On 19 March, the project “Celestial Bodies” had its p h o t o g r a p h y exhibition in collaboration with the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Campaign at Potterrow. Began by BME Officer Isabella Neergaard Petersen, “Celestial Bodies” is a project that aims to celebrate the bodies that are marginalised by the society, the ones that are often forgotten about in the media – even when the media tries to present a diverse face.
“Celestial Bodies: Photography Exhibition” held photographs of Women of Colour (WoC) students studying in the University of Edinburgh. The work exhibits women that are confident in their bodies. The women posed in an elegant way, sometimes hugging themselves, or stood proudly by others in a group pose.
When speaking to Isabella, she said: “You don’t see people who look like us on campus that often. We are a very marginalised group. Especially the ones who don’t fall into the category of standardised beauty.”
“We’re rarely represented in the fashion industry and so I just wanted to start a project, to create a space to celebrate us. Because I know that there’s a lot of self-doubt within every one of us especially of people who are here.”
This project holds as an important step on the university campus to remind the rest of the students who associate with the BME Campaign that they are not alone. The presentation slide at the exhibition quoted a photographer from the project, Maia Walcott, writing:“It does rest on my mind that I’m here and alone (not alone, because friends do provide a good support system), but alone in the sense that there’s not a lot of people that look like me. And that’s what’s so nice about being here today.”
“Diversifying the society is going on good steps, however, I don’t think what we’re seeing is diversity, what we see is tokenism. Because having a runway full of white skinny models and then having one chubby girl or a black girl is not reflective of our society. We should decolonise what idea of beauty is…the idea of beauty is still in a euro-centric lens,” said Petersen.
A euro-centric perspective often dominates media. To fully break free from the mainstream ideals, Celestial Bodies took a step at redefining confidence and diversity. The project, and hopefully more in the future, will continue to represent People of Colour, those who are non-binary, and those with curves — so media is more reflective of our society.
Photo: Maia Walcott