However you celebrate your birthday, it’s probably not as badass as photographer Lucy Hilmer. Each year on her birthday, Hilmer takes a photograph of herself naked, in nothing but her underpants. She’s been doing it every year since 1974, and she recently posted some of the results online.
“Birthday Suits,” as the series is appropriately named, is incredible. Hilmer herself explains what inspired her to start, and continue with such dedication, the project:
As a girl-child of the 1950s, I came of age before women’s lib, and wanted to buck the stereotypes of a culture that branded me a pretty girl, thin enough to be a fashion model and not much more. Armed with my camera and tripod, I found a way to define myself on my own terms in the most open, vulnerable way I could.
Some of the photos are in her studio, others outdoors in the open. Some of them feature Hilmer alone, others have guest appearances by friends and family. All of them are gorgeous, and they show not only the natural changes that happen to a woman as she grows older, but also how different a body can be from year to year—affected by other life factors such as childbirth.
With her camera, Hilmer has taken control of her body, and shown how comfortable she is when it’s laid bare. A book and film about the project are both on the way, but for now you can see some her (NSFW) photos here.