Instagram | @sophieharristaylor

Photographer Celebrates Women With Skin Conditions To Challenge Beauty Standards

Women have long been criticized for the way in which they aesthetically present themselves. I know every gender identity has their own standards, but beauty standards for women have a long history rooted in patriarchy.

In short, the beauty standards culturally set for women often have to do with the male gaze — how a woman looks should be for someone else. However, over the years, we've been learning to try and undo that and reclaim the meaning of beauty for ourselves.

Photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor is helping shape discourse about women's beauty standards.

She created a portrait series called Epidermis, arguably one of her most powerful photo series.

The series highlights women with skin conditions, such as eczema, acne, and rosacea, to shake up the standards of the beauty world.

Accompanying the photos are snippets of what the women think and how they feel about their skin.

Sophie was inspired to create this portrait series from her own struggles with acne throughout her teenage and young adult life.

It has certainly been a journey for her, and she understands it's the same for many others.

After witnessing many individuals in mass media who ignore very normal and natural "skin flaws," she was motivated to break the stigma and push boundaries.

Sophie Harris-Taylor

"When it comes to acne and how we view it, there seems to be a lot of misconceptions and stigmas underpinning the conversation," she expressed in an interview with i-D.

The common misconceptions include age, hygiene, and diet, that people are seen as "dirty" and the condition is seen as "gross."

Sophie explained that the traditional beauty editorial style of the shoot was purposeful, working to insert and assert her models in a space that they're traditionally excluded from.

The shoot proved challenging at first for many of these women, many admitting to never leaving the house without makeup on.

"[T]hat was daunting enough for them and most of them were unfamiliar with being in front of the camera," she recounted.

At the end of it, the women end up persevering through the discomfort, coming out feeling liberated and empowered in their natural skin.

"Skin positivity is about embracing all skin types and actually saying you don’t have to have a certain type of skin to be beautiful."

Amen to that! We're definitely looking forward to seeing how beauty standards continue to transform for the better, thanks to people like Sophie.

Be sure to check out Sophie's other work on her website.

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