If you, like me, have ever found yourself in a never-ending social media scroll session, you’ve probably noticed the media and images we see online are all the same. It wasn’t until I discovered The Womanhood Project, an online photography project, that invites a diverse cast of women to share their personal stories that stopped me mid-scroll.
The project, developed by creative collaborators Sara Hini and Cassandra Cacheiro, is based out of Montreal and started in 2016. It invites viewers to stop and appreciate bodies in all their forms. Over the phone, Cacheiro admits “In the beginning, we wanted to concentrate on talking about specific taboos for each portrait like menstruation, body hair, sexuality, etc. but we quickly realized that each woman has so much more to say and that their story is so much more complex.” They have photographed just over 50 marginalized individuals (including fat, trans/non-binary and women of colour) to date and each has been featured in a positive light which breaks down barriers.
The pair became obsessed with documenting real woman in a real world, with Hini explaining to me via telephone “we saw a big homogeneity in the images we saw showcased on Instagram. I personally almost had a breakdown because I was so tired of seeing the same thing and same people again and again.” The pair invite women, trans and non-binary folks a safe space to come together and open up. Hini believes that a project like this creates a positive feedback loop in the visual representation of bodies, online and offline sharing that, “Instagram has a huge influence on people’s self-esteem and it just needs to be used in the right way.”
While many body positive projects and hashtags live online, we lack visual representation of marginalized bodies in media. The Womanhood Project was important for Hini and Cacheiro to give a voice and platform to their participants who were at different stages in their body healing and body journey. Hini explains that many of their participants have shared that taking part in The Womanhood Project has been “extremely therapeutic for them” with many of them also sharing that the process has helped them “reclaiming their bodies and gave them control on their narrative, which in turn gave them so much confidence.”
As the online world is evolving, it’s great to see online platforms like The Womanhood Project, out there making change for people in how they feel, mentally and emotionally. Hini tells me, “We’re super proud of what we’ve done so far, but there’s is still so much work to do. We can’t control how people think and view a certain subject but we can do our best by giving a voice and not censoring the woman on our own platform.” Right now, The Womanhood Project is looking for subjects and interested folks can apply online.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)