Women for Change NGO opened “Beautiful Bodies 2.0” at UB Art Gallery on March 13.

According to a survey conducted by Women for Change, 80 percent of Mongolian women are unsatisfied with their bodies, 70 percent of Mongolian women would undergo cosmetic surgery if it was more affordable, 15 percent of all women will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, and the number of women undergoing cosmetic surgery tripled between 1997 and 2007.

As so many women are unhappy with with their bodies and faces, Women for Change wanted to put on an exhibition that would change people’s minds and show women that they are truly beautiful.

The NGO, in collaboration with IC Creative Division and the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, opened “Beautiful Bodies 2.0” under the theme #BeBoldForChange.

A total of 22 photographs of women that were inspired by world famous artworks are on display for “Beautiful Bodies 2.0”.

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“Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix

One of the organizers of the exhibition said, “When you think of beautiful bodies, you probably think of thin, flawless models and celebrities shown in magazines and the media. Unfortunately, too many of us compare our bodies to those women and despair that we will never be as perfect as them.”

“Why do we hold ourselves to these unattainable standards of beauty? Countless studies have shown that this way of thinking is dangerous,” they added.

Through the exhibition, Women for Change tries to show people that beauty is not fixed or static. Beauty standards change over time and are impacted by culture, colonization, globalization, class, and religion. The exhibition asks women to be positive, to be bold, and to recognize the beauty in all bodies.

“Black and White” by Man Ray
“Black and White” by Man Ray

Some models for the exhibition’s photographs shared their thoughts about their bodies, and most wanted to remain anonymous.

One model said, “Even though I am a healthy weight for my height, I still wish I was thinner and had a flatter stomach. In Australia, where I am from, everyone wants to be skinny and have a perfect suntan. I know that a suntan is unhealthy – and that one in two Australians will get skin cancer in their lifetime – but I like my body more when my skin is darker. It’s crazy. One thing I do feel confident about is that six months ago I stopped shaving my legs.”

Another model said, “Once I had a perfect body shape that was accepted by society. And there were times when it was considered ugly and undesirable by society. What I, or my body, went through is not that important. I should not have to explain the way my body looks just because I had a baby. I am here…

At this moment, I am just here the way I am. I admire myself with respect. I am proud and love myself the way I am.”

“Le Violon d’Ingres” by Man Ray
“Le Violon d’Ingres” by Man Ray

Below is a brief interview with the Director of Women for Change, B.Zolzaya.

What do you want to show through “Beautiful Bodies 2.0”?

I tried to show how people saw beauty a very long time ago. That’s why we used world famous artworks as inspiration. Beauty is not about body shape or 90 x 60 x 90 measurements.

Ancient painters used to think that there was beauty in every woman and painted them. I wanted to show through the exhibition that everyone is beautiful. Eyes that see beauty can see everything clearly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

“Beautiful Bodies 2.0” is the second exhibition by Women for Change. How did you come up with the idea for the exhibition?

Women for Change conducted a survey among over 800 women, asking them if they were satisfied with their body and appearance?

The results showed that 80 percent of them were not satisfied with their body and weight. According to statistics, most Mongolian women have healthy bodies, but they always want to lose weight. They take diet pills and follow unhealthy diets. After that, they find that they’ve lost a lot of money and time, and they get depressed.

I got the idea to release an exhibition from that survey. We have to be proud of ourselves the way we are.

What is a beautiful body to you?

Your current body is beautiful. Appearance is not an important thing, I would say. Our tongue and mouth help us to speak, legs help us to walk, arms help us to do everything, and the brain helps us to think. These are very precious to us. We have to be satisfied with having those things. We have to love everything that we have.

“The Seasons” by Alphonse Mucha
“The Seasons” by Alphonse Mucha

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