The Self Esteem Project
by Michelle Jester
as seen in Modern Grace Magazine
Recently, a close friend sent me a text that said “Have you heard of this??... It screams your name! Love it!” It included a link that was titled THE SELF ESTEEM PROJECT. This friend knows that I am all about boasting self-esteem and encouraging others, but I have to admit I was automatically leery. I’ve seen many projects and campaigns over the years that targeted women’s self-esteem by using phrases such as: “Be you,” “Go natural,” “Embrace yourself.” And while all of those are great, I always thought they lacked something for me.
What did they lack? Well, easily they missed my bottom line: I’m not going to go all natural. I’m a dress-in-a-business-suit-every-day kind of person. Not because I was “programmed” or “conditioned” to do that, it is simply my style. I have long, blonde, curly hair that I’ve adapted through the years; however, it basically stays the same style. And I love it. Funny thing is, my hair is naturally straight as a board.
Not long ago, one post on social media that was shared over one hundred and thirty thousand times said something along the lines of the mothers that actually put their household first are the ones who aren’t always dressed, have their nails done, and have the latest phone. Those are the real women. My first thought was, did I just read that wrong?
My response: not truth. I had my nails done, hair done, latest phone, and I am a real woman who put my kids and household first. We should be empowering women, ALL WOMEN, because we’re all real! I made it a point to let my kids know that I was valuable enough to take time for myself also. What this post should’ve said is: Women who don’t have their nails done, hair fixed, and the latest phone are no less perfect than the ones who do! We’re all real women who fight the good fight.
So again, when I read the title to the link THE SELF ESTEEM PROJECT, I was leery. Quickly, after clicking into it, I realized this wasn’t going to be the same old story. A Louisiana-based photographer, Adriana Harangus Carrier of Adriana Portraits, started the project to photograph a THOUSAND young girls and “provide them with incredible, celebrity style images that will uplift them and show them that they, too, can be just as gorgeous as the girls on the cover of magazines.” She went on to say on the site, “I believe this age range is a critical time in the life of a young girl… This is the age when she will face the most criticism from her peers…” I knew then that I had to meet Adriana.
When I first arrived at Adriana Portraits and opened the door, I was met with a soothing scent. It wasn’t overpowering, just warm and soothing. The studio is a classic, open loft style with dark wood flooring and relaxed seating. The entire business screams out for you to simply be comfortable. Once she started talking, her passion for the project poured out of her. She said, “It’s very hard for women to admit to themselves, because we’ve been preached that self-esteem comes from the inside, and that’s good, but that self-esteem can be elevated by how we feel about ourselves physically. What young girls see more often are edited pictures of models looking glamorous. However, then they are told that it ‘doesn’t matter how you look,’ but it does. And there is always going to be a gap if we don’t bridge that with them. Girls are always going to compare themselves with what they see. So, I decided to do this; to take pictures of them, and make them look like the cover of a magazine and show them that yes, they are beautiful.”
Her final words are what have stuck with me the most, “They are beautiful, and we all are.” Her heart is amazing and I am so thankful for the link that friend sent me. Adriana will be taking pictures of our female Teen Contributors soon, and I will include those in another issue!
If you know a young girl between the ages of 7-14 years old who wants to get on the list for THE SELF ESTEEM PROJECT, please email Adriana Portraits: firstname.lastname@example.org.