When Daiva Juodelyt? was 22-years-old, white spots appeared overnight, covering her arms, legs, and face. After being diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that causes people to lose pigmentation in random areas of their body, her self confidence was wrecked.
“I’ve accepted my body but there a lot of women who [haven’t accepted theirs],” says Daiva Juodelyt?.
Separately, Vaida Virbalait? was pursuing fashion design and art history, hoping for a career in fashion. On her first day of college, someone said: “You are too fat.” Humiliated, Virbalait? eventually became anorexic and bulimic.
These two young women, along with 10 others, became the inspiration for an online photography project, “We. Women,” which highlights Lithuanian women’s struggles with body image. Created by actress Beata Tiskevic – with the help of Modesta Kairyte, a communications specialist and Neringa Rekasiute, a photographer based in London and Vilnius, Lithuania – the project has gone viral worldwide.
The women have been invited to exhibit the photos in Los Angeles and London. More importantly, the project has sparked a conversation in Lithuania about the nature of beauty and body image; one writer even called them the country’s “feminist hope.”
The women used Facebook to collect hundreds of women’s stories about their body image and self-esteem. The 12 women selected each represented a different body issue, including anorexia, bulimia, fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, aging and breast cancer.
The ultimate goal of the project? To explore the question, “What is a beautiful woman?”, the founders say.