What made you want to be a part of this project?
"I think it is important for young girls to be able to define themselves without the added labels and attention - whether positive or negative - because over time, those messages take over and guide your journey, even into adulthood. Hopefully my being a part of this project will allow others to embrace their own bodies without feeling the need to be ‘X’."
What has been the hardest part of going on this journey to uncovering and celebrating your beauty?
"I feel like women spend a lot more time under the microscope. This could be my biased experience but I feel like I had labels before I even knew who I was.
But the hard part is that these labels shaped the way I saw myself and carry over into today. I mean, if you are someone with larger breasts, you will always be seen as voluptuous so I have always been more conscious of feeling exposed. People assert their own biases when they see me - sexy, slutty, voluptuous, etc - and I no longer get to dress or act like you. I mean we can wear the exact same bikini and you would be judged completely different than I would.
But I am learning that this is just a part of my body and something I have the right to love."
How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?
"I try to think about how other cultures react to and think about beauty and I spend a lot of time looking back on photos from when I was in the Peace Corps in Kenya. There wasn’t exposure to media or emphasis on beauty standards in the same way as in the States. I think that removal from the "mainstream" really helped me discover my inner and outer beauty, among many other things. I learned how to love my own skin and self and it helped me to evolve my perception of self that I have tried to carry back with me since returning to the U.S."