By Maggie Freleng
Do you ever look in the mirror and think, “Ugh, why can't I look like that model?”
You're not alone.
But hopefully there are those days you look in the same mirror, in the same room, with the same lighting and think, “Dayum girl, you look good!”
Chicago-based photographer Gracie Hagen, 26, captures these emotions in her photography series, “Illusions of the Body.”
“The fact that [the human body] can transform into something completely different two seconds later is fascinating,” Hagen told VITAMIN W. “It's amazing because we all have one yet they're all slightly different. How great is that?! Unique little snowflakes.”
Using the same model, with the same lighting and angle, Hagen shows how one person can look powerful, stunning and flattering. The comparison photo the person looks, well...different.
“Illusions of the Body was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images,” Hagen writes in the intro to her series.
“We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.”
“[People] need to see that this is what people look like, what real, normal people look like,” she told VITAMIN W.
“They're just accustomed to seeing models and porn stars naked, those types of photos and people aren't what the majority of people look like. The more people that see the range of body types, the standards for what we all should look like won't be so narrow.”
So far the reaction has been mixed.
“I've gotten a lot of great e-mails telling me how it made people feel better about themselves, and they wished they'd seen something like this earlier in their life,” she said. “I've also seen a lot of terrible reactions on the internet. People saying how ugly and disgusting everyone is within the series, even in the flattering photo.”
Hagen made a point to use people of all different sizes, ethnicities and genders in her project.
“It might be a product of some internet trolls but it also demonstrates even more so how important this type of thing is for people to see.”
Hagen, a photographer of two years who also runs a commercial portrait studio for families, couples, children and pets, has other series that also focus on the human body, as her common theme is “humanity.”
She is currently working on multiple new series, particularly one called “Affect vs Effect,” focusing on people who have physical abnormalities.
“I'm trying to document how these variants have affected their lives,” Hagen said.
For more photos from “Illusions of the Body” and other series check out her website.
Maggie Freleng is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer focusing on social justice, gender, and sexuality. Follow her on Twitter @dixiy89.