If there’s anything that makes a body positive movement happy, it’s definitely the growing population of people finally getting it. More and more men and women are coming to realize that every body is beautiful and should be appreciated for what it is. Even body activist and supermodel Ashley Graham said in an interview that she believes girls today can now look in the mirror and say that they’re beautiful, thanks to all the body positive campaigns currently happening. In the Philippines, we’re still on the edge of our seats for the drastic change in accepting every woman’s body, so we’re more than happy to learn more about Project 100 and their journey in celebrating the Filipina beauty in its most authentic form.
What is Project 100? How did it start? Who started it?
Project 100 Philippines is an online community that shares images, as well as stories of 100 brave beautiful women who volunteered to be photographed naked to send out a strong statement: They are ready to stand up against standards set upon them by society. The courageous 100 are reclaiming autonomy over their bodies through stunning black-and-white nude shots. The project started when Mr. Jerry Tieng reposted a Facebook post of portraits of naked women with different body types. He then asked on his own post, who might be interested joining a shoot if ever he organizes one. Lo and behold, renowned photographers and even volunteers showed their interest and right then and there, PROJECT 100 PHILIPPINES came to be.
What made you want to start Project 100?
We wanted to offer an alternative and hopefully safe space to break perceptions of what a woman’s body should and should not be. Acceptance. Including self-acceptance. We wish for acceptance and respect from everybody. Thus we gathered 100 brave women to show you, our audience, our future voices, that a woman or anyone does not have to conform to a prescribed ideal body type to feel good about oneself. Each of the 100 women has their own story, own belief, which makes them valuable, regardless of how her body looks like.
When you started Project 100, how did people react to it?
Surprisingly, it was received positively. We never thought that we would be able to reach 100 women.
What were the challenges you faced to get this project off the ground?
One of the challenges is time. Organizing everybody’s schedule was a bit difficult since we had to align everybody’s availability.
How did you pick the 100 women volunteers for this campaign? What are the conditions?
Honestly, they picked us. We posted online that we are looking for 100 women whom we can shoot naked, oh and there they are. Ready as ever. There were no conditions.
Does the volunteer have a say in how she is presented? Do you direct the shoot to fit her needs?
Of course the women had a say with their shoot. Prior to the shoot, we requested them to do some research on pegs they would like to copy. Each photo shoot has an editorial team representative from Project 100 PH. She assisted with posing and expressions as well. We tried our best and made sure that each volunteer was photographed beautifully.
In your opinion, where is the line between body positivity and the objectification of women? How do you respond to people who can’t see the difference?
We recognize that women are far more valuable than whatever bodies they possess. The 100, being women are far more valuable than their (100) bodies. We attempt to stand up against discriminating standards set upon by society itself within the same space where women are objectified. This project should be seen as a contribution and definitely not the sole answer against structural causes of women’s disempowerment. Yes, it is not simply believing that a certain body type is or should be good to look at. The project provides the space where women are comfortable with themselves regardless of how they look. And that ultimately, they and whoever looks at them value them beyond what body their body looks like.
What do you hope to accomplish with this project?
Standards set upon women by a patriarchal society can be a threat to women’s rights. Imprisonment in such standards makes women more vulnerable to harassment or sexual violence; it can limit them from fulfilling their dreams and ambitions; it can silence the voices of women, especially the most vulnerable ones. Hence, we hope to broaden the perception of a woman’s body. To reach acceptance and respect from the women themselves, from the society at large. And yes, to break the standards on body types that discriminate women.
What’s in store for Project 100 in the future?
We are planning for the exhibit to travel nationally and even internationally. We hope that by doing this, we provide a safe space for women to be beautifully confident about themselves regardless of body type. That we provide the space for intelligent and empowering discussions. And through this space we incubate tools for changing mindsets, to breaking harmful standards abouthow a woman’s body should be perceived.
Message to Filipinas:
You are a woman, a person of value. You have stories to tell, beliefs and convictions you hold on to. You are valuable as a person not because of certain body type. Carry yourself with confidence.
Opening night of the Project 100 Exhibit will be held at Venture Space PH on October 6 at 7PM.