Changing the women’s Body Image Perception in Mongolia with Artistic Context

Photo credits to Dubar Photography

A number of familiar images welcome you, wrinkled and spotted skins, armpit hair along with not so skinny bodies as you enter the exhibition hall. I was impressed but not surprised when I first saw those photos. The ladies on the photos were symbolising true beauty with their proud imperfections and appreciation of their own bodies.

We see those imperfections every morning when we look in the mirror. Can anybody be perfect? But wait… What is perfect, what is not? In order to appreciate someone who is perfect, we have to first find out what is perfect. Is it the ones we see everyday on media who are skinny tall models?

“The aim of this exhibition is change women’s body image perception which has been shaped by society and media and let others appreciate their own beauty”

said Khaliun, a member of Women for Change NGO. The exhibition is the second volume of Women for Change NGO’s Beautiful Bodies project which was funded by U.S Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

Beautiful Bodies exhibited 22 photos which were inspired by famous historical paintings. Photo studio, ICC Creative division, recreated those paintings with modern Mongolian women, this required so much courage from the ladies.

I wanted to share more photos of the exhibition, but some pictures were not allowed to be publish due to their request. P.S Some pictures contain nudity.

The Seasons (Series) by Alfons Mucha

The idea of capturing modern women in artistic context was remarkable. I am hopeful that the paintings of ideal beauties over history recreated with ordinary Mongolian ladies will raise self-appreciation among women, especially young ladies.

All of the pictures were inspired by very famous historical paintings including Venus at a Mirror (1614) by Peter Paul Rubens, Self portrait with cropped hair (1940) and Broken Column (1994) by Frida Kahlo as well as the Mongolian artist Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav’s Hair Performance: I am protected (2009) and a pregnant lady’s sculpture (the name is unknown) by Dorjderem Davaa.

Black and White (Photo) by Man Ray

Distorted body image has always been a silent “epidemic” worldwide throughout history. I am truly grateful that powerful figures and artists are raising awareness about this problem. Even I was a victim of body image issues when I was in my teenage years. Since my parents didn’t taught us about self appreciation, I was strongly influenced by what others said and what media showed about beauty. Certainly, It’s not my parents fault nor mine. People always want what they don’t have. By this I mean, we have been told that white skin and big eyes were true symbol of beautiful girls since Asians barely have those.

I used to wear pale powders which looked terrible on me as I recall in order to look white like those “beautiful” girls. As the children of true born Mongolian Gobi men, we have tanned skin just like a cappuccino with small amount of milk in it. My mom who is a gorgeous lady has dark skin as well as her mom and her grandma. It was pointless hiding my natural look which now I am thankful for. We always tend to be someone else until we accept our imperfection and start to appreciate ourselves. I believe it happens when someone you love or even some random person you meet on the street tell you that you are beautiful. Now I am in love with my dark skin. I have bowlegs unlike those runway models and I don’t shave my legs except in the summer. You can say I am unattractive, ugly or whatever! But you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care at all. Because I love myself and I have people around me who love me as I am. That’s all that matters.

Beautiful Bodies photo exhibition was open for public March 14 to March 26, 2017 at UB Art Gallery.

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