Photographer Turns Women's Postpartum "Scars" Into Gold-Flecked Works of Art
In Japan, there's a captivating art form called Kinstugi, in which the pieces of broken pottery are put back together with gold-dusted lacquer. The idea is twofold: the breakage and imperfections are now visible as part of the piece's history rather than something to disguise, and often, the brilliant gold lines make the object even more beautiful than it was before.
It's a practice that stuck with UK photographer Grace Elizabeth. "I wanted to transform this concept into intimate photographs that didn't look at the 'brokenness' of a post-pregnancy body, but that embraced it," she told POPSUGAR. "The Gold Dust Project draws upon the beauty of gold and the beauty in their wonderful scars and stretch marks."
Up until Grace began her ongoing series, she'd noticed a common factor among all the postpartum women she photographed.
Many of the women photographed weren't immediately comfortable with the idea of posing for images that not only exposed their flaws, but highlighted them.
"Almost all of the ladies have struggled with body image in some facet or another," she said. "Whether it was a fleeting comment like, 'Can you Photoshop out my double chin?' or 'Oh, I've ended up with so many tummy rolls since being pregnant – better cover those!' As their bodies grew, adapted, and ultimately changed, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently, it was clear that their body image had taken a hit."
Grace began decorating women's stretch marks and scarring, mostly from c-sections, with body-safe gold paint and zooming in on them with "clear, in-your-face focus."
Many of the women photographed weren't immediately comfortable with the idea of posing for images that not only exposed their flaws, but highlighted them. Still, they all signed on, as Grace said, "because they want to be the change they want to see in the world."
In fact, many of those featured "have been shocked by just how many stripes, scars, and marks they have and how beautiful they look painted."
Eventually, perhaps Grace's work will remind women of their beauty when the paint is washed off – that, like with Kinstugi pottery, it is the cracks that make them more beautiful.