“Beauty is the light that shines from within a woman, it has nothing to do with whether she fits into what society deems as acceptable and beautiful.”

As I sit down to finally write these words, five months have passed since this incredible shoot. In that time, cancer has touched my life deeply with the loss of my aunt, and new life has come into the world with the birth of my second son, just a couple of weeks after the shoot. The ending and beginning of life has brought even more clarity and importance to this little project that we called Beauty Reboot, and I’d like to share it with you today.

Part of the reason I wanted to do this project was my Aunt Amanda. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just a kid. She fought it off, but it just kept coming back. For almost two decades she was in and out of remission but she always won the battles, and I think I assumed she always would.The day before the Beauty Reboot shoot, my dad told me that Amanda probably wasn’t going to make it this time, but it was still a huge shock when she passed away two days later.

My whole purpose with my photography is to empower women by showing them how beautiful they are, just as they are. I knew I wanted to do a series of shoots or projects that empowered women not just through photography but by giving them a way to tell their stories. Because of my aunt, the stories I wanted to tell first were those of women whose lives had been touched, or turned upside down, by cancer.

Another reason that this project was important to me is that I also know from my own health issues how easy it can be to lose yourself in an illness or trauma and cease to see yourself as a strong, beautiful, capable woman, but instead be reduced to a victim. I wanted to give women who were in that place a way to change how they see themselves.

When I realized I wanted to tell these stories, I instantly thought of Sharon Blynn and her Bald Is Beautiful work, changing the way women see beauty and see beauty in themselves. Powerful, important work that tied in perfectly with what I wanted to do in this project.

Over many Skype dates, Sharon and I brainstormed about the photoshoot and Sharon worked with her sister, Elisa, on what we should call the project. We found Megan and Sandhya, two awe-inspiring women at very different places in their cancer journeys, who were both perfect for this project.

We had an amazing team of professionals that also wanted to donate their time and talents to tell these women’s stories. It was so wonderful to work with these kind-hearted artists. Tamara of Tamera's Catering who is also a cancer survivor, generously offered to cater the shoot so that our brave models would be well fed. Emily Hay of Palisades Productions, with the help of her mentor Jennie Reinish, were kind enough to record the whole shoot and created the beautiful video you see above. My constantly incredible hair and makeup artist, Page Berse, donated her time and talents along with Adrienne Esposito. And Sharon’s sister, Elisa, came on as our stylist. Being able to feed these women a catered meal and pamper them with professional hair and makeup meant so much to the project and to me.

The day of the shoot was a whirlwind with everyone set up in different spaces all over my house/studio. While I shot one set-up after another, the women alternated between hair and makeup and being lovingly interviewed by our videographers. All three women, including Sharon, got a chance to be pampered, photographed like a model, and to tell their story. Megan, Sandhya, and Sharon’s stories will all be shared in following posts.

These women are so strong, and powerful and inspiring, and there are so many out there like them. I want to get a message out to all the women, whether they are going through the journey of cancer or some other incredibly difficult time, that they are beautiful—no matter what. Beauty is the light that shines from within a woman, it has nothing to do with whether she fits into what society deems as acceptable and beautiful.

The scars are beautiful, the journey is beautiful, bald is beautiful.

BEAUTY REBOOT:

FINDING BEAUTY IN THE CANCER JOURNEY