Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
One of the most wildly debated movements of the millennial generation is feminism and its lack of presence that exists in today’s culture. While we may be a long way from gender equality, it seems more and more people are asking the tough questions about sexual objectification and other women’s issues like equal pay and body positive activism. Cathleen Parra, a photographer living in Jersey City, is asking those same questions and has brought together a collection of self portrait closeups that enforce body positive activism, a topic of recent discussion in light of the celebrity nude photo leak scandal.
Now through December 31st, 2014, The Exquisite Truth will be revealed at the Gaia Studio, located on 315 3rd Street in Jersey City, New Jersey. Parra’s solo exhibit will reflect on the issues of appearance that society distortedly deems acceptable.
“The series is very personal to me because it is addressing my lifelong struggle with weight, and how the idea that it was an imperfection was pushed on me at an early age.”
Parra admits to having been bullied in high school and how it has affected her views on society and noticing the lack of support for women of all shapes and sizes.
“Unfortunately people have deemed my weight a topic of discussion for themselves and over the last year it really got to be too much,” Parra said.
“After a while enough is enough, you become tired of the harassment from strangers, acquaintances and lovers. I would rather not get into specifics.”
But bad memories certainly did not stop Parra from feeling good about herself and her body. Parra divulges about a love affair with hot yoga, becoming a more quality conscious vegetarian and getting in some good old fashioned running.
“The first image I shot for the project was after a year of weight loss. I had bought my first bathing suit in 12 years,” Parra said.
20 pounds lighter, a healthier and happier Parra began exploring the idea of The Exquisite Truth.
“I think it is frightening that we live in a culture where someone will drop thousands of dollars on surgery to literally make themselves into a barbie doll, a child’s toy. I feel like women are taught to hate themselves from an early age and the cosmetic industry thrives by instilling fear to sell products,” said Parra.
The takeaway from this exhibit is to promote the message to love yourself and not to be shy about your body. Parra expresses this by photographing areas of her body she once concealed.
“I really wanted to get close ups of different sections of my body I had felt insecure about. There are a few portraits in the series that either combine with a close up or contrast it. The first few images I shot I knew I wanted to shoot close ups from above the body to create the sense that the viewer is looking down and in at the subject,” Parra said.
Having taken nude photos and body oriented images of others before, Parra was a little reluctant on turning the tables.
“ I never had the guts to turn the camera on myself,” Parra said.
“I wanted to give each image a sense of sexuality and sensuality. I think these are the things we don’t normally see associated with body types such as mine, especially in mainstream media.”
Throughout the exhibit you will notice Parra proudly sporting halter tops, bikinis, lingerie bras and things alike.
“To this day I am still not the ‘American Idealized Body-type’ but I am healthier, more knowledgable about food and more confident than I have ever been. At the end of the day that is all that really matters.”
The Exquisite Truth answers the question “What is one thing you would change about yourself?” because Parra’s answer is a resounding “nothing”.