Even though postpartum bodies aren't something that our society likes to talk about or showcase for public display, we've all come from the same place so it's about time we started celebrating the processes women's bodies go through to bring a new life into this world. Which is why photographer Grace Elizabeth has created a "Gold Dust" project to look into postpartum motherhood.
The idea of creating a meaningful documentary project for this Essex, U.K.-based photographer arose through her interests of all things "motherhood, feminism, art, and photography." After finishing her photography degree and having done a dissertation on "the objectification of women and the male gaze," Elizabeth wanted to take on a personal project that's close to her heart.
Through her journey of creating a concept for her project, Elizabeth began researching the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which is "the beautiful art of repairing broken ceramic pots with gold; the idea being that they become more beautiful after they had been fixed, than before they were ever broken."
Taking partial inspiration from this school of thought, Elizabeth did not wish to focus on the "repair" aspect but rather to use "gold to highlight the beauty in something — this beauty being postpartum ladies' scars and stretchmarks." To attract her first subject, she put up a model call and ended up shooting a midwife, who's a mother of two and was more than happy to embrace the shoot concept.
The images are tender and timeless, all the while normalizing what the society has far too long considered unsightly. It's more likely you'll see celebrities and other regular women endorsing the concept that one must get back in shape immediately after giving birth, whether it's through natural means or laying on surgeon's table. We rarely see the scars, the changes in your body and the skin, although that is the most natural process in the world and yet we still choose to congratulate women on getting back in shape instead of asking "are you and your baby happy and healthy?"
If you'd like to get involved in the "Gold Dust" project, get in touch with Elizabeth.
Images used with permission of Grace Elizabeth.