A Perfect 10



For a period of time I was uncomfortable regarding issues in media about how women are not only perceived but treated based simply on looks and being a woman. However, I never gave it a thought as a photographer until the last election when Trump was quoted saying “A woman who is very flat-chested is very difficult to be a 10”.  Whether you voted or supported him or not, this is something any woman (especially) could not unhear. It was here I was inspired as an artist to do a project addressing issues around women. Chapter 1 was a direct jab at this Trump quote and I shot a series of small-breasted women to be hung beside their personal stories of body-shaming, abuse, and trauma. 


I started working on the project early spring 2017 and the response was overwhelming. Not just the response from people who have seen this collection, but the response from women who wanted to be a part of it. Not just small-chested women but women from all corners of the issue wanted to be seen and heard through this project. And so it grew, the project as well as the problem. Since then the issues ensue. Fat-shaming, rape culture, and now sexual harassment by high status power men preying on young women. 


A Perfect 10 is a series of minimalist portraits of real women and their stories. My goal in this project is meant to give their stories a face and a voice. For future chapters, I plan to shoot women from all walks of life who are not just small-chested, but women who've been body-shamed, abused, and silenced because of their culture or religion. I am shooting women who have had mastectomies and scarring due to cancer. I am shooting transgendered individuals who are either correcting the mistake or about to make the transition. Their stories are meant to empower women and to show that femininity is more than skin deep. My goal is to have at least 25 women before I move onto Chapter 2 of this project. It is meant to create a different conversation so the women of our generation can take their power back and use this as an opportunity, as one day ancestral mothers, to pass down a new story of strength, hope, and experience to our young women. 

RABIA: 


My name is Rabia. It means "the woman God chose to be right". I love my body. I love my small breasts. But I am not allowed to. I'm only allowed to show my body to one man who I don't even choose. He's chosen for me. I have to stay covered. In hiding. I have no say.

I came to America to stop hiding but still I must hide. Still I must stay covered. I do this not to disrespect my family who would disown me for doing this. I do not do this to disrespect my culture and religion I love so much. A culture that could possibly shun, beat, or even behead me for doing this. I do this to tell other women like me that it is ok to be a woman. And it is ok to be Muslim.

My name is Rabia. And I am a Perfect 10.


KATE: 


When I was 19 had a casting call where the older man in charge told me that I would probably do better in this business if I got a boob job and wore "more feminine outfits".

"You've got good legs. Let men like me see them more and you'll get much farther."

I didn't really know how to react. I kind of just stood there like a deer in the headlights.

When I left the room I remember actually thanking him for his suggestions.

How anyone could ever say something like that to a teenager is beyond me.

I understand that in the business of acting or modeling that things like that (not to mention way worse) happen all the time but, to this day when I think about it I am genuinely so hurt.

When I think about how common something like that it is it makes my skin crawl.

Growing up is hard enough without being told by strangers that they would "fix" you if they could.

Don't ever let someone else's image of what they think you should be shape how you feel about yourself.

I'm 27 years old.

I am NOT a size zero.

I have stretch marks and scars and various other imperfections.

I also happen to be one of the busiest working models in the Bay Area. Believe in yourself. You are the only one that controls your destiny. I know it's hard not to listen to the terrible things but, please do your best. Remember you are just as beautiful and worthy as anyone else... always. Bad experiences and encounters don't define you. They are just opportunities to grow faster, stronger and more powerful than ever. I'm Kate and I'm a perfect 10.


MAYA:


I gave up trying to be a long time ago, after a decade wasted

in the feverish pursuit of thinness. The cardiac pacemaker I was outfitted with at 24

is a sobering reminder that actions have consequences.

The cognitive dissonance was always the hardest part—feeling like you should

know better, that your mental illness has turned you into a “bad feminist,” that your

disease has made a mockery of your beliefs. Participating in this project helped me

view my fraught relationship with my body in a different light.

Our current President lives in a world without nuance, where women are worth

only as much as what they can offer him personally. Their sexuality is owed to him,

their deference expected. It takes a simple man to conflate breast size with beauty,

and beauty with value—as though it were not entirely arbitrary, a genetic lottery

that some win and some lose. He assigns us numbers from 1 to 10 because by nature

of having been born female my body is a commodity, and I am nothing if I don’t

register on the rich white man’s fuckability scale. His is an enduring American

narrative, but not one that we have to buy into. My inherent value has nothing to do

with the size of my tits and my sexuality isn’t owed to Donald Trump or anyone else.

My naked body doesn’t have an agenda, but my brain certainly does.


My name is Maya and I am A Perfect 10.

ELISSA: 


Growing up I was so uncomfortable in my skin. I had breasts that were far too large for my small frame. I would wear big sweatshirts and two bras to try and hide. At age 18, at the end of my senior year of high school, I had a breast reduction. I had no idea how much it would change my life. It took a few years for me to get adjusted to my new body. The awkwardness began to slip away and I continue to feel more confident as I come into my own. I wear my scars as a daily reminder of who I was and how far I have come. It's an honor that I carry with pride. My name is Elissa, and I'm a perfect 10.


HANNAH:


I believe the first time I felt like I wasn't beautiful was seventh grade. I was a chubby little kid with a bad haircut growing up in a world meant for perfection. In my free time I found myself pouring through fashion magazines but never finding anyone that looked like me. As a kid, that made me feel ugly.

In high school I got tall. I mean, I sprouted. I grew 6 inches in 6 months and by the end of the summer, the fat was gone and I was faced with a whole new set of problems. I always thought fat was bad and skinny was good but that isn't the whole truth. I didn't realize how much easier my life was when I was overweight. No one told me I was fat and no one told me that it was wrong to be skinny, at least, not until that was what I became.

What’s frustrating is that people know not to comment on someone's appearance when they're overweight. But when it comes to underweight, suddenly you're told to eat cake because they're worried about you. you're told you have an eating disorder. you're called in to the school office to make sure your not hurting yourself.

The fact is, I stretched out. I ate and weighed as much as the boys going through the same change, but I was the one not taking care of myself. when you're sprouting up, keeping the pounds on isn’t easy, it requires a lot of work. For a high schooler it can be hard to balance that with all the other expectations put on you.

Over time I've learned to love my body as much as I love my life. I still struggle with comments about my body because I don't think that should be a factor in determining my worth. I see myself as an Imperfect 10 because I believe that encouraging perfection, whether for positive reasons or not, is an unhealthy ideal.

My name is Johannah Fox and I'm a perfect 10.


HELENA:


When I was 8 years old I started to become conscious about what society considered to be beautiful. When I was 11 I began watching what I ate. When I was 14 I felt bad about my body, always finding some feature on me that I disliked. When I was 17 I refused to go to the beach over the summer because I hated the way I looked. Today I am 20, and I am tired. I am tired of feeling oppressed by society's beauty standards, and being oppressed by myself for paying them any mind. I am proud of the woman I've become and the kind people I've surrounded myself with. Self-acceptance is not an easy path to follow, but I am doing my best to stay on it. There is so much beauty in every single woman, with their strech marks, cellulite, rolls of fat, freckles, double chins, breakouts, etc. All women are authentic fighters and examples of self-overcomming. This is how I am and this is who I want to be. I am a perfect 10.

MARGHERITA:


I was a very insecure 20 year old. Both my best friend Antonella and I were very
insecure. We didn’t feel attractive - or even presentable. We lived in a society (Italy)
where cat-calling was an accepted form either of flattery, or dismissal, based entirely
on your looks. Up until that point in my life I had received plenty of dismissals. One
evening, she and I and one other friend were on our way to a party. We were trying to
give ourselves confidence by holding each other tightly as we walked down the street.
We stopped at a streetlight and a car full of boys drove by. One boy yelled out “the
one with red shoes is cute!” We stopped and looked down at our feet. None of were
wearing red shoes. We never made it to the party. We never even crossed the street. I
want to hold that 20-year old me today. I want to wipe her tears and tell her she is
beautiful. I don’t want today’s girls to inherit the issues and feeling our ancestral
mothers had to endure. My name is Margherita and I am a Perfect 10.

APRIL: 


"Boobs. Tits. Funbags. Melons. The twins. Titties. The girls. Tig Ol Bitties. Chesticles. Jugs. Milk Monsters. Coconuts. Mammory Glands. Breasts. Whatever you call them; they determine my womanly worth. At a young age I understood that that size of my chest is what makes me attractive. Growing up as a skinny, lanky, black girl with a flat chest whose father was a High School science teacher and instilled very feminist ideas in me made me the not so attractively popular gal in school. I bought the Victoria Secret Bombshell bras trying to hoist up what little mass I had trying to create the illusion of cleavage. And it worked, boys noticed me. I felt pretty, but more importantly I felt hot. I was the hot girl. But was it worth it? Was it worth the pain of smooshing two parts of my body together with wire and padding, snapped into place, strapped in for support so boys would look at me only to imagine what I look like sans bra? To be a fetishized version of a black woman. To be told I look like the girls in National Geographic or Grace Jones. And at first I was offended but more recently I have realized that those woman were are not trying to be sex objects, just merely being themselves who happen to have breasts. I wish I could say I had a profound moment in which I rejected my padded bra. But it was simple as one day the strap broke and being a poor college student didn’t want to dish out sixty bucks for a piece of patriarchy padding. And as time went on I realized I just simply did not have the time. Early morning snaps and straps just made me late, and I hate being late. My name is April. I am a comedian and an actor. l love avocados and hedgehogs. And if you look real close you may notice that I do in fact have a pair of breasts. I hardly notice them, except when I’m menstruating or go over a big bump on my bike then they become very apparent. And to you Mr. Trump I may be flat chested but my worth is immeasurable. My name is April and I'm a Perfect 10.


JULES: 


When I was a kid I knew I was gay, but also that it wasn't a good idea to let people know about it. At the same time, I was a tomboy and couldn't help show my boyish identity. Subsequently, I was always a little different, and was picked on pretty regularly in school. My ultimate fears came to fruition when I was outted in high school and subsequently harassed, bullied and sexually assaulted. Despite the adversity, I knew I couldn't be anyone but myself. I just needed to get away from the small town and go to places where I'd be more accepted, which I did. Since then I've had a pretty good life. I know the boyish identity at times puts me at a disadvantage versus more "normal" feminine women, but thankfully things are changing as gender roles are become less fixed, and other girls (and boys!) join me in defying the conventions, whether gay or not. We have to remember that change happens one persomn at a time. We have to be strong in our own beliefs and identities. In this act, we are united. Posing in this picture wasn't easy for me for a couple of reasons. I'm used to concealing my breasts as part of my look. I also happen to be undergoing radiation for breast cancer, so one of them is red and burned. Nonetheless, I am proud to be a woman, so I decided to participate. I know that even with the burns, I'm still a perfect 10. My name is Jules and I'm a Perfect 10.


AUSTEN: 


Masculinity has always been something I’m constantly interrogating within myself and in others. What does it mean to be masculine in America today? Do I fit the mold? Who does? Those are always the questions on my mind. I don’t think I fit the standard of American masculinity and I don’t think that others believe I do either. What consequence does that hold? I’m looked down upon. I’m stared at in the streets. I’m made to feel uncomfortable for being myself. I’m objectified by other men. I’ve been threatened with death, called faggot, and alienated by friends and family members. Simply for existing. Why is masculinity such a valuable trait? Even though I don’t fit the mold—even if I’m not masculine, I still love myself and my body. My name is Austen and I'm a Perfect 10.


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