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Loving The Skin You're In With KieChey for ISSUE 14

Updated: May 5, 2023

Kie, a photographer and creative visionary is on the rise in the photography industry. Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Kie attended Living Arts College and graduated with a degree in Digital Photography in 2013. Since then, Kie has been hard at work perfecting her craft and bringing her creative concepts to life. Her passion is capturing the beauty of everyday objects to create breathtaking images. She specializes in Set Design photography, a style that allows her to pick out and curate props to create a stunningly unique composition. Kie also has an uncanny ability to understand the technology which allows her to stay current with the times. Kie's creativity shone through from an early age. She spent late nights in her room as a teen, using a program similar to Photoshop and letting her imagination run wild. These early experiences have helped shape Kie's unique point of view on photography into what it is today — dynamic and captivating. Kie's lighthearted personality often shines through in her photos, creating an atmosphere of joy, fun, and adventure.

Photographer KieChey

Photographer Assistant Jasmine Weldon

Models Tiffany Stancil + Aniyah Peebles

"I wanted to bring awareness to the beauty in two communities we may not talk about much; Vitiligo and Albino. Maybe this will get minds pondering and educated some. Art imitates life that the ultimate creator made, so why not recreate it?"

A healthy body image doesn’t mean achieving a specific appearance. How would you define a healthy body image?

It takes your mental, spiritual and physical self to define a healthy image inside and out. Most times we can pour into others but not ourselves. The same love you give to others is the same love you must give to yourself. It takes a strong mind to overcome the negative thoughts that come across and try to defeat you and your happiness. The spiritual power you have is fighting daily to keep positivity flowing through the body so it can push to the outside and give off energy to your physical self. The inside and outside must work together.

Has there ever been a point in your life when you didn’t like your body? How did you find the confidence to love your body?

It took me almost 20+ years to love the body I am in. The confidence came out of nowhere and I have embraced self love as it grows stronger. Growing up, there weren’t many stylish clothes for plus sized women/young girls to purchase so that brought my self confidence down. I could not dress like the other kids or participate in certain activities because of my body. I would often be body shamed and stayed to myself. I didn’t think my body was inclusive for anything but eating and hiding no matter how I tried to fit into name brand clothing that clearly stopped a certain size or when I tried to keep up with the “in crowd”. I learned that I had to dress differently and move differently.

How do you showcase body positivity in your creative work?

I showcase body positivity in my work because I leave the muses I photograph in their natural state. I do not manipulate or change their natural born beauty. Imperfections, scars, and stretch marks are meant to be seen. Sometimes I enhance those features that people may hide. I do not like to edit my subjects as barbie dolls (plastic figures)

Who are some of your influences when it comes to body image and body positivity?

I actually don’t have anyone that influences me as far as my body image. I had to encourage and love myself growing up. I see a few plus size women who influence me to dress how I want and that helps me put pieces together to create my own style.

The fashion industry has long set the tone for the perception society has of body image. Is that still the case today?

The fashion industry has a long way to go but I applaud them for being more body inclusive. I see certain brands more than others that include all body types in their ads/campaigns and it’s uplifting. But as far as social media as a whole, there is a lot of work to be done. Body image is a trend. Everyone wants to look a certain way as soon as they see a celebrity “fix” something.

If you could change the way women are portrayed in the media, how would you?

If I could change the way women were portrayed in the media, I would showcase a display of portraits of women I have photographed in the same light that represents us. We all can be included, it just takes an artist to want to do it. Many photographers only work with a certain model body type and I feel that is unfair to other models who are just as beautiful. They should not be penalized because of their difference in shape or size. We do not all look the same, so why should the portraits look the same? I feel that I do this in my work anyway.

Do you think men are equally objectified in the media?

I do not think men are equally objectified in the media as women are. I believe they have been held to the same standard for years. It is women who have had to change their body image over and over again. Whether it be too thin, too tall, or too light to be the “it girl”. Women’s bodies will never be good enough to please the media and some women will go through extensive surgery and pain just to look the part. It’s exhausting to think about what women already go through on a daily basis with our bodies.

What factors, other than body image, contribute to your self-esteem? How can you build upon these other areas of your life?

Mental health is a big part of building your self-esteem and having a positive circle around you. Sometimes it’s best to be your own positive influence if there is no one else that will cheer you on. Music takes us where words can not, yes I know it is a quote but I live by it; I actually have it tatted on my ankle. Music is a form of art that can relay our feelings when we can not express them through movement or actions. Art seems to find its way into my life 95% of the time and I can truly express myself that way. With all of these essential elements, I am able to write out what is needed instead of holding it in. I am able to arrange therapy with my thoughts. Having multiple ways through art to express my feelings is a great relief and I am glad I have these outlets to do so

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