Liara's Campaign | Beauty in its True Form

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UNITED KINGDOM - In a dialogue between acid burn activist, Liara, and the photographer, Julian Holtom, an amazing and inspirational synergy occurred and resulted in a series of portraits which are breathtaking. Liara's story, her bravery, and her passion are self-evident, but best summed up in her own words.

"As an artist my aim is to portray beauty in its imperfect form that can evoke new meaning to the beholder’s eyes. My work is dedicated to the Burn survivor community around the world; not only to represent all other burn survivors but to encourage and inspire greater self-esteem. To prove scars are not something to be ashamed of but they can become one’s identity, they should never obscure a person’s perception of themselves nor hinder them from living life to the full.

It is possible to overcome the emotional turmoil that comes with scars and that is our aim. There are organisations in support of burn survivors; such as the Katie Piper foundation, Phoenix Burns Society , Burn Victim Survivors group on Facebook and Burn survivors through the world whom I represent for example.

I approached Julian with whom I was able to work on the concept of portraying the scars as part of character and personality, with the aim to achieve something genuine yet beautiful in its true form. To prove that scars do not change a person, they make that person who they become.

Julian, thank you so much. I have not only had a relaxing and fun shoot but for first time as a model have felt confident with my body" ~ Liara

"Liara's closing comment pretty much sums up my desire to shoot her. She approached me via a modelling site where she will have faced relentless prejudice from photographers only wanting to shoot pneumatic breasted orange sex dolls. We met and talked, instantly I wanted to help her through this medium. Boy does she light up the room with her inner spirit when she's smiling. Which with her giggling most of the afternoon was very often. Really enjoyed shooting her, and have some really great shots for the time we spent together. More to come..." ~ Julian Holtom

Copyright Julian Holtom Photography ©2012. All rights reserved.

 

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Kiss Me, Kiss Me. Kiss Me Not!

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 02:17 a.m. DST, 22 January 2014

Indigo Lips, Photo by Florry One When I came back to the States from Africa in the late 70's, I was thrown into a school system and culture with which, like many people from different cultures and backgrounds, I was quite unfamiliar.

There was the usual lack of cultural sensitivity that routinely resulted in children asking me if I saw tigers walking down the middle of the street, or if I "put a glass up under all those naked, exposed breast, to get my milk."

It was offensive, but not necessarily hurtful. What did become painful were the taunts about my physical appearance. All children face ridicule at some point in their school careers. For some, the taunting, the desire to fit into whatever standard of 'cool' or 'beauty' of the day, and the incessant bullying, causes them to resort to harmful and often tragic measures in search of relief.

I made it through, but not unscathed, as nearly 30-years later, I still recall how hurtful it was when classmates would point out that my lips were 'liver lips', 'big, ugly gorilla lips,' and that my mouth, like the vacuum cleaning brand Hoover, was a dangerous weapon capable of rearranging the face of any boy foolish enough to kiss me.

So, with the recent trend in the entertainment industry, and in America as a whole, to achieve a mythical standard of beauty that now includes large lips, I bemusedly thought back to my childhood days and wondered if any of the girls who once taunted me, were now through some strange karmic leading, pumping, plumping, and outlining their lips to achieve an industry contrived standard of 'today's perfection.'

We all have things that we would like to change about ourselves. I have mine. However, I have come to appreciate my lips, but even more than this, I have come to appreciate my healthy lips, body, mind, and spirit. That said, this post does not pass judgement on those who desire to change something about themselves, but only seeks to encourage due diligence, introspection, and self-awareness before embarking on a journey that can result in Don Quixote's madness of chasing down enemies that do not exist.

We begin aging the moment we take our first breath, to do so with dignity is the greatest testament to a well-lived life. The video below should serve as a cautionary tale.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL0CClIzgEU]

 
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Skin Color Wars

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Powerful! In an era when money and fame or lack thereof is the prevailing currency of worth, it is sad to witness people judging each other on the specious notion of skin color.

I experienced this upon my return from Africa and never understood the self-hatred. Not only a must view for Black Americans, but also scroll down to watch a skin lightening commercial for the India market.

Will Bollywood reject you if you are too dark? Apparently so, according to the article below about India's Vogue Magazine featuring darker models.

Mehndi Henna | Beautiful Brides

Mehndi Henna | Beautiful Brides

Henna is traditionally used to mark important life events such as marriage. When most people think of henna they recall the designs such as those in the photo to the left. This type of design is a "Bridal Mehndi." In Africa, there is another more painful tradition of scarification; however, in regions throughout the world where Henna plants are grown and cultivated, women have used this plant for centuries to adorn themselves with exotic and beautiful designs, each as unique as the woman who wears them.

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Khalil Gibran | Ode to Beauty

All these things have you said of beauty. Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied, And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears. It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw, But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight. People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and your are the mirror.” ~ Khalil Gibran

View video of more beautiful Arabian eyes here.

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Amaranthine Loveliness

Amaranthine Loveliness

Women of all ethnic backgrounds, experiences, physiognomy and sexual preference are a wonder to behold. This video pulls you into the eternal flow of the mysteries that lie beneath the mysterious facades with sagacious eyes. Best said by Isak Dinesen, "the entire being of a woman is a secret that should be kept." We shall never know the secrets these women held, but we can ponder or project, as women, as children, as husbands and lovers our temporal secrets onto these women of amaranthine loveliness.

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Force Feeding Girls for Marriage

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 02:18 a.m. EDT, 11 April 2010

Force Feeding for Marriage, Niger, Africa, Photo by Peter OleMAURITANIA, West Africa - Thousands of young girls in the West African country Mauritania, continue to be subjected to the cruel practice of gavage or force-feeding to make them more desirable for marriage.

Every year girls as young as five are routinely forced to undergo the traditional practice of Leblouh so they will be fat enough to secure a larger dowry for their families.

This inhuman practice of force feeding girls, often until they vomit, is as reprehensible as another predominant cultural practice of genital mutilation. Both practices seek to enrich the family through dowries because the girls have been physiologically altered to inflate their marketability to perspective husbands.

Even more traumatic and heart-breaking, is the fact that the perpetrator of these indignities are not strangers, but the mothers and other female members of the girls' immediate and extended family. It is a vicious cycle that becomes a twisted rite of passage wherein the victim becomes the victimizer.

Although the Mauritanian government denies that the practice continues while clerics assert that it is contrary to Islamic law; it is a country with over 50% unemployment and vast rural areas populated by nomadic people who live in abject poverty.

It is within this context that obesity among children and the plague of poor body image among women has recently captured international attention. Historically, woman have struggled against fickle standards of beauty established by male perceptions and desires, and promulgated through various mediums and industries.

Currently, in the West an inverse standard of beauty exists as 'waifs' adorn our advertisements and daily assault us through film and video. Thinness has become synonymous with status and wealth, and is yet another way for people in America to discriminate.

In Mauritania and other parts of the world where fast food is not readily available, it is very difficult to gain weight. However, in America poorer women and their children are most susceptible to the accessibility, ease of obtainment, and low-cost of fast food and other non-nutritious food products.

Based upon my experience, the cost of eating healthy, buying organic, and supporting local producers and farmers comprises an astounding 30% of my monthly income. For most people in this country, especially in these challenging economic times, this type of expenditure is impossible.

Thus, when the effects of unhealthy diet manifests in obesity and the attendant physical and health challenges, becomes yet another identifier in class distinction. More about this subject of food in America can be explored by watching the movie "Fast Food Nation," by Eric Schlosser.

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Published: 11 April 2010
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Rubens' "Venus at a Mirror circa 1615"This was not always the case as attested to by the paintings of Rubens and other 17th Century master painters. Ruben often painted 'Zaftig' women, thus the term Rubenesque was coined to describe women with voluptuous curves that connoted fertility and fecundity.

In the traditional, nomadic Mauritanian society, full figured women imply the ability to bear many healthy children. Her ability to procreate makes her body exceedingly valuable since children are the wealth of many non-technology based economies.

There are no clear-cut reasons why the preference in the West for Zaftig women has declined so precipitously, which has led to the emergence of anorexia as the predominant standard of beauty.

In both instances, women are not in control of their bodies and are therefore subjected to increased psychological damage from poor body image, physiological trauma from eating disorders, and low self-esteem from unsuccessfully trying to conform to the vagaries of external determinations of standards of beauty and worth.

As a woman living in a advertising rich culture, I also struggle with body image, however; the pressures that I experience are primarily self-induced versus the cruel reality these young women experience. Forced to drink milk laced with butter, millet, and couscous, and to drink lots of water they are veritably fatted like ducks being cultivated for Foie Gras.

These girls endure the indignity of being fed from morning to evening, at least three times a day, to make them gain between 130 lbs (59 kg) to 220 lbs (99.7 kg) rapidly which results in lots of layers of fat. Even when they vomit, they are forced to continue to eat and drink so that they can replace any amount that has been expelled from their bodies.

The video sadly depicts the mothers of these girls seemingly inured to harm they are causing their daughters as they beat them and crush their toes between two sticks to inflict pain to distract them to the horror of the process.

One mother expressed privately that "it's not cruel to make girls fat!" she said. "I have to make my daughter fat and attractive so that she will get a good husband. Even though she is only seven, I have to start now so that she can be ready to marry soon. People think that skinny girls have AIDS so I have to show that she is healthy and can gain weight.

The combination of Leblouh plus the arranged marriages of these child brides has prompted international human rights groups to intervene in and pressure the Mauritanian government to impose strict sanctions against this practice.

However religious and cultural traditions are difficult to uproot particularly in matters of sex and sexuality. A woman who helps parents fatten their daughters said, "I've seen 10-year old girls give birth. I tell you, 10 years old! Once they are fat and beautiful they can be married and sexually serve their men well."

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