you are beautiful: a project of true beauty
"If we are real and true we can come out of life unscathed and happy about putting our best real selves out there."
You are beautiful, What do those three words even mean?. As women we are constantly bombarded by images and expectations on what real “beauty” is supposed to look like. Our perceptions have been so distorted that we actually think that they completely fake, plastic, superficial barbie-like women on the covers of magazines are beautiful! That’s very depressing.
When I was a child I was overweight, that's just a fact. I was in active and had a poor diet, did that make me less beautiful than the thin girl sitting next to me. No, but according to Television and magazines yes. I remember very clearly my grandmother handing out cookies to us kids. Everyone got a cookie and a smile, but when she got to me she said “Your too fat I’m not giving you this cookie. It’s just going to make you fatter”. I also remember quite vividly a family trip up north where we went to a Santa Clause theme park. They had rides, games etc. But what was really cool was pony rides, and when you are 7 who doesn't want to ride the ponies. My cousin and I waited in line for 45 min, we were so excited. When we got to the front of the line the attendant said that my cousin could go, but that I was too big and would hurt the pony….I was 7. The last thing I remember was jean shopping with my mom, it was back to school and I was really wanting a new pair of jeans. We went to Bootlegger (the coolest place at the time to get jeans) while I was looking the sales associate came over to talk to my mom. She said that we were back to school shopping, the associate looked at me and said “We have nothing here to fit her”
How are we letting this happen to our children. Children who are beautiful and innocent and so truly amazing. We are crushing them and setting them up for failure as adults. Eating disorders, drugs, prostitution…suicide. We need to stop.
I never really let on that those situations hurt me, I didn't want to seem weak or vulnerable, but I think my mom saw. I remember her buying a second hand stationary bike, and buying carrots and salad more. She never said anything but we did those things together. As I grew older I lost the “baby fat” as it was so nicely put, but it didn't make things any better, it never does. You can always lose more they say, you can always just be a little smaller.
As I grew older I also started to voice my dislike about my body, saying that I was too fat, that I wasn't good enough. I even found that I would get so angry and cry not knowing what else to do. Why wasn't I able to look like everyone else and to be thin, to be able to buy clothes without thinking about it. To be honest I am still a little like that now, but I know that its not true, its just a habit that is hard to break.
I don’t want others to feel this way, especially those young beautiful little girls that I teach in school. Every time I hear one of them say that they are ugly, fat, stupid a little piece of me dies. Why are these 4 and 5 year olds feeling this way? They shouldn't be thinking about this stuff, they should be running away from the boys, watching cartoons and just being kids.
It all starts with us as the adults, the role models, we need to show them that we are all beautiful, we are all exactly the way that we are supposed to be. Show them that the images they see in magazines are not real, that real women don't look like that. Real women aren’t all pencil thin, have big breasts, perfect hair and skin. When we have babies, our bodies look like we had babies! Our faces have wrinkles and lines, that shows our journey, our hardships our successes and that is beautiful. Every mark, every scar, every imperfection are completely and utterly 100% imperfectly perfect. You are beautiful. I am beautiful. We are all beautiful.
I started this project to not only share this message with young women but to also share it with myself. It’s a hard addiction to surpass…self confidence, self esteem and positive body image is something that is ingrained in us at a young age and is hard to overcome. It has taken me 30 years to finally bring it to the forefront and I do not intend to let it take me over. At this moment sitting here typing this I am ok with my body, I am ok with my stretch marks, I am ok with the few extra pounds lingering after the birth of my second son. I am ok with the few wrinkles that are starting to appear. I am ok with this because this is who I am. And those who have problem with that don’t matter, because the ones who love don’t care what I look like on the outside.
The concept of the project is simple. Real women, Real beauty. All the women were asked to come in wearing a whit t-shirt, black pants and no socks. There was to be absolutely NO make up, NO hair products. They were to come as themselves. The photos were not touched up with Photoshop or any other editing software, all I did was convert them to black and white. They were taken on a simple grey backdrop with either a simple chair or nothing. I wanted to show case the true beauty that is women. I wanted to show that we don't need to wear 5 lbs of make up everyday. We don't need to spend an hour on our hair every morning. But I'm also not saying that we can't use these things. I am just saying they should be used in moderation, and for yourself only.
Each of the women were also asked to answer the following questions. It was a real eye opener to read some of the answers. I took all the images and the answers and complied a book (that can be found on iTunes)
My favourite part of me is…
How do you feel about the way females are betrayed in the media? Is that how we want our daughters (and sons) to feel?
My advice to other women/girls would be….
be YOU! Be happy!
This project is such an inspiration to myself and others, click the link below to check out the project!