I Am Unapologetic."

Amy D. Herrmann

12. "Underneath I Am Strong."

Amy D. Herrmann

13. "Underneath I Am Fun-Loving."

Amy D. Herrmann

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