A former wedding photographer exhausted by negative body image of her models and brides has turned the camera on herself, creating a series of portraits featuring none other than herself – in the nude.
Photographer Alexa Mazzarello says she was inspired to create the BodyThoughts exhibit together with former fashion model Erica McDonald after years of women in front of her camera lens telling her to make sure they avoid their 'bad side' or to avoid 'the double chin.'
She talked about women asking to see every photo directly after it was taken and criticizing photos of themselves in real-time.
"It was almost to the point where I would be directed by my subjects to shoot this side of my face, or hide this part of my body. It was very concerning to me," she said.
She spoke to Metro Morning's Matt Galloway Thursday about what posing nude taught her about her own body image.
As a photographer, Mazzarello said women constantly told her horrible things they felt about their bodies.
"I felt like I had failed," she said. "I genuinely could not see what she was talking about."
She began wondering how these attitudes were stopping women in other parts of their lives.
Mazzarello, who studied public health before, said the constantly critical self-perceptions struck her as unhealthy.
That's when she decided to turn the camera on herself.
She took to her bedroom equipped with a tripod and there, uncomfortably, she confronted her own self-consciousness.
"For as much as I heard women sharing with me how they were feeling, I could relate," she said. "I have to tell my own story."
She started photographing herself, and her biggest insecurity: her back. She said she always had hair on her back and it was something that bothered her. So one of the photos in the exhibit is called Alexa's Back.
Now, after debuting in Vancouver, those images are being featured at the former Detox Market in Toronto's entertainment district near King and Peter streets.
Mazzarello acknowledges exposing herself in this way doesn't come easy. But, she, says she's been moved by the way that people have responded to the exhibit's invitation, in turn opening up about their own insecurities.
"It's just my body," she said.