Not your Muse

Esmee de Kreij @esmeedekreij just graduated at the The University of the Arts Utrecht with her project ‘Not your Muse.’ about the relationship between her and her body.

Even though I grew up with so many women and they shaped my world, my gaze and ideas of beauty were shaped by society. I wasn’t aware of this until I had a good look at my editing process. I removed everything that is considered “ugly” or not “normal” by society, like pimples, birthmarks and the tactility of the skin. I removed the aspects that made a body human and I sculpted a new body that matched the beauty standards. By reflecting on my editing process I realized that I was contributing to this beauty standard myself. However, by showing my RAW files I would show the unfiltered truth, something people can actually relate to more.

I’m drawn to beauty and this is what I’ve been trying to capture. I mainly photograph humans and their bodies because I find beauty in it. Now I find beauty in all aspects of the body, especially the “imperfections” because that is what makes someone human. By photographing them I consider them worthy of being saved and highlighted, a big responsibility. Therefore, it’s important to show a broader narrative and not only the beauty that is defined by the standards that we see on social media and in magazines.

The reflection of my body that I saw in the mirror was a reflection of what society wanted me to see. From the moment I got my period, I considered myself a woman and a new perspective on my body followed. The expectations and social standards created by society resulted in a distance between me and my body. This distance was increased when I was confronted with the fact that people can touch your body against your will, making your body no longer feel like your own.

The relationship between me and my own body was disturbed and I was losing grip. By photographing my body I found myself again.

Only by photographing all parts of myself, including the imperfections, I found out that I could accept them. By scrutinizing myself again and again in a safe environment I got a grip on my body again. This allowed me to go to places that felt less safe, places outside of my home. Step by step I started to accept myself more and I got the grip on my body back.

All the images are self portraits.


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