SOUL&STORY ft. Eugenia
est. 2011 Soul&Story is about letting women know that their natural beauty is worth a photoshoot. Their story makes them unique and sharing it in this way brings encouragment to others. In a world of comparison, Soul&Story exists to inspire and lift each other up. contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org instagram @soulandstory
What is your ethnicity and how did it affect your idea of beauty?
â&#x20AC;&#x2122;m Korean-American. Both my parents immigrated from South Korea way back in the day, and I grew up in California for basically my entire life. Both Korea and the US have insane, unrealistic beauty ideals, as different as they may be. Korean culture tends to prize being extremely thin, big eyes, paleness, and etc. As a Korean-American, I am forever bound to the hyphen. I grew up with both cultures, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inconceivable for me to be fully one or the other. Growing up, I was the only Asian-American at my school. At a time when all I wanted to do was fit in, I stood out like a bucktooth. And I let the labels and prejudices and stereotypes that society placed on my identity negatively influence the way that I thought about myself, my self-worth.
What’s been your journey to understanding beauty & self-worth?
hen I was little (and definitely still now, sometimes) I was held captive by fear because of the things that society told me to look like, to do and act. I subconsciously internalized society’s insecurities, limitations, and needs. It incapacitated, paralyzed me. I wore makeup both to hide from my insecurities and to be seen and accepted.
hen I was a freshman in high school, it was a time when I was really struggling with what I looked like, what other people thought of me, etc. Our school had this writing contest, and that year’s theme was “beauty”. Because it was mandatory for my English class, I entered, and wrote a narrative essay about a girl who was wrestling with an eating disorder. And I won first place. (Cue high-school-freshman Eugenia internally screaming and jumping up & down).
ut getting recognized for this piece that I had written and debated a million and one times about whether I should turn it in or write on a completely different subject, made what I was experiencing so much more real for me. It wasn’t some epiphany-like, clear, life-defining moment. It was subtle, a soft turning point. And I’m still on that journey of self-acceptance and self-care, soul-care, of loving myself and being proud of myself.
ottom line: I am a beloved daughter of Christ. I forget that truth so often. To surrender and live by this truth, I’m trying to find God, the Spirit, His light and grace in my daily life. For me, part of that is cultivating the time and space to be open and receptive to the Spirit, to listen when God’s voice whispers through the hectic busyness of daily life, and witness God’s hand in every facet of my life.
How did it feel to not wear makeup during the shoot?
ust a tad terrifying. I tend to be on the more camera-shy side, and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even like being in front of the camera in the first place, let alone without any makeup on! And I admit I had a moment before when I thought, hmm is it too late to change my mind?
ut Megan is such a wonderful, encouraging photographer, that after a while, I honestly completely forgot I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even wearing any makeup!
What was the last time you felt beautiful?
alking to work this morning. I feel so peaceful and happy walking to work every morning, listening to music through my headphones through the crazy morning rush of people and traffic. No specific reason why--I just do :)
What is your favorite part of your body?
y hair! My mom has naturally super curly hair while my dad has pin-straight hair. So I got a crazy wavy mix of both. I used to loathe my hair and straighten it all the time, but now, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m learning to embrace it. Plus, DC humidity is not a game, so I just let it do what it does.
What was the last meaningful compliment youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve received?
omeone I look up to once told me that I have a light that I always carry with me, that shines out of me. Like, man, what a compliment! And from someone I so admired, too. My heart is so toasty just thinking about it.
How do you remind yourself that you’re beautiful when you may not feel it?
think that a part of reminding myself that I am beautiful and beloved is finding God’s wonder in the “ordinary”. Someone once said that we ooh and aah over sunsets and landscapes, but we often forget that the pinnacle of God’s creation is the person sitting right next to you. We are all created in God’s image, divinely inspired sons and daughters. And that is truth.
omething that helps remind myself of that truth is my “thankful journal”. Since sophomore year, I’ve carried a tiny notebook for me to write down things I’m thankful for, moments throughout the day when I felt God’s presence and light, through people I encounter, moments experienced. Through this discipline, God’s grace and His love for us has become so much more transparent and palpable in my life; in the way that He moves and transforms us; how He is constantly working in and through me and others every day.
ou ARE good enough. No, SO much more than just “good enough”. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. Inherently. Even when you don’t feel all that beautiful or loveable or worthy. Why? Because you’re a child of God. You don’t need anyone’s approval or affection in order to be considered “good enough”. Your worth isn’t contingent on other people’s acceptance of you. It’s intrinsic through Him. Long before the moment we were even born, we are so fully loved, known, and accepted by God. So don’t feel like you have to shrink yourself--take up space, expand. We’re meant to be more--to grow and change and become. We are all meant to shine, born to make manifest the glory of God that’s within us.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139: 13-16
Photography by Megan Won