Instagram-induced insecurity may be a particularly modern condition, but it’s become shockingly widespread. It can overtake us in an instant, as we scroll through images of women with “perfect” hair, clothes and makeup, and suddenly, out of nowhere, start doubting ourselves.
Photographer Jordan Zobrist recently decided she’d had enough, and launched The Stripped Project to fight the perception that beauty requires a pile of products and array of photo filters. She asked 11 well-known fashion bloggers to pose for portraits, with a few requirements: zero makeup, undone hair, and no photoshopping whatsoever.
The results are disarmingly beautiful, and prove that, as Zobrist says, “Women do not need makeup, and perfect hair to be picture-worthy.” We caught up with her to find out more about the project and, of course, how she cares for her own long, naturally wavy locks.
What inspired you to start the Stripped Project?
I was having a discussion last Christmas with my sister, who had just had a baby and was feeling like her body wasn’t where she wanted it to be, about how she saw all these people on Instagram seeming like perfect moms with perfect lives who always had perfect hair and makeup. We started talking about how social media shouldn’t be something that makes you feel bad about yourself. Added to what’s already out there for women with the mainstream media, it’s become just another thing we have to compare ourselves to.
And why did you decide to focus on fashion bloggers?
As a photographer I gravitate towards very emotional, real projects. And I wanted to capture women that have a large social media presence and are ‘influencers’ in a very raw and natural state. These are women who are very done-up normally and, in their blogs, are often shown looking perfect, even while doing normal, everyday things. A lot of people look up to these women, and I wanted to promote the idea that you can feel comfortable in your own skin and feel beautiful.
Was it hard to convince people who’s job, essentially, is to be perfect to do such a soul-baring shoot?
I was worried they wouldn’t be open to it. There was one girl who was like, ‘Can I just wear some concealer?’ I was like, ‘No, that defeats the purpose!’ But most of them were really open to it, because they feel the same way I do, and they want to encourage that in their followers. Ninety percent of the people I asked were into it.
We noticed that in some of the pictures, the bloggers’ hair is completely natural, but in others there’s some styling going on. Do you think it’s even harder for women to let their hair be completely natural than it is to go makeup-free?
Ha. Yes. I asked them to come with their hair down and as natural as possible. Most girls had just woken up and came the way their hair naturally is, but some didn’t (I could tell they had curled their hair just a little to make it wavier). I think women feel a lot more comfortable if at least one of those aspects—their hair or their makeup—looks good. It’s hard to completely let go of both.
Was there one moment in particular when you felt like the project was really worthwhile?
One of the women is a mom in her mid-30s and I loved her outlook on the project. She said, ‘My kids see me get up in the morning with no makeup, and my hair not done. That’s how they think of me. But I don’t have any photos of me like that they can keep.’ Most of the photographs we cherish are of big events in our lives where we’re all done up. We look beautiful, yes, but it doesn’t match how our kids will remember us.
And did the project change the way you think about your own hair and makeup routine?
I’m very low-maintenance, but for photo shoots I do usually try to do my hair and wear make-up. For these, I wanted the women to feel comfortable, so I went completely natural, too. I found that it was actually really helpful for me to focus on the product and the art, rather than what I look like, and I’ve started dressing down more often for shoots.
Last question. You have gorgeous long, natural hair. What’s your hair care routine?
I’ve had long hair forever (the last time I cut short I was, like, 10 years old). I don’t want to be one of those people who are attached to my hair, but I think I am. But I don’t blow-dry my hair, I just let it air dry so it has a natural wave to it. I’m realizing now that I really need one of these hair towels!