It’s 2021, and it still ain’t easy to be a woman. Isn’t that crazy?!
Today, International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world. By our reckoning, this day means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. However, for most, the focus is on women and their struggle for equality, and to celebrate their achievements they’ve made in the face of the shit ton of obstacles they’ve faced over the years.
It also aims to motivate us to advance ever further in the fight for gender equality.
One talented Austrian photographer is fighting that fight, one powerfully beautiful photo at a time. Katharina Wolf portrays women in a jarringly raw and unfiltered way.
We had a chat with her about the unrealistic beauty standards projected on women, her definition of female empowerment, and what she thinks about International Women’s Day.
What does photography mean to you?
I have always found photographs appealing. That a still image can capture emotions and tell a story just fascinates me.
Describe your photography style in 9 words, or less:
Snooping into other peoples personal lives to find answers.
What inspired you to create these photos?
I’ve been struggling with body image for a long time. And while working on my series, “femme maison,” I noticed a pattern – we all know and realise that beauty standards are unrealistic, and unreachable.
Still, we beat ourselves up when we can’t reach that ideal. In this sense, we’re prisoners of an unrealistic idea. So, I wanted to go deeper and explore how other people dealt with body image and how they felt in their bodies.
How do you want to empower other women with your images? What’s the message you’re looking to convey?
My goal is to create something I wish I had as a young girl – a collection of experiences and photographs that show me that it’s okay to look however I look, and that the media only represents a small group of body shapes and humans.
In what situations, and in what way, do you feel empowered as a woman?
I feel empowered when other women tell me their stories, when I feel the great amount of trust, intimacy and strength that is necessary when sharing joyful and difficult memories.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
We could all spend the day either reflecting on what we have achieved up until now, or we can look at what still needs to be done and the structures we still need to break to reach gender equality.
However, I’d rather have everyone take some time to listen and talk to those women closest to them, as it is only through the exchange of experience and empathy that we can grow.
What do you think needs to change regarding how society perceives women’s bodies?
I wish we could find a way to stop seeing somebody as just a body, so that someday we can live in a world where other factors/ achievements are valued more than the body we were born with. And while my work revolves around women and their experiences, I discovered that it’s not only women who struggle with body image.
What can we all do to make women (in Austria) feel empowered and respected?
For a start, we could try and look at ourselves, treat our own bodies and minds better than we are conditioned to do.
We could wake up to the fact that we don’t owe anybody anything when it comes to the way we look or behave as women.
Nobody needs to fulfil any expectations, other than their own.