Three months ago University of Nottingham grads Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans decided that they wanted to do something to make a difference so they did. They identified a social problem, developed a plan to address it and haven’t looked back since.
The plan in question, a social movement called The “I’m Tired” Project, “aims to highlight the significance of microaggressions, stereotypes and other forms of discrimination that many in our society are submitted to.”
Inspired by campaigns like the Free the Nipple Movement and photo projects like Humans of New York, they “fused photography with written word (sic),” the result being striking images of men and women with statements beginning “I’m tired of” written on their bare backs.
Topics are proposed by the subjects themselves, with each one offering some insight into the true impact of words that we use without a second thought.
“Having been diagnosed with an eating disorder over four years ago, I have heard these words uttered over and over again. As if it was that simple, as if I didn’t try. But recovery is not just about the physical act of eating more and it is not something I can always control. Each day is a struggle to eat a reasonable amount, let alone that little bit more. ‘Just’ eat more ignores the fact that it is a mental illness and NOT a lifestyle choice. It shows the ignorance over mental health that is still ingrained in today’s society (sic).”
“It feels like something that is not openly talked about in society, and this has made it hard for me to grieve. It’s not a subject I often come across in mainstream media, and I wasn’t even aware of how physically painful it was, let alone emotionally. I had to tell myself for years I was over it, but I’m not. I just learnt to live with it.
I want this message to be stronger to other women and men who have lost a child through miscarriage — it’s OK to grieve. Yes it was real and you have suffered a loss. And I feel your pain every step of the way. Let’s not suffer in silence anymore.”
“The idea of ‘being a feminist’ all too often goes with the image of a man-hating, bra burning woman who never shaves, lest she is a victim of ‘submitting to the patriarchy’. Feminism is only about gender equality. Its portrayal on social media has led to a stigma that I believe is toxic to the compassionate aims of true feminism – when there is complete equality between men and women, everyone stands to gain.”
Read this full statement here.
“It’s really interesting to see how many people experience the same [things] yet feel like they are very much alone and therefore, suffer in silence,” Akpan tells me. “The comments on the pictures alone go to show how many people have been able to relate.”
Aside from a growing social following, The “I’m Tired” Project has also been recognised by UN Women and politicians like Natalie Bennett and it continues to gain momentum.
This is an ongoing project, with submissions continuously being uploaded to its Facebook and tumblr accounts. And according to Akpan the founders themselves have also participated, “Myself and Harriet have both had our pictures taken…, whether anyone knows it’s us or not will be the question.”
If you would like to share your experience of microaggressions and lend your back, you’re encouraged to email email@example.com. You can also follow The “I’m Tired” Project on Twitter at @imtiredproject.