Often times, what the media portrays as a “normal” body isn’t the reality. Through editing and photoshop, media moguls wipe away what they deem imperfect, and we are presented with models who are heavily marked up. However, photographer Peter DeVito has been taking his shot at redefining the landscape of Internet beauty by shooting models with acne, blemishes, skin conditions, and more since 2017. His body-positive efforts are meant to inspire people to embrace and rejoice in their skin, and he’s made waves across Instagram while doing so.
DeVito’s Socially-Charged Photography
Peter DeVito isn’t your typical photographer. His photographs have often proven to have a powerful societal or moral message behind them. He’s previously completed projects highlighting the impacts of gender stereotypes, racial profiling, the owning of one’s sexuality, and more taboo topics. His intense and empowering photography has worked to empower people of all genders, races, sexualities, ages, and body types. While his photography has always been empowered in nature, his work took off online in late 2017 after he began to focus his photography around something the body positivity movement continually skimmed over.
While the body positive movement was successfully celebrating factors such as weight, DeVito felt as if though no one was highlighting or normalizing a shared, human struggle: acne. Even DeVito himself had some internal biases about acne, and once edited it out of his own photographs. However, as his lifelong acne began to worsen, he seemed to realize that shame would get him nowhere. “I’ve struggled with acne for a while, but recently, it has been getting progressively worse,” he announced on Instagram. “I’m working on some photos that portray acne in a more positive light/that aim to at the very least just show that having acne is normal.”
Starting An Acne-Positive Movement
Shortly after launching his project, DeVito dove headfirst into exposing how natural it is to have acne. He began with portraits of himself and described a weight being lifted off his shoulders as he embraced his blemishes. As he kicked off his full series, he featured a number of models with varying degrees of acne and didn’t edit a single zit or blemish out. Instead, DeVito placed temporary tattoos on their faces reading “drink water,” “acne is normal,” and “retouched” with a line drawn through it. In one self-portrait, he placed the words “I’m so f**cking sick and tired of the photoshop,” lyrics from Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” Tons of people online took notice to the powerful message of his photo, including a number of celebrities, such as Draya Michele, who reposted his picture with the caption “Human skin isn’t always flawless.” Cara Delevigne also reposted his raw self-portrait, saying, “It’s so wrong that if I had taken this picture of myself, then I wouldn’t have posted it.” DeVito was thrilled at the response to his series and was seemingly grateful that so many people felt inspired to live authentically by his work. “Having acne is normal and doesn’t make you any less of a person,” he said.
Widening His Scope
After his Instagram page blew up in response to his series, DeVito realized he didn’t want to limit his project to only photographing people with acne. After receiving praise for his acne-positive photos online, Peter turned his camera on a wider range of skin conditions. He was reached out to by many individuals with “albinism, vitiligo, birthmarks, and freckles” who wondered if he’d be willing to produce work that their conditions were featured in. DeVito happily obliged. “I wanted to expand what I’ve been working on and give people with other skin conditions a platform to tell their stories as well,” he explained. Along with the new string of photographs, he included hand-written letters from those with the skin conditions, describing their powerful view on their beautiful, natural skin. “The more models people see with different complexions, the more normal skin conditions will become,” DeVito said. You can keep up with DeVito’s body positive series, along with his other socially-charged work, on his Instagram, @peterdevito.
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