At the beginning of 2016, I set out to find 6 young women who would defy society’s norms of beauty and openly share their stories and their hearts. Indeed, seven young women rose to the top who spoke out about what it means to be truly beautiful in a culture that sends mixed messages to girls.
Taylor Boucher – Augusta High School
Katrina Carey – Emporia State University
Valerie Harder – Berean Academy
Jonelle Reinert – Pittsburg State University
Bayley Reiswig – Kansas State University
Sammy Shipman – Augusta High School
Brylee Thompson – Circle High School
Each young lady, who was nominated by people in the community, received a one and a half hour photo session which portrayed their personalities and what they loved most. Their props ranged from horses to puppies, vintage dresses to sports equipment, and everything in between. Many of the girls had never had a session like this before and the spotlight was on them and what they loved for the evening.
While each girl rocked her own style and definitely displayed an outward beauty, we discussed why inward beauty is valuable beyond comparison. Brylee Thompson shared, “God made us all different for a reason and he thinks we are all beautiful in our own way. We have to start believing it too or we will never be our true selves!”
Many of the girls have overcome difficult situations in their lives, from a tragic and life-altering car wreck to losing several close relatives, yet each young woman spoke out with hope for her future. Sammy Shipman confided, “My life didn’t get any better on its own, but I chose to stand with my head held high, and not let harsh events in my life change my happiness.”
For many of the girls, their faith is what keeps them going. Jonelle Reinert shared, “Of course I feel beautiful when people tell me I am beautiful and not just physically, but inwardly. When I can see something that I did (whether it was advice from my past experiences, or a small act of kindness), help someone else, I feel like God is using me and that is a beautiful thing. Helping others has a much longer lasting impact than physical beauty does.” Katrina Carey shared this sentiment, “Beauty is not defined by the standards of this world, but rather the Creator of this world. When Christ looks at me, He sees His daughter and treasure.”Valerie Harder
Each of the girls admitted that they struggle to see themselves as beautiful from time to time. For many, the photo session helped each girl see themselves in a different light. As we progressed through the session, they became less shy and sometimes burst out laughing, feeling comfortable in their own skin. Valerie Harder had it right when she shared, “I find that the most beautiful people may be pretty, but they are also life-loving people. Their character defines who they are, and often, their personality radiates from their face.”
These seven remarkable young ladies definitely inspired me, and I hope they inspire you. To read their full articles and see pictures, visit http://www.crossroadsphotography.org/true-beauty-2/
This year, we are looking for six more truly beautiful young women. To nominate, please email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form below.