Jade Beall is a truly passionate photographer and advocate of self-loving, founder of a project that has been changing people’s lives all around the world, A Beautiful Body. We found her project and calling utterly inspiring, and were delighted to have the chance to get to know her through an interview.
Olive Maternity: Can you tell us a bit about your background, education, and how your project started?
Jade Beall: I grew up in Arizona, where I started photography in high school. I was instantly drawn to skin, the nude body. It was always a passion of mine, but I didn’t know how to make it into a business. I wanted to study photography, but I ended up going to massage school, and I became a massage therapist. Photography always stayed a side hobby. When I got pregnant in 2011, I took a self-portrait of my post birth body, which I posted online and called “beautiful”.
Olive Maternity: What was your pregnancy like, was it good? Obviously you had the need to communicate your loved your body afterwards – can you tell us a bit about that, too?
Jade Beall: Feeling beautiful was something I hadn’t felt since I was about 10 years old. During my pregnancy I really loved my body, though I was obsessed with the weight that I was gaining. It took away from the fact that I was creating a human! I was a slave to my scale. So that’s when I got rid of it!
Olive Maternity: I guess this is how your project came to be, with your own photo? How did you decide for it to become a project?
Jade Beall: After that photo I took of my post-birth body and getting all these emails, I realized that there was an opportunity to create a body of work. Then, one of my closest friends asked me if I would take a photo of her kids kissing her belly, so we did it and that photo was really the one that went viral! That’s how I decided I wanted to create a book of photography, so we launched a Kickstarter campaign and managed to get it published.
There are women out there who feel incredibly uncelebrated, they all have a story, and most of the time it involves some kind of pain. A lot of people were calling my work “real mothers”, but that’s not exactly what I wanted to communicate, because all mothers are real mothers!
Olive Maternity: How do you deal with criticism? Though people want to see authenticity, maybe the truth can hurt people…
Jade Beall: It’s true that the truth can hurt, but it’s only because we’re used to celebrating only one kind of woman. It took me a while to love that the 50 pounds heavier me in that photo, and to love myself. It was definitely a “fake it ‘till you make it”!
Olive Maternity: And being self-employed as an artist, entrepreneur – how to you manage your time while being a mother?
Jade Beall: Honestly, I don’t know how! It was tricky in the beginning, but I get a lot of help from my family and my ex-partner. I work very hard to keep everything going!
Olive Maternity: You’re really inspired by making women feel incredibly beautiful as they are, we can sense this true passion. At Olive Maternity we call our woman the “multidimensional woman”, balancing self-esteem, career, raising a family…
Jade Beall: I’m getting better and better at allowing my photography to become more therapeutic, to help women feel beautiful… as they are, without the Photoshop, without removing things! Women are incredible, it blows me away, and it’s such a divine juggle! That’s why I’m so passionate about photographing it! My mission is to redefine what we think of as flaws. Flaws of character, yes, there are flaws in the world, but our bodies are not those flaws, especially not after giving birth! If you’re blessed to be a mother, you are a channel of life, that’s amazing! Any markings that come from it, they’re just lovely.
Olive Maternity: And what are reactions of collaborators like? What has your feedback been?
Jade Beall: It’s a process. I would say 50/50 people enjoy the photos of themselves afterwards. It fluctuates. Some are totally ready to see themselves, and then there are those who can’t look at their bare photos, we have to talk about it and get real. Then I ask – will you let me share it via Facebook where I have 108 000 followers? Before I had to coax people to share on my social media channels, but now people want it! I love it.
Olive Maternity: We can imagine the conversation going on before, after, during the shootings. It’s amazing how much they’re giving just standing there bare, to us they just all look like goddesses of their own kind… To sum up, what is your inspiration for believing women are so divine?
Jade Beall: Since I was really little I was really drawn to vulnerability and pride. To sum up… I’ve always been so infatuated by the female body, and after healing my own massive self-loathing, I felt free to be like – “oh my God, you are so amazing! There is no one like you on the planet!” The things that we are taught are flaws are the things that make us even more our own story! They are markings of our life lived. To Photoshop out the evidence of our life – why?
I’m very into taking a good look into ourselves, and truly saying… “I love this.” We need to celebrate that moment, because already tomorrow, we will be something different. And that’s what I tell my clients – even if you don’t want to do this, consider it as a gift to your future self!
Olive Maternity: At Olive Maternity we most definitely agree that your work is so inspirational, which is why we decided to contact you, and we thank your interest in collaborating once again!