‘We’re wast­ing en­ergy on lumpy butts’

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - RACHEL THOMAS

Wear­ing noth­ing but a maxi skirt, Kerie Suther­land gig­gles as gold clay is slathered on her chest.

Suther­land is one of about 70 women fil­ing through an Up­per Hutt hall on a sunny Sun­day and bar­ing her chest for pho­tog­ra­pher Mandi Lynn in the name of body pos­i­tiv­ity.

Suther­land’s five month-old daugh­ter, Zoe, sits nude in her mother’s arms, dig­ging her tiny feet onto her mum’s belly.

‘‘There’s no way I would have done this be­fore [Zoe] came along. I think once you re­alise your body is no longer just yours, it’s eas­ier to get over it,’’ Suther­land says.

Women’s self-es­teem peaks at the age of nine, and by the age of 18, only 20 per cent are happy with their bod­ies, Lynn says.

The Te Marua pho­tog­ra­pher spends a full day pho­tograph­ing the women of all ages and sizes for her ex­hi­bi­tion and so­cial me­dia cam­paign ti­tled, .

‘‘You look in pol­i­tics and in the world and there’s this masculine power. We’re wast­ing our en­ergy wor­ry­ing about our lumpy butts.’’

Her mis­sion is to em­power women and em­brace the di­ver­sity of bod­ies be­yond the trim and taut fig­ures usu­ally por­trayed in main­stream me­dia.

‘‘It was just in­vig­o­rat­ing to see it and see all the di­ver­sity,’’ she says af­ter the pho­to­shoot.

‘‘You had grannies, you had a woman who had had a mas­tec­tomy, you had these fit women and these gor­geous, lus­cious women, and it was ab­so­lutely stun­ning.

‘‘In the back we had a sec­tion for peo­ple who were happy to be in­ter­viewed and we ended up bring­ing chairs in and made this big cir­cle and there was just boobs ev­ery­where.

‘‘For some peo­ple you could see it could stretch them, but I think it re­laxed them be­ing in this com­mu­nity of women.’’

Lynn’s part­ner, Craig Thomp- son, sits out­side the room pro­cess­ing photos on a lap­top in a cafe where a man is play­ing God De­fend New Zealand on a ukelele.

The project has moved him, he says, flick­ing through photos of women bar­ing scars or stretch­marks along­side those with ath­letic and toned tum­mies.

‘‘I think if you have some dis­like or ha­tred of your body, you’re not re­ally liv­ing,’’ Thomp­son says.

Lynn will share one im­age per day via so­cial me­dia us­ing the hash­tag, #ev­ery­body­isatrea­sure, and she in­tends to add to the col­lec­tion as she trav­els the coun­try.

‘‘Hope­fully we can keep hav­ing these shoots and gen­er­at­ing these im­ages and have that nor­malcy go­ing out there.’’

PHOTO: VIC­TO­RIA VIN­CENT

Up­per Hutt res­i­dent Kerie Suther­land and her baby, Zoe, are pho­tographed by Mandi Lynn for her new ex­hi­bi­tion, #ev­ery­body­isatrea­sure

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