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

"I think it has a lot to do with what you shared about your reasons for starting the project. There are so many things that you grow up hearing and feeling as a woman - you’re eating too much, you’re eating too little, you’re too fat, you’re too thin; you’re too tall or too short, you’re boobs are too big or too small. There’s just so much being thrown at you and it is hard to know where you stand. And I guess for me, I feel like this project helps to celebrate what makes me confident in myself and how to not be so effected by the pressures of others. I mean I know you can’t not care, but I am trying to not care too much anymore. I am trying to find where I feel comfortable in my own skin. I mean, I have a couple of groups of friends i move between and even getting more comfortable being who I am in each of these groups would be amazing. I mean, I can wear one thing and be one way in one of the groups and fit in fine abut then if I try and act/look that way in the other group, I am the odd one out. Like, shaving my legs, for example. It feels like in order for me to be one group and fit in, I am not supposed to shave my legs, but in another group, I have to. I just want to get to the point where I can say, ‘this is how I do my body.”

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

"I grew up in a very different culture than Madison and was judged for not being stereotypically beautiful. Whereas here, you stick out if you don’t wear flannel - completely moving against my hometown culture around beauty. I mean, even now, when I go home, my parents think I am a straight up hippie but here, I am seen as ‘normal’. And it really has made me think about what beauty is to me, separate from where I am but what it means to me inherently. I am working on how to celebrate my own body and the fact that I can choose to just be me and that that is already beautiful."

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

"Some days I look in the mirror and am like ‘Dayum you look good’ but then other days, I look and all I see are imperfections. So it is hardest for me in those days to be able to go on with my day and let go of those thoughts and feelings. That’s one thing I want to let go of."

How will you know you are moving past that or making progress with this?

"I think I will know I am past it when I can get up and not look at my stomach to see if I gained weight because I ate 5 donuts or when I can eat 5 donuts but then trust that I can take care of my body and that it will be fine. I feel like right now, I am still self conscious because I feel like I am supposed to fit into this box, especially as a climber since I spend so much time around all of these people with such amazing bodies who are not just skinny but buff and strong. I mean i know I am strong and I tell myself that all of the time to hold on to but I still find myself comparing and when I can let that go orstart to do it less, I think I will also know I am making progress in loving and celebrating my own body and beauty."

How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?

"I think the biggest thing, for me, is looking at others and finding what it is that makes each of them uniquely beautiful. Especially for people I am closest to. It helps me to see that their bodies and actions aren’t always perfect but I can see and celebrate their beauty every day. The work I am doing, then, is on translating that to myself. I am realizing I don’t have to have the perfect body or have everything figured out all of the time. I am already beautiful in just being me."

What else would you like to share?

"Coming back to this idea of strength, I find that it comes out in so many ways and it is an important aspect to remember and hold on to. Like, you are a strong person already and it doesn’t matter what you look like if you can hold on to that and remember your strength. For me, one way I remember and focus on this is doing things like being naked with friends. It has truly shifted my perspective of the body and strength from within and in who you are. I am a big advocate for being naked - in the right context and with people who make you feel safe. When I am with my friends and say we are going skinny dipping or something, I realize that no one is looking at me or judging me, they are just honoring me and everyone else for being there and are enjoying being connected to each other."