Spreading Body Positivity Through Photography

Meet Mary Victor, a makeup and recording artist as well as a freelance plus-sized model who graduated with a diploma in Makeup Artistry at the young age of 16! While working for MediaCorp as a hair and makeup stylist, she was also studying music on the side and singing at bars and competitions. In fact, Mary was the winner of Uber’s “car-a-oke” challenge in 2017. The plucky young woman is now 22 years old but she has just released a single called “Go On”, which tells women that it is going to be ok at the end of the day. She is currently in the midst of writing a song on body acceptance, which is what she feels strongly about. In fact, Mary has collaborated with photographer Musarrat Salam to come up with a series of Body Positive photos entitled “The Body Within” where they attempt to show different phases of body/self-acceptance. We speak to Mary to find out more about her project and how she aims to further promote body positivity in Singapore and the rest of the world.

Mary Victor

Q:        How did you come up with the concept for these photos?

Musarrat and I came up with the concept together. We met at a photoshoot one day and instantly clicked and we were eager to work with each other. I mentioned to Musarrat that I have always wanted to do get plus-sized models to do something on body positivity. After much discussion, we decided that I would be the model and I should tell my story. We talked about my struggles as a plus-sized woman and Musarrat decided to add materials such as smoke, plastic, aluminium, etc. into the story and we decided to make an entire photography story out of my life and materials.

We knew it was the perfect time to talk about body positivity. We wanted our work to stand out and be powerful so that people will stop to see that body image is something we all face and we need to voice it out so sharing my story was the toughest thing to do but we did it so that women/young girls out there will finally feel braver to share theirs.

Q:        You mentioned that you were bullied when you were in school, could you share your experience and how those incidents have shaped you?

People would make fun of the way I looked, walked and talked. Going to school every single day was a constant struggle because I knew I was going to be made fun of. After graduating, I still struggled so much with body image because the words they said stuck with me. But throughout the years, the memory started fading away and I realised that I was in control of my mind. I could choose to have this stick with me forever or I could choose to start afresh and be the best version of myself. It shaped me to be stronger and confident because whatever they said to me meant less and less every single day. I was not going to let a bunch of kids tell me how I should feel or look. I knew I was capable of taking control of myself, and I did.

Using Plastic to represent society’s plastic standards and the constant pressure toward’s society’s standards of beauty. This shows how ready people are to rip away at the rules, be bold and be the odd one out.

 

Q:        Why do you think that people place so much importance on appearance?

To be accepted. To fit in. To not be alone. That’s the real reason. Because when you’re pleasing to the eye, people approach you. You get attention. You aren’t alone. You fit in. You’re accepted. We want to look our best so that we get opportunities and don’t feel invisible. I’ve attended events where I felt so invisible. They don’t even look at me in the face when they talk. We have been forced to think this way all of our lives. To keep up to unrealistic standards of beauty but what we are trying to keep up with is to be socially acceptable. However, trends are constantly changing and the definition of beauty is more unrealistic than ever.

Q:        What does body positivity mean to you?

Loving yourself for who you truly are. Being unapologetically you no matter what size. Proud of your curves and bones. Body Positivity is when you buy clothes and you see that you’re a size XXL or XXS but you don’t freak out and feel demotivated. Don’t let your size wear you. You wear your size.

Aluminium represents the shield and its ability to reflect light – being ready to shine and show who you really are. Embracing oneself and show the world how strong you are, regardless of the size and colour of one’s skin.

 

Q:        As a makeup artist, recording artist as well as a freelance model where appearance is important, how does that gel with your message of body positivity in a society that has a certain idea of beauty?

My appearance is really important at work. But I realised that I don’t have to follow society’s standards of beauty. Sometimes, I feel sexy wearing my yoga leggings out because it shows off my curves. Truth is, I wear whatever I feel like wearing and I absolutely do not feel the pressure of the idea of beauty that has been put on us. I wear what I please and I am always telling people to be themselves. Don’t seek for things that don’t make you happy or don’t make you feel YOU.

Q:        In your opinion, what could society or the individual do to promote body positivity?

Share your story. Telling your story will make others feel braver to share their own. Each day a person shares their story on body positivity, we are one step closer to a realistic idea of beauty.

As for society, inclusivity. More variety of models in magazines and commercials (dark, tanned, Medium, large-sized, short, average height, etc). Women still feel like they can’t relate to people in magazines and commercials because the idea of beauty is unreachable.

The flower represents the final form of self-love when you are truly unapolegetically, you. Dressed in white to represent purity while the flower also show how one has blossomed and ready to show the world that you are beautiful. This is the final stage of self-acceptance.

 

Q:        What do you hope to achieve with your project?

To create the ripple effect for women to share their stories with the world. I want to see women truly share pictures of themselves without any Photoshop involved. I want to see them showing off their cellulite, stretch marks, bones, pimples…everything.

Q:        Any plans for future projects or campaigns?

Yes, I am currently doing one with my online movement #thebodywithin.

Women/ young girls sharing their stories and path to self-love and body positivity. I am constantly asking women to share their stories. I want the movement to spread as much as possible. There will be more future projects including more variety of women, which will make “The Body Within” even bigger. I am in the midst of planning and creating. I can’t wait for this to be released!

Q:        Any last words for our readers?

Be brave. Be you. You don’t have to struggle to find self-love. Body Positivity starts with self-acceptance and never ever compare yourself to anyone else! Love you for who you are because we are all beautiful.

 

We wish Mary all the best for her projects and you can view more photos from “The Body Within” series on Instagram at www.instagram.com/maryvictorofficial and check out her portfolio at www.maryvictor.dudaone.com.


Photos: Musarrat Salam

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