February 07, 2017 05:42 PM
Matthew Dean Stewart

Ben Yahr was immediately inspired when he saw Beyoncé’s vibrant pregnancy photo album.

“I loved how unapologetic she was,” the Los Angeles-based actor, 27, tells PEOPLE. “I  studied the photos and saw how beautifully done they were, and how open she is with her body and her gorgeous pregnant belly. I thought, ‘She feels no shame, she’s proud of her shape, she’s proud of who she is,’ and that’s how I try to live my life too.”

Yahr, who is a body positive activist, was so inspired by the record-shattering photos that he decided to recreate them himself.

Matthew Dean Stewart

“I’ve always been very outspoken about body positivity and about encouraging other people to embrace themselves and love their shape no matter what,” he says. “I have always been open with my body and taken pictures like that to celebrate myself and encourage others to celebrate themselves. When I saw her do it in such a theatrical, public, celebratory way, I thought, that’s exactly the type of message I want to send, and I want to try and recreate it.”

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While Yahr has put his body on display before, he did have some hesitation about shooting the nude photos. He and the photographer, Matthew Dean Stewart, initially discussed the idea of only recreating the clothed images.

“I definitely thought it would offend fewer people if I did that, but we decided that if we were going to do it, then we had to really do it and really go full throttle,” says Yahr. “If I’m preaching self-love and accepting my body with all it’s flaws, then I want to show my body with all it’s flaws.”

Matthew Dean Stewart
Matthew Dean Stewart

Yahr hopes the resulting images will help other people to accept their bodies as well.

“I want people to feel inspired to have the audacity to embrace their body, and I want them to have the audacity to claim the fact that their body should be celebrated, and their body, no matter what shape or size, deserves to be praised and deserves applause because we all do, and we are all beautiful and strong,” he says. “I want everyone to walk through the world as if they were Beyoncé, as if they have the same fierceness toward life that Beyoncé does.”

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