By the age of eight, I felt that I was ugly.
There were so many times when I was being picked on as a kid because I was Colombian, flat chested and didn’t wear any cool clothes that were in style. I come from a working-class family and my parents did the best they could to raise my siblings and I. However that didn’t stop girls from my class tripping me and calling me names because my fashion sense was funny to them. Being a kid really sucks sometimes and as we grow up, we tend to forget how difficult it can be. Especially if you’re an outsider, a loner, or just different.
Who doesn’t want to look beautiful, right?
After I graduated college, I was given the opportunity to work as a part-time photographer to take images of upcoming fashion models. I LEAPED at the chance and felt as though I had hit the jackpot! Not only will I be a working photographer which is a dream, but I will be seeing the glamorous side of fashion and maybe rub some elbows with Gwen Stefani while Lady GaGa and I laugh together and drink whiskey at a cool vintage bar in the village (yes…I thought these things).
I couldn’t wait to get started!
One day I finished photographing a beautiful model in Brooklyn and after the shoot was over, I edited the images and sent them to the agency for approval and payment. They sent the images right back to me with a message saying “Needs more editing“. So I edited the images some more: made sure the skin was smoother, eyes were brighter and hair was shinier. I sent the images again…and they were sent back to me again with the same message:
“Needs more editing“.
I didn’t understand what they were looking for so I wrote to the agency asking what type of editing did they want and they complained about the models’ jaw not being straighter, waist not being smaller and her hips were too large. I knew when coming into the fashion world that the models’ faces were edited but I never thought that my responsibility was to change every single part of their body.
They wanted me to alter her entire body!
It made me think of all of the women in magazine covers and how when I was a child I wanted to look like them and now I realized, they are not real.
So, I left.
I was unemployed and somewhat heartbroken over my experience and I wanted to do something about it. I had so much anger and frustration because social media and magazines tell people what beauty is SUPPOSE to look like when real beauty is everywhere and in everyone.
The beauty in magazines is not real!
But I knew in order to create something that would really blow everyone’s mind, I would need some help and who better to ask for help than your own family. I told them all about a project that I was working on and wanted to take professional studio images of them. We all had an amazing photo shoot together and decided that instead of manipulating their faces like my previous job in the fashion world, I would combine there faces into one.
I wanted to use the tools that I have learning from fashion and throw it right back at them!
And that is how I created the Familia Series.
This series was the most rewarding and the most REJECTED out of all of my artworks. Some critics called this series ugly, monstrous and crazy. But other critics found this series to be fascinating, meaningful and even beautiful. When my family saw the images, they were all in shock and thought this is was amazing! After the images were completed, the Familia Series was showcased at Hunter College:
During the show, some students and peers said that the work was in a way my own personal attack on the fashion world and loved it. Others said that they couldn’t look at these faces for long because it made them feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t want to be with these people alone (“they look like monsters!“)
This body of work is basically my love/hate letter to the fashion world’s definition of beauty.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you are beautiful just the way you are whether you are tall, short, big, small, or flat chested. Never ever let a magazine cover tell you otherwise.
Now it’s time for you to change the world.
Leave a comment with three specific examples on how you can show the fashion world just how beautiful you really are. And don’t forget to share this with your friends, spread the word of what you think true beauty really is.
I would love to hear your story.