Customer Reviews: This Is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Sizes
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on March 20, 2008
I first heard Ms. Olson's audio interview, and saw a snippet of her work on LensWork. I was quite impressed. I purchased her book and have gone through it three times now with utter amazement at the words by the women and the beautiful and pure images that she has captured. I have since purchased her book for two of my sisters and two of my dearest friends. I know that they will enjoy this masterpiece of hers as much as I have. I am in the health care industry and photography is a passion of mine. Ms. Olson strikes the chord on both of these notes. The strength of the women in these photos shine through every frame as does their words of courage and encouragement. Every one of them, to include Ms. Olson, I commend because you have provoked thought, and maybe more importantly questions, we should ponder with others. I will definitely continue to share this gift that they have given us with family and friends.
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That model on the cover, Dana, could you ever believe that she has doubts about her loveliness? Her brief blurb about herself sounds far less than certain about the incredible beauty of a perfectly ordinary woman like her. That is a crime and a tragedy, one that this collection confronts directly.

The models range from 19 to 95, with every decade between represented. Constance, age 80, peers back at the viewer with an elfin smile. Kia, at 37, stares off with a gaze that seems far older than her face and figure. Moods of the other models range in every direction. Emily, an archetype of blonde slederness, battles betrayal by her body as genetic lung disease takes its toll on her. Mothers and mothers-to-be bring children to the images they use to define themselves. Beautiful women from East Asian families talk about how they were too tall, or curvy, or tawny, or strong to be worth a second look back home - what a difference a continent makes!

Beauty does not mean being pretty, although the two do appear together some times. Instead, it's about the varied and complicated lives people live, and about the figures and features from every corner of the human planet. It's about all of people's ages too. I wish all women happy loves in their lives, however long they live. For that to happen, the woman and the one who loves her must love her look at every age, and after every demand on her body. This book is really about loving all those looks.

-- wiredweird
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on March 17, 2008
I just received the book today, and I must say that I'm truly amazed. Some of the images were featured in LensWork magazine, but the cumulative effect of the stories and images is incredible. The portraits are very consistent in terms of lighting and background. However, variety comes in the range of ages and body types that are featured and in the way the women relate to their bodies.
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on April 10, 2008
This book will change women's lives. And it that way, change men's lives.

Working with women for over 25 years individually and in group, as a psychotherapist, I have already seen this begin to happen in my own practice. This vitally important book sits in my office for all to read. And as women hold the book, viewing the intimate, sensitive, beautiful portraits and reading the stories of self-image, their own reactions are profound. The combination of stark and authentic beauty, both in picture and story, moves women safely into their own consideration of themselves and their body consider and re-consider how they have been considering themselves for years. Often unconsciously. And they begin to be kind to themselves.

It is a most beautiful book to behold, both inside and out. In addition to it's presence in my office as an option for clients to view, I have given over eight copies to friends, nieces, physicians and colleagues. And will continue to buy and give.

Each of us could have a picture and story here. Rosanne Olson has given a gift to the world.
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on April 14, 2008
This book presents high quality, thoughtful and tasteful images accompanied by sparse, tight autobiographic narratives. Ms. Olson meshes the two wonderfully, each half telling a part of the story.

I've greatly enjoyed reading one or two pages before setting off to do something else, and finding myself thinking back as if I'd just met someone really interesting.

This is a superb book about people - REAL people. It is a quality hardback, with top-notch printing and photo reproduction. It has already earned a spot in my "permanent" collection-- those books I go back to for enjoyment and inspiration time and time again.
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Rosanne Olson, This Is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Sizes (Artisan, 2008)

When someone releases a book of photographs of unclothed women, the usual machinery starts up. Some people will want it kept off library shelves. Some people will think "ooh, naked chicks!" and go trying to find scans of it on the Internet. Etc. In the case of This Is Who I Am, all of those pieces of machinery will probably be frustrated, because this is not your typical book of pictures of unclothed women, and as Captain Peacock was wont to say, "thank heaven for that".

Your average book of unclothed women is populated with the same kind of unclothed woman: barely out of her teens (if that) and unhealthily skinny. This is the opposite, though there is one unhealthily-skinny teenager in here. The thing is, she's posing with her mom, who is much more the norm for this book. The age ranges here are from infancy (in some of the family portraits) to ninety-five. The weight range is far wider, and you can bet that anyone skinny is going to be talking about how they're recovering from anorexia. But as Olson's subtitle tells you, this is a book about accepting that stretch marks, wrinkles, and surgical scars can all be beautiful. Not just for those who posed for the pictures, but for those who are looking at them, as well. And thus it seems to me that the same people who are usually lobbying to makes sure the "ooh, naked chicks!" crowd can't get copies of the big new Kate Moss photo book in their libraries should be lobbying to make sure this one's not only on the shelves, but prominently displayed. (Unfortunately, I do realize that people aren't that logical.) This is a wonderful, wonderful book, and it deserves as wide a readership as it can possibly find. ****
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on February 9, 2013
Finally a pictorial of real women, no photoshopped or airbrushed models in the bunch. It's a refreshing change from the day to day advertising that is out there. Exactly what is needed for an art student.
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on April 9, 2008
I had the pleasure of attending Rosanne's book reading and signing party in Seattle lastnight. Looking through the book before she got up to speak, I realized that everyone has their own story, and that people might not be so obsessed with my own (horrible) body image as I think they are. I realized that maybe my husband really does mean it when he tells me I'm beautiful--that he's not just saying it to make me feel better. I applaud the author for her courage to do this project, and to share a bit of herself with others. The courage of these women to be in the book--I applaud them too.
This is a true masterpiece, that every woman and frankly--all men too--needs to read, if for nothing but a SIGNIFICANT reminder that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. This book has impacted so many levels of my thinking. I challenge anyone reading this to let yourself be transformed. I know I was.
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on July 24, 2016
This book arrived in excellent condition. It is a beautiful book, and really conveys how these women perceive their bodies. It was very brave of them to pose for these beautiful photos and tell their stories. Helps me be more accepting of my own body. I find it doesn't matter if you're skinny or obese, women don't tend to love the bodies they have.

The photos are artistically taken, and the photographer has allowed the women to pose as they chose. Very glad that I purchased this book.
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Truly a lovely book - very affirming and uplifting for women of all ages and body types. This book gently demonstrates the importance of considering the whole Woman, body-mind-spirit-soul-essence.

Our society has so objectified women's bodies that we consider it a high complement to be told we're thin or that we look as though we've lost weight - how superficial is that?!?!? Health can be found naturally at different weights, with different shapes and body types. Too many women today torture themselves in an attempt to achieve the unrealistic fantasy of what a woman's body "ought" to look like. It reminds me of the foot-binding in ancient China - we see that now as horrific, but at the time it was the height of beauty, style and fashion. How long until we look back on this age of glorifying the artificial and unnaturally thin with the same horror?

This book affirms acceptance and joy for natural, real bodies of all types. It's absolutely not for folks seeking the artificial, unnatural, airbrushed, ideals of perfection for a woman's body as dictated by most of society today.

Recommended for all women and girls, plus those men who honor and admire the realistic female body in all of it's incarnations.
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