This is an excerpt from the I Am Project. Each woman is photographed nude and asked to author her own personal statement starting with “I am…“ and followed by one word that inspires her positively. For example, “I am courageous“. She is also asked to explain her statement and talk about how this project empowers her and why she wanted to be a part of it.
I am strong
(age 27 – Indiana)
I am a kind, gentle, tender person deep down. I get my feelings hurt easily, but I am very strong deep down too. I am strong both inside and out. I have realized that tender doesn’t equal week, and that you can be strong and still be feminine and soft and beautiful. And I feel that I am all those things.
I am on an inward journey to affirm myself. I have fought and struggled with self-esteem issues for years. I have been told that I am beautiful and I sort of believed that, but I wanted to discover it for myself. I feel like I have changed dramatically over the past year. I am defining who I am and the things that are important to me; what I want to be and what I want to accomplish. I want to make a difference. I want to attack stigmas and the things that keep people down. I want to show others that they have choices and reassure them that they are beautiful no matter what kind of scars or baggage they may carry. I did this project because I believe in it and I wanted to be an example of natural beauty and be a part of something that could be life changing for someone else.
I was really worried about my acne scars showing up in the pictures. I had been under stress and it presented itself in my skin. I guess it had to come out somewhere. Joe and Koren had said at the beginning of the project that they wanted the women in the images to be real.. unaltered. I thought to myself what would it say to all the other women who have blemishes or scars or maybe even worse things? I don’t want to hide it! It’s only skin deep, and I think the pictures have a fearless quality to them because of the honesty.
Doing a project like this has help me realize that I am strong. I am not going to let these superficial things inhibit me or keep me in a place of fear. I want to be my true inner-self regardless of how scared that my be on the outside. I feel stronger and that was what I wanted to connect with, and I did that. I did that on a much deeper level than I thought I would. I found the strength to see myself as beautiful, and the pictures celebrate that. I love the fact that I haven’t been changed in the pictures. It’s just me and the light, that’s so real!
I have risen above it all and believe that I am beautiful and that I can be apart of something beautiful, and I can contribute to make the world around me more beautiful.