May 10, 2010

Exploring Beauty

We believe beauty is not always thin, and beauty is not always young. In Exploring Beauty, women are invited to explore their thoughts about the nature of beauty. The paring of their ideas and images expands the definition of what beautiful is.Exploring Beauty

Exploring Beauty is the work of artist Erik Hagen, a US citizen currently transplanted in The Netherlands, an attempt to explore the nature of beauty and expand its cultural definitions. In a collaborative effort with each volunteer model, Hagen pairs the image with the interview in order to bring the essence of each woman to the reader.

In an image-based culture that proliferates streams of homogeneous images reinforcing unrealistic and dangerous images of beauty, these unaltered photos of women are a breath of fresh air, rich and full of life. Not only do Hagen’s images offer diversity and authenticity, the accompanying stories provide depth and character, reminding us that women are not solely defined by their physical appearance.  Hagen’s work allows us to fully experience a woman’s beauty; her mind, body and spirit.

Like many men, in Hagen’s youth, he preferred a beauty standard that reflected the dominant beauty norm, young and thin. As he grew and matured, he came to recognize and appreciate a woman’s character and story as a primary component of holistic beauty. In addition to his growth as a man, his move to Europe continued to expand his boundaries of beauty. Unlike many parts of the United States, Holland’s beauty definitions are broader and fuller.

Engaging in this intimate exploration of beauty, both Hagen and his models have emerged changed, moved by the collaborative experience and their contribution to change prevailing attitudes that have created epidemic levels of low self-esteem and body hate.

Projects that allow us to see what a real woman looks like, are important efforts in combating the manufactured images that tell us that we are defined and valued in narrow, one-dimensional ways.


  1. this is right in line with what i want to do. i’m glad to see a man taking this and running with it. even i, as one who sees beauty in everyone and all things, i still struggle with my own image of myself. this is empowering. thank you.

    Comment by sarit — May 10, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

  2. I am one of the volunteers for this project. I can tell you it has affected me greatly to be involved and I see myself differently because of it. Erik’s belief in this is absolutely genuine and I think it shows in the work he has done. I hope it continues to inspire people to love themselves for who they are.

    Comment by Li — May 10, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

  3. wonderful, this is a great move towards seeing women as full beings, with a spirit, soul, personality, and full blooded being versus the dominant paradigm’s push to portray women as an image available for consumption by a energetically and literally male dominated culture.

    Comment by liz — June 5, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

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