By Megan Erbacher
Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.
As a photographer, Bri Naylor didn’t hesitate to put herself on the other side of the camera for a cause.
Naylor, 29, hopes the 35 women involved in Embrace Your Body by Project Reveal will motivate others — both women and men — to embrace their uniqueness.
When Naylor spotted Stacey Godbold’s plea on Facebook seeking models for the gallery fundraiser, she knew she wanted to be part of it.
What resulted is an Embrace your Body photography show, a fundraiser for Project Reveal, which will be presented by The Women’s Hospital from 7-10 p.m. on Sept. 5 in an art gallery in Evansville’s Haynie’s Corner Arts District at 56/58 Adams Avenue.
For the gallery fundraiser, local women allowed Courier & Press photographer Erin McCracken to capture their natural beauty to inspire other women to embark on the journey to accept their bodies.
Embrace Your Body is a new component of Project Reveal, a website-based forum where women are invited to help other women by sharing experiences, strength and hope found through a defining life situation.
“Sometimes we are afraid to share our honest thoughts, feelings and challenges,” said Godbold, Project Reveal’s creator. “But in reality, everyone has those same thoughts and sharing them honestly is what helps other women navigate similar journeys of their own.”
The show will feature local women of all shapes, sizes, color and ages loving their bodies. There will also be live music, a photo booth, food, cocktails and representatives from area women’s organizations.
Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple, available at projectreveal.org.
“It is a beautiful thing to stand out among the crowd … I felt right away that this was way bigger than just me,” Naylor said.
“Way bigger than just getting over my own personal body issues. I was to be a representation of so many others too afraid of stepping into these lights, in front of this camera and then onto a canvas to be viewed by strangers, some of whom didn’t know my name or one single thing about me.”
Since the Project Reveal website launched about eight months ago, the project has included written and video “reveals.” The photo campaign takes it one step further.
“The photos are artistic, beautiful, tasteful and powerful,” Godbold said. “We are showing that every body is normal. I can think that I am the only one with a belly pouch or leg dimples, but you will see on Sept. 5 that all women have these features. Each of us is normal, beautiful and perfect.”
Godbold said the conversation about bodies needs to be ongoing. She was overwhelmed with the positive response from multiple women, some expressing an existing confidence in their bodies, while others wanted the photo shoot as a first step to accepting themselves.
“The goal is to continue the conversation about being nice to ourselves and our bodies and to encourage women to change the negative thoughts we allow to clutter our heads,” Godbold said. “That negative chatter impacts the way we feel about ourselves and carry ourselves. It is truly a thinking problem.”
From a young age, Robin Aldrich said she has had an unhealthy body image. And as an adult, the 47-year-old sometimes still struggles with accepting her body.
“I like to be a positive person,” Aldrich said. “But my youngest daughter sometimes hears that negative self-talk when I’m in the bathroom trying on a dress and I say, ‘Oh this looks so bad. I just can’t wear anything.'”
Aldrich asked Godbold, who is a friend, if her 14-year-old daughter Grace could be in the photo shoot with her. A few years ago, Grace was diagnosed with Type I Juvenile diabetes. Aldrich thought it would be something fun the two could do together to promote a positive self-image.
“I can only speak for myself,” Aldrich said. “But for me, as I have developed my faith and my spiritual life, I just don’t think that God wants me to view myself as a mistake or defective or damaged or inferior because of how I look or how my clothes fit.
And that’s been a real challenge because I’ve got two kids with major health issues. But God’s also given (us) the resources to make that a strength. We try to turn that around and look at them as assets and how can we use them.”
Naylor said she briefly worried what others may think of her, but realized people who make sacrifices, take chances and do the unthinkable are the people that change the world.
“With all the negativity that we have going around the world, we definitely want to be able to share positive vibes and positive things that are going on,” she said.
The money raised during the event will fund equipment, software and marketing so Godbold can continue the mission of Project Reveal. She plans for future projects to include more documentary-style format reveals and other storytelling techniques.