A few years ago, I took my first solo holiday to Barcelona , Spain. I booked a hostel in the centre for 5 nights and 6 days. I had studied Spanish at school so it was the smartest foreign-to-me place to go for the first time on my own. On the second or third day I lazily skipped through tinder looking to make a friend who can show me round their hometown… That’s when I met Rafa.
He took me to beautiful local parks, authentic restaurants and gave me a lifelong friendship. When my short stay was over we decided to keep in touch online. As we spoke a mixture of Spanish and English, Rafa began to greet me with “Hola Fea”.
Asking what he meant, he told me “Fea means ‘Ugly’ but I say it to you with endearment.” I liked it! I thought it was really cute and got me creatively thinking. It’s funny how certain ‘negative’ words can be used to show your love for someone. I mean, I know some friendship groups that use the most profane language with one another to show their love for another. It also got me thinking how we as Women portray ourselves online; the pouts we pull and how we angle our cameras just right for “that look”. And then, how some of the most iconic Women in history have re-defined what we see as beauty or femininity, Freda Khalo, Coco Chanel and Lizzo to name a few. I wanted to have a crack at it! I wanted to photograph the women around me pulling their most un-photogenic faces, to then turn them into illustrations, paying homage to my friend Rafa and his endearing words by calling it Hola Fea! With this project I hope to create a sense of comfort by looking at women who might not smile all the time or might get caught slipping on camera, and it be okay! To embrace those moments and not shy away from all our emotions and the faces we pull whilst feeling them.