Mandi Lynn collects photos of 70 diverse women for body positivity movement gallery

Kerie Sutherland of Upper Hutt and her baby, Zoe, are photographed by Mandi Lynn for Lynn's exhibition, #everybodyisatreasure
VICTORIA VINCENT/SUPPLIED

Kerie Sutherland of Upper Hutt and her baby, Zoe, are photographed by Mandi Lynn for Lynn's exhibition, #everybodyisatreasure

Wearing nothing but a maxi skirt, Kerie Sutherland giggles as gold clay is slathered on her chest.

Sutherland is one of about 70 women filing through an Upper Hutt hall on a sunny Sunday and baring her chest for photographer Mandi​ Lynn in the name of body positivity. 

Sutherland's five month-old daughter, Zoe, sits nude in her mother's arms, digging her tiny feet onto her mum's belly.

Lynn retouches the gilding on Sutherland during the photoshoot.
VICTORIA VINCENT/SUPPLIED

Lynn retouches the gilding on Sutherland during the photoshoot.

"There's no way I would have done this before [Zoe] came along. I think once you realise your body is no longer just yours, it's easier to get over it," Sutherland says.

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Women's self-esteem peaks at the age of nine, and by the age of 18, only 20 per cent are happy with their bodies, Lynn says.

Some women got emotional as Lynn, left, photographed them baring their chests.
KAROLINA STUS/SUPPLIED

Some women got emotional as Lynn, left, photographed them baring their chests.

The Te Marua photographer spends a full day photographing the women of all ages and sizes for her exhibition and social media campaign titled, #everybodyisatreasure.

"You look in politics and in the world and there's this masculine power. We're wasting our energy worrying about our lumpy butts."

Her mission is to empower women and embrace the diversity of bodies beyond the trim and taut figures usually portrayed in mainstream media.

Lynn, left, says the woman loved seeing the photos she'd taken.
KAROLINA STUS/SUPPLIED

Lynn, left, says the woman loved seeing the photos she'd taken.

"It was just invigorating to see it and see all the diversity," she says after the photoshoot.

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"You had grannies, you had a  woman who had had a mastectomy, you had these fit women and these gorgeous, luscious women, and it was absolutely stunning.

"In the back we had a section for people who were happy to be interviewed and we ended up bringing chairs in and made this big circle and there was just boobs everywhere.

Gold clay was spread on the torsos of the women in a gilding process.
HELEN DUNCAN/SUPPLIED

Gold clay was spread on the torsos of the women in a gilding process.

"For some people you could see it could stretch them, but I think it relaxed them being in this community of women."

Lynn's partner, Craig Thompson, sits outside the room processing photos on a laptop in a cafe where a man is playing God Defend New Zealand on a ukelele.

The project has moved him, he says, flicking through photos of women baring scars or stretchmarks alongside those with athletic and toned tummies.

Women spread gold clay on their torsos before posing bare-chested for Lynn.
KAROLINA STUS/SUPPLIED

Women spread gold clay on their torsos before posing bare-chested for Lynn.

"I think if you have some dislike or hatred of your body, you're not really living," Thompson says.

Lynn will share one image per day via social media using the hashtag, #everybodyisatreasure, and she intends to add to the collection as she travels the country.

"Hopefully we can keep having these shoots and generating these images and have that normalcy going out there."

Two women prepare to be photographed.
KAROLINA STUS/SUPPLIED

Two women prepare to be photographed.

Lynn says it was invigorating to see the diversity of women who posed for her on Sunday.
KAROLINA STUS/SUPPLIED

Lynn says it was invigorating to see the diversity of women who posed for her on Sunday.

 - Stuff

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