Hour Children:


by Brenda Ann Kenneally

March, 2012

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Hour Children: I Never Knew I Was Beautiful

Society sees people – women in jail, or formerly in jail – in a certain light, and that negativity is reflected back which these women internalize. It is a message cycle of inferiority. Fashion dictates image, for women especially, and I'm trying to make up that deficit-hole in the soul. Like with any self-destructive behavior, it can only change when the cycle is broken and healed.

Being normal isn’t enough, everyone has to be a super-star – there are images all around us of these impossible ideals – and these women are in the greatest deficit from that. It’s a common thread through all of their stories.

So I wanted to do fashion shoots with them, with proper hair, make-up, and the white seamless background. It’s an opportunity to show these women to themselves differently; positively. It’s how self-image gets formed. There was anxiety. It was almost traumatic for them to get dressed in these clothes and be pampered a little bit, to be photographed. They all said:

“I never knew I was beautiful.”

Paying attention to these women - we had equipment and styling donated, we bought the clothes from Macy’s and returned them afterwards – paying attention reveals another life.

Juxtaposing their stories of heartbreak and incarceration with being able to look and feel whole: What kind of humanity do we throw away?

Alan Chin (Facing Change)


Read more about this series here...