Ryan

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

"I just got done with this intense, week long emotional intelligence and leadership course in Ohio that has really broadened my perspective and helped me realize we are all already perfect. I used to have body image issues but could hide behind them or keep myself covered and am learning how to strip those layers off. 

In being a part of something like this, I am taking another layer off. By putting myself in uncomfortable and different situations that I would not normally do, such as this project, I am able to see, and help others see, a range of people who all look different but internally are all struggling with the same insecurities and doubts. I am learning that working on yourself is never a task you are done with and by putting myself out there like this, I am engaging more meaningfully in my life and can allow others to do the same. I am seeing that it is possible to celebrate who I am today and be proud of where I stand while also continually pushing myself forward so as to not become complacent. This project can be such a huge step in that direction of learning to love yourself and be comfortable in your own body."

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

"I used to have really bad skin problems that really impacted my confidence and sense of self. There was this one year stretch where I was obsessed with it and would sit in the mirror for an hour or more at a time thinking about how I was not good enough or confident enough to be in my own skin. I would go out with friends and be overridden with anxiety. I think the ideals I had about my image and especially skin came from the people I would see in movies and stuff, not realizing this wasn’t real and would take hours to accomplish."

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

"I think having people realize that just because I look in shape doesn’t mean I am confident. We label people based on a snapshot of who they are and make decisions about others that keep us all in separate silos, never crossing the aisle to see we are all so similar. Learning that about myself and others has helped me be more open and honest with myself and the people around me."

How do you nurture and celebrate your beauty?

"I tell myself I love myself every day, no matter what…Even if I don’t feel like it on a particular day, I say it anyways. It has been a low process to build this practice - 2 1/2 years of constant work reprogramming myself and loving who I am no matter what, each day. I have had to learn how to walk tall. Not in a cocky way but in a way where I can be proud of who I am."