Kathryn Ferguson and The Beauty Project

By Naima Karp

While we’re all well-acquainted with debates over magazines and advertisers digitally retouching images of less than perfect bodies, there’s one world that isn’t probed so deeply: the changes that an aging woman goes through, and the scrutiny she faces in both public and private life. Just recently, older women have received some positive attention within the modeling world; take Jacky O’Shaughnessy, for example, the drop-dead gorgeous 62 year old who works with the decidedly sexy (and controversial) clothing brand, American Apparel.

Interested in putting a microscope over what beauty in today’s society really means, in May this year, Irish filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson began a collaboration with high-end UK department store, Selfridges, creating a thought-provoking campaign, named ‘The Beauty Project’.

Over six weeks, various public workshops and discussions were hosted by Selfridges in London, Birmingham and Manchester, culminating in the release of four mini-documentary films shot by Ferguson.

Using non-professional models, no retouching of skin texture or existing wrinkles, etc, each film focuses on contemporary issues related to the subject of beauty. The project is reminiscent of Dove’s campaigns using tangible women of all sizes, shapes and ages. It is well worth a look.

The Beauty Project : Change is a Beautiful Thing from Kathryn Ferguson on Vimeo.