The Faces Behind Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham Project
Mary-Berkley Gaines is 26-year-old queer feminist, published, ~sometimes~ model, and thrift store queen born and raised in Birmingham, AL. She attended Homewood High School and then the University of Montevallo. Her experiences there, helped make her the woman she is today.
Having struggled with disordered eating, body dysmorphic disorder, PTSD, and clinical depression and anxiety, she founded the Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham Project in November 2015 to help others with similar struggles. The first photo shoot for the project had occurred in April of that year.
MB is a lover of good food, art that makes you feel, hip-hop, and all types of cultures. She hopes to travel the world and experience all people and places one day. Having always worked with children or the elderly, she loves her current day job of caring for the elderly and says it’s the best thing that’s happened so far. Previously, MB has managed a fashion blog, which helped directly with her realizing the need for the project.
Family and friends are MB’s number one priority, with making Birmingham a better place is the next on her list. Radical self-love and body-positivity changed her life back in 2011 and she wanted to spread that knowledge with her hometown. If you see her say “hi” and give her a hug because hugs are her favorite. ♡
Originally from Georgia, Jeni Tanner-Jordan is a 35-year-old activist who has lived in Alabama since 2000. When it comes to activism, intersectional feminism and body-positivity is her primary focus. Jeni believes that if we can raise the upcoming generation in a way that shows them their worth that it will create stronger feminists for tomorrow.
Jeni served as the Greater Birmingham National Organization for Women President from 2014-2016. She reactivated the chapter in 2014 after it had been dormant for a few years. One of their biggest fundraisers to date has been a Body Positivity and Belly Dance Workshop. Outside of activism, Jeni has many interests including camping, writing, and creating art.
Her dedication to the body positivity movement comes from personally understanding the need for all body types to be represented in the media. Jeni had the misfortune of being bitten by a spider when she was working at a campground which led to a long series of health issues. She now depends on a walker and has limited use of her left leg. This is just one of the many reasons that the body positivity movement is important to her. Currently, she is working as a political adviser for the first openly gay gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, Christopher Countryman.
Andrea Dillingham, artistically known as Andrea Really, is a young painter, illustrator, video artist, and sometimes fire dancer born and raised in Alabama. Andrea joined Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham because she believes heavily in community participation and involvement through exercising ones’ talents.
Andrea’s journey with body positivity was long and tedious, yet she has found self-love and universal body acceptance through art, meditation, and physical expression.
She attended the Alabama School of Math and Science and went on to achieve her BFA at the University of Montevallo. Her work is heavily influenced by contemporary pop surrealism, fluxus, folk, and psychedelia.
She currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama where she makes and edits video for TIME Inc., and started a local art gallery with friends called Chroma Cove. Andrea also spearheads creative projects for Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham, and new personal works in attempt to someday satisfy both grad schools and herself.
Iman Sellers is a 25-year-old dance instructor and mentor at the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club and psychology major at Stillman College.
Educating children on radical self-love and body positivity is a priority in her life because of her strong belief in it benefiting a generation that’s engulfed in the negative mental effects of internet culture.
Upon obtaining her BS in psychology Iman plans to pursue her PhD in clinical child psychology and open her own studio using yoga and meditation as the main forms of therapy. In her spare time, she enjoys her passion of dance, the company of her close female friends, reading books on spirituality and mental health, and traveling.
Church musician, failed recording artist, liker of/commenter on things, haver of chronic pain, experiencer of neurodiversity, suspicious of most humans, Christian Folmar is grateful for the few she cares for and those that care for her.