I have been blown away by the descriptions from women of how this has brought them to confront their own insecurities, how it has opened a path of communication between themselves and their family members and friends, where once they were struggling with these things on their own…now they don’t have to. They are willing to bare these things and welcome the positivity that those close to them not only have to offer, but WANT to.
The first few testimonials are women who were merely readers of the group blogs…the rest are from some of the women who have participated in a group.
Words from Readers:
“Logically I know, and I think most women know, that we all share many of the same insecurities and completely obsess over them. With that said, seeing it in writing with a photo attached makes it so real, not just a thought. Especially since I've actually spoken to a couple of the faces photographed. Reading Melissa's was like reading my own life. Everything about being so shy and people being mean (because they could get away with it), not standing up for myself, and even the game of pretending! So me, at least in my 'professional' life. I would try to pretend to not be so shy at work because, you know, retail shit. But, I always felt I failed a lot at that game. Ultimately, my conclusion was: what's so wrong with being a bit introverted? I believe it’s why I can read people so well. One of my biggest life lessons is learning to stand up for myself without putting someone else down in the process. It was so interesting for me to read her story because from my perspective she really did come off as very self assured, confident, a cool girl, not shy at all.
I think it is such an important conversation! I mean when it boils down to it just initiating these talks can snowball into so many lives, most importantly our daughters. When I look back into my childhood trying to pinpoint where my insecurities stem from I can't really say it's any one thing or blame my parents. What I realize now is if I had had this kind of talk with my mother or someone close to me, I would have been equipped with an understanding and power that very well may have changed the course of my life.
Anyway, I know we don't know each other really well, but I wanted to let you know that this has really helped me reach another catalyst in my life to propel forward. I've been going through a lot emotionally and internally over the last couple of years; sometimes to the point where I don't recognize myself. So, just know that I am grateful and that it meant something to me. I am sure it did to many, many others as well.” - Melissa O.
“Wanted to take a minute and tell you how incredible your project it. It is moving and raw and brave. It's honest and ugly and heartwarming. I have been reading (obsessing and internalizing and relating) to each of your images. You captured an essence. I love the experience you created around capturing the images. You showed strength and forethought and sensitivity. You gave each woman an incredible gift into the window of herself and into the perception and place she holds with those closest to her. Bravo. I in general have really appreciated your work- now I am a huge fan. Thank you for conceptualizing this project and bringing it to life. It's led me to a couple of very important conversations with women in my life and it's also led me to an internal dialog full of questions and thoughts to travel. Wishing you all the best and with very sincere appreciation- thank you for sharing this project.” - Summer H.
"“I had a 41 year old friend of mine break into tears today on the phone with me, telling me that she was picked on and bullied her entire childhood for a physical deformity and your photoblog gave her the strength to confront it this weekend
and realize it has shaped her entire life. That is how fucking powerful this was.” – (for privacy’s sake, not having been given permission from the woman mentioned, I’m not including her name.)
"Hello Alana! I'm sure you are inundated with messages, but I just really wanted to share how profoundly your project has moved me. I first became aware of it through my friend Ian, in your men's group. I was truly moved to tears and continue to be amazed by the honesty and strength of your participants. You are doing such a service to not just our community, but to women and men of the world, by simply showing vulnerability and compassion in the most personal way. So thank you. I applaud you. I would be honored to be considered for an upcoming group, and would love to talk with you anytime." - Jayme
"I wanted to share something with you. A few months ago when I liked the page I had sent you an email in regards to possibly being in one of your groups.
Over the last few months it has crossed my mind many times. I wonder if i could really share what i feel about myself. We all have something that was planted many years ago in us that was the seed of doubt. But I have spent so long hiding and covering it from others that i was unsure i would ever be able to share how I truly see myself. Scary very scary thought.
I wanted to say that with your very last project i was surprised. Men almost never admit a weakness or any part of what is considered self doubt. I wanted to let you know that i found the photos and the messages in them extremely inspirational. Thank you for sharing them with us. They are truly amazing. Thank you." -Krystal H.
Words from Project Participants:
"I was part of the fourth group for the project and my feelings before going were...anxious, jittery, questioning myself, questioning my decision, almost backing out. Upon my arrival, I found myself in this open, welcoming group where I was surrounded by people who, I thought, were nothing like me.
But what I ended up discovering was I was surrounded, utterly, by people who were as sisters. They had insecurities that I have, they had the same type of issues...and they were loved, just like I am.
I'm not gonna say this project has changed the entire world. But it has changed how I see the world, which is equally important. I'd be willing to bet every participant feels similarly.
Thanks to this project, and Alana (the mad genius that she is), when my old, ugly insecurities crop up, or new ones show up knocking at my door, I actually find myself asking how my group would address it. What would they say about it if I were to read it to them? How would they feel about how I'm thinking/talking about myself?
Every single time I realize that not a single one of them would be even a millionth part as harsh with me as I am being. And that helps me on bad days. It helps me to put on the cute clothes I'm self-conscious about, it helps me address an uncomfortable situation, it helps me stand up for myself when other people are being unkind.
The world is still the same as it ever was...but how I see it is different thanks to participating in, and continuing to follow, this project." - Ana A., Group 4.
“Alana, thank you for making this happen and for pushing me out of my comfort zone. for probably 25 years, I have felt the insecurity I shared for the first time that night. After saying out loud, receiving the love and support of the strangers (now friends) in the room, and hearing the amazing words from my family and friends, I realized this ridiculous thing that had a hold on me for so many years was just that - ridiculous.
I do deserve the love I receive and, because of this project, I am going to work hard on internalizing and living that.
Thank you for your time and effort on this, and I hope this blog can help others realize that everyone has a back story and we should treat them the way we want to be treated.” - Mona W., Group 1
“Ok, so, I feel insanely lucky to have been apart of this because I truly believe in the message. It’s time to stop being judgmental, jealous, and territorial. We all have insecurities. Instead of bringing each other down, we need to build each other up. Stop seeing other women as competition. We are who we are. And we’re all so beautiful.
The night of the shoot, I remember feeling anxious on the car ride over. The butterflies flying around in my stomach got stronger and stronger as I parked my car (crooked, I should add) and got out to walk inside. Those stupid little butterflies didn’t leave my belly until I had a drink in my hand, and my ass planted on a seat. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was going to be a night full of women (women I did not know) talking about their insecurities (plus, a photo shoot), but it ended up being so much more than that…
I didn’t think I would cry, but, damn. I was crying 37.2 seconds into the very first insecurity. I related in so many ways. I had no idea that other people felt that way, too. I felt her pain. We all felt each other’s pain that night. It was extraordinary. I can’t think of one insecurity I heard that night that I did not relate to. Every single one hit me, in one way or another.
Now that the project is over and everything’s out there (including the nice words written by our dearest friends & family), I see how almost silly we all are for having these insecurities. Obviously, they’ll never completely disappear, but it’s so comforting knowing we’re not alone. And we are loved. And awesome!
Alana, YOU ROCK!!! Thank you for being SO awesome & welcoming, and for including me in this project. <3 <3 <3” - Mal C., Group 1
“This was one of the best nights of my life. One of the best things was just the atmosphere. Started out nervous, anxious and shy but ended with tears, awesome hugs, laughter, love, new friends and a better appreciation of old ones. I honestly feel it changed my life. I was intimidated by these ladies at the beginning but by the end I realized, hey, we’re all not so different, I don’t need to be scared. Im sure my insecurities will still rear their ugly heads but when they do, Im ready for them. All I have to do is remember this night and these amazing lovely women. I think everyone should do something like this, even without the photos, although they’re a great added bonus.” - Becca M., Group 1
“In part, the project came from the tendency that women have to tear each other down, to even bond over negativity. I think of how many times you hear people talk about women just not being able to get along, and that is just the way things are. This night proved the opposite. The positive energy, understanding, and relationships built in just one evening were incredible to experience. A testament to what can happen when we listen, support, and lift one another up.” - Kerri F., Group 1
“It reinforced to me how important our jobs are as parents, some of the deepest wounds were caused by what our parents did or didn't do. 2 never judge a book by its cover! 3 what amazing things women can accomplish when we come together4 we are insecurity sisters now.” - Katie W., Group 1
“I am still feeling the reverberations from that incredible evening. Good God, I hadn't shared what I perceived all my life as a weakness with my closest friend, let alone a group of strangers. (yes all friends were once strangers I agree so wholeheartedly with what Katherine just said regarding the how we impress ourselves upon the children in our lives, on purpose or just saying things in passing. We all learn how to cope to some degree, but I speak for the messed up child hiding in my heart, and she says that we must be much more careful.” - Cheryl G., Group 1
“This whole thing was hard for me. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to write about my insecurities, I did't want to ask anyone to say anything about me and I definitely didn't want to hear any of this back.
But I did and it sucked. I spent a long time building my walls, being that rock for my family and friends and hiding my insecurities. I was very honest with my insecurities but played it safe with the list of friends I gave. I didn't give you my husband, my sister, my mom because, whether good or bad, I can't hear what they have to say.
I'm glad you started this conversation of self, sisterhood and our journey together. It scares me that I put all this out there. It was an amazing experience that touched my soul.
I just gave my husband the booklet to read. I will give it to my daughter and my son to read as well. I want them to know I, too, struggle with who I am.
Alana, this is a testament to you, our friendship and how much I trust you. I love you and am thankful for the friends that I now have because of you, Mara, Jamie, Aarde & Eden. – Melissa J., Group 1