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What is the Raw. Honest. Loved. Project?
In short: It is a photo project that enables you to work through insecurity by way of community support.
In long: It is a photo project that is focused on combatting some of our deepest, nagging insecurities with the love and positivity that our friends and family see in us.
The motivation behind the start of the project happened when I experienced some adult "bullying" of sorts...catty talk behind my back that was meant to downgrade me and make me feel awful about myself. What it did was actually just make me sad...sad that someone my age was exhibiting behavior common in junior high school, sad that women tend to bond over speaking about other women so negatively, sad that someone really wanted it to affect me in a negative and destructive way.
As I thought about it, I understood more and more that our trash-talking of other women is generally based on our own insecurities. We feel negatively about ourselves in whatever capacity and we then tend to take those things out on others. I find this to be super disappointing.
My thought was that maybe we needed to discuss these things honestly with other women. Maybe by doing so we could gain an understanding and mutual respect for our female peers, uniting and building one another up instead of disparaging and tearing each other down.
I also thought it important that we have a little positive reinforcement in this as well. We're our own worst enemies...we dwell on these negative things about ourselves while our friends and family oftentimes don't even SEE these things about us. So, the project comes along with feedback from those close to us...reminders about why they love us just the way we are.
How does it work?
Here is how this project flows...
I have each participant send me the biggest insecurity that they obsess over, that they are also willing to share with the world. This often takes a lot of thought on their part – most of them give it a good month before really writing something up for me, because, as I’ve mentioned, it's scary.
In addition, they each select five-to-ten family members and/or friends that they feel especially close to and send me their names and contact info. I then proceed to contact these individuals, requesting some information on what they personally love and appreciate about that particular participant. Some choose to list traits, some choose to write very emotional testimonials – all of them are so beautiful, and so appreciated, as you shall see.
As far as the night itself, I have each participant read his/her own write-up about their insecurity aloud. This is rarely done without resulting in tears - not just their own tears, but also the tears of those others in the room who feel their pain. We do this one at a time – one participant reads theirs, and I immediately take him/her over afterward to take their photo, holding their insecurity summed up in their own words. The photo is taken directly after the reading to capture the raw emotion that they are feeling from just sharing that with this group.
Immediately following that, we sit back down with the group and I read to them the kind, loving, reassuring words of their friends…which often leads to more tears. But, happy ones this time. (I should also mention that I don’t share these participant’s insecurities with anyone else beforehand, not even the friends and family of whom I was requesting information.)
It ends up feeling like we're hearing what would be our eulogies, since that seems to be the only time people feel free to share all of the things they love about a person. Very surreal…and very powerful.
Why should YOU participate?
Those who have participated have described the project as: Scary. Intimidating. Exposing. Liberating. Empowering. Bonding.
My ultimate goal from the beginning (when it involved only women) has been that those who participate think about this night and her own group when a negative thought about another woman crosses her mind. It's natural that it happens, but, hopefully this is a reminder to check ourselves before we vocalize anything of the sort. Remember that we don't know the struggles that that particular woman may be dealing with...that she has friends and family who love her, and that there are probably numerous reasons why they love her unconditionally.
Participants have also found that the nagging insecurity that they entered the group with is then lessened by the time they leave. It gets chipped away and no longer holds the prominence that it once did.
Lines of communication are often opened between friends and family members as well.
See the "testimonials" page for some participants' reactions to the project.
Please contact me if this project sounds like something you would like to participate in. Contact info. can be found on the general "about" page.