For UNICEF, Mary Gelman photographed the story of Baurzhan, a 14-year-old advocate for young people living with HIV in Kazakhstan.
“I am one of those 149 children. I am HIV-positive and today, I am the only teenager in Kazakhstan with HIV who is living openly.”
This story is part of a special series produced by the UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Office and photographed by VII Photo Agency to mark 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Follow along over the next few weeks as we share additional stories, photographed by VII’s Anush Babajanyan, Franco Pagetti, and Maciek Nabrdalik, of young advocates using their voices to protect and promote the rights of other young people.
Exactly one year before voters go to the polls on November 3, 2020 — and three months before Iowans gather for their caucuses — we at VII Photo are launching the first chapter of our year-long collective election coverage, “America, Again.”
This project emerged amongst a few of the VII photographers with the intention of focussing attention on the issues that will dominate the US election. The VII Foundation and VII Academy have stepped in to support the project in recognition of the importance of critical and independent storytelling in civic discourse. We will produce stories on material issues that people worldwide are wrangling with, not only Americans. Issues that are used to divide us, and that allow populist politicians to undermine the values that are foundational to our societies.
Click here to view Chapter 1: IOWA.
Mary Gelman’s new personal project about fat-shaming and fatphobia in Russia was published on Takie Dela. “Do Not be Ashamed” shares the stories of people of different genders, sexual orientations, and professions who have experienced, or are still experiencing, prejudice due to their weight.
Oli, St. Petersburg, Russia (seen above). “I was always fat and had various problems. It started in kindergarten. There was a girl who set others up against me. At school, they called me “hippo”, “fat” and started fights.
Most of my life I lived with my grandmother. She always said that I was special and life would be hard for me. She asked if I had friends and how others relate to me. I basically only spoke to people on the Internet, because they did not see how I looked, and I felt inferior.
By adolescence, other family members began to pay attention to my weight. Until the age of 16, I was bought clothes that I didn’t like — they were ugly and covered my whole body. I was terribly embarrassed about myself and always walked past the mirrors. I did not love myself, because I could not express myself as I wanted.
Later, at the university, I found a circle of people who did not humiliate or criticize me for the way I look. I photographed myself on the phone and participated in the filming of other photographers, learned about feminism and body positive. My attitude towards myself began to change. People still look askance in my direction, I get a lot of terrible comments on social networks, but now I don’t care.”