A new social media campaign called #BreakingBeautyStandards strives to represent the 67 percent of U.S. women who wear size 14 or higher — through a series of empowering photos.
In November 2016, Leni Kei, a wedding photographer in Davison, Mich., was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that can cause infertility and weight gain. “I’ve always had average confidence — I never thought much about it — but when I gained 60 pounds from PCOS, I started rushing by the mirror and turning out the bathroom lights,” Kei, 26, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That was a really hard transition for me.”
Deonta Williams, Kei’s husband of four years, had tried to boost his wife’s spirits by buying her clothes that made her feel confident, but nothing worked. So, in June, he suggested snapping some portraits of Kei to change her self-perception. “When I saw the photos, I said, ‘I don’t look so bad,’” she says. “It made me think, ‘If I could feel good about myself after seeing a photo, maybe others could too.”
In November, Kei debuted #BreakingBeautyStandards on Facebook and Instagram, a photo series she hopes will allow other women to see themselves as badass and sexy, through a click of the lens. To kick off, Kei gathered together a group of female friends and hit the streets for a sexy photo shoot.
Each week, she plans to highlight a different woman with a photo and do a short Q&A. “They have their own sweet stories of overcoming poor body image, but some still struggle with how they view themselves,” she says.
That’s partly why she wanted to include the women’s pant sizes in their bios. “I want to show that size doesn’t define someone,” says Kei. “Two people who are a size 14 can look totally different.”
Kei hopes the project will be ongoing and inclusive of diverse body sizes, not just ones that are marginalized. “There are days when I still feel insecure about my body, but I’ve learned to correct negative self-talk,” she says. “The goal isn’t to reach a certain number on the scale but to be content with your body at every stage.”
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