These Naked Women Show What 'American Beauty' Really Looks Like (PHOTOS)

american beauty photo essay Carey Lynne FruthFeeling "authentic" in your "sensuality, vulnerability, and complexity," or, in other words, stripping down to your birthday suit is something few of us are comfortable with. In front of a camera? Even less so. But "American Beauty," a viral photo essay, is an impactful commentary on openly loving the body you've got -- and letting others admire it, too.

The photo series by San Francisco photographer Carey Lynne Fruth is all about body positivity. (And yes, it's inspired by the Kevin Spacey flick of the same name. If you haven't seen the 1999 drama, Kevin Spacey's middle-aged dad-in-a-rut has recurring sexual fantasies about his daughter's teenage friend playfully waiting for him among strategically placed rose petals.)

Fruth asked women to think of themselves NOT as models, but to be "authentic in their sensuality, vulnerability, and complexity." In the photos, each woman is naked, save for a delicate smattering of lilacs, which are meant to represent beauty, pride, and confidence.

And they totally do.

Fruth's series is ongoing, which means there will be many more pics to come. For now, check out these 10 jaw-droppingly gorgeous images, and her take on the powerful series. We think it's life-changing -- not only for the women in the shots, but for the rest of us.

 

Images via Carey Lynne Fruth

  • 'A Dream Come True'

    1

    "Isis Starr is a Bay Area burlesque legend and it was an honor to shoot her," Fruth tells The Stir exclusively. "She has a glowing and confident presence. All she kept saying during the shoot was that laying in the pile of flowers was a dream come true."

  • The Only Thing Fake Are (Some) Flowers

    2

    The flowers you see had to be extended with Photoshop, says Fruth. That said, "there are minimal edits on the images ... Scars, stretch marks, and cellulite were not removed." Fashion tape was used to attach the flowers, and Fruth stood on a ladder to capture each shot, which took about 30 minutes for each woman.

  • Beautiful = Brave

    3

    Denise Jolly is the founder of the Be Beautiful Project, in which she took pics of her nearly naked body every day for a month -- and posted them online. She's also a good friend of Fruth and the first woman to be photographed for the series. "After we shot the image, [Denise, the founder of Shameless Photography, and I] just laid in the flowers together, laughing, taking selfies, and discussing how we would like to see the world change," says Fruth. "It was one of my favorite moments."

  • What Self-Love Looks Like

    4

    Sonya Renee Taylor is an internationally acclaimed poet, actress, educator, and activist. Her organization, The Body Is Not An Apology, fosters "radical, unapologetic self love" in hopes of changing the world, one body at a time.

    More from The Stir: Emma Stone Slams Body Shamers With Most Inspiring Response Ever

  • Mom Knows Best

    5

    The model pictured here had second thoughts after doing the shoot. "Although she believed in the project, she was afraid of what her family in other parts of the world would think," Fruth tells us. It was the woman's mother who pushed her to be proud and share the images. "Her mother told her that she didn't care what the rest of the family thought and that she was beautiful," Fruth explains.

  • It Takes All Types of Women to Be Beautiful

    6

    "Almost every image you see in mainstream media is of one type of woman -- thin white women, to be specific," says Fruth. "But that is not actually what the majority of women in our country look like. America is made up of all types of women. Women who are hungry to see themselves represented in a beautiful way. And why shouldn't they?"

  • How to Be a Game Changer

    7

    Every day, we're bombarded with unrealistic images of women. Looking in the mirror, then, becomes a letdown. Fruth's take is that we'll never win this imaginary contest of comparison, so maybe we should change the rules. "I think there's something freeing about knowing you could be 'that' person but you don't need to be," she says.

  • Here's Your Reflection

    8

    "It's easy to say hurtful things when you're not face-to-face with someone," says Fruth. "But ... none of us know each other's stories. We're all just trying our best, and all you can do is reflect love and kindness to the people around and hope that they reflect it back."

    More from The Stir: New Plus-Size Lingerie Campaign Isn't Really Body Positive

  • Beauty is a Two-Way Road

    9

    "I think as a photographer, it's my job to show people how beautiful they are," says Fruth.

  • Your Body Is Always Right

    10

    "No one should be made to feel that their body is somehow wrong, undesirable," says Fruth. "Body positivity is about radical body love. It's about loving your body even when everyone else tells you that you shouldn't."

    More from The Stir: 10 Moms Bare Their 'Perfectly Imperfect' Bodies to Show How Beautiful Postpartum Can Be (PHOTOS)

body image beauty body

More Slideshows