Alicia Vera: Refinery29, Take Back The Beach

Sep 8, 2017
Photographer Spotlight

When Mexico City-based photographer Alicia Vera got a call from Amanda Gorence, the photo editor at Refinery29, about participating in their Take Back The Beach project, Alicia knew she had an opportunity to help spread a powerful message.

Take Back The Beach is a global movement founded by Refinery29 with the aim of empowering the way people feel and talk about their bodies, especially when it comes to the vulnerable summer months. In its third year since the movement began, Refinery29 has been sharing articles, images, and projects from around the world under this umbrella, inspiring conversation about body image.

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Amanda thought Alicia would be a perfect fit for this project and wanted to include an article about women in Mexico. To start off the project, Alicia scouted some locations to pitch to Amanda.  

We were between a beautiful river south of Mexico City where foreigners and wealthier locals go but finally, we decided on a water park in a less tourist-driven part of Mexico. Part of the charm of the park is that it is a converted ex-hacienda, or estate, and we were drawn to that, the colorful slides, and the fact that locals from all socioeconomic backgrounds visit.

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When she first arrived at the park, Alicia was met with some hesitation. The first few women she asked to interview said no because they were too shy to be photographed in their bathing suits. Alicia took a new approach to these conversations and asked her assistant, Claudia Cruz Barigelli, to stand back, so she wasn’t overwhelming people. Over time, the women realized that they intended to empower their bodies, not shame them, and more and more women agreed to be featured.

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As Alicia walked around the park, photographing women and interviewing them about their bodies, she was able to get an even greater understanding of the complexities of body image. Each woman had their own insecurities, and getting to interview them so openly was Alicia’s favorite part of the project.

I met one woman, though, who said she loved her body and didn’t care what other people thought, which I found refreshing. I wish more people – including myself – had that appreciation towards their own bodies.

The reaction to these images have been incredibly positive, and Alicia is confident that the Take Back The Beach project will continue for years to come.

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People are happy that the women involved in the project are relatable and “real” and not these “perfect” women that we often see portrayed in the media.

Alicia’s photos will be displayed in Refinery29’s exhibit entitled Body Talk at Photoville, starting September 13th.

See more of Alicia at aliciavera.com!

And explore our other members on our Find Photographers page – or stop by the Wonderful Machine container at Photoville and say hello! 

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