SOUL&STORY ft. Heather Nominated by Annie
Soul&Story started in Fall 2011. The inspiration came from Doveâ€™s Campaign for Real Beauty Videos that addressed the question: What standard of beauty are we holding ourselves to? Soul&Story exists to share your story about beauty in a simple, relevant, and raw form. Soul&Story is unique because the women featured do not wear makeup for the shoot. We want to focus the spotlight on their natural beauty, not their ability to apply makeup. The hope is that we can love ourselves no matter what and that by sharing our stories we can encourage each other.
contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org instagram @soulandstory
How would you describe the standard of beauty?
hin, tan, flawless skin, perfect features, all the while being effortlessly â€œnatural.â€?
What is your story?
n high school I was influenced a lot by my peers. I thought that all my friends from home were so beautiful and I found it easy to compare myself to them. I would frequently find myself feeling like I was lacking in some way.
he most challenging time in my relationship with beauty was definitely the summer after freshmen year of college. Looking back I don’t even know how it began, but I became very conscious of what I was eating and extremely disciplined with exercise. I wanted to be skinnier, even though I was at a healthy weight to begin with. It was a weird summer, I was home, working 24/7, with none of my community around me. I just got into this weird dark slump. Being hyper-vigilant about what I ate came to be this thing that I had control over, and the “results” made me “happy” at a time when I was really down all the time. It progressed to where I was constantly racking my brain about what I was eating and how many calories were
in everything. Looking back, I don’t even know how I was so disciplined. Thankfully it never progressed to something like anorexia or bulimia, but it was definitely a level of concern or obsessing over image and being thin than I would ever like to be at again. In the back of my brain I knew that this wasn’t good for me but I was like, “I don’t care because I want to look this way.”
he beginning of the turn around was at the end of that summer, I worked at a YoungLife summer camp. That’s when I realized - or at least first admitted to myself- that it was a problem. I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to be caring so much about. I opened up about it to one of my friends and coworkers at the camp. She had really struggled with image for years. I found it so freeing just opening up and talking about it. Even if you tell yourself “it’s not a big problem” and try to downplay it, just being able to share that burden with someone else makes it suddenly become so much lighter. It helps you get out of your own head. That was the beginning of me getting back to normal me. I’ve never been to that extreme before or since.
hen I went abroad and I was like, “I’m going to eat everything and not care.” And that’s what I did. I wanted to experience everything and I didn’t want to let something dumb like not enjoying food stop me. And I haven’t really gone back since. I mean of course I have my things where I would rather change this or that about my body. At the same time I realize that it’s so much better that I’m not pursuing those thoughts to an obsessive degree. Now I don’t think about it as much. I think i”m on a good path. I can be reminded that my heart and how i love others is what really matters, and i think that’s something we can all try to focus on. I think i’ve come a long way since that summer but of course there’s always still a long ways to go.
ince then I’ve realized just how much power you have to make other people realize that their physical appearance is not what matters. It frees others to make them feel confident. When I see friends of mine who seem so carefree and nonchalant about their appearance, it makes me think, “She doesn’t care, why do I care so much?” You can make others feel comfortable simply by being comfortable in your skin. That’s something I really try to do now with the women in my life.
How did it feel to not wear makeup during the shoot?
o be honest, when I was first nominted to do this, my gut reaction was “Maybe I could just wear foundation and no one would know.” And then I immediately kicked myself, realizing how ridiculous that was! I thought, “The fact that THAT’S my initial reaction is exactly the reason I should do this.” If this makes me a bit nervous or uncomfortable, that’s all the more reason to do it. But looking back now, it was fun and comfortable. I didn’t really think about it at all while the shoot was going on.
When do you feel most confident?
hen I’m surrounded by people I really love and who really love me. Then I don’t have to think about it at all, I don’t have to question what i do or say, i just get to be myself. I love that when i’m at that level of friendship with people, i don’t
What makes you feel selfconscious?
he comparison game, seeing other people who are really thin or really put together or have great fashion all the time. Sometimes it makes me think “I should try harder” or “eat healthier.”
What is your favorite part of your body?
y eyesâ€Śbecause I love them. I love their color and I think you can say a lot with your eyes.
What was the last meaningful compliment youâ€™ve received?
omeone recently told me that they appreciated that I seek to understand multiple view points. I thought it was cool that they recognized that I can have an opinion, but at the same time I try to see multiple sides of an argument. I want to understand others, not judging or jumping to conclusions.
How do you build your own self-confidence?
t’s a mind game more than anything. It’s just recognizing your thoughts and intentionally saying “no” or “that’s wrong” or “who cares,” building yourself back up with positive truths instead. It’s not something I do all the time, because we are our own worst critics. But even being aware that we have the ability to do that is important, realizing that we don’t have to just passively take in all the thoughts that go through our mind.
f I think about the people who I associate with being beautiful, again and again, I find that it’s the women who don’t focus on their own beauty. Maybe it’s cliche, but I think inner beauty translates very directly to outer beauty. The less you worry about being beautiful, the more beautiful you become. I really believe that. I feel like it’s been said before, but that’s something that i’ve seen in women in my life and something I hope that I can show to others.
Photography by Megan Won