Sitting down in her warm house on her comfy sofa after a long day at work, Laura opens up one of her favourite newspapers and starts to flick through. She almost flicks past an article, but the title catches her eye, so she reads it. It’s yet another article that would make most women feel uncomfortable with themselves and that’s when Laura let out a huge sigh and realised she had to do something… anything that would show women that it’s okay to be the size they are and that their breasts are perfect just the way they are.
Laura Dodsworth, 42, from Surrey, had become increasingly sick and tired of the way the female body, especially the breasts, was being portrayed in the media. She wanted to fight back! She decided that she needed to make a statement with the book she was going to create. It needed to get the message across but in the right way.
She wanted to show women everywhere that their bodies and their breasts were normal, whatever shape or size they were, and the pictures that are published of women in the media like magazines and newspapers have been drastically edited and altered to match their standard of beauty, but it isn’t a realistic standard of beauty.
Ultimately, Laura’s initial plan was to use women’s breasts as the example to get her message across. She wanted to get 100 women to bare their breasts and tell their most deep and personal stories to the world. However, she knew that if she didn’t bare her own breasts for publication, she couldn’t expect anyone else to… So she decided to take the plunge too!
She said: “As the photographer and author of the project, as a feminist, a feminist artist, and just as a woman, I felt that I had to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other 100 women I asked to do this brave thing for me.”
Being an entrepreneur wedding photographer, Laura has a keen eye for detail and has a preferred style to take her pictures. The classic and elegant black and white look is what Laura normally goes for, so it was a big change and somewhat challenging to photograph on a plain background with a natural colour and no filter present.
Laura said: “I put my normal photography business semi on hold for a couple of years, while I spent the time driving around the country meeting random strangers, photographing their breasts and asking them deeply personal questions.”
Laura Dodsworth, went on her quest to find those 100 brave and courageous women who would take part in her book. It was a tough task to do, and it got to the point where she was asking random strangers on public transport in London to bare their breasts… Three guesses for how that turned out?
Eventually, she did get the diverse range of women she was looking for and they all stand proudly in her book today, which is called, ‘Bare Reality: 100 Women, Their Breasts, Their Stories.’
Laura was adamant that when she was doing this project, she would try to get as many different women to participate to get her point across to the rest of the women in the world, she said: “I wanted to recruit a very diverse mix of women, so they are aged from 19 to 101, sized triple A to K, all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.”
The entire book, from getting women to participate, to photographing them and transcribing interviews took two full years before the book was ready for publication and Laura did that on her own.
She said: “Despite loads of rejection from agents and publishers, I co-founded the project through kick starter. It was probably one of the scariest moment of my life, spending months meticulously planning the kick starter campaign.”
“When I pressed that button to go live, I actually thought I could be sick. But that first day was incredible!” She added.
Laura was on a high after her book had been received so positively, that she was shocked and pleasantly surprised when Fiona Holland, who is a senior lecturer for the psychology department at University of Derby, invited her to come and speak about her book to a room full of students and staff who were interested in her journey and her work and also about the female body image in the media.
Fiona said: “I was impressed by the exhibition and I saw loads of parallels between the research work that I had been doing and also students who are interested in body image.”
“I thought this would be a perfect way to expand our ideas of psychology and research and really get across disciplinary approach to body image.” She added.
Fiona introduced Laura to the university audience: “Laura today is going to talk about her Bare Reality project and share extracts and images from her 100 participants. I think her work crosses many disciplines and reaches far beyond the walls of the university as we all have bodies and we all have stories to tell about them.”
During her talk, Laura happily and proudly read through four different stories from her book in front of the quiet listening audience so they could get an idea of the women who had volunteered for her project.
Laura looked up to see a very curious look amongst the audience who were all starring at her intently. She knew she would get asked a wave of questions, but she was very prepared for it and happy to answer each and every one. There was even a man who decided to talk to Laura about being a young boy and finding breasts sexually appetising and asked whether boys may find her book to be somewhat attractive to young boys now.
Laura’s response to that questions was very simple: “If they are trying to find something sexually stimulating, this is not it. I don’t think there is anything elicit about that.”
Emma Ward, aged 20, who studies Creative Writing at the university was one of the intrigued members of the audience who attended the talk and she had positive feedback to give, she said: “An event such as this is a perfect way of keeping in touch with life outside of university. I enjoyed the readings we had from the book and I think that is what encouraged me to buy it.”
For more information on the book, head to: www.barereality.net