By Josh Saunders
An artist is challenging ‘normality’ in photographs where people strip-off to reveal their differences – from obesity to mole-covered skin, alopecia and more.
Francesc Planes, 22, from Valencia, Spain, photographed a variety of people who were previously bullied for their differences but were able to find courage and embraced them.
The shoot includes Alba Parejo, who was born with melanocytic congenital nevus – a condition that meant over 500 moles and dark hairy skin appeared all over her body.
Jordi who had to have a prosthetic eye due to a tumour that grew behind his eye as a child and needed to be removed.
As well as Tess, who was called ‘fatty’ in public and bullied for ordering fast food – even recently, after the images were released online trolls photoshopped a fridge behind her in one of the shots.
Francesc, an artist, said: “The project is titled as ‘Normal’ because it’s a way to explain the two sides and meanings of it.
“On the one hand, there are the things that I capture, people or situations that would be far from what societies see as normal.
“On the other hand, there is the message I want to tell, the message that all these things I capture should be seen as normal and are not things to be ashamed of.
“Alba has a rare disease, her body is covered in moles and large patches of darkened hairy skin.
“Someone told her to not show her back to anyone, because no one wants a misshapen girlfriend.
“When Jordi was young he had a tumour in his eye, the only option was to remove all the eye.
“After that he didn’t did have photos of himself because he didn’t like himself and felt strange with the new eye.
“He learnt to accept it, now he uses his experience for teaching kids that nothing happens for being different and no one will reject you for that.
“Tess has been teased and humiliated only for her body, that affected her a lot in the past.
“For example, she was in a Burger King and some girl told her, ‘Look the fatty, she couldn’t have asked for a salad, no, she came to eat all the burgers’.
“Now she has accepted herself and posts body positive images in her social networks, despite that, she still receives a lot of critique and has been bullied for showing her ‘fat body’.
“When she posted one image I took of her for the project in twitter, someone retouched the photos making fun of her.”
The shoot as featured Imelda whose application to rent a room was denied due to racism, Guille bullied for alopecia, Lydia for her freckles and Abel who used clothing to experiment with gender.
Francesc said: “Every person in the project has a history behind.
“Imelda was searching to rent a flat and after the owners saw her they rejected her because of her skin colour.
“They told her ‘Sorry, we don’t accept n******’ referring to black women.
“Lydia has a lot of freckles on her face, people used to make her the typical jokes, they used to ask her if she sunbathed with a strainer.
“Back then she didn’t like her freckles, now she has seen that she has a special face and she has become a model.
“When Guille was young he had to deal with a disease that left him with no hair on all his body.
“He had to learn to love himself and not listen to the bullies, when people would ask him ‘How is chemotherapy going?’.
“Abel liked to explore identity and gender and how it is represented through the body, the clothes or the character.”
Francesc who previously worked in the fashion industry says he found this photoshoot rewarding.
He added: “I started the series without any pretension, I only wanted to play, create new things, crazy things, do aesthetic photos and make an impact on the people.
“I didn’t know I wanted to do a project with a message, I was only playing.
“After doing some images I saw that I could continue doing photos of people with special characteristics, different people, considered ‘not normal’ people.
“It made me feel good doing these photos because I was doing something different, I was used to do fashion photography with ‘beautiful models’ etc.
“I wanted to do some real work with real people and real bodies and distance myself from the fashion and poser photography, do more of a documentary work but with a fashion aesthetic.
“I discovered myself and found myself through the people I portrayed, because I also felt something of me in them.
“Some of the people portrayed had been rejected or had be seen as different and is something that I have experienced in some way when I was young – meeting these people opened my mind.
“But I don’t have a special message, the series and the images speak for themselves.
“The project is important for me because it’s my first big project and it’s more mature and real.”