Throughout history, women’s bodies have been dictated by others. In his groundbreaking book Beauty Myth“Women feel guilty about female fat because we are implicitly aware of the myth that the female body belongs to society, not us,” writes Naomi Wolf. During the Victorian era, especially in the mid-to-late 1800s, women were encouraged to be “chubby” and “round” because it showed men that they would be good mothers and were “round.”sexually available‘. From the 1920s to the 1980s, the ideal female form shifted towards thinness, as the female gender symbol figure “dramatically shortened” During this time. As beauty standards continue to change, women change with them, turning themselves inside out to look “beautiful” in the eyes of others. This exact challenge was the motivation behind it. Yolanda Y. Liou‘s last photo book, Thank You For Playing With Me.
It was shot over three years, from 2019 to 2022, Thank You For Playing With Me An intimate look at two plus size models, Enan Ewura Adjoa and Vanessa Russell. Liou first encountered Adjoa’s Instagram account in 2019 and was blown away by his confidence and charisma. This was the kind of confidence Liou struggled to have about her own body due to her Taiwanese upbringing. “Growing up in Taiwan, I was constantly exposed to brutal beauty standards that prioritized being thin,” Liou told Dazed. “This obsession made me believe that I was never beautiful enough, and as a result, I felt unworthy of love. “I constantly looked for ways to adapt, believing that only then would I be accepted and appreciated.”
“I create paintings. “Images do not create me” – Yolanda Y. Liou
When he first started photography, he was still trying to capture what society defines as beautiful. “This was a reflection of my struggle with low self-esteem regarding my own appearance,” Liou admits. However, over time, she began to question why and realized that beauty standards did not make her or anyone else feel weak. “I am a photographer. I create images. Images do not create me.”
Thank You For Playing With Me It follows Adjoa and Russell through times of joy, sorrow, and birth. We see the couple braiding each other’s hair, applying make-up to each other, and embracing each other. The photo book feels like a peek into their private world; filled with love, pleasure and acceptance. “When we hug [the photo book], I didn’t feel tired at all!” Liou exclaims. “Instead, I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of warmth and joy, as if I had spent the entire day playing with my sisters. ‘Thank you for playing with me!’ I expressed my gratitude. And that ultimately became the title of the book.”
Liou’s main goal with this photo book is to help people embrace their individuality: “It is very important to emphasize that there is a wide variety of body types and that we are all human. By showing this diversity, we hope to give people a wider range of representation and empower people to embrace their own uniqueness. “If we can witness more diversity and see that others are like us, it can put us on a more positive path much earlier in life.”
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