Just about everyone has gone through an awkward phase in their life and designer Merilee Allred’s Awkward Years Project exposes just how much people can change with time and age. The ongoing portrait series features people holding up a picture of their former selves as kids with braces, questionable fashion choices, and embarrassing hairstyles.
Allred first embarked on the project when a friend of hers had trouble believing that she ever had any awkward years. To convince the good friend (one she made post-awkward phase), the artist shared her very 80s, permed and bespectacled, glamour shot from the 5th grade. It was the photographic evidence of a time in her youth that she had spent getting bullied for her appearance. Despite it being 20 years later, Allred still cringed at the thought of the image being seen by others, but came to realize that she could turn this personal moment into a project that included friends, family, and strangers who have all gone through the same experiences.
The photographer says, “Whether it was braces, big glasses, zits, awfully-styled hair, or victims of terrible fashion, we can all think back to at least one photo that is especially incriminating… I want this blog to show the ‘aftermath’ of my subjects, and how they not only survived their awkward years, but how great of people they turned out to be!” She adds, “To all the nerds, geeks, and fashion victims, past or present, this project is for you!”