PARENTS

16 Women Share Their 'Perfect Imperfections' In Mom's Stunning Photo Series

06/05/2015 12:54 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2015

Photographer Neely Ker-Fox knows what it's like to struggle with body image issues during and after pregnancy. After giving birth to her second child, she had stretch marks and extra skin, as well as back problems that required physical therapy. "I no longer recognized my own body," she told The Huffington Post.

Inspired by empowering photo projects like Ashlee Wells Jackson's "4th Trimester Bodies", Jade Beall's "A Beautiful Body" and January Harshe's #takebackpostpartum campaign, Ker-Fox decided to join in the dialogue that was taking place about women's postpartum bodies.

"I was compelled to bring the same opportunities for women in my own community to have access to a chance to embrace their bodies, address their insecurities and hopefully feel empowered." Ker-Fox created "Perfect Imperfections" -- a photo series that featured friends and neighbors posing in a stripped down state and in many cases, with their children.

Ker-Fox said she wanted "to make these women see how beautiful they were, to truly do something empowering with their vulnerability and bravery." She wrote a blog post about her hopes and goals for the project and then posted a callout on social media. The response was "overwhelming" and she received messages from about 30 women, 16 of whom she was able to photograph in the studio.

beautiful imperfections

To help her subjects feel empowered through the project, the photographer took some similarly raw photos of herself first. "I wanted to know how these women would feel on the other side of my camera," she said. "I felt I couldn't truly understand the feeling of being stripped down to such a vulnerable position without myself standing in their place."

Believing that art and photography have the ability to heal, Ker-Fox was proud to help women of different ages and from different backgrounds work through their various struggles, from physical and emotional pain to fertility issues to postpartum challenges. She even photographed a little girl with spina bifida, whose mother wanted to give her a moment to truly shine. "This project is so much more than photos of stretch marks, or cellulite," the photographer said. "It's about women coming out of the shadows and discussing their everyday struggles in an effort to normalize, to empower, and to educate."

Ultimately, she hopes that sharing these images will inspire future generations -- especially her own children. "The more society is exposed to these real people, the more women will feel empowered to talk about postpartum, fertility issues, postpartum depression, bullying, and the more others can find peace in knowing they are not alone in their struggles," she said. "At our core we simply need to know that we are not alone."

For the photographer, creating this series has been a personal healing experience as well. "These lines, these battle scars of life, I will carry them with me until the day I die," she said.

In the future, Ker-Fox would like to broaden "Perfect Imperfections" to include more women and girls of various backgrounds and experiences and eventually, even male subjects. "Obviously women are more apt to be the victim of body shaming, or the seemingly rampant epidemic of mommy wars. But we as humans all have insecurities and we are all scarred, imperfect and flawed in some way physically and emotionally," she said.

Keep scrolling and visit Neely Ker-Fox's website to see her images and learn more about the project.

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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Erica: "I was so nervous to be a part of this project. I have always been a bigger woman and have never seen myself as beautiful. Since having my son, I wanted to do this to show him beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I wanted to do this for myself too. I felt so comfortable and beautiful during the shoot. I will never forget this experience."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Roslyn: "I absolutely loved being a part of this very important project, and I’m so happy my girls were able to experience it too."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Ashley: "Once I got pregnant, I was sure I would have no problem getting back to pre-pregnancy weight…which hasn’t been the case. But my life is full. I have the sweetest little chunk who fills my heart. I have a partner who is supportive and loving. I work. I play."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kacie: "I did this shoot for me and my children. I’ve always struggled to accept my flaws, but after giving birth to my daughters, those flaws seem more like beautiful marks of our journey together."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Ashley: "I am loving life without obsessing about being a size 6 one month postpartum. I want other women to be healthy, and well, and love life too without pressures of fitting an idea of beauty."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kristi: "For myself, the whole experience was symbolic in seeing how far I have come not only as a mother but also as a woman. Coming to love myself the way that God intended has taken some time and lots of self reflection. I want to be the best for myself so that I can be the best for my daughter."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Amanda: "I am 33 (almost 34), I have wanted children for a decade and I never thought that I would be pregnant ... I wanted to do something to remember this time in my life and to be able to embrace how beautiful I am while carrying our son, when I found out about this project it seemed perfect. I did this for myself initially but I do hope that it helps others see pregnancy as beautiful especially for other pregnant women to see themselves as beautiful."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kacie: "I hope that my daughters look back on this and know to judge themselves based on who they are, and not what anyone says or thinks about them."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Roslyn: "I have struggled with body image basically since puberty. After leaving the shoot I had a sense of confidence I’ve never experienced before. I called my husband on my way home, and was telling how awesome the shoot was, and how great I felt."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Rachel: "I walked out of the shoot with my head held high with a new confidence I didn’t know I had in me. From glancing at a few of the shots on the camera, I saw more beauty than I expected, confidence in being a mother (the kind my mom told me she see’s in my mothering but I couldn’t picture and was really unsure of) and most importantly that my daughter loves me because I’m her “ma-ma” and that love is indescribable- she doesn’t care about anything else and her smile and mine in the photo say it all!"
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Jenny: "I was so nervous to do it, Especially after the meet and greet and I saw all the other beauties participating. (I don’t know why women compare ourselves to each other that way)."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Rachel: "This experience is a step forward for me, in hopes that one day I will accept my changed body, Exposure Therapy if you will. I begged and pleaded to God to allow me to carry my babies, and I am reminded daily of what I went through to have them."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Taylor: "It’s so hard to put into words how this experience has made me feel. If I had to sum everything up in 1 word it would be influential, this is something that I hope will have an impact on my daughter and her own body image for years to come!"
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Rachel: "One day, my babies will be grown and the rest of my body gone, but I will always have these photos to remind me of the miracle of the two lives that I was able to carry. I will have these images to share with other women that imperfections can be beautiful, no matter what society says."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Jenny: "I felt pretty comfortable during the shoot, probably because I could not see myself. I so enjoyed loving on my sweet babies and I am so happy that there will be pictures of that. After all, it is the way women are capable of loving that make us beautiful. You never see a better example of that then a mom with her babies."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Aerin: "We had a great birth, it went just how I wanted, but he turned out to be a tongue tie baby, posterior tie, upper lip tie and all. He was completely unable to eat from anything but a special nipple, and that with difficulty. He had two separate (thankfully brief) procedures and recovered from them. That was the only recovery time of any sort that I cared about. He's drinking from a bottle here, but I'm happy to report that he's back on the boob full time at 4 months, for the first time since he was born. Regardless, when I see these photographs, my takeaway is that we look happy and healthy. Which, I'd say, is the goal."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Casey: "If ever there was a way to empower myself and really heal myself I think its this. I desperately want to go back to being the woman who was confident and proud of this body that grew & nourished life."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kacie
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Casey: "I can't imagine how proud I would be if some other woman out there, saw my postpartum self loving the skin I'm in and found a way to relate."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kendall: "Kendall has an awe inspiring personality that is shown through her bright smile and determination to keep beating the odds. This project has given us the opportunity to share with others that she is beautiful and her disability doesn’t define her."
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Kendall: "I pray that when Kendall is older and struggling with being different she will look back at these photos and gain strength to continue to be who God created her to be. The pictures are absolutely breath taking!"
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Courtney
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Ashley
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    Ker-Fox Photography
    Neely

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