No matter how you feel about Beyoncé Knowles, the global pop culture icon, her impact reaches beyond her music as she uses her platform to inspire women with her message of empowerment. It was a quote of hers that inspired this project, that put confidence and empowerment into perspective for me. “The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.”
So many women I know are stunning people inside and out. But with the world telling them they aren’t the expected perfection, I watched these beautiful women around me doubt themselves, berate themselves, and put themselves down. In the world of women, it is a normal occurrence to hear words that basically amount to: “I am not enough.” And honestly, I too am guilty of saying these words.
After three years of being a photographer, and after seeing these words of encouragement by Beyoncé, I felt I had a purpose. I have photographed so many women who have told me that they didn’t like this body part or that body part, they didn’t like to see themselves from this angle, or in this kind of lighting. They felt their struggles and their accomplishments could be seen on their faces and their bodies and they were ashamed. These warrior women who have inspired me and encouraged others would put themselves down and discredit the things they have overcome, the very things that shaped who they are.
And then these women would stand in front of the camera and a magical thing would happen…they would complement themselves when they saw their finished portraits. In words of Beyoncé, “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves.” Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of proof that we are better than we see ourselves to build our confidence. With this idea in mind, I set about to find women who didn’t see themselves the way I saw them, to build them up. Because women should lift each other up, and not tear one another down.
Love the skin you’re in was the powerful message I wanted to send to the ladies of Charleston, SC. Love who you are. Love every curve, every wrinkle, every stretch mark, the baby bellies, and the imperfect features. Love who you are and be the best you that you can be. Confidence can be built and once created, it can spread. Make this a cycle that never ends. Because empowered women empower women. For me, this project will never end. I will always seek to empower women from behind my camera. I will continue to build confidence, because confidence is sexy, and beauty is more than just a social idea of perfection. Empowerment starts with us.