For many women self-conscious about their bodies, the prospect of being photographed in a bathing suit is a tough one to stomach.

But, as photographer Helga Nina Aas found when she approached women bathing in the beautiful hot springs of Iceland, women have journeyed to accepting their bodies that are just as varied as their bodies themselves.

In her latest photo series, Helga went about uncovering the internal battles that women go through when it comes to body image, snapping powerful images while allowing each person to share their story.

Talking to Refinery29, she added that the women of Iceland feel just as pressured to meet beauty standards as those in the US.

‘Some women are only happy with themselves if they have worked out vigorously, watched everything that they have eaten, and feel like they’re at their peak,’ she said.

Through the interviews she conducted with her subjects, Helga discovered that each woman had her own niggles about her physical appearance.

However, she also learned that each also had her things about herself that she loved – including things that she may have previously disliked.

One young woman named Ásdís, aged 21 explained that she had once despised her red hair, pale skin, and freckles.

‘People calling me “ginger” resulted in me dying my hair blonde, but I’ve learned to embrace my natural hair color and have grown it out now,’ the student told Helga.

‘It’s finally all back to the natural color. Today, my hair has become my favorite trait, and I would never dye it again.’

Another interviewee, Agusta, 38, displayed her strong yoga instructor’s body in a brightly colored swimsuit for the series and described how she has been told by others that she was fat as well as skinny.

‘I think and talk about how other women’s bodies fluctuate. Sometimes, I criticize, but other times I am very giving if I see the other woman is hurting because of their weight,’ she said.

‘Nowadays, I think I seek out the positive and beauty of the person and focus there.’

Like Agusta, many of the women revealed that they themselves had judged other women harshly on their bodies, yet each expressed a desire to focus on the positives of others.

‘I try to think positively about other women. Most of the time, I succeed and, if I don’t, I always feel bad afterward,’ explained Hanna, a 33-year-old photographer.

Helga’s series, which includes many more images of women and their respective stories, will be on display at this year’s Photoville Festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park presented by Refinery29 running from September 13-24.


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