Why people paid $40K to see this women naked
As a photographer working for ad campaigns and men’s magazines like GQ, Esquire and Maxim, Victoria Janashvili didn’t like some of the messages she was helping to promote.
“There were slogans put on [my] images that the models and I didn’t agree with. For instance, ‘Bigger is better,’ or ‘Skinny isn’t healthy,’” Janashvili tells The Post. “I don’t think that skinny is better, I don’t think that plus size is better. I think you decide that you’re beautiful.”
So, the 26-year-old New Yorker decided to do something about it.
“At some point I was like, ‘I need to make a response, something that would show what I think is beautiful and healthy,’ ” she says. “Then somehow, the idea of the book popped.”
To gauge costs, she consulted industry pals with self-published books, and settled on $37,500 — the amount she’d need to cover printing, production, shipping, creative-team salaries and a host of other expenses.
“Then a friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t we make a Kickstarter? You never know — if people like the book, they will support it,’” the photographer recalls.
To Janashvili’s surprise, the campaign went viral, with its slogan: “We love your booty. Get it behind this book. The future of healthy booties, big and small, may depend on it.”
The story’s positive, feminist-friendly objective struck chords on social media (Janashvili’s fan page has racked up almost 15,000 likes on Facebook), then outlets like Cosmopolitan, Today and the Huffington Post picked it up. Via links and shares, potential patrons were directed to a page that featured striking pictures of models Denise Bidot and Marina Bulatkina in the buff. Within the 30-day funding period that began on Dec. 2, more than 700 backers pledged $40,072.
“When we reached our goal, I could not believe it. I had to triple-check,” says Janashvili. She immediately canceled a vacation to Bali to begin working on the project.
The next step: filling those glossy pages. Janashvili labored tirelessly for three months shooting 70 subjects from across the US and beyond, including her crew and herself.
“I wasn’t sure if I would be in the book until the end,” says Janashvili, who shot herself last, and in just a few clicks. “I don’t really like the image, but the whole point of the book is self-acceptance. That being said, I’m still working on myself, just like most women on their journey of self-love.”
As for the rest of the subjects, many are professional models — of all ages, both standard and plus-size — whom Janashvili has worked with before; others, like albino muse Diandra Forrest, were on her wish list and sought after for the strong messages they embody. She emailed friends and agents to explain her mission; those receptive were more than happy to pose gratis.
“I tried to call up women who’ve found peace with how they look and who they are,” says the photographer, who also captured a slew of non-models, including a limbless woman named Josette Ulibarri, who reached out to her on Facebook, then flew from Phoenix, Ariz., to New York just for the shoot. “They all look very different and they all have different backgrounds, but from my perspective, each one of these women is good with herself, and treats herself kindly.”
Among the photographer’s favorites is plus-size stunner Chelsea Miller, sister of supermodel Alyssa Miller, who elected to have her body decorated in self-empowering phrases like “Start a revolution” and “I am enough.” She’s a few pages ahead of Donna Feldman, a slender lingerie model who Janashvili says is innately shy — the opposite of what most people see.
“To me, it was as important to show ‘perfect’ girls like this, as well as girls like Josette and Diandra, because everybody’s journey is so different,” she explains. “What I’m trying to say is that they’re equally interesting — whether they’re big or small or [traditionally beautiful] or not.”