Illusions of the Body by Grace Hagan

Illusions of the Body

This series was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.

Imagery in the media is an illusion built upon lighting, angles & photoshop. People can look extremely attractive under the right circumstances & two seconds later transform into something completely different.

Within the series I tried to get a range of body types, ethnicities & genders to show how everyone is a different shape & size; there is no “normal”. Each photo was taken with the same lighting & the same angle.

Celebrate your shapes, sizes & the odd contortions your body can get itself into. The human body is a weird & beautiful thing.

Note: This series is product of passion on the part of the artist & volunteers. If there seems to be certain body types, genders, ethnicities etc that are underrepresented, it is because that type of person has not chosen to be apart of it.

I have not intentionally excluded anyone. 

I received this email from Grace Hagan – I had mentioned her work in an earlier post — see here.

I wanted to thank you for putting my series Illusions of the Body on your website, doing that allowed me to reach millions of people.

Some of them felt relieved that they were normal, some were amazed about how much someone could change within the span of two photographs, some told me they wished they had seen this when they were younger & they were going to teach their kids this lesson.

It even caused people to want to participate in the series!

Due to the positive response I’ve created a lovely coffee table book of the series. I felt that Illusions of the Body was best consumed with multiple body types to look at rather than a single print of one person.


Illusions of the Body Book Cover

Includes 17 never before released images.

All advance purchases will be numbered & signed by the artist

Full Color

100 page

Bound Softcover

Matte Cover Finish



Limited Edition Signed Pre-Order $50

unsigned post release $60

Books will be shipped May 1st.

They can buy the book directly from my website. I made an easy URL for people to remember:

Gracie Hagen lllusions of the body 2


gracie hagen illusions of the body

Book Launch Party April 26th, 2014 at 8pm -11pm for those people in Chicago.

Location Forte Framing & Gallery, 2301 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

People can pick up their book early & I’ll be there doing a book signing.



Illusions of the body … and ceiling to floor mirrors

I know that at some point everyone comments on body image, what the media presents to us, and what we as women expect/demand from ourselves in terms of how our bodies are, and appear.  And usually how out of whack our self images are with what the reality is.

No doubt I am not going to add anything unique to this discussion.  But I like to put things down that are running around in my head.  It helps me “park” my thoughts and if my thoughts are here, then they are less likely to run around on the hamster wheel in my head.

I have noticed that there is a lot of Facebook status updates with people tackling weight loss, and programmes.  Sleek Geek has proved very popular and is popping up all over my time line.

People are really into starting a weight loss programme.  I am guessing that was pretty high on 2014 resolution list.  Mine, not so much.  I ate two slabs of chocolate single-handedly this week.

I can honestly say that I have a fairly unhealthy relationship with my body.

I really hate what I see.  Not a little, but a great deal.

Unfortunately it does not help that in the bathroom, right next to the porcelain throne, there is a head to foot mirror.  Not quite sure what the people who put it in were thinking.

It unfortunately gives me a really good view of myself taking a morning squat – and my guess is, that it is not the best time to look at yourself under any conditions. Ever.  Unless you are into that sort of that look.

I can’t blame the mirror.  It is not the mirror’s fault for what I see, and my reaction to what I see.

I would like to blame my present weight and how unattractive I feel, but again, that would be an excuse. I disliked my body when I weighed 55 kilograms  (I am 1.73 metres tall).

I hated my body when I weighed 65 kilograms.

And I loath my body now that I am tipping the scales at 75 kilograms.

I have read dozens of articles that tell me how great my body is.  It produced and carried three healthy kids to term.  It gets me through each day without falling over too much.

I know that if I looked at the “bigger picture” I am probably fine.

That is sort of the issue with body image.  You can never see the “bigger picture” because you are focused on the minutiae of your stuff, and everything about what you see in the mirror is a point of loathing.

Right now my plan is to always wear denims, and a black shirt that hangs over the waistband, then I just pray that nothing causes my shirt to flip up.

Today I was collecting the kids – and a mom walked past me in the parking lot. I know her, her daughter is in the same grade as Connor.  She has always had a nice figure, and she was wearing this black dress, and heels, and really just looked great.

Immediately I thought to myself “If I looked like that I would really be happy…” and then I realised I probably wouldn’t be.

I would probably still hate the way I looked, and still hide it behind poorly fitting clothing and uneasiness.

I have also had those moments of deep introspection when I have realised that I would KILL to look like I did at 15, or 20 or 25, or 30 – but the reality is that I did look like that, and at the time I still hated my body when I was 15, 20, 25 or 30.

I never wear shorts. I cringe at short sleeve shirts, and pick them with care.  I never wear shirts that fit too snugly.

Maybe in time, maybe with more self-confidence, maybe with more care I will view myself differently.

Maybe.  My guess is not likely, unless I go through a serious shift in my attitude and my view on myself, which if you would consider the present situation is unlikely.

I saw this great photographer – GRACIE HAGEN – who has a wonderful project on her website called Illusions of the Body.  She is looking at the way someone presents their body and how this changes how their body appears, and affects what we see, what we are jealous of and what we desire.

Imagery in the media is an illusion built upon lighting, angles & photoshop. People can look extremely attractive under the right circumstances & two seconds later transform into something completely different.

Please visit her site and view her work – it may not change the way you see everything, but it may give you a few moments of thought provoking thinking.

This is one of the images from her series ….. which shows what almost appears to be two different people, based on how she is presenting herself, and how this affects how we view her.  Quite incredible!!


Image source Grace Hagen based in Chicago  :