Almost every bride has endured the stressful experience of trying to figure out which dress will enhance the features they love and, more importantly, hide the the ones they don’t. And they turn to their photographer to ensure that imperfections such as their ‘bad side’ or ‘double chin’ are kept hidden.

For some brides, they fret about the appearance of their body leading up to and on the day of their wedding.

Unfortunately, for many women these insecurities will rarely go away. Our own personal perceptions of our flaws will take over how we perceive images of ourselves and no matter how happy you look, you’ll only see imperfections.

One Ottawa woman who spent many years on the other side of the camera taking wedding photos was finally tired of hearing so many beautiful women complain and pick themselves apart.

Exhausted by a lack of acceptance for the female body, former wedding photographer Alexa Mazzarello created a series of self-portraits in the nude.

Along with her friend Erica McDonald, who is a former fashion model, they created the BodyThoughts exhibit.

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Photo: Emma Lore

BodyThoughts was created after Mazzarello became concerned after seeing countless brides think so negatively about themselves. When she couldn’t see the flaws that the brides were seeing, she felt as though she had failed as a photographer.

“It was almost to the point where I would be directed by my subjects to shoot this side of my face, or hide this part of my body. It was very concerning to me,” she said.

She began wondering how these attitudes were affecting women in other aspects of their life. And with a background in sociology and public health, the constantly critical self-perceptions struck her as unhealthy.

So that’s when Mazzarello became the subject of the photos. She set up a tripod in her apartment and took the photos herself and had to confront and analyze her own self-consciousness.

“For as much as I heard women sharing with me how they were feeling, I could relate,” she said. “I have to tell my own story.”

She took a series of six photos, capturing every flaw and insecurity with the hope to create a conversation around the way women perceive their bodies.

She first debuted the photo series in Vancouver and she is now sharing her story in Toronto at the Detox Market in entertainment district near King and Peter streets.

Mazzarello said exposing herself like this wasn’t easy at first, but she has been moved by how people have responded to the exhibit and, in turn, speaking up about their own insecurities.

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