Beauty is all around us and no matter what the media is trying to tell us it comes in many different ways. Today we have a chance to introduce you to Sara Melotti, a photographer that gave up her career in fashion in order to start Quest for Beauty. Today she travels the world capturing real beautiful women around the globe. We talked with her about confidence, dreams and what beauty means to her. Here’s what she shared with us.
Can you present yourself to our readers?
My name is Sara Melotti, I’m an artist with a camera and I travel the world chasing beauty.
How and when did you start your project Quest For Beauty?
I started Quest for Beauty last October. After working as a fashion photographer for a few years I realized that I was contributing to create some very unrealistic standards of beauty with the kind of work that I was producing. Therefore, I was making many women suffer. I didn’t want to keep hurting the world so I decided to put my skills to use for something good, something that could make people happy instead of making them unhappy with the way they looked. I started traveling to different countries and photographing everyday women immersed in their everyday life to prove that beauty is not what the media want us to think, but it’s something we all posses.
What were your idea and goals behind it?
I started with the idea wanting to change the way the media shows women. But, while working on this project, I realized that whether I succeed or not, the most important goal is to make women feel good about the way they look. We were born with our physical traits and it’s completely unfair that most of us at some point in their life look in the mirror and want to cry because we don’t resemble super models. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful.
To how many countries have you’ve been so far and which people left a special impression on you?
So far I visited 8 countries (Vietnam, Hong Kong, Morocco, Cuba, Mexico, France, Italy and the US, where I live). I’m leaving for Ethiopia next week.
So many of these women hold a place in my heart, but if I have to choose I’d say the women of the Hamong tribe in Sapa, Vietnam. It’s so easy to connect on such a deep level with some of the people I photograph, especially in undeveloped countries. Even if we often can’t communicate in the same language. People just want to be seen sometimes and when you do see them something magical happens between the two. I am finding incredible, kind and strong women in all of the places I’m visiting.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your travels?
This project (and traveling) is giving me more than I could have ever imagined and is making me a much better person. One of the biggest lesson I’m learning is that people are amazing no matter where they come from and what their background is, and that the world is a much nicer, safer and better place than the world around us makes us think it is.
I’m meeting people who have nothing, yet they invite me to share their food with them and they do it with the warmest smile on their faces. So many people I meet on my trips go out of their way to help me and want nothing in return. I’m so grateful for all of the wonderful lives I’m crossing paths with.
What does beauty represent to you?
Beauty to me is a feeling. It’s something that moves you, something that makes you go “wow”. I can find beauty everywhere. A sunset, a piece of music, an act of kindness. Beauty goes so much further than fucking looks!
Is picture really worth a 1000 words?
I’m not sure about that. You can look at an image and wonder about the person in it but you might never get the answers you’d like to know (for better or worse). I think pictures are an amazing tool to tell a story but I think they unfortunately have limits. That is why I combine my pictures with words and why I’d like to bring this project to video format eventually.
What inspires you?
Everything! Seriously, I can find inspiration in just about anything. Life inspires me, nature inspires me, people inspire me, music inspires me, words inspire me… I could go on for days!
If you were a super-hero what would be your super-power and why?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I think if I could have any super power it would be to stop time. I would love to get to see the whole world eventually and I know that I will never have enough time to do that. Even if I didn’t have to balance making a living and I would get to spend every waken moment traveling, I still wouldn’t have enough time. There’s just too much to see on this earth!
Any message that you would like to send to people who are struggling with their self-image?
Yes! I want everybody to know that the images you see in magazines, tv and advertisements are absolutely not real!
I used to create those images. [To create those images it takes a professional model (and only a very small percentage—under 3% I’d say— of women in the world look like that!), a whole team of people (professional hair stylists, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists) that ‘work’ on the model for an hour or two, then the model is placed on set and perfectly posed and styled and then there’s a lot of post production to make everything even more ‘picture perfect’. At the end the girl in the picture doesn’t even look like the girl in you photographed anymore.]
So please, don’t think for a second that THAT is what you have to look like because THAT isn’t real! You are real, you are unique, you matter. And, as long as you are a good person to others, you are so damn beautiful!
Your hopes and dreams for the future?
Ahhh, there’s so much I’d like to do with my life: I want to keep exploring this beautiful world of ours, I want to write a book (or two), make a film, a documentary, maybe even some (quality) TV show. Who knows? I have a long list of things I want to create and stories to tell and hopefully I will manage to make it happen (at least a few of them). But, what I dream and care about the most is to be happy, inspired, loved and to contribute as much as I can to leave the world a better place than I found it.