Latina Photo Collective Sets Its Own Beauty Ideals with an Original Calendar
The duo MoreMulher celebrates the diverse beauty of New York City for every month of the year.
A spiraled photo calendar features 12 portraits of New York based-women in various expressions of emotion. The artists behind the calendar, titled Datebook, are Laura Ciriaco and Stephanie Ayala, aka MoreMulher. Both are self-taught photographers who embarked on the project to create a world where women are not limited by stereotypes of femininity and to further celebrate the home grown beauty of New York City women.
The inspiration for Datebook came from Ciriaco’s exposure to Mexican-Pop icon Gloria Trevi, and her controversial set of calendars and her mother’s addiction to reading Cosmopolitan magazine. While Gloria Trevi is known as the Mexican Madonna, rocking the charts with tunes in the 80s, she also embraced sexual liberation and explored socio-political issues through her playful centerfolds. Essentially she used her fame to push for a movement of self-love for women in Latin America. While Gloria Trevi’s calendars highlight a historical moment, MoreMulher’s datebook seeks to further the calendar medium to exhibit women in full control of their bodies and confidence.
Ciriaco and Ayala were constantly faced with images that touched on the Western world’s standards of beauty, only seeing Latinas on Spanish-language TV and observing the lack of women who looked like them in mainstream fashion magazines.
Ciriaco says “I grew up on a lot of her [Gloria Trevi] videos and look back at her images as a source of inspiration, so when I found out she had a calendar series, I thought I need to make a calendar. My mother also kept magazines like Cosmopolitan since the mid-90s and I remember being so grateful that I can just turn back and look at them for inspiration for either an outfit, make-up looks, or color palettes.”
Mulher is the Portuguese translation for "woman," and the concept developed after the duo read testimonials from Don Kulick’s The Gender of Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes, where participants from the study “modified their bodies not because they feel themselves to be women,. but because they feel themselves to be 'feminine.'"
The duo’s goal is to promote self-confidence and feminine energy among women. By documenting friends they consider muses, they have built a natural collective of women. They sought out models who expressed qualities connected to the month they were representing while making it their priority to have their subjects feel respected, admired, and glorious. The images transport viewers into the worlds of beaches to music studios to rooftops throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
Ayala shares, “The motive behind the calendar was to have something you can hold and connect to, when you hold on to an image you stare at it. You imagine what the weather was like that day or what the model’s voice sounds like. We want to give people something to remember. Something for our models to show their kids. We want something to be saved without fear.”
The collective is currently curating a new calendar scheduled to release January 2017 and plan to create a long-term portrait series where they will photograph one hundred women.
“Moremulher is about confidence." the duo explain. "What’s most important is that we’re confident behind the camera, and our confidence will reflect on the image.”