The No Filter Project is an exhibition by Melbourne photographer Daria Yakina that celebrates a positive body image in an age of unrealistic beauty standards…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got started in photography.
I grew up in Russia; I remember my family had a tiny camera with a yellow button which I was always fascinated by. Taking pictures in my family was never really a thing; my Mom never wanted her picture taken because she didn’t like her looks and thought photos were silly and, when my Dad took a photo, it was really forced – “Ok now. Everyone get here and smile”. Naturally, I would groan and look sad in every photo taken of me as a child because I knew early on that I didn’t like people to tell me what to do and how to act.
Moving to Germany as a teenager and not speaking the language, I surrounded myself with animals which made me feel safe and I didn’t have to speak to anyone. I would walk around and take pictures of horses, dogs and cats and so on. I was always artistic I guess.
Growing up, photography wasn’t considered ‘a job’ by my Mom so I neglected it for ages, investing time into something that I didn’t like but would promise a good 9-5 job and income. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on that crap and understood earlier that I am a talented artist and should live for my passion because, without it, I’m just a mediocre being without a purpose. What works for others, doesn’t really work for me. I love what I do.
Tell us about the No Filter Project and how you conceived the idea for the project.
The No Filter Project was a result of me going through a little emotional phase in my life. I am pushing 30 and I was always afraid of getting older. I thought I would rather kill myself at 35 than have wrinkles and start having saggy boobs. I was always obsessed with my looks. I always had long hair because ‘that’s what girls look like’ to be considered beautiful. I always did my nails and dressed to impress and was looking for that moment or person to change my life and make me happy. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I woke up and understood that that person or that moment is me! And no one else! I cut my hair off, changed my attitude and habits and I am happier than ever before and I attract the best people into my life.
So I guess with this project I am trying to get women to feel the same way as I do. Don’t worry about your muffin top, don’t worry about your gap tooth! That shit is beautiful! Rock that short skirt and own that shit! If someone says something negative about it, you should know that the problem is within that person and reflects something that he or she is unhappy with about themselves. It’s that easy. Accept who you are and don’t try being someone else. Love yourself.
I am sick of women beating themselves up for their looks because everyone is deluded by this ‘perfect beach body’ or the ‘perfect face’ that doesn’t even fucking exist! It’s all photoshop and filters. People don’t know what they look like anymore. What’s next? Mirror filters and filter glasses?
Was it always your intention to have an exhibition as part of the project or did this develop as the momentum grew?
I never thought this project would become so big. When I posted the ad on Facebook looking for girls to have their picture taken to show natural beauty and stand up to unrealistic beauty standards, I thought some girls might just like my ad and that’s it. When I opened Facebook after three hours it crashed. I had over 100 comments and over 50 messages which is huge for me. I understood quickly “shit is about to go down”. All of a sudden, I felt that I had this responsibility not to do it for myself but do it for all the women that are sick of society’s standards and show other women that it is ok. That they are enough and that this idea of body image should not take up all your thoughts and energy. Just be. So, next minute, I’m planning a show and it feels good! I am doing the right thing!
Do you have plans to expand the project further?
I kind of do. I have all of these ideas in my head. I would love to travel across the country photographing women in different cities with different stories. I love taking portraits and connecting with people. A face can tell you so many stories without even talking! I love it. So maybe if I am lucky enough I will get to do that and maybe go global. But maybe I’ll get bored and go back to a 9-5. Joke…
One night only – Wednesday 5th of October, 8pm
Loop Project Space and Bar – 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne 3000
Note: the images shown here are not the final images from the exhibition – we’re not going to spoil the surprise! Go check out the exhibition for yourself. And buy a zine while you are there!
See more of Daria’s work at:
All images copyright Daria Yakina.