In a world fixated on physical appearance, especially on women’s, it can often feel like everywhere we look we are inundated with airbrushed images of the female form. Happy In My Skin – an ongoing project by Cardiff-based visual photographer Leah Crossley and performer Hazel Anderson – hopes to shatter this illusion with their dream-like imagery, capturing women of all ages, shapes and sizes. United by their work as body activists, the pair invited 50 women to take part in an all-female skinny dip, an idea born out of a previous impromptu nude swim with Seatown Ladies, an all female theatre collective that Anderson was involved with. During the trip, Anderson found that some women were uncomfortable participating – a concern which only fuelled her fire for the project.
“If we got enough women together, women who were already friends and knew and loved each other, perhaps seeing oneself amongst other women of all shapes and sizes would fundamentally shift something on a transformative level", explains Anderson of the project which has, just this morning, reached its Kickstarter goal. But there’s one woman, and image, that resonates on a more personal level for the performer. “At the beginning of last year mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she now has the all clear. I feel full of pride, joy, and sunshine when I see her photo,” reflects Anderson on the picture of her mother smiling, hands in the air and running through the waves.
Not only was racing into the sea starkers bizarrely life affirming (and actually, not all that cold, Anderson tells us) for all parties involved, it yielded a poignant set of photographs, which are now ready to take its next form as a calendar. An endearingly honest set of images hoping to help others embrace their “wobbly bits,” as Anderson puts it. “We want to keep the dialogue alive with people about the issues around body confidence and images of women in the media.”
Visit the Kickstarter campaign to help get the project get off the ground. To learn more about the individuals involved, click here