SOUL&STORY ft. Valerie
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. This is to focus the spotlight on their natural beauty, not their ability to apply makeup. Makeup isnâ€™t a problem. The problem comes when we feel uncomfortable in our own skin. 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 has your ethnicity affected your idea of beauty?
’m Cuban and Indian. For Cubans, the more white you are the more beautiful you are. For Indians, women are considered exotic. I don’t necessarily agree with either way because growing up my mom always told us we were beautiful. I love that she did that. All my sisters and I look different and we don’t fit the US standard of beauty and for her to tell all of us that we are equally beautiful is really special.
How does your faith influence the way you undersand beauty?
think so. The fact that when I see people, Iâ€™m not just looking at physical traits, Iâ€™m looking at how someone behaves. If their behavior is kind and caring, I see beauty. For example, I saw a woman in a mobile wheelchair across the street who dropped her jacket and I was going to run over and help but a man stopped and helped her. I had seen him before and I thought that he was cute but when I saw him help her, I found him to be beautiful and attractive.
How did it feel to not wear makeup during the shoot?
Girl, I donâ€™t even know how to put makeup on.
What are some moments when you feel most confident?
feel confident when I give presentation knowing that I know everything about my topic. I love being able to speak truth with knowledge to a group of people who are new to a topic. I am passionate about activism for those with intellectual disabilities and furthermore, those who are marginalized in society, so I love to bring awareness to these people. I also feel confident when Iâ€™m walking in a street and no one knows me. I love the way I can represent myself in a quick second as my story intersects with so many others.
What are some moments that have made you feel self-conscious?
lot of times on campus, I’ll notice when a guy looks at me. When I get a lot of looks, I start to see myself in other’s point of view and I lose my self identity. I see myself as something to be looked at versus “Valerie.” That’s where I lose confidence because I’m trying fit someone else’s norm of who I should be.
What is your favorite part of your body?
y eyes. I like them because they are like my momâ€™s. I see my momâ€™s eyes as deeply understanding and deeply sad. She has gone through a lot and when you look at her, I see years of struggle and understanding others. She is a prayer warrior and everyone can see that through her eyes.
What was the last meaningful compliment you’ve received?
he most recent, was when you said that, “Your eyes are very intense”. Also, I don’t take well to compliments. I usually just say something back.
How do you build your own selfconfidence?
read the Word of God. Whenever I’m feeling down or/and I’m having negative thoughts that stem from low self-esteem, I realize that I’m not suppose to have solely self-confidence but confidence rooted with God. Whenever I say “Valerie, you can do this”, I always fail. But when I say, “Valerie, you can do this with God,” then I get my strength to persevere. That’s where I get renewed strength and confidence. Me and God chilling.
Last Comments W
omen need to know that their outer beauty should not be the only part of their identity. U.S. social media and film create a standard of beauty that not even the women portrayed can fit. Women are so afraid to be who they are because there are so many norms that we are told to fit into.
omen also need to love each other. In the US context, we all are second class citizen to men. We are still fighting for rights, and we need to band together. Instead of criticizing each other, we need to realize that we are all beautiful. Our identity needs to be rooted in something else, for some of us, it’s Christ and for other’s it’s another greater being. We can’t do this by ourselves, we need the support.
Photography by Megan Won