SOUL&STORY ft. Elaina Duran
Soul&Story started in Fall 2011. The inspiration came from Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty Videos that addressed the question: What standard of beauty are we holding ourselves to? Soul&Story seeks to do two things. 1) Share people’s stories about how they discovered their own beauty/self-worth 2) Inspire others to brave their soul and get the conversation started about what influences us in our self worth. The reason the featured women don’t wear makeup in the photoshoots is not to shame makeup. Nothing is wrong with wearing makeup. The problem comes when we aren’t comfortable in our own skin. So we go to the extreme: and require that they don’t wear makeup for this shoot. The hope is that we all come to love ourselves for who we are. Despite the unnatainable beauty that we are surrounded by, we can overcome it by pulling our strength from the encouragement of our friends and mentors.
What ethnicity are you and how did that affect your idea of beauty?
’m ethnically Mexican but I hold myself to American standards of beauty. I’ve noticed that Mexican standards seem to be based on long dark hair; a dark, lean body and large eyes with long eyelashes. But the American standards are unobtainable (without the help for cosmetics or surgery): a thin, hairless body; thigh gap; and not too thin or thick hair.
s a kid, representation was big because I didn’t look like the people on TV. It was the idea that the standard of beauty was something I couldn’t be but that everyone else was. It’s the idea that no one looked like me or talked like me. People would say “Dora” represents me but those characters are always specifically placed, they were never just “there”. It seems that the TV normal was characterized as white, blond and skinny girls and that didn’t apply to me.
What’s your journey to understading beauty and self-value?
y mom has 10 sisters so I was raised by a village of beautiful, funny and kind women. I had a very strong desire to emulate all of them and I started to wear my makeup at 14 years old because that’s how they did it. But I think my family did a very good job of making a persons character be the most important thing.I got praised a lot not based on appearance but achievement, intellect and character. They would tell me that I’m a good reader, had a great singing voice, and a kind heart. This influenced the way I talked to other people. I would compliment people based on what they can control, not about what they looked like.
wear make-up because I like to, not because I need to. I like the routine of wearing makeup. Generally, I like doing things for myself such as wearing outfits that look good on my body type or buying myself flowers. It shows that I value myself. So with makeup, it’s about doing something for myself daily. Also, I think I look tired without it and I like the way I look with it on.
How did it feel to not wear makeup during the shoot?
’m so use to wearing makeup so the idea that I wasn’t wearing it was foreign to me. In my head, I always look a certain way (curled eyelashes and eyeliner) even if I’m wearing a ton of makeup or none at all. An interesting thing was that during the shoot, I was trying to be careful of scratching my eye but I had to remember that it wasn’t there so I didn’t have to worry about it.
Best compliment you've ever received?
eople have told me that I’m a very “warm” person. I love that. “Warm” means I’m the human equivalent of a hug or a fresh, homemade meal after a long day. A fuzzy, it in your stomoach feeling. People are telling me that I make them feel loved. That’s a really big deal.
ecently, people have been telling that I have a great smile in recent years. When I was a kid, I had 6 teeth removed and then braces for 4 years. During that time, I was very insecure about smiling so I didn’t. Now that it’s fixed, I feel free to smile. I think that the beauty from my smile comes from my confidence not from the smile in itself.
When was a time that you felt beautiful?
canâ€™t pin it to a specific memory. Probably when I was laughing or dancing around to dumb music. I always find the happiest people to be the most beautiful so I generally feel the most beautiful when Iâ€™m feeling happy.
What is your favorite part of your body?
y hair! For a while there was this weird cultural norm where girls hated their hair but I never got it - if you had curly hair, you wanted straight and vice versa. Iâ€™m very low maintenance and God gave me hair to match my lifestyle. Most days I donâ€™t even brush my hair and it always manages to get compliments. We have a great relationship, my hair and I.
How do you remind yourself that you’re beautiful when you may not “feel” it?
remember that nothing is permanent. One day, I can be the most beautiful girl in the room and another day, I could be in the bottom 3. I’m only going to look this way for a little while so I try not to pressure myself to be 100% beautiful all the time. The hard moments only make the good moments feel better.
What is a piece of advice you want to leave?
e are all one day going to be very, very old. So, prepare for that now. Donâ€™t take things too seriously - I would much rather have laugh lines than worry lines. Drink lots of water. Wear sunscreen. Love deeply. Your spirit and yourmind are what will last you into old age. Treat them the most with kindness, not your appearance.
Photography by Megan Won