Beneath Your Beautiful May 2023

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MAY 2023 ISSUE 8



Hara Allison


At Beneath Your Beautiful, we are commited to spreading positivity and hope + improving lives through raw and compassionate storytelling. If you, or someone you know, has a story to share, please reach out to



MODEL Sara Conybeer

BeneathYourBeautiful org


ARTIST Mustafa Özel

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Elin Adcock
Contents of
including articles and artwork/photography. may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the express consent of Beneath Your Beautiful
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Preserving My Identity in the Fitness Space While Living in a Marginalized Body

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I often have to remind myself it is okay to be soft and embrace my feminine side, even when my body is viewed as a heckler’s paradise.

As far as descriptors goes, I am a Black, fat, queer woman with almost two handfuls of invisible chronic conditions. I’ve read and heard more godawful commentary about my size and race on this journey than I care to describe. My performance in the fitness space while queer and chronically ill is often gaslit with ridiculous rants from naysayers demanding that I prove my medical conditions. During those dark moments, I must dig deep to remind myself that I can be vulnerable enough to express my hurt, practice radical self-care and explore my identity beyond the skewed lens of how the general public expects a female athlete to look or behave. And while I have a strong sense of self, I would be lying if I said it’s easy for me to lay down my figurative shield and preserve something for me. My solace comes in using my social media platforms for public advocacy work to normalize fitness at every size and promote humanity for all. Advocating for myself and others is my love language.

Being publicly amplified for my fitness adventures as a multisport athlete, particularly in the road and trail running community, opened me up to high praise and heavy scrutiny. I thought I had a full sense of myself when I was writing on my food and fitness blog Running Fat Chef, but my radical advocacy as a content creator, writer and motivational speaker disrupted a lot of old-school thinking about how an athletic

body looks and performs. When people with bodies like mine thrive outside of the norm - a lean, cisgendered, White male - it comes with backlash. In sports, it is viewed as controversial to examine, question or dismantle the concept of “normal” that often deters people who don’t fit that mold. I wish I could say that I always come out of those multiple interactions unscathed, but that wouldn’t be true.

Learning how to redefine who I am after countless people inserted their opinions of what would make me a “better athlete” took an ample number of steps in the self-discovery process. My first step in embracing my identity within and outside of sports was being wildly honest with myself about my insecurities, shortcomings, successes and dreams.

One of the hardest truths I battle daily is pushing through periods of emotional dysregulation. I appear as intense to some because I find it easier to be direct than nuanced in my commentary. For years, I looked at my successes and failures in an extreme way. There has always been this fear that I would never be able to top my best achievement and my failures would be the only thing that would make a lasting impression of me. I started working my way back to where I created these narratives for myself and found it mostly stemmed from childhood trauma. For as long as I could remember, even when treated kindly, I never felt like I completely fit in. My honest dialogue was translated as being awkward, but palatable, when I paired it with humor. I learned how to mask this insecurity by being funny and self-deprecating, and by deflecting compliments to take the spotlight away from myself. In sports, it is almost expected for people to be charismatic and to have a competitive nature, but when you’re a woman

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It is easy to lose my identity navigating through the fitness space as a quadruplemarginalized woman – perhaps in the general sense of life, too.

in sports, it is loudly whispered to be overly humble and appear graceful, even in the face of disrespect.

When I hit rock bottom in my mid-20s, I found myself emotionally fatigued from masking the layers of my personality and exhausted from playing it safe for the sake of others’ feelings. Finding my way through temporary disability from a sciatica and herniated disc diagnosis, as well as losing my culinary position in the corporate dining world shortly after graduating culinary school, propelled me to the epitome of an overly used expression of being “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” But something shifted in my brain once I reached this point and I found myself demanding to occupy space and practicing better boundaries.

Falling in love with this rebirthed version of self was easier when I didn’t have a sizeable platform. Before elaborating any further and risk sounding ungrateful, I must preface these next words by emphasizing that I love my career, but I think being honest about the hardships will help illuminate some gray areas.

In many ways, my very public career as a nontraditional athlete and food and fitness content creator has its drawbacks. Most people know me for chronicling my athletic pursuits predominately in the running and powerlifting space. I pride myself on

being brutally honest about the highs, lows, hardships and barriers of being an athlete with multiple invisible conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, stage four endometriosis and fibromyalgia. In 2017, my story was amplified after writing an essay for The Root about being heckled at the 2017 New York City Marathon for being plus size. Months prior, I had experienced a miscarriage while training for the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York Road Runners’ Knickerbocker 60K – a rough 37.2 miles in Central Park. And weeks later, I was diagnosed with stage four rectovaginal endometriosis and 21 fibroids after undergoing a laparoscopic procedure for an ovarian polyp. Sharing that story publicly catapulted me out of my budding culinary career and into the road and trail running community as a full-time content creator. There’s an invisible weight that exists when you’re a marginalized person in the athletic space. When I look back at that moment in 2017, I acknowledge that strangers, friends and family wanted the underdog to win. People felt invested in my story because they saw a version of themselves, or their loved ones, or they might have experienced a collective empathy – rage too. But at some point, this feeling hit a crescendo and it came with an unspoken, metaphorical requirement

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I found myself emotionally fatigued from masking the layers of my personality and exhausted from playing it safe for the sake of others’ feelings.

of a progress report. Being a Black, fat and chronically ill woman can come with demands to be exceptionally monolithic or a trailblazer for respective communities.

Without permission, onlookers felt entitled to call shots into my personal growth. When people learned more about me beyond one story, things changed abruptly. In 2019, I received some of the worst, unprovoked commentary to date.

“She looks like a cow!”

“Why are we glorifying being that fat? It is unhealthy. She is promoting obesity and running at that weight will destroy her body. She is no role model to anyone.”

“Oh FFS [for fucks sake] – I’m really tired of this WOKE agenda. Now we’re subjected to mainstream media showing every mediocre running influencer on our feeds because they’re Black.”

But after world-changing events like the COVID 19 global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, several athlete advocates in the fitness space spoke up about the overwhelming discriminatory practices in the fitness and wellness space and the vicious commentary has shifted slightly. Despite the reduction in hate mail, I am still not embraced by many, and I am okay with that most days.

Being a Black woman in America – or anywhere – comes with the expectation of being hyper-accessible but with demands

to be quiet about the harassment. Speaking up sounds like hysteria to some who aren’t accustomed to being challenged. Some days I am exhausted by this unrealistic demand to be strong. I am not Teflon and toxic positivity – the demand from the masses to only focus on the positives in an extreme manner does not work for me. I am grateful that I can look at my physical reflection and honestly say, I know I look good. Extra skin, stretch marks and dark spots in between my thighs are merely free tattoos I’ve picked up on my journey. In the same breath, being chronically ill and knowing that I’ll live out the rest of my life with most of these conditions is a struggle. And on bad mental health days, I hear those negative comments loud and clear.

Despite strong suggestions from the public and encountering pushback from some of my corporate partnerships, I feel most empowered when I speak up for myself and others. The biggest misconception that comes with being a content creator – or influencer – is that we can simply “ignore the haters.” Realistically this is a fraudulent sense of security. Ignoring the haters on social media without an action plan shifted to harassment elsewhere. It’s not a great feeling knowing that some of my friends, family members, corporate partnerships and even ex-employers were targeted because of a period that I elected to be silent. If it was as simple as reading basic commentary about

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Speaking up sounds like hysteria to some who aren’t accustomed to being challenged. Some days I am exhausted by this unrealistic demand to be strong.
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my size, perhaps I’d have a few bad days and brush it off. It’s a horrific feeling to wake up in a perpetual state of anxiety, fearing to open up your emails because someone found out your personal information and doxxed you. My almost sixteen-year-old son spent several years watching me go through panic attacks. I worried someone would try to attack him because I spoke up about racial equality in sports and gender discrimination.

These days, I am recognized for being an unapologetic loudmouth in the trail and road ultrarunner, powerlifter and multisport community. When speaking freely, I am noted for not being ladylike. I love my share of profanity and I refuse to smile through gaslighting. Throughout the years, I’ve grown frustrated with the athletic clothing market and I deliberately find bright clothing that fits me. Paired with my newest obsession of getting my nails done and daring to talk about something other than sports on my social media feed became a talking point for some in the fitness space. Showcasing layers of my personality and challenging the status quo of how I want to look or dare tell my story comes across as audacious, pretentious and ungrateful to crowds that never considered me. Despite knowing that I owe them nothing, it digs into my core some days. I don’t desire glory – I simply want to be treated like a fellow human being.

A major part of my self-discovery and possibly the most important step to preserving my identity in the fitness and wellness space is prioritizing my physical and emotional health. After getting a formal diagnosis with complex post-traumatic stress disorder – or C-PTSD – I acknowledge that I have to prioritize talk

therapy just as much as I would a primary care check up or showing up for running and strength work sessions during marathon training season.

Through consistent therapy, I learned how to find harmony while embracing my layers outside of my very public fitness and wellness image. I learned how to apply grounding techniques like knowing my triggers, taking myself away from work at least two days a week and choosing four days a month to have little to no screen time. And because I’m a work in progress with feeling comfortable enough to show up to a run group meetup, I curbed some of my social anxiety by meeting up with fitness buddies or acquaintances at running events. Additionally, I made it a point to give attention to my life outside of my fitness adventures. Tapping back into other hobbies like watching documentaries, reading books or hosting dinner parties again nourishes my soul in an incredible way.

You don’t have to be a public figure or a fitness content creator to know what it’s like to feel inadequate in a fraction or all parts of your life. All of us possess an internal and external beauty whether we see it or not. But there are times when we are rattled by someone else’s commentary or from our own personal hardships. I challenge you to keep pushing forward for your happy, even when the path is not well-lit. The most interesting roads are not linear; they are typically winding, hilly and unpredictable. At my lowest, I remind myself that I am a force to be reckoned with. I hope you know that you are too. Don’t be afraid to reimagine or redefine yourself as many times as you deem necessary. How are you celebrating your identity? « To learn more about Latoya, listen to Beneath Your Beautiful podcast Episode 105

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Noted by The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans ages 25 to 45, Latoya Shauntay Snell is a sponsored multi-sport endurance athlete, body politics and inclusivity advocate, motivational speaker and content creator. She is the founder of Running Fat Chef - a website dedicated to promoting movement without labels and challenging stereotypes of what athlete bodies should look like. Snell was on the cover of the November 2020 issue of Runner’s World, featured on numerous platforms including Good Morning America, Huffington Post and 3rd Hour Today. Snell is changing the narrative of ideal body types, mental health and fitness stereotypes in the fitness and wellness space. She completed over 200 races including over 20 marathons and several ultramarathons, including the New York City Marathon and the Javelina Jundred 100K. She uses her voice to talk about intersectionality in sports to change the language for future generations in fitness and beyond.

MODEL Latoya Shauntay Snell


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portraits by Mustafa Özel

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Born in 1961 in Bilecik, Turkey, Mustafa graduated from Marmara University in 1984.

ARTIST Mustafa Özel
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At first glance, Daniel Lopez appears reserved, stoic, unbreakable. His background is one that many of us know only from the movies, or television: stereotypes of a life of drugs played out on the screen, leading to an inevitable end – prison, overdose, death. We could draw conclusions about who he is or what his life is like, but we’d miss out on the depth of this man and the kindness of his heart.

A Spokane Arts Council member and participant in multiple non-profits, Daniel has begun to realize his impact on the world and his role in it. He spends time raising funds and building connections within schools and other non-profits. “There’s a lot of places out there that want good for the community, but they need help. And dealing with stuff with people in the community that have their back against the wall – you now, drug addicts – they just don’t know how to do that. It takes a special person to do that.”

When discussing the success he has enjoyed with his paintings, Daniel says “I only hope they don’t end up in a garage sale somewhere.”

Daniel was asked: I take it, based on your paintings, that you are pretty religious. You’ve survived a month in a coma, multiple suicide attempts. You’ve said you feel like everybody has been rooting for you, or at least sees something in you. Do you think that God has bigger plans for you?

“Yeah, definitely. I sometimes wonder, because I’ve had doctors try to help me, mental health facilities, and families have tried to help me. But it wasn’t until Jesus pulled the needle out of my arm and the chains of addiction just fell away and now I’m not an addict anymore. I don’t struggle with any of that – it’s a miracle! That’s undeniable, you know, because everyone – the state, jail, probation – everyone who’s tried to help that problem, nothing could help it until I gave my life to the Lord.

“But I don’t know where this is going and it’s a difficult dynamic because I’ve never had any success in my life until I became an artist. And now how do I not feel a little survivor’s guilt? I know where I come from and all the stuff I’ve been through and I’m trying to be comfortable with the successes, but I know how fleeting they can be. I am just grateful because I know you can lose everything in an instant; it’s happened to me before.

“There are no sure bets, but I know what I’m trying to plan for is not to just make a living: I hope that my paintings are of importance. And I hope that these paintings will have a certain amount of value to them and be cherished long after I’m gone.” «

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Hara Allison

To learn more about Daniel, listen to Beneath Your Beautiful podcast Episode 112

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Sally Graves Machlis is Professor Emeritus of Art and Design and Art Education at the University of Idaho. She served as Program Chair for a total of eleven years. Professor Machlis is active in educational outreach in the arts throughout Idaho and served on the Idaho Commission on the Arts for two terms. Upon retirement Professor Machlis is working in her studio in Coeur d’Alene, traveling and exhibiting her artwork regionally, nationally and internationally.

Delphine Keim is Professor of Art and Design at the University of Idaho. She serves as the Program Head of Art and Design and coordinates the graphic design area leading students in outreach projects, practicing design and collaboration in the community context. She recently completed her second term serving on the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Her scholarly activities include creating award- winning graphic design for her clients, interdisciplinary projects, writing about design, and fine art collaborations.

Machlis and Keim have exhibited their work in a wide variety of juried and solo exhibitions in the last 7 years including Boise, Spokane, Chicago, St Paul, Los Angeles, Solomons, Maryland, Vancouver, BC and Surrey, UK.

They were included in the Boise Art Museum Triennial in 2020 and were awarded Best of Show in a juried exhibit at the Museum of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls in 2022. Their work has been included in the NYC Magazine, Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design, and were selected for an Excellence Award in Fine Art in the Creative Quarterly Annual 100 Best of 2020.

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Art photographed by Hara Allison Photography

The United States is a country of immigrants. Our identity as a nation has developed over time, incorporating traditions of many cultures. Immigration is especially challenging for women as they face poverty and discrimination in their journeys. Yet women become a force of justice, beauty and resilience as they seek safety and autonomy for themselves and their children. In these mixed media pieces, the form of a child’s dress addresses the vulnerability of children. We are reminded of innocence, while the vibrant patterns evoke the aesthetic sensibilities of each culture. The text creates an additional layer of understanding. We seek to contribute to the conversation on immigration — we want our work to serve as a reminder that there is strength and beauty held within the groups of people migrating to the United States. As global sisters we have a common desire for our children’s well-being. We wish to convey this hope held within the migrating groups of people.

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INDIA 36 Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine
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MEXICO 38 Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine
Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine 39 GUATEMALA


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Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine 43 UKRAINE


MODEL Marla Davis

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Beauty In Simplicity

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From junkie to funny

Wanting to write a story about my life, I found myself at a loss. Where does one begin a narrative of trauma and pain? It wasn’t all bad, I just have a hard time remembering the good. And what if my parents read this? What will they think about my truth?

As a black man, I can hear my elders telling me about the importance of keeping our family business to ourselves. That feels like “Anthony suffer in silence and don’t embarrass your family.”

After not speaking to my mom for several years, I finally made the move and gave her a call. As we talked about the past and our mutual hurts, she slipped and accidently told me that she knew I had been sexually assaulted as a child. She told me where it happened though I had never told her. After I processed what she’d said I told her I never wanted to talk to her again. So I come from chaos – more than you can possibly know. I use to think I was crazy. I struggled with decoding the flashes of memories I couldn’t hide from in between my drug- and alcoholinduced blackouts and the sober moments

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PHOTOGRAPHER Hara Allison MODEL Anthony Singleton

I couldn’t fucking stand. I almost gave up on myself so many times. So many times I wanted out of this spiritual contract with the architect of life. I was too much of a coward to proactively take my life, so I worked on killing myself slowly.

What the hell kept me going? Women. At every step of the way, a strong woman stepped in and saved me.

My mother wasn’t always the woman she is now. When I was really young she was loving and compassionate. I remember glimpses of her taking me to a private Christian school in Guam at a very young age. My dad was in the military and we were stationed there. Everything was great. I had a normal childhood up to that point, though my father was tough on me. He lost his father as a child and dearly wanted a son. My mother lost a child before I was born and almost died during childbirth with me. I was born several months earlier than expected, coming into the world at a whopping 3 pounds.

Named Fred Anthony Singleton Jr, I’ve been fighting since the beginning. My dad joined the military to become the black Bruce Lee. He constantly preached self-discipline and structure, but was an alcoholic. I can’t remember a single image of him without a damn beer in his hand.

I don’t really remember my parents fighting, but I do recall a night where I stayed at a family friend’s house: my mom called and wanted me to stay another night. Our family friend brought me home to get my stuff and there was shit strung all over our home in base housing. We walked in and my mother was crying and as much as they tried to pretend that things were normal, it was clear that something had happened. As I made my way through the hallway down to my bedroom there were signs of domestic violence: my dad’s prized nunchucks on the floor (given to him when he received his

black belt), broken glass in the kitchen, and picture frames as fractured as my life would soon become.

It took only a few more years for me to find out the hard truth about my parents and my family would dissolve completely. My dad asked to be transferred to Spokane, Washington while my mom stayed in Guam. Eventually, she sent me to live with my dad because she said I was getting older and I needed my father.

This became the turning point in my life. My mom got diagnosed with cancer, sending her spiraling into religion and my father met another woman who stayed over frequently. Making matters worse, as my dad retired from the military he found out that my mom was spending money we didn’t have, which led to financial strain, further causing their relationship to dissolve.

With my parents’ divorce I was thrown into poverty overnight. I went from a family with two parents in a really nice, family home to living in a motel with my mother. Though she was with me, I was completely alone. Her mental health and our lack of income made me resentful. We moved constantly and she became more aggressive. As a black child in

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off, my teacher challenged and forced me to confront the reality of my life. If I continued to play gangster, society had a place for meprison or death. I would show up to class after lunch high and bleeding from tattoos. She would lose her mind reminding me that I would never make it out of my mother’s home if I didn’t graduate.

On the last day of my junior year of high school, my friend and I showed up completely wasted. We had split a six pack of sixteen ounce cans of beer that morning. I didn’t make it through second period without getting caught. As soon as my teacher found out I was drunk she laid into me like a mother would. She knew the principal was looking for me and she hid me in her class until school was over. Because I was shown that love, I made sure to graduate the following year. On graduation day I gave her a dozen roses and when I graduated college fifteen years later she

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To learn more about Anthony, listen to Beneath Your Beautiful podcast Episode 111

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stepping away

Which came first? Who knows? I didn’t have anywhere to go where I felt successful, cared about, or heard. If I wasn’t busy being unkind to my wife over politics and religion, I would be doing something stupid at work. There was just no escape. I was stuck as deeply as I had ever been in my 25 years of depression and anxiety and I felt like I was quickly sinking.

I had heard of people admitting themselves to psychiatric hospitals and I honestly wondered if I should do it before I did anything to permanently ruin my life.

Unfortunately, I waited too long, and I was called into an impromptu meeting at work.

“Michael, we’re worried about you,” one

coworker told me. “It seems like there’s a lot going on and like you might be having a hard time handling it.”

Shit! No! No, no, no, no NO!

“We want to encourage you to take some time off,” another coworker said. “Focus on yourself. We can take care of stuff here.”

The initial pain and embarrassment of being outed as an emotional wreck tore me apart, but after spending a few hours gathering my thoughts, I convinced myself that they really did care about me. And while they might appreciate a brief break from me, they probably weren't just trying to get rid of me.

I wondered if I should take them up on the

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Let’s just say it was a tough year at work… and home. My problems on the job carried over into home life and my problems at home affected work.

idea. But what good would it do to take time off and just be stuck at home? There were as many problems there as at work… if not more.

By the end of the day, I had decided I should get out of town.

I tried to take time to myself in the past by going on solo backpacking trips, but both times I managed to get away from it all, I came home after one night because I was scared of bears…and I missed my pillow-top king-sized mattress.

I racked my brain for ideas. Do I have any friends that would let me use their beach house or cabin or something? Should I just close my eyes, spin around and point in a random direction… then jump in my car and drive? I was certain my wife and kids wouldn’t appreciate that.

Should I consider admitting myself to a mental hospital? What are they like and am I really that crazy? Am I crazy at all?

For some reason, I started thinking about the Hollywood elite and how they get to rehab in mansions while getting massages and facials. How amazing would it be to find a place like that?

I decided to see what was out there. That’s when I let myself get a little excited about the idea of taking time away from life.

I started researching, calling my insurance company, and trying to figure out what would be covered. They told me I probably wouldn’t be admitted into a mental hospital unless I was a danger to myself or others – which I wasn’t. That was kind of nice to hear. I then discovered that the name of the treatment I was looking for was called residential

Now that I had some direction, I scoured the country and found a couple of places that took my insurance. Both options were less than ideal, but I knew I needed to do something drastic. As sort of a last prayer, I left a message

for one more place that sounded amazing. I wasn’t sure they took my insurance, but I was in why-the-hell-not mode.

Later that evening, I received a call. “Is this Michael?” the voice on the phone asked.

“It is,” I answered.

“Hi Michael, this is Jamie. We received your email and were wondering the specifics of your insurance. We would need to check and see what sort of coverage you have.”

I told her the name, almost apologetically, thinking about the many times our insurance failed us before. I hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst.

“Okay,” she responded.

Great. Here it comes, I thought.

“I think they have good coverage,” she continued. “Let me give them a call.”

I’m sorry. What? She has to be mistaken.

Sure enough, the next day, Jamie called again. “Hi, Michael. What’s the soonest you can be here?”

I couldn’t believe it. At possibly the lowest point in my life, I took a chance, reached out for help and now I was being given a lifechanging opportunity. The fact that it was in sunny California and I'd get to leave the dreary Pacific Northwest was a huge bonus as well.

Because I had humbled myself, listened to the sincere advice of my coworkers, and searched for whatever help was out there, good things were happening.

The house was on a hill, next to a lake, in 80-degree weather. We had our own pool, a private chef, counseling and group work once or twice a day. There was art, yoga and exercise instructors, acupuncture, and weekend trips to the beach. There were

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I definitely wasn’t fixed when I got back, but I had tools, inspiration and determination.

mourning doves that sang to me as I sat reading and writing in the sun. We also got to play with puppies at a local shelter - I kid you not.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: I tackled some deep shit while I was there. But with the stressors of life taken away, replaced with time to focus on myself, lots of reading, professional support and a beautiful setting away from it all, I was able to make truly priceless progress.

The main problem with going away, working on yourself and then coming back to your old life is that nobody else is making changes while you’re gone. But through the support of the program and my own planning, I felt as prepared as I could be to take that on. It wasn’t easy and, at times, I felt the world wanted to beat the hope out of me, but I had enough to hold on to when things got tough.

The program set up counselors for me before I came back to the real world. They also connected me with a local NAMI group that provided their own online support groups, hosted guest speakers on Zoom, and even held regular sound baths like we had while we were in treatment.

On top of all that, I set myself up for success as well. I built relationships with others there and we've kept in touch to support each other. I also wrote down 100 things I loved above myself and a list of goals I wanted to achieve when I got home.

This was a year ago. I definitely wasn’t fixed when I got back, but I had tools, inspiration and determination.

Since returning, I have rebuilt my relationships with my coworkers and boss. My relationship with my wife, despite our opposing religious and political viewpoints, is on the mend. We’ve even started tackling traumas together, both from our childhoods and those we caused during our marriage.

My kids have learned valuable lessons as I’ve humbled myself, asked for forgiveness and worked to build close relationships with them.

But the biggest change is how I view myself. I’m tremendously proud of the work I've done by seizing opportunities presented to me and pushing myself for consistent growth. There have been plenty of failures and many, many moments I’ve felt like giving up, but I’ve gotten up every time, made small changes and continue moving forward.

I tell you my story in hopes that you might be encouraged to write your own. Please listen to those who love you. Reach out and use the resources available. And above all else, take small steps and be damn proud of every single one you take. I've held on to a saying for encouragement along the way. I want to leave it with you in hopes that it might help you on your journey as well. I'm not telling you it's going to be easy, but I'm telling you it will be worth it. «

Michael Hertzog is a Leo and likes short walks on the beach. Hes been married to his beautiful wife for 16 years and has a couple amazing kids: Gideon, 12 and Lilly, 10. He’s grateful for their grace and unconditional love. Michael has been an educator for 13 years and just published his first novel, Yelling at the Stars, available from many online retailers.

To learn more about Michael, listen to Beneath Your Beautiful podcast Episode 110

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PHOTOGRAPHER Frances Terlich

Frances Terlich is an Australian documentary photographer and is in the midst of motherhood while building a photography business. She lives on a property in rural New South Wales, Australia and has been photographing her children, wedding and other families since 2014.

In 2022 she took a course which boosted her love of documentary photography and kicked-started her passion for creating beauty from the ordinary life she lives. Frances is always looking to tell a story with every photo she takes so that her children have a real collection of memories from their childhood.

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TIME travel

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Holly Goodman

On the evening of February 7, 2007, I kissed by beautiful, blue-eyed son goodnight, not knowing that this would be the final chapter of our life together. Isaac passed away in his sleep, six weeks before his fourth birthday and I have spent the last 16 years replaying every second of that last day — wishing I could rewind time to change its final outcome.

Life as Isaac’s mother was a complicated mixture of pure motherhood joy, fear and uncertainty, and a series of painful setbacks that I had to navigate raising my son with autism. My world in those days consisted of hours of daily therapy interventions and trying to navigate a world that didn’t understand autism.

Every day was a grind, so when I was asked where donations should be sent in his honor, I heard my voice say, “I want them to help a struggling family who has a child with autism.” At the time I had no idea what those words meant, but the next day I found myself sitting in a chair at a local credit union signing papers to set up an honorary account in my son’s name.

In the weeks following the funeral, my

3-year-old son Tyler and I began to navigate our world without Isaac. Wanting to help him better process the sudden loss of his brother, we sought the help of several medical professionals who all advised that, at his age, Tyler would grow up never having any solid memories of his brother. My heart died a little more with that revelation. My boys had been inseparable. Tyler attended all of Isaac’s therapy sessions. They were both in the same preschool class and there was rarely a night that I wouldn’t find them asleep in the same bed. I wasn’t prepared to embrace a world where Isaac’s memory would be forgotten.

I remember the day I received a call from a board member of a local autism nonprofit inquiring as to my plans for the use of Isaac’s memorial donations. After a long discussion, it was clear that no local organization was able or willing to utilize the funds in the manner I hoped for: to provide i ntervention, services and assistance to autistic children. After I hung up, I found myself blankly staring at my notes from our conversation and my eyes kept hanging on the letters i, s, a, a, c. I felt a warm sensation spread throughout my body. This

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Being nominated as a community changemaker was a little surprising. Am I a changemaker? Yes, I suppose I am. Yet, never could I have imagined that my greatest accomplishments would stem from the most tragic event of my life.


MODEL Holly Goodman

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was when the ISAAC Foundation was born. With less than $10,000 of donations in Isaac’s memorial account, my mission and journey toward healing began. Never could I have imagined the many lessons I would learn in the years to come.


I learned the meaning of true resiliency when I became the mother to my beautiful son, Caleb, in 2008. I couldn’t have known that he would receive an autism diagnosis. But from the time he was an infant I had my suspicions. Nonetheless, my world got kicked on its axis

as we began navigating the world of therapies and advocacy once again. While not being able to predict the future for my son, I found myself much more at ease on this journey, thanks to the community of parents I had grown to love through my ISAAC Foundation work.


With each naysayer who said that the model for my nonprofit was impossible or unsustainable, I became more determined to prove them wrong. By this time, the ISAAC Foundation represented a connection to my son that gave me a tremendous amount

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of comfort. I’d also become close to dozens of autism families who counted on me for therapies their children desperately needed. The fear of failing them kept me laserfocused on my mission and gave me a sense of determination I never knew I possessed.


Being a mother to special needs kids means that our life is not what is considered “normal.” It’s spicy and can go from magical to public shit show in less than six seconds. I’ve learned to celebrate and delight in the small rays of sunshine each day brings and find joy and laughter in our unconventional family dynamics. I share these as Star Trek-themed captain’s logs on social media for my friends to enjoy. Using humor has given me a muchneeded outlet to express my joys and sorrows and also helps elevate conversations around obstacles that exist for individuals impacted by autism.


I learned that being vulnerable and sharing my authentic self was comforting to parents that lived some of these shared experiences. In 2017, I launched Isaac’s Autism in the Wild Podcast where I openly discuss my many personal parenting experiences along with guest parents. Over the years I’ve received countless messages from listeners who appreciate my honestly and openness on topics that are often never discussed.


My son Caleb and daughter Kelly were born after their brother Isaac passed away. While

they have no memories of their brother except the ones I have shared with them, they both feel a deep bond with him due to growing up immersed in the missional work of the ISAAC Foundation. In a way, they feel that their brother still lives through the activities of our organization and the families we touch.


Convinced that I’d never find anyone strong enough to handle my unconventional world as an autism mother, I have found true love. Not only does my husband, John, walk a similar journey as an autism father, his passion for the mission of the ISAAC Foundation matches my own. He loves me unconditionally and accepts each of my children exactly as they are.


While I will never again share a warm embrace with my son Isaac, I am able to enjoy the hugs, kisses, smiles and special connections from hundreds of children, youth and adults who are touched by my son’s legacy through the ISAAC Foundation.

There have been at least 100,000 times over the past 16-years when I have felt it might be time to hand over ISAAC Foundation’s reins to an individual with a larger sphere of influence and more grant-writing experience. Each time the thought crosses my mind I quash it back down because I know what I lack in skill, I make up for in love for the community I serve.

As best articulated by my childhood hero, Wonder Woman, “Now I know that only love can truly save the world. So, I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.” «

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To know Holly is to love Holly! She has a way of making every person in the room laugh with her hilarious personality. It has been a pleasure to support and volunteer for the Isaac Foundation. Holly always makes us feel appreciated, seen and loved for supporting her nonprofit. She will also be the first person to step up and volunteer on your behalf.

She has included my children and let them step in since they were very young. She has given them many opportunities to get involved and make a difference in their community. I am blessed to call Holly a respected friend and extraordinary changemaker for children with autism in Spokane!

Holly is one of the most inspirational, passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Her tireless efforts on behalf of the Autism community is not only impressive, it is also ever-changing and forward-moving.

Her dedication to this community has evolved over time, not only those touched by Autism, but to provide a greater understanding to everyone she meets.

Her tireless efforts have created parent support, first responder training, fire education training, sibling support and countless other advocacy and educational opportunities found nowhere else.

Her selfless nature is truly amazing to behold as she takes calls, answers questions and advocates for this

community with a passion I have never seen.

She inspires everyone around her through her numerous articles, blogs and podcasts while being compassionate, empathetic, understanding. She even injects humor of her own hardships.

She is an amazing mother to her children, wife to her husband and I could go on tirelessly regarding this amazing woman.

Holly makes the world a better place and the people around her better, while she continues improving and evolving herself. She is one of a kind, and I am so proud and honored she is a part of my life.

To nominate someone who has made a difference in your life or your community, please send an email to: hara @ BeneathYourBeautiful org

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I met Holly at a time when I needed a lifeline, and she has provided that and so much more over the years.

The ISAAC Foundation, which Holly started as a result of losing her own autistic child, has helped so many families that are reaching out for any kind of help or guidance trying to navigate the world of autism.

The thing about Holly is that she has

this passion and commitment to help families which draws you in, but she is also someone that you want to be close friends with. Not only is she 100% invested in helping kids with ASD, she is equally invested in helping those caring for those kids. My family has been so blessed over the years having Holly and the ISAAC Foundation in our lives.

I have known Holly for over ten years and she has played many different roles over the span of our friendship. It is my absolute pleasure putting into words how Holly is Wonder Woman.

Holly Goodman isn’t someone that can be described in a few sentences. It would take a full-length novel to do her strengths, abilities and perseverance justice. She doesn’t back down from aversions – never met an audacious risk other than head on. “Holly: Wonder Woman” as she is known in the office, puts it all on the line for the betterment of those diagnosed with autism and other special needs within the Spokane area.

When her dreams and vision grow larger than her current space, she creatively sets out to find the ISAAC Foundation’s next stomping grounds. She never backs down from adversity, regardless of what stands in her way.

Having been on a parenting journey most never travel, Holly is often heard lending her whimsical and witty sense of humor to parents experiencing trials and tribulations. She is skilled at listening to

others, troubleshooting rough spots and advocating for those without skill sets. She is constantly sharing her abilities, passion, and knowledge to those lucky enough to be connected to her.

Of all the ways I could describe this powerhouse woman, accomplished and inspirational receive top honor.

The ISAAC Foundation has accomplished more for the Spokane autism community than has ever been done before – through educational and support programs, clubs and leagues, fire safety training and reverse inclusion.

Holly is forever spreading her wings as a protective measure over the families and community members that need grace, guidance, and leadership. She’s inspired others to become the best versions of themselves, believing in themselves and to push past comforts to achieve dreams and ambitions.

Holly is the pal you want on your trivia team, your Escape Room team, your adversary board, and most importantly, around your dinner table.

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MODEL Ellie Rich

PHOTOGRAPHER Dillon Richardson


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FASHION DESIGNER Katharina Hakaj Couture


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After an extensive journey of exploring my artistic passions, experimenting, and pushing my limits, my heart has become strongly drawn to one particular genreFine Art Fashion Photography. Perhaps it’s my love for bringing dreams to life or adding a touch of magic to reality that drives me towards this style. Or maybe it’s the play of light and shadows, which have the power to create images that are surreal and evoke a message or a set of emotions that only exist in the mind’s eye, captured in that fleeting moment of the shot.

Each time I embark on a new Fine Art Fashion Photography project, it feels like a thrilling adventure full of endless possibilities, where I am free to create something entirely new that makes the world around me more vibrant and alive.


MODEL Marie Hart


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STUDIO H creative is an award-winning design firm. After 32 years in business, we’ve done it all. Annual reports, event collateral, magazines, logos, packaging, social media graphics, photography, brochures, flyers, posters, menus, web and editorial design – including Beneath Your Beautiful magazine!

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PHOTOGRAPHER Svetlana Nesterova
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MODEL Lyudmila Gulevskaya
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MODEL Yaroslavna Levitskaya
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Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine 83 PHOTOGRAPHER Belov Evgeny Ivanovich
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different roles and styles: fashion, street, conceptual, creative cinema, performances and photography.

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PHOTOGRAPHER Natasha Serova Natasha Serova is a Ukrainian photographer currently based in Scotland. Filming since 2019. Her main focus is a minimalist black and white male portrait. MODEL Nikolay Shpilevoy Nikolay Shpilevoy is a Ukrainian artist, theater and film actor, fashion model. He acts and shoots in


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The bigger they are, the harder they fall; the tougher they talk, the quicker they crawl. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and you’re as good as 10 feet tall!
From The New York Public Library

cancer and confined to a hospital bed in the living room, she and I watched a show called Purlie on PBS.

I was 17 and my mom passed away just a few months later.

I remember we were both enthralled with the music and the dancing, and I was obsessed with Melba Moore. She was amazing as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins. I loved her singing voice, her cute growls and I especially liked when she sang that she was “ten feet tall” from the song The Harder They Fall.

17 years after my mom passed, just after a divorce from my first husband, I was living with my sister and her family in Boston. I remembered Purlie and found and purchased a VCR copy of the production via the internet.

What sweet memories that show brought back to me of my mom and of a younger, simpler Hara.

As I watched Melba sing “ten feet tall” all of those years later, I smiled a big, broad, goofy smile at the TV, despite the poor quality of the video.

My brother-in-law walked by and remarked at my full-of-joy-smile and referred to it as my “Purlie face.”

To this day, 20 years later, when I catch myself smiling big, I still call it my Purlie face.

And now, when I think of my mom and Purlie and Melba Moore and young Hara, I feel like I’m standing ten feet tall! And perhaps I always will with my happy memories tucked safely inside, giving me strength – and height. Look out world! «

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From The New York Public Library
Hara, 17 and her mom, Sonya, 46
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90 Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine PHOTOGRAPHER Ksenia Ivashko
MODEL Natalia Alganaeva

Ksenia Ivashko is a photographer from the heart of Eastern Siberia. Since childhood, she has been a creative person. Her love of drawing, poetry and psychology led her to photography. It helps her express her attitude of this world: to show what she feels. In her photos she shows that beauty can be different. Every person is beautiful and unique. And she’s glad that through her eyes others can see it too.

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MODEL Fero Janicek

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of life PHOTOGRAPHER Muhammad Ali Wyne Muhammad Ali Wyne is an amateur photographer from Lahore, Pakistan. His desire is to capture stories of people that have no one in this world.
Strengthening Relationships, One Coffee at a Time Create sensory-rich nature play for ALL kids JESSICA Healing Resources for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Learn more at available on AMAZON Live Your Dreams Mary Anne Em Radmacher


Gaurav Vashishtha

Gaurav Vashishtha , also knows as GV THE LENSMAN is based in India. Through his work he aims to capture tender moments in their simplicity, creating timeless and iconic images.

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My photographs are very personal and emotionally charged; full of symbolism and metaphors that aim to depict the difficulties faced by people struggling with depression and other mental health issues. I use nudity as a metaphor for vulnerability – difficultly coping in such a tough situation. This character, IGOR, is sensitive and heavily affected by depression. Depression makes life seem full of darkness and problems that are hard to overcome.

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100 Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine CALLING Spring PHOTOGRAPHER KSENIYA DRAHUNOVA
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MODEL Taiwo Lewy

PHOTOGRAPHER VeronikaValuiskaya

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PHOTOGRAPHER Salvatore Sessa

MODEL Claudia Gaspari

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Don’t prioritize your looks

Don’t prioritize your looks my friend, as they won’t last the journey.

Your sense of humor though, will only get better with age.

Your intuition will grow and expand like a majestic cloak of wisdom.

Your ability to choose your battles, will be fine-tuned to perfection.

Your capacity for stillness, for living in the moment, will blossom.

Your desire to live each and every moment will transcend all other wants.

Your instinct for knowing what (and who) is worth your time, will grow and flourish like ivy on a castle wall.

Don’t prioritize your looks my friend: they will change forevermore, that pursuit is one of much sadness and disappointment.

Prioritize the uniqueness that make you you, and the invisible magnet that draws in other like-minded souls to dance in your orbit.

These are the things which will only get better.

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Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger
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Photo by Danie Franco
Submit your art, photos, story. 106 Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine




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