What made you want to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project? 

"The #ReclaimBeauty project has challenged and inspired me. I have a difficult time not seeing faults in myself and those perceived faults can get in the way of seeing anything lovely. This project has helped me see the beauty in trials and joys etched with surgery scars, tenderness and strength in the way my body has changed with motherhood, and love, patience, and respect for a face and body that bears the sometimes visible but mostly invisible pain of two chronic illnesses (endometriosis and fibromyalgia). "

How has the cultural perception of beauty influenced how you see yourself? 

"Growing up, I was surrounded by messages, both within family and in the media, that anything but slender was not beautiful. Can you pinch an inch? When you jump, does anything jiggle that is not supposed to? Is there a thigh gap? Messages like these still rule my thoughts sometimes and it is frustrating. I am more than my weight - I am an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. I am strong. It took a pregnancy and sicknesses to re-prioritize my thoughts and though I still struggle with self esteem, I am able to love myself better now. It is an ongoing process."

What has been the hardest part of going on this journey to uncovering and celebrating your beauty?

"The hardest part of this journey so far has been getting up the courage to reveal myself. My clothing and my makeup act as a protection for me. If I hide behind layers of clothes and cover up my flaws with makeup, I think that people won't see how truly vulnerable I am about my body or won't know that I am sick. I worry that since I have trouble accepting my body no one else could accept it or find it lovely. This project challenged me to face my fears of rejection from myself and from others for the way that I look and feel."

How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?

"I find happiness and beauty when I am creating and when I am loving others. When I can create a new piece of art, play music, write, make someone smile, and care for my friends and family, I feel lovely."