Although the world is increasingly talking about the “Body positive,” in the Eastern European countries the movement is only starting to be active.

In a small country such as Lithuania, which for a long time belonged to the Soviet Union, society still holds upon a strong stereotypical opinion considering body standards.

Women are accustomed to seeing only perfectly coated faces and flawless bodies while browsing various magazines and social networks, watching advertisements on tv screens, catching opinion makers’ messages.

Scars? Stretch marks? Fat? No way – only well-structured beautiful life stories here! That‘s why every year when the summer season comes close most women begin to think what kind of diet can help to create a stereotypical perfect beach body.

So far the only “Body positive” movement initiative in Lithuania “Dydis nesvarbu” (translated as “Size does not matter”) brought 10 different women to be photographed wearing swimwear for the project “Summer for Everybody”. It‘s hard to believe how much strength and experiences exist in each of their stories.

The bodies of the women who were posing for the pictures were not retouched at all.

The key idea of the initiative is to show the diversity of the body. We know it may be marked with physical disability, congenital or postoperative scars. We know there are loads of various forms of women chest, bellies and thighs. We know that our bodies change after having a baby and wait… summer is also for the elderly ladies to get a tan!

Idea: ‘Summer for Everybody’; Idea author: Giedre Valaviciute (Dydis nesvarbu); Photo: Monika Pozerskyte; Photo studio: ‘Pix Studija’; Style: Lina Bernotaityte; MUA: ‘SLA Academy Vilnius’.

More info: dydisnesvarbu.lt

Summer for Everybody

Giedre

Summer is the warming up of thoughts, heart, and the whole body.
My body requires constant intentionality with my thoughts.
I used to blame my body for everything: unsuccessful relationships, mishaps at work, bad mood, etc.
Swimsuits had reasons to stay in drawers as I was convinced that my body was different and not meant to be displayed in public.
I felt guilty not being able to change it fit the societal norms.
Only nine years ago when I started working on my thoughts instead of my physical body, life began to change. Today swimsuit and summer are synonymous.
But at the same time, I can never take a break from working on myself.
It is so easy to regress to the fallacy of “if only did I lose weight and become prettier and things would be easier”…

Odeta

Summer is inner freedom, bare feet, long evenings, more natural awakenings, grown-up adventures, ripening love, and the smell of a body…
A body is an inseparable part of me. A map of memories. A synthesis of strength and ability.
It is magical to see how scrapes are replaced by new skin. A guide, guiding a loved smell and strong arms.
I trust my body when I am fighting an illness, swaddling my children or making love. I enjoy the crackling in my feet after a trip, the instantly recognizable cramp or a burn of dry lips in the morning.
No matter how much I look at my reflection, even at difficult times in my life, I feel myself.
At this time in my life most of the night and day I am a Mother (although the inner lover tries not to be pushed aside).
I accept my postpartum body, send an air kiss to the Odeta of the past and continue loving my children, stroking and touching them.
Looking back I realize that I’ve had a friendship with my body ever since I was little. I always felt beautiful and strong. I want my children to feel the same.
My advice to the ones who are uncomfortable wearing swimsuits – go skinny dipping!

Irmina

Summer – confidence and a breath of fresh air. Summer is when I dream.
I was isolated as a child. I hated my body and was ashamed of it to such a degree that I wished I could become invisible every time I stepped on a beach.
However, over time I have come to accept that my body, pardon the cliché, is my temple. Even though it’s weak and susceptible to physical torture, it’s real, and it’s mine. It took me a long time to convince myself that I too could wear stylish clothing, I too can wear a bathing suit, and I too can be beautiful.
We should all celebrate our own imperfect individuality because unique people are the ones who make the world a more interesting place!

Simona

Summer is the perfect time. Summer is life!
I must have been the biggest girl with the most feminine body in primary school already.
After giving birth to two children, I have shed tears seeing my weight increase by a third. However, I refused to continually struggle with weight. I do everything I can to stay healthy and strong. My looks are no one’s business.
My body is my sanctuary.
I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect beach body.
What is beautiful to one, is unacceptable to another. I adore water and refuse to go swimming at night when no one is looking just because of my body.
I know that people stare. I know that they used to stare and will continue to do so no matter what shape. But this is on them. Not on me. Nor you. Being authentically YOU is what matters.
I am beginning to realize how seldom do women support and compliment other women.
A little encouragement can change the mood of the day.
We are all unique and should strengthen each other, support each other, compliment each other, celebrate our accomplishments together, and by no means judge the choices of others.
We do not have to be friends, but don’t’ have to be enemies either.

Virginija

Summer is warmth and dreams.
My body is something that I need to take care of.
I believe that body and soul walk step in step.
Time did not have a significant impact on me. Everything is in constant change. Twenty years later you realize that change is part of time and we need to learn to accept it.
The wheel has already been invented. The body that I was given I have, love and care for.

Maja

Summer is the sun and a smile.
When I was younger, I had a different kind of relationship with summer.
I was insecure about my small breasts and would wear a special bra underneath my swimsuit not to let anyone know that I was flat chested.
Since I started being intentional with my thoughts, I realized that my body is an opportunity to live on this earth.
It is the only one that I will ever have, and that will not change.
If I want, I refine it, for example, start exercising or eat healthier.
No matter what kind of body – long, lean, full-breasted or with a Brazilian bum, we are all the same in the end.
Life is too short to hate, that is why I have chosen to love my body, enjoy it in this moment and stay truthful to myself.

Kristina

Summer is experiences, vacations, and tanning sun rays.
My body is the entirety of me. Even though being physically differently abled is limiting, I realize that an inability to adapt to my existing conditions will deprive me of life.
I want to use my body everywhere – I learned to drive a car with my hands, I am an active human rights advocate, and I agree to be photographed.
I started valuing my body; its distinctiveness is what makes it unique.
We are all different. There’s no need to fear or be ashamed of our bodies – slim, bow-legged, or maybe even one-legged.

Justa

Summer is nature, sun, waves, and freedom.
My body is not only a work tool but also a form of self-expression.
That is why, only six months after giving birth, I was a little anxious about the upcoming summer and the idea of a swimsuit.
In theory, I knew that as a trainer I must must be strong, but in practice, I realized that my body will need time to snap back into shape.
That is why I concur – accept and enjoy your body, and you will be beautiful.

Neringa

Summer is relaxation and at the same time a reminder about my imperfect body.
My body is my hard-to-tame self-expression.
As a teenager I loved my body more as it was easier control it, that is to slim down. Today I do not always accept, but I have learned to dress myself to feel good.
There are two sides to this story: a personal relationship with a body and an ability to accept it and see it as beautiful.
I am an embryo as it comes to my relationship with “imperfect” bodies, mine or others’. The more variety of body representation I see in media, advertising, the easier it is to accept diversity as a norm. However, it takes time.
Even this image [referring to the photoshoot picture] does not excite and boost my self-confidence as much as the photo shoot itself did.
I still want to “improve” my shape. I understand that one photoshoot, one brave step is not enough to fall instantly fall in love with my body. It needs time and more work with myself.
What is a perfect body, anyway?

Estera

Summer – playful shadowy leaves and the feeling of hot sand wrapping around your feet.
Both partners of the same crime, my body and my soul, will (I hope) stay together for quite some time. The fear of being “imperfect” is dumb when you think about it. There’s no singular truth in life. Where some see ugliness, others only see beauty.
My relationship with my body is getting better each day.
It’s important to step out of your bubble once in a while and experience the world. And by that I mean – experience cultures that differ from yours and talk to people that differ from your friends.
Once you do that, the story you’ve been telling yourself about what kind of person you are will cease to have power over you. You’ll see that everyone is perfectly imperfect. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way!

Backstage photo