After the #Metoo campaign, it was painfully obvious how every woman suffers abuse at a global level. It also proved that it could happen to woman, from any country, social status, race or religion. It also hurt to see friends sharing that hashtags and wonder why we didn’t notice anything. The thing is that we can’t know unless we share. And that’s a really brave thing to do.
Scottish photographer Mhairi Bell-Moodie has worked during the last year on a project that shows 25 brave women and their stories. They’re not only about abuse, and some aren’t issues that only occur to women, but they’re definitely more frequent for us.
After some travelling in Australia, Mhairi realised that she wanted to be a photographer. She got her photography degree at Edinburgh College, and even during that time her projects were always related to real people’s lives; she immersed herself in documentary photography. “From the beginning, I liked meeting new people. I wanted to re-tell their stories rather than create fictional ones.”
The experience of taking portraits of friends and acquaintances showed her the importance and positive impact of those photos: they helped those women to feel prettier, stronger, more powerful. The honour of hearing some personal stories began right there, as well. The project idea started to take shape.
In honour of Martin Luther King Day, below is the transcript of a letter written by his wife Coretta Scott King (pictured). The letter was written in protest to Senator Jeff Sessions being nominated as a federal judge. Senator Elizabeth Warren read it out in court on her behalf but was asked to stop; “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” . #martinlutherking #corettascottking #elizabethwarren #letlizspeak #shesspeaking #neverthelessshepersisted
Nevertheless, She Persisted is the title of her photography project. Since November 2016, Mhairi met with anyone who “identified a woman” and wanted to be the focus of her camera. Many women talked to her; some of them are in the final project, a few aren’t– “they just wanted to talk”, she explains.
“We really need to support each other” was her realisation after attending the Women’s March in Edinburgh last year, and this project was her way of doing it. She contacted different charities and women’s associations and introduced her idea. A year later, she had visited Edinburgh, Fife, East Lothian, Glasgow and Aberdeen to take photos of women in the intimacy of their homes.
“Many of the issues covered in this project are hard to talk about; addiction, loss, abuse, illness – but it is vital they are discussed so that we can gain a better understanding of them”, she says. For Mhairi, it was “really overwhelming in some cases”, she says. “But it was important to tell their stories”, she explains.
The last question was “What do you want to achieve with this project?”, and her answer was very clear:
“I hope that the women who participated realise their own strength and feel proud of using their voice in this way. I hope that women viewing the project realise they are not alone. I hope that people can learn to be less judgemental of others because you might never know what someone else has gone through”.
The project launch is March 8th, International Women’s Day, on Mhairi’s website.
Featured image by Mhairi Bell-Moodie