14 photos that show what women really look like when they laugh

Women laughing thumbCourtesy Maud Fernhout PhotographyMaud Fernhout put her photography skills to work to celebrate how women look when they’re laughing like no one’s watching.

The INSIDER Summary:

• Maud Fernhout took photos of women laughing out loud for a photo series she calls “What Real Woman Laugh Like.”
• She wanted to show women laughing naturally as opposed to stiff smiles often seen on models.
• She hopes to encourage women not to hold back or be embarrassed of their laugh.


Maud Fernhout wants women to laugh. Not just giggle quietly, or chuckle with their hands over their mouth. She wants full-bodied, scrunchy-faced expressions of joy.

An anthropology and psychology major at University College Utrecht, she’s found that a lot of women are embarassed of what they look or sound like when they find something hilarious.

In her photo series called “What Real Women Laugh Like,” Fernhout put her photography skills to work to combat the stigma and celebrate how women look when they’re not thinking about how they look at all.

Maud Fernhout is a 20-year-old student at University College Utrecht, originally from Amsterdam.

She'd been doing photography work for about a year when she started thinking about topics tied into social issues that she wanted to tackle.

Andrea, 19: 'Proud to be happy. Proud to be human. Proud of my laughter. Proud to be a woman.'

'A true feminist at heart, the one-dimensional and objectified portrayal of women in media came to mind pretty quick,' she said.

Emma, 19: 'As the camera was pointed at my face I suddenly became aware of every single muscle one uses to truly laugh out loud.'

Fernhout decided to photograph women laughing out loud naturally 'to oppose the stiff, emotionless look we often see on models with one full of character and individuality.'

Daan, 19: 'Laughter carries no judgements or presumptions; it is an unbeatable force.'

She called the project 'What Real Woman Laugh Like.'

Emma, 20: 'I think if any force can break the claustrophobic box of civility, it is the force of child-like laughter.'

Fernhout asked her subjects to come in pairs or groups so that they would be less nervous.

Heleen, 22: 'I read somewhere that dogs show their teeth to warn you not to mess with them. My laugh sometimes works the same.'

'Then I'd just talk with them and laugh with them naturally or put some weird Youtube videos on,' she said.

Jenny, 20: '...it was surprisingly liberating to be photographed laughing, at that moment I was completely free from thinking how I looked for the camera.'

If that didn't work, she asked them to fake laugh until they began laughing at themselves.

Larissa, 20: 'Keep calm and laugh like crazy.'

Fernhout feels that there is still a stigma surrounding the way women express joy.

Liedeke, 19: 'Laugh as if no one is around and don't worry too much about what others think.'

This leads women to suppress their laughter or cover their faces with their hands, something she says men don't do as often.

Mariana, 23: 'I won't quit laughing, dreaming, or fighting to become someone else's ideal.'

'Just picture your brother, dad, or any other male figure in your life, laughing loudly with their hands in front of their faces,' she said.

Laura, 18: 'In my opinion, laughing makes my face one big wrinkle, but at least it makes my insides feel all warm and lovely, and that's what matters.'

She hopes the series will encourage other women not to hold back.

Sita, 19: 'If you can make me laugh like this, we must become friends.'

'I feel there is a discrepancy when girls are simultaneously told to smile, but not laugh,' she said.

Renee, 25: 'When I find myself focusing overmuch on future happiness, I try to remind myself that the things you do daily - not once in a while - give you joy in life.'

'It makes us feel that teeth and wrinkles are not feminine, are not beautiful.'

Saar, 21: 'When I'm laughing, I forget who I was, and know who I am.'

'Well, here are some girls who will show you different.'

Mariana, 22: 'I have no filter, so why would my laugh?'

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