What made you want to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project?
"A friend encouraged me to come tonight…I probably wouldn’t have followed through without her encouragement. I thought deeply about this project and the questions you raise here for several days and I enjoyed the chance to examine my feelings about 'beauty'. I feel strongly that it's important to #ReclaimBeauty because we all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin, at the very least. If you're not comfortable, you can't truly celebrate your beauty. To be honest, I didn’t feel beautiful today and tried to talk myself out of coming but instead I chose to avoid the downward spiral and step up to the challenge. Now that I've completed the hard part I have to say I do feel more comfortable and it is such a lovely relief. I'm proud that I followed through (even if it was with a push) because it's a lesson to myself and I hope it can be a lesson to others. We all have hard days but sometimes we can choose not to limit ourselves and not to accept feeling uncomfortable as the standard."
How has the cultural perception of beauty influenced how you see yourself?
"I guess I think that every aspect of what we see is controlled by the media in some way. The images I grew up seeing became part of my own ideals. I know I am not alone when I say that I spent a lot of time and energy (and money) comparing myself to those images and ideals. When I say that I SPENT time and energy, I mean to say that I WASTED it. And still do. I wear makeup. I pluck my eyebrows. I shave my legs. I know I don't need to but I do. I have colored my hair, I have gotten piercings, tattoos and have even had cosmetic surgery. What we pay for is not always what we get in return and it doesn't always add up to feeling beautiful. That kind of reward only comes with work and with practice. That said, I feel lucky to have seen the positive changes in our culture in recent years and in the way that we, as individuals, can effect what's in our 'feeds'. What I see around me, now, is not only just airbrushed, Photoshopped supermodels but real pictures taken by real people living their lives throughout the world. It has helped me to celebrate diversity and to change my idea of beauty."
How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?
"I always try to see the silver lining. Sometimes I have to celebrate small pieces at a time, like my hair, or my nails, or my outfit. Something is better than nothing! I work hard to examine myself completely and push through the things that make me feel uncomfortable so that I can continue to evolve and learn more about who I am and what I am capable of. The more I learn and grow, the more I know myself and the more comfortable (and beautiful) I feel."