Bristol

Body image photos to promote mental health week

Hayley Illman posing for portrait Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Hayley Illman spent most of her 20s "loathing" her body but says she has made peace with it

Photos of people who have struggled with body image are part of an exhibition celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week.

Emilie Giotti, whose images are in the We Are One of a Kind exhibition, says she wants people to "fall back in love with themselves".

The photographer, who has battled depression and attempted suicide, said each subject had a "unique beauty that deserved to be shown".

The show is at Illustrate in Bristol.

It runs until Sunday and takes place alongside two days of workshops organised by Loo Fletcher to promote talking about self-care and body image to raise money for youth charity, Off the Record.

Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Lana Wright said she endured a decade of "feeling ashamed of and being shamed for" her body hair

Miss Giotti said: "I love being able to give people the confidence boost they deserve as so many are in need, from mums to newly singles or people just wanting to fall back in love with themselves."

One of the subjects is Hayley Illman, who said she spent much of her 20s hating her body following the birth of her daughter.

She said she has now stopped caring how she looks because her "mind is finally healthy".

Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Holly Hayes says cooking helps her cope with her anxiety and makes her feel "happy, relaxed and creative"

Lana Wright became involved in the project because of her own experiences of being shamed for her body hair. She stopped shaving five years ago.

She said: "There were years of shaving rash, shower contortionism, turning down sex and generally putting other people's opinions of my body over my own.

"I love my body hair; I love how it looks, how it feels and the journey it stands for."

Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Bart Janac said he has struggled with body image but now has the confidence to wear clothes he wouldn't have dared to before

Holly Hayes has struggled with depression since her teens but uses cooking as a coping strategy.

She said: "Being aware of one's condition can be the best tool you have. Cooking for me makes me feel happy, relaxed and creative."

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One of the men who took part was Shaun Tobin who was born with a condition affecting his elbows and restricting mobility in both his arms.

He said: "Your body is the best instrument you will ever own and you should not only look after it but appreciate it always."

Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Emilie Giotti said each subject had a unique beauty that "deserved to be shown"
Image copyright Emilie Giotti
Image caption Shaun Tobin was born with a disability in both his arms but says he has learned to appreciate his body

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