Happy Monday!  To kick of the beginning of the new week, and our focus on our 2014 Resolution Revolution; I have asked talented photographer and dear friend Alisha Stamper to guest post about her perspective on what truly makes us, as women, beautiful and why we could all strive to be a little more UnMadeUp.

Loves and Hugs,

UnMadeUp: A Perspective on Beauty.

Years ago, as a not yet mother, unmarried student earning my BFA in photography, I had a bee in my bonnet.  It buzzed about the way women demeaned themselves.  REGULARLY.  It was socially acceptable (and still, sadly, is) considered socially appropriate for women in our society to point out their flaws.  It is normal to hear women covet each others' skin, clothing, talents, service, gym dedication-you name it.  Beauty in particular, by way of sex appeal, seems to be the current siren song that women are encouraged to chase.  Not only are we supposed to make our own facial creams (and find time to use them to shrink our PORES), but we are supposed to contour our faces with makeup to change the way they look.  It is not enough to add some blush, or maybe some chapstick for color on our lips, but now we are encouraged (and many are attempting) to change the appearance of our very facial structure through using make-up to contour.  I don't hate make-up.  I do question our reliance on it to feel worthy of being out in public (with strangers).  I question why so many do not see beauty in themselves without it on.

When that buzz was beginning in my ear (it has only grown more persistent in its attention seeking), the buzz of "this is not right", I turned inward and produced the following collections of images entitled UnMadeUp.  My purpose in creating was that I believe that we need a different measuring stick for beauty.  Read the artist statement for this piece after the images.  I chose the title because they are all things I believe women are doing.  These are the things that make us beautiful.  They are in Latin, as explained in the artist statement, because that is where our language was derived.  We need to look back at the original source and power of beauty, not the mistranslated derivatives.

Artist Statement

Women have been documented for their beauty since the beginning of time.  Art Historians generally agree that Venus of Willendorf is a fertility idol, not a portrait.  The ability women have to procreate was considered beautiful in her era.  The name is fitting-Venus was the goddess of Beauty.  In Grecian times goddesses were immortalized and in medieval times women were portrayed as Mary: righteousness was beauty.  I have observed the use of sexuality as a definition of beauty in the fashion industry, and have seen the results in phrases that are solely spoken by women: "I don't have any make-up on: I'm so ugly" and many others.  

Beauty and sexual appeal are not synonymous.  Sexual appeal is not a requirement for beauty when defined as "The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness and originality."  When defined in this way, the mind is used as the primary judge of beauty instead of physical stimulation.  Using this definition, I sought to translate beauty anew.  I used classical poses, settings and attire that correspond with this definition of beauty.  Classical paintings meet these requirements and their influence on my beliefs about beauty cannot be understated.  the women shown here are not wearing any make-up.  In that sense, they are "un made up": their beauty is truly natural without artificial enhancement from materials that are considered necessities to many.  In this way, the requirement for truth is fulfilled.  originality is "a marked departure from traditional or previous practice," but more importantly a secondary definition is to be "the source from which a translation is made."  

People translate texts so that more people can understand what is conveyed within the text.  Sometimes the meaning of a certain text or speech is lost in translation.  My hope through this project is that my translation of beauty, my depiction of it so that more can recognize and understand it, is not lost to the viewer.  My depiction is not meant to raise these women on a pedestal.  These women are beautiful, but they are also normal individuals.  The transition from their everyday lives to who they became as photographed is a transition that can be made by any woman.  Because of this, I did not title the images with their names but instead chose Latin.  Though all romance languages are derived from Latin, it is no longer spoken.  Like Latin, modern commercial depictions of beauty are fragments of the original depth of the word.  Real beauty can be learned from antiquity.  My effort is to better translate the definition of beauty.  

 Alisha Stamper is an heirloom portraitist based in Springville, Utah.  She creates honest, timeless and powerful portraits that can show strength through generations.  She is an advocate for women.  She enjoys reading, sewing, rocking boats, speaking in puns, and her unruly children (who are mostly angels).  You can see more at her website

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