Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Beautiful Woman Photo Challenge

Today, I was challenged by a dear friend to the Beautiful Woman Photo Challenge. The goal is for each participant to share five photos they feel most beautiful in.

Yep. That's it.

Isn't there more to it, you ask? Well, not really... Why five photos? I don't know. Who started this project? I don't know that either. What's the goal of this project, anyway? Well, I'd assume it's got a little something to do with self love and self esteem.

But here's what it means to me:

It has to be five photos because most women won't be able to find three. Not that they feel truly beautiful in. And the goal of the project is to help you rediscover the personal, unique beauty that is within you. The same beauty that has always been within you. The beauty you weren't focusing on (and were probably even critiquing) when you snapped the photo.

I'm going to be real honest with you. I accepted the challenge with the hope to prove a point. I'm prettiest when I'm happy! I wanted to say, or I'm prettiest when I'm teaching! or laughing! or reading! But the five photos I found could not be more different, and I had an extremely difficult time searching for a universal statement like the ones I listed above.

So without further adieu, I present to you the five photos in which I felt most beautiful.

Photo #1
I love this photo because it is so me. I'm in a sweatshirt (my staple clothing item for November, which was when the photo was taken), and it's a Disney sweatshirt nonetheless. What you can't see is me wearing my favorite dark jeans and my killer polka dot sneakers, but I can assure you I was wearing them.

As you can see in this photo, I wear very little makeup because I think there's so much elegance found in being natural. With that being said, I think girls should take enough pride in their appearance to wear it whenever they want to (not when someone else tells them they should).

This was also my first selfie ever posted on social media, which I posted just after analyzing your survey answers in Love Yourself(ie)

Photo #2
This photo was taken around 9 p.m. in my car after a three hour guard rehearsal my senior year of high school. I snapped it quickly because I still managed to look decent after a night full of running, dancing, sweating, and performing my heart out.

I chose this photo for this challenge because it features me in my natural habitat: in my car (probably running to go eat somewhere), in an all black wardrobe (a signature colorguard outfit), a straightened ponytail (despite humidity's best efforts to curl it), and a smile on my face after concluding a full night of doing what I love most. Though it's an old photo, it seemed wrong not to include it because I've carried it in the camera roll of my phone for four years.

Also important to note... I took this photo four years ago and never posted it until now because I feared being viewed as conceited for posting a selfie. Now's a good time to go read that post linked in Photo #1 if you missed it before.

Photo #3 
 As much as I wanted to say that I would only include photos of me naturally, sometimes a girl's gotta feel prettier than she does on an average day. This photo was snapped at the banquet concluding a long, hot week of hard work in the sun, allowing us all a chance to put on a nice dress, fix our hair, and actually put some makeup on our face without the guarantees of sweating it off.

I also received a trophy and a medal for my marching skill this night (I won a drill down, for my readers who understand band. For those who don't, just don't worry about it). The point is, I felt confident in my talent. I felt valued as a team member. And I felt beautiful because I had the chance to represent myself with the style that is uniquely my own: classy, elegant, and signature stamped with a t-strap high heel.

Because of this style, I've been nicknamed the "First Lady" of the Pride Color Guard. And as you can see in this photo, I was workin' it.

Photo #4
Ignore how old this picture is. I was a freshman in high school. Eight years ago. Probably evident by my pig-tailed hair and Christmas painted nails.

But I included this photo because it is important. In this photo, I am pictured doing one of my favorite things.


Is it the healthiest meal in the world? Nope. It's Chickfila. Did I gain a little tummy pudge after this meal? You bet. But did it make me any less beautiful?


No, no, no. If anything, my choice to fuel my body the way I deemed acceptable rather than the way society told me to fuel it (or starve it) is a testament to my confidence and self love. And to me, those are two things that define beauty the most.

Photo #5

This one is my favorite. I'm in a pretty dress, I've got some pretty hair, and I was having way more than a pretty good time. When this photo was taken, I was watching my prom date climb into the arms of every other guy in our prom group for a photo, only to have them accidentally drop him smack on the ground. I was laughing so hard, which is one of my absolute favorite things. I love to laugh. And I love this picture. What a candid photo capturing my happiness bottled in this evening.

The other thing I find important to note about this photo is that there were at least thirty other people present in this vicinity (50+ if you count all the family members who came to take pictures), not to mention the ridiculous scenario occurring that had me laughing, and yet, the photographer focused on me in this moment. This is more than a picture where I feel beautiful. This is a picture where someone else noticed I was beautiful.

I suppose it could've been the dress. Perhaps the hair, or the accessories I put in it. But this picture doesn't focus on the dress or the hair or any other accessory. It focuses on me. On my essence and happiness in the moment.

That's what beauty really is. And we can dress it up and accessorize it all we want, but no dress, headband, or matching shoe could possibly parallel the captivating beauty of a woman's soul; the one revealed in a smile. In a laugh. In this photo.

As I mentioned before, the photos I found were the furthest thing from what I expected to post, but my goal was a to prove a point, and that I still intend to do.

Some of these photos picture me posed, but most of them are candids. Sometimes, I'm wearing makeup, and sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am sweating. Sometimes I am eating. Sometimes I am laughing.

But I am always me.

That's when it hit me. I'm not prettiest when I'm happy. When I'm teaching. When I'm reading. When I'm laughing.

I am pretty because I'm me.

I am pretty every day. I am pretty every way. I am pretty in a car. I am pretty near and far. I am pretty in a box, I am pretty with a fox! {Sorry, I'm getting a little Suessical...}

But I am pretty here and there.

I am pretty everywhere. 

And so are you. So don't you forget it, beautiful.

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