Living Art: TTSLRVA takes over the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
When you think fashion model, you think Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks. You probably think of the Victoria’s Secret Angels of yesteryear and the models that we see across Fashion Nova today. Given the aforementioned were representation of beauty though in time not that far apart; beauty is a fleeting concept. While this is not uncommon, it’s safe to say that the average girl cannot compete with the ever-changing aesthetic. With the Like is Instagram, more affordable surgical procedures you too could be the dream girl. At least temporarily. I would like to assert that women have agency over their bodies; if plastic surgery makes them feel more safe and secure then, by all means, do it.
What if you don’t wanna change your appearance? Your seemingly imperfect body that society wants you to nip and tuck away. What if you got tired of bearing the weight of trying to be perfect in the option of being flawed. Flawed often interchangeably used with real.
Giving yourself space to be flawed in the vessel you are is radical. Some folks have been in wars with themselves, each day a new battle. Others are reclaiming their bodies after trauma. Others are navigating the way they view themselves against society’s ever-changing expectations.
One woman is doing that here in the DMV. Richmond Born-Maryland based author & photographer Joi Donaldson is working to change the way women and femmes of color feel about themselves. This is important because since childhood, women of color and femmes are shamed about their bodies. Spending a lifetime being programmed by your culture, as well as society while navigating self-criticism is a daunting task. Many women would never step in front of a camera, TTSLRVA is seeking to change that.
Her movement is called Thick Thighs Saves Lives RVA. Thick Thighs Save Lives RVA is a body acceptance and positivity campaign created by Joi Donaldson solely for the purpose of slayhood. Joi works to create images of women and femmes in an empowering life. Typically at a TTSLRVA shoot, there’s a creative director who aids in poses, a makeup artist to aid.
This past Sunday (7/21/19), TTSLRVA founder organized a “Living Art” campaign where women of all different backgrounds came out to fellowship and be a part of an ongoing photography project. The women wandered various parts of the museum, posing together. The attire was all black but everyone who participated had free-range over their makeup choices and accessories. Some were seasoned participants being a part of past shoots, and several newcomers. However, the vibe overall was family-like, a sense of belonging overcame participants are each moment passed by scheduled shoot.
The shoot continued for approximately 2 hours, many left differently than they came. First arriving nervous about the shoot, leaving excited for the next.