In a time when everything is about excellence and being the best, I started Project M as a plea for the happy medium.
Do you ever long for that time when you could attend school in a sweater with a pony on it, that was lovingly knitted by your grandma? Or did you never know such a time and have you always experienced the pressure that is on young people, and young women in particular? Do you feel like you’re always being looked at through a magnifying glass?
You’d almost think you’re a loser, if you have not finished two Master degrees (with a cool traineeship in an exotic country abroad) before your 25th birthday, if you haven’t been on a year long backpacking trip and haven’t written your first novel yet. Around you, people share on- and offline how supercoolamazing their daily life is. Maybe that’s part of the game in 2018…. but….
Screw the idea that everybody always has to excel. The idea we always have to be ‘extra’. Screw the unrealistic expectations. Screw the pressure to live up to high standars that are thought out by someone who is not in your shoes and that you would not wish upon your best friend. Screw burn-outs for children as young as twelve.
I think it’s time for another message, another sound. That’s why I spent the past few months photographing twelve ladies in one dress, for my personal Project M. I chose M because M means ‘medum’, ‘moyen’, ‘mediocre’. What I like: all these women felt at ease during the photo sessions. That’s something, and even more so in that dress: there was nothing to hide.
Please scroll to see all kind of versions of M, that are amazing enough without being extra. Twelve women who deserve to be admired for who they are, for so many different reasons. They wear the same size but they are vastly different. Read what they have to tell you. And let go of your fear of being mediocre.
“The idea that I have to perform top quality all the time triggers my perfectionism. Trying to do well for everybody. On the other hand I see a different movement, where there’s more space for human standards. I am happy for that.”
“Actually I’d like everyone to get off social media, like Instagram and Facebook. Generally you only see posts about how great everyone’s life is. That can make people unhappy and/or jealous. So I’d like to go without social media but I don’t think that’s possible because so many people from my circles are still on them.”
Have you ever experienced fear of being mediocre? “I like to excel in photos. That’s also true for sports and school.”
“For the past few years, I haven’t been bothered by our society of accomplishments. I try to stay close to myself, my friends and my family in every way possible. What do I like? What suits me? And how do the people who really know me, see me? Last weekend I was at Schiermonnikoog with my friends and we had the times of our lives. Then I’ll scroll past some pictures of people who are traveling to the other side of the world and I’ll think: man, we did not even have to go on a plane for this! And the rain and the wind were lovely actually. And my LIDL rain coat is great! Medium, comfy, love it!”
““In my research Master students are admitted based on their grades. If you think I would then be able to pursue whatever I fancy, you’d be wrong. Even in a research Master you are expected to perform extra-deluxe and then some. This means you are expected to take additional courses, volunteer for several different research projects, and/or go to congresses all over the world and pay for it yourself. Just finishing the basics of the Master does not suffice.””
“After having made myself invisible forever, now is the time to show myself.”
“Actually, I like being mediocre, as long as I get positive feedback and as long as I enjoy doing what I do. This society of accomplishments should change, and quickly too. My opinion is that everyone should respect one another. No matter someone’s age, appearance and what someone accomplished in life, respect should be key. Personally, I live my own life and I do not want to have to justify that to all the people in the world.”
What are your thoughts about social media influence on how we feel as humans? “There’s two sides to that medal. I have quite a few followers on social media and I always try to inspire people concerning veganism, activism, body positivity, honesty and positivity. I do that on purpose, because I have a large amount of followers. When I was trying to figure out my identity a few years ago, I folllowed big accounts and they often made me feel like I was not good enough. They usually post only nice things, like everything in life is always nice and shiny and perfect. It affects you as a person. Over time, I unfollowed all those people and started following only those accounts that are more honest and transparant. It inspired me to do that too and it made me feel better about my life instantly.”
“I am still a perfectionist and want to do everything well. I understand I want too much sometimes, and it thus won’t go as well as I’d wish. It’s kind of sad society is like this and everybody’s so hung up about it. It’s like we always want to surpass the superlatives.
“I want to keep all balls in the air and I find it hard to do some things, in some areas, not the best I can.”
“Do not watch other people too much and be happy with that one BFF who appreciates you for who you are and what you do.”
“I’ve often feared being mediocre. Especially at parties with long legged beauties.”