"Love yourself. It is important to stay positive because beauty comes from the inside out." -Jenn Proske
What do you see when you look at this image? A group of girls sitting in their underwear? Yes, that is true... but take a closer look.
This is a group of women showing a raw and vulnerable side that most people don't get to see.
Why? They want to share their stories. They want to help break the silence and the stigma surrounding the rape culture and victim shaming for sexual assault survivors. We are huddled together to show unity and the power of standing together as a group in which each believes in the others.
#Project ShatterProof was shot in two days - the first day was the raw, vulnerable images and the second we captured our beautiful Boudoir images, where we all regained our poise and beauty.
When a woman/man is sexaully assualted, they are left feeling broken and bruised. They have scars deep within that no one can see. I wanted to be able to boost the confidence in my fellow survivors and help them realize their true beauty.
The rise in self-esteem that everyone received through this endeavor allowed them to share their own stories and empower one another. We were able to heal through sharing.
"Boudoir" is a French word meaning a lady's private dressing room or bedroom. In photography, "Boudoir" refers to a style in which women pose for photographs partially clothed or in lingerie.
A lot of times these sessions are scheduled to give to a significant other, however, women also schedule them to boost their self-esteem and confidence.
I chose this style to go along with the raw images because they showed such a vulnerable state and the Boudoir were meant to empower them.
I also created this project for the amazing women that helped me bring my project to life. I want them to be able to help other women/men share their stories. I want to empower them and let them know they are not alone. We have to speak up if we want to break the silence. We have to be strong and stand together if we want to see the change that so desperately needs to happen.
If you want to be involved in the #MeToo Movement -volunteer, help with rallys, support one another, and donate to local projects or organizations. I urge you to share this project with someone who might need the push to share their own story and begin their own healing.
Behind the Scenes
How Did This Help You? How Were You Empowered?
It was the first time I opened up fully to myself... let alone anyone else. And it gave me the strength to open up more to my family and my boyfriend. It has always been hard for me to show my vulnerabilities... and in doing so with a group of women who have all been through similar pain, taught me that I’m not alone and that I’m allowed to be vulnerable.
It definitely gave others strength to come forward and tell their story without shame. Many times in these situations shame surrounds the victim constantly. I wish the timing would have been different due to everything happening in the news today, I think it would have had a bigger effect on people’s hearts. Regardless, this is a movement that needs to be taken seriously and understood by all humans - men, women, young, and old...
The project has given me empowerment by realizing that I am not the only one who has been in bad situations and I can no longer feel guilty for what happened. I have moved on and have forgiven my mother for what happened. And I will never remember my rapists name, but I have been able to forgive that person as well. I feel like a whole person now that I have been able to face what has happened. Even though it tore me apart, I can find myself to forgive those that have hurt me.
Being a part of the #MeToo movement not only helped me share my whole story with my husband, but also with an amazing group of women. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and see a side of myself that I haven't seen in a long while and it felt amazing. My confidence has been boosted and being able to share my story with my husband has helped him understand me and my problems a little bit better. It has been an honor being a part of an amazing project.
I have been able to fully write my story down. I know this has made me relive my darkest moments in life, but it has allowed me to heal in ways I never knew possible. I was not believed. I still don't know if I am believed, but I know the ladies that participated in this project with me, believe me. I have realized I don't need support from everyone. I just need the few that do support me... because they fully support me in ways I couldn't have expected. Thank you for all your love ladies! Friendships for life!
Have you ever been brought to tears at the thought of looking in the mirror? If you have, then you know the feeling I’m trying to portray to you. After the things I've been through, I couldn’t get past the way I thought people would see me. For years, I've hated the thought of looking at myself. I felt broken, jaded, used, and thrown away. So, you can imagine my reaction when I spoke with Jessica. She wanted me to be a part of her vision. To be truthful, I panicked, cried, and then was suddenly calm... "maybe she sees something I can't see in myself." I told my husband, he followed that statement with his normal "babe you're beautiful!" The experience that followed was nothing less than amazing. A group of strangers brought together by some stroke of fate, not to wallow in our like-minded sorrows, but to stand together in unweathering strength. As serious as the subject was, my sadness was replaced by this amazing idea that someone out there could see my image and feel inspired to embrace their own beauty again. The thought that I could help someone feel less like a victim and more like they’ve won this internal battle to love themselves again. I made so many new friends in the process of this project and faced some of my worst fears... one of those being my own face looking back at me. Stripping down to my most vulnerable state to tell my story was so empowering, I cried in front of people for the first time in so long. I told my story, I stood in front of a mirror and really looked at myself .... for the first time in years I looked at myself with love, so proud to be who I was in that moment. I feel strong, like I can face the world again knowing I will never have to fight alone again and that’s what I hope others feel looking at this project. You're not alone. #MeToo
Being a part of this photography project... has been revelatory to me.
Ever since my first experience of being assaulted, I've fluctuated in terms of my weight. When I'm thin, I'm stared at and approached and feel unsafe. When I'm heavy, I'm ignored, invisible. Which is comforting, if not healthy...
I saw the post requesting women who'd been victims of sexual assault, and immediately disqualified myself because I'm 25 lbs heavier than I want to be. Then, a week or two later, I saw a second post, and responded.
I knew no one, not the photographer, none of the other participants, no one involved. But I went.
Being in bras and panties on a couch, or otherwise, with a bunch of other women doing the same, risking the same, and knowing that we had the one and only commonality of having experienced sexual abuse was and is a powerful thing! There was no shame. No judgement or comparisons to each other... just... love. Acceptance. A feeling of sisterhood, without knowledge of specifics of stories.
I've never felt that before.
It's empowered me to become the activist I wanted to be. To share with people, I never thought I would. To fight back against negativity in a way I did not have the courage to in the past.
I will forever be grateful for this project, and especially for the friendships I've gained through it. And, yes, I feel beautiful again. Finally.