rachel.

The blogs about women were long. Real long.

For the sake of none of these women’s honest, heartfelt words and loving messages from their friends and family going unseen, I’m going to be posting each in a single blog every couple of days or so until I am able to finally get the teen session executed and up to share. So that you can take just five minutes and read one woman’s “story” and maybe find comfort in the way you can relate/understand/empathize/etc.

They will be in no particular order…drawing numbers 1-18.
Tonight’s number: #14.

I give you Rachel.

rachelblog
rachel’s words –

“So. The word “insecurity,” to me, is a complex thing. When I think of an insecurity–because I overthink EVERYTHING (which I suppose would be my number one insecurity)–it leads me to question what the underlying fear is. As in, “I’m insecure of my stomach because it always looks like I’m five months pregnant,” leads me to, “what is it about having a big belly that scares me?” Usually, the answer is, if I don’t fit into the “ideal” body size, then it will be difficult to “look” successful: ie. be able to purchase clothes that express how sassy I really feel without looking trashy, and generally not be able to feel comfortable in my own skin when surrounded by people that I feel are judging me. Also, there are other associations with “a big-bellied girl” that maybe I internalize a bit too much. Like, it means that I drink too much, or am lazy (which both happen to be true, but I know that’s not always the case with others that might look like me). On the flip side of this, my insecurity is one of the things that led me to leave the cosmetics industry. Frankly, I was fucking sick of feeling disected every goddamn day of my life.

My second insecurity (so, the first one is belly…I hope this is making sense…) and probably my biggest, is that I will inevitably offend someone that I admire or respect (friends, aquaintences, Joe, family, etc..). Like, if someone knows me long enough, then they’re going to eventually unveil the crazy town going on in my head and they will run screaming for the hills. Usually this surfaces in my writing or just plain ol’ conversations with people.
Seriously, typing it out even feels crazy.
I’m not sure if that even counts as an insecuity..sorry. See, I told you this felt complex.

Lastly, I’m insecure about my “accomplishments.” I always have a little voice in the back of my head that is telling me that I don’t deserve (insert accomplishment: like a good grade, a promotion, or a decent marriage) and it’s really because of strange coincidences that my life has turned out the way that it has, rather than any hard work or genuine talent on my part. Maybe it’s a mechanism that keeps me from getting too attached to the good stuff…I dunno.

And there you have it. You now know more about me than 95% of anyone I know. 🙂 “

rachel’s friends and family:

“Many things make up the Rachel I know. A few traits I deeply love are: 1. Her intelligence. 
2. Her witty, yet sometimes snarky humor. 
3. (This may sound weird)… but, her awareness of herself and the world. 
4. She is steadfast. Resolute. I respect that quality immensely. 
5. Not sure if this counts, but as analytical as she is (like me) she is also a bit of a dreamer, and that combo is rare and pretty damn radical!” – brooke

“I love Rachel! She is someone who thinks deeply about life and desires meaning and truth in this crazy rat race, not only for herself, but also for other people. She challenges me to think beyond my perceptions and into places I haven’t gone. She is loyal, creative, and an amazing writer! Her voice is unique and articulate. Rachel is so beautiful too. Her facial features are stunning…. and she has a nice ass! 
Rachel has loved me and been such a faithful friend over the years. I hope she knows how much she has been a model of strength and honestly seeking something better in life. She is a loving and sacrificial mom, too. You are an inspiration, Rachel, and I love you!” – sayde

“Hey Alana, haha – as much as my sister and I make fun of each other and can be pretty bratty, she has so many positive traits. I think the biggest one has always been her ability to take care of you. When we were younger it meant being a nag or always needing to fix boyfriends, but as we have gotten older it has become much more appreciated. When I was pregnant she was so helpful. If I ever had questions or concerns she was there. If I was too tired to cook she always fed me. She is an amazing beautiful person and I am sure you will have tons of great traits to write/photograph about. Let me know if you need anything else!” 
- madeline

“Rachel is one of the strongest, most intelligent women I know. She is passionate about whatever it is she is doing and applies herself deeply into her interests; whether it was makeup artistry, anthropology, or currently – writing, the labor movement, and women’s studies. I am always excited to see her eyes light up when she gets excited about what she is doing and learning. She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and seeks out truths and facts in everything she does.
She is incredibly strong and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She speaks up when others are treated unjustly and is never afraid to be honest with someone, even if that honesty isn’t what that person wants to hear.
Rachel has become more beautiful as time has gone on. I don’t care what she says about her own body image. I watched her give birth to our daughter and son and NOTHING is more beautiful than that. She is the mother of our children and she is sexier than ever.” – joe

“There are so many amazing things I can say about Rachel…..
I will never ever forget the first time I ever spoke to Rachel; I was working in the hosiery department at Nordstrom, selling socks and pantyhose. We were going up the escalator at the same exact time and we had said hi to each other. I asked her if she was the MAC manager, she said yes, and I told her that it was basically my dream to work at MAC, kinda like a psycho…. she told me that she was hiring and to bring over my resume to her and the department manager. Rachel hired me, and I thought it was my dream job…. except for one thing… I thought my manager (Rachel) hated me…. Now that I know her, her telling me that I looked like I worked for Bobbi Brown and that I should cut off my hair was actually her wanting to make me step out of my comfort zone…. She then started promoting me, and pushing me to always work hard. Although work Rachel is very different from friend Rachel, I love them both the same because I have learned so much from both…
At work Rachel always worked hard, and she was always fair…. I have worked with many different managers and Rachel will always be the one that has made the biggest impact in my life. When Rachel went on maternity leave to have Henry, I was made the interim assistant and when she got back, the position at another store opened up and she immediately pushed me to go for it… she coached me through the whole interview process and was always positive. When I left, I told her that I wished I could just work under her forever. While managing I got to develop a friendship with her… and when I became pregnant…. I got terrified… and I knew I had to leave my management position and work for Rachel again… I knew that no one else would understand how hard it is to work and be pregnant…. and sure enough no questions asked, when I called her and asked her to take me back, she did…. When I was interviewing for another job, one of the questions was, name a manager whose qualities you admire, and I of course named Rachel… and still to this day, when people ask me how to do something, I start off with well Rachel taught me this way so this is the right way.
Friend Rachel is just as amazing…. she has so many qualities that I admire… As I was pregnant and event after I had my son, I’m still finding myself think of what would Rachel do… other than my mom, she is the best mom I know…. she always puts her family first… and never does anything that would make anyone think otherwise… August and Henry are so lucky to have such a strong woman as their mommy…
The most admirable quality that Rachel has is her ability to always stand up for what is right… When working for her, Rachel always had our teams back… no matter what she always stuck up for us even if she got the blame…. As a friend, Rachel will always tell me like it is and never sugarcoat anything…. She also stands up for what she believes in and is open to everyone no matter what their thoughts or beliefs are…..
Rachel is truly an inspiration to all women…. her ability to manage a household… have a happy marriage… take care of two children…go to school full time… and still work…. is mind blowing… and I can never thank her enough for believing in me and always giving me inspirational words in my time of need and I know only great things are yet to come with her and her family because she deserves everything great in life.” – vena

the original blogs (with backstory) can be found here:
https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/women-raw-honest-loved-part-1-2/
https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/women-raw-honest-loved-part-2/

honest words about honest women.

jamey

This week has been an amazing one. “Amazing” actually doesn’t describe it at all.

Last week’s night of honesty, peeling back layers, sharing, comforting, and understanding has impacted me in a way that is just that: indescribable. I have been approached by women just in my day-to-day errand-running that have seen and read these blogs (https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/women-raw-honest-loved-part-1-2/ and https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/women-raw-honest-loved-part-2/) and were touched in ways they hadn’t expected, as well. Hearing that from people that were essentially “strangers” has been overwhelming to me.

Honestly, my goal with this whole project (at least for the eighteen of us involved) as I had pointed out, was for us to remember this night – these women – and check ourselves before we disparage another woman, seeing that we all are so similar deep-down and we therefore have no right to judge, especially not knowing another woman’s story.

This did happen, thank goodness. All of us involved have benefited in that way, for sure, being quicker to have compassion and understanding than how quick we once were to judge and trash-talk.

But there is more.

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.

On that note, I encourage all women to do this. Have a night in which you choose an insecurity that you are willing to share with each other – promote some healing – see that you can relate and identify with other women even so much more than you might have ever thought. It was awesome to have a mixed crowd – women who were friends with some and had never met others. By the end of this, we all ended up with super close, super dear friends to take away.
**I am offering my photography services, and help with format and facilitation of an evening like this, to women who are interested. The fee is small per person, just to cover the photography and materials involved. If you are interested, definitely contact me either on facebook (alana t photography), or email: alana.t.photography@gmail.com** but this is something that you can very well do on your own, I promise. 🙂

For now, I leave you with some words from women who have contacted me and allowed me to share how this has affected them. The first few are women who were readers of the blog…the rest are from some of the women who participated that evening.

Thank you to all of you for your words. ❤

“Wanted to take a minute and tell you how incredible your project is. 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

“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

“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.)

and now, words from a few of the women who participated in the project…

“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 it 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

“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” – Mallery

“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. I’m sure my insecurities will still rear their ugly heads, but when they do, I’m 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

“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

“ 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 together, 
4) We are insecurity sisters now.” – Katie

“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, Jamey, Aarde & Eden. – Melissa

“Hi Alana,
I am hoping, that by writing this down, the hypersensitivity that I’ve experienced the last 207.5 hours since participating in this project will abate to some degree.
I thought being the oldest woman in the room, that perhaps I’d have some exceptional wisdom to share. The old saying, ‘with age comes wisdom’ is true. (If you don’t believe me just think back 5 years and consider all of the truths/lessons that you’ve learned during that time period.) After reading, listening and an evening of camaraderie, I had no special wisdom. We were all on the same level. Open, honest, hurt and most importantly, we were healing.
I believe that we were all surprised at the outcome.
During the past week, I have been approached by women that I know, who have given me encouragement and also have scolded me for ever thinking such negative thoughts about myself at anytime.
I appreciate their sentiments. In the past I would have listened, but while listening, my heart would not have been able to hold the compliments, however sincere the bearer seemed.
This week is different.
They talk , I listen, I begin to accept and then my eyes blur with tears and I have to excuse myself so that I may go and weep in private.
The walls that I have built up to survive within my ‘self’ have been weakened and the mortar that held them together seems to be leaking out through my eyes.
I feel more fragile, yet I also feel revived, as if the scar has been torn open to receive the oxygen it needed to heal properly.
I listed the most negative things that I felt. The four words that have made me feel unlovable. Four words that have run rampant in my psyche and been allowed full rein too often. How ridiculous I feel now, for letting them inside, allowing them to touch, let alone grasp the reins.
How awful we can be to ourselves when it should be just as easy to speak highly of ourselves to our ‘self’.
I am trying hard to do more of that now. I will be kinder to myself. I will move towards the light and give myself what I now believe I deserve more of. I will believe that there are people who value me and indeed, love me, just the way I am, warts and all.
Reading aloud my insecurity made me realize how senseless the negative thoughts have been. It clicked somehow. It has helped me take control while allowing a feeling of freedom.
Yes, the chalkboard in my head now says all of the positive things listed to the right of my photo, plus so much more.

Thank you Alana. ❤ ” – Cheryl

women. raw. honest. loved. (part 2)

katieblogkerriblogmalleryblogmarablogmelissablograchelblogrhiblogmeblog

Yes. That last photo is of me. I couldn’t ask these ladies to bare their souls without diving in with them. So, yeah, beside the fact that I’ve known quite a few of these ladies for quite some time now and they are some of the most special people in my life, period – this night was super emotional for me, in addition, because I was feeling it all along with them. So many times, I forgot that I put this together as a photo project. It became so very much more. But, I suppose I’ve already said all of that in Part 1 of this blog – https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/women-raw-honest-loved-part-1-2/ .
I am going to just copy the introduction from that here, however, just in case you’re reading it for the first time – the inspiration behind the project, how it came about, etcetera…just understand that it is also in part 1, so, you don’t need to read it twice. 🙂

I also want to make you aware that there were two other beautiful ladies involved with this project that ended up not being able to participate that actual evening, so, I don’t have the same photos for their parts, but I have all of the raw material that goes along with it. Please don’t miss theirs.

This was the most rewarding project I’ve ever even thought to undertake. I have another of these in the works that I will be doing with some preteen and teenage girls…maybe nip this behavior in the bud, ya know??? We can hope.
That said, I would love to do this again with more women. I will have to charge something monetary, as it has taken a lot of time, energy, and money to do…which feels not right somehow, but, is necessary if I don’t want to be living on the street at the end of the year. 🙂 If you are interested, or want to get a group of about ten women or so together to do this, please be in touch. You can email me at alana.t.photography@gmail.com or find me on facebook – alana t photography, and send me a message.

**Video will also be coming at some point**
Thank you all for taking an interest in this. Please share if you are so inclined. It’s time for a change.

Now, as I’ve said, the introduction from Part 1:

Have you ever spent an evening with fifteen other women that was filled with only positive energy? Where there was no gossip, no cattiness, no bullshit, no sneers from across the room, no whispering behind someone else’s back, etc?

Yeah, me neither.

Until Friday, February 8th.

The evening started with the majority of these women never having met. There were shy introductions, nervous small talk while everyone got comfortable and cozy. Drinks of choice helped to calm some initial nerves. And then it began – the discussing, revealing, crying, sharing, hugging, affirming, LOVING. And, of course, the photographing, as you can see…but that felt like a side note in the whole scheme of things.

Why were we doing this? Let me give you a brief description of why.

You’ve probably seen the movie “Mean Girls”, and I’m sure you related to at least SOMEthing in it, whether you were the one bullied, the co-conspirator of the bully, or the bully yourself. We’ve all experienced at least some aspect. And we realize that it is usually destructive behavior over what is generally incredibly silly things…jealousy that someone is prettier than us, weighs less than us, has a better job than us, has a better boyfriend than us; we weren’t invited to such and such party…the list goes on. And, yes, all of those things sound like a list made by a girl in junior high or high school, but, lemme just say – I’m 35, and I hear conversations (and see…thank you, social networking) about these very silly things ALLLLLLLLL THE TIME. I also have recently felt the effects of peer “bullying”, by women who don’t even know me very well at all. I just said I’m 35, right?!?! Yeah. So, I found all of that ridiculous and it spearheaded me writing this blog here: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say/ which led to this project.

One of the problems is that women tend to bond over negativity. How sad is that, ladies? We trash-talk another woman with our friend, and so our bond with our friend becomes stronger. Gross, right? I’ve been guilty of it, for sure. My stomach actually hurts to think about that now. And I wish I could apologize to anyone I’ve done this to, and actually anyone that I’ve done this WITH, as I wasn’t helping to build up that person, either. Consider this my apology, please. Pretty, pretty please.

Bottom line: talking trash generally happens because of our own insecurities. We struggle with things deep inside of us, and we inadvertently take them out on others.
So, that’s what got me thinking…

Maybe there needed to be a bigger conversation.

Maybe we needed to face those insecurities.

Maybe we needed to face them together.

Maybe we could relate to each other and get a whole new perspective on women in general.

And guess what? That’s what happened. That and so much more. I’m so grateful to these women for being so raw and honest, and so willing to bare this to not only their friends and family, but strangers alike. The ladies have used such words to describe it as: Scary. Intimidating. Exposing. Liberating. Empowering. Bonding.

As you’ll see, all of these insecurities these eighteen women face stem deep, to the core. Even those that are insecurities about physical attributes, they stem emotionally. Not just physically. So many of them (maybe all of them), go back to our respective childhoods. The ladies have mentioned that doing this has made them appreciate how much they need to pay attention to the messages that they are sending as parents, (myself included, wholeheartedly.) Hopefully, you will read and appreciate all of this as well and be able to relate in some respect, however small it may be.

We had this opportunity to recognize that all of us deal with these nagging insecurities, but that all of us are equally loved and appreciated by those close to us. Our loved ones don’t even see these insecurities, most of the time. They only see their beautiful friend/sister/mother/daughter/girlfriend/wife/etc.

That said, my goal for this project: to think about this night, and these women, when a negative thought about another woman crosses our 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.

Before you delve into reading these women’s revealing, honest, raw emotions, let me set the scene for how this project flowed.
Basically, after the responses to my previous blog about this subject, I had the women involved send me the biggest insecurity that they obsess over, that they were also willing to share with the world. This took a lot of thought on their part – most of them gave it a good month or so before really writing something up for me, because, as I’ve mentioned, it was scary.
In addition, they each selected five-to-ten family members and/or friends that they feel especially close to and sent me their names and contact info. I then proceeded to contact these individuals personally, requesting some information on what they personally love and appreciate about that particular woman. Some chose to list traits, some chose 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 had each woman read her own write-up about her insecurity aloud. This was rarely done without resulting in tears, not just their own tears, but also the tears of fifteen other women who felt their pain. We would do this one at a time – one woman would read hers, and I would immediately take her over afterward to take her photo, holding her insecurity summed up in her own choice of words. They all got a little bit mad at me for this 🙂 because they were still crying, for the most part – but that is why I wanted the photo right then – to capture the raw emotion that they were feeling from just sharing that with this group.
Immediately following that, we would sit back down with the group and I got to read to them the kind, loving, reassuring words of their friends…which led to more tears. But, happy ones this time. (I should also mention that I didn’t share these women’s insecurities with anyone else beforehand, not even the friends and family of whom I was requesting information.)
It ended up feeling like we were 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.

That said, meet the ladies. (The previous eight women can be found in part 1 – https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/women-raw-honest-loved-part-1-2/ )

katherineins katie ~

“Ok so my insecurity is my stomach/midriff/muffin top. I just wish it was flatter and didn’t hang over my jeans. And less stretchmarks would be nice. I don’t regret how I got them though.”

katie’s friends and family:

“She is wonderful with kids. All kids like Katie…she has a kind heart, smart, hard worker, always shows compassion.  I think something that I admire the most about Katie is her calmness – I never see her lose her temper or show stress, unlike a lot of people.  She handles situations and people really well. Awesome Mom, and my best friend.” – carolyn

“Here are just a few things about Katie that I love: She is loving. 
She is accepting. 
She is open. 
She is self-sufficient. 
She is very creatively-minded. 
She doesn’t pretend . . . you know when she’s happy, sad, or mad, or if she thinks your BF is a DB and you can do better (btw- we broke up, and I did do better).
 Her skin glows like no other and
her eyes sparkle, (and I think the shine for both comes from her heart.)
 She has a great set of ta-ta’s. 
She makes the best salt scrub ever.” – tammy

“She is really fun and adventurous. Very youthful looking and beautiful. Extremely hardworking and motivated. She’s a good listener. Always making friends. Takes amazing photos. Family is important to her. She is loved by many!!!” – jessica

“Katherine is a loving, loyal person. She will do anything she can for a friend. She is a wonderful, kind mother, and I couldn’t ask for a sweeter or kinder, loyal daughter.” – lora

“Katie is one of the most kind and genuine people I have ever met. She is thoughtful and considerate. She’s always offering to help me out, whenever or wherever she can. She is a sweet person and amicable. She is easy to carry a conversation with, and seems to get along with everyone she encounters. She is also a nurturing mother and friend, and has compassion for children of all ages.
Katie is talented with photography. She is also a hard worker. She is someone that I think of fondly, and I consider her a true friend.” – carrie

“Nice, smart, funny, brave, outgoing, friendly, pleasant, beautiful, intelligent, gracious, kind, honest, trustworthy, helpful, creative, generous, grateful, entertaining.” – owen

kerriins kerri ~

“Coming to the end-the end of life, a job, a relationship, be it friendly or romantic-and leaving no impact. The world was not different, not better for me being in it. My friends and
Family wasn’t uplifted and made stronger, didn’t feel both affirmed and challenged, loved and safe by knowing me. I get scared that nothing is different in the world, my city, my community, my family’s and friends’ lives for knowing me. I fear being inconsequential.”

kerri’s friends and family:

“KERRI…
is strong; 
is charismatic; 
inspires joy in everyone she meets;
 is intelligent; 
is beautiful; 
has infectious enthusiasm; 
is independent;
 is family to her friends; 
is sharply witty, and silly as all get out;
 is a true confidant.” – alayna

“I could go on for DAYS about ALL the wonderful things about Kerri. She is one of my closest friends at this point and time, and I can’t currently imagine life without her. 
She is: Dedicated. Passionate. She can WOW a crowd and Captivate an audience like no one I have ever met. Natural Leader. Smart as all get out. A Great Listener. She relates well. Dependable. A phenomenal dancer – she can work those hips. She tells it like it is.” – heidi

“Ker Fer is….Thoughtful, creative and tenacious. She is selfless at her job, and often sacrifices her health and sanity for the non-profit she works for. She is charismatic, clever and charming.” – eden

“Kerri is a wizard. 
Kerri is a straight shooter who really sticks to her guns.
Seriously though, I don’t even know where to begin. There are so many things I love and admire about this stunning woman. 
She is incredibly perceptive and possesses striking intelligence. She can make me laugh like no one else on earth. She is effortlessly gorgeous. She is passionate about social justice and has a uniquely strong ability to empathize with people from very different walks of life. She is curious about the world and wants to keep learning and growing. She is a powerful force for good in this world.
Kerri is unapologetically herself. What could possibly be more beautiful than that?
Hope this is what you were looking for! 
~Molly
PS – Although ridiculous, I do believe the first two are true, and they might make her laugh.” – molly

“Cherished; 
integrious; 
honest;
beautiful;
genuine;
tender;
conscientious;
life-giving;
compassionate;
honoring;
driven.” – skylar

“Kerri is truly one of the best friends I will ever have. She inspires me to be better. When I’m around her I push myself to become smarter, happier, healthier. Kerri is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my entire life. Not kidding!
Kerri is ridiculously smart – book and street. But moreso street…because she’s a gangster.
Kerri has her shit together. Bam!
Kerri is super down to earth. I don’t know many people more genuine. Bam!
Kerri has one of the most beautiful and contagious laughs of anyone I know. Boom!
Talking to Kerri is so EASY. She listens!
Listening to Kerri is so easy. She’s relevant! She doesn’t ramble on and on like me. 🙂
My relationship with Kerri is one I treasure like she is my own family. I would do anything for her. I love Kerri!” – myra

“You are an amazing woman. You are strong. You are FUNNY. You are sweet and dependable.
Your creativity and soul are outstanding. Your friendship is cherished and your personality fills a room with joy.
You make a party come to life and a song worth dancing to.
You support your friends and family to the fullest, and we hope to always do the same for you.
You are loved. You are beautiful. You are the KanJam Queen. You mean the world to me.
Thank you for being our incredible Kerri Fieder.
I love you! I miss you!” – carly

malleryins mallery ~

“I feel self conscious when I wear noticeable make up. I will totally blush if someone comments on the fact that I’m wearing make up. Then I’ll rush into the bathroom and wash it off my face…. I don’t know why but growing up, instead of asking my mom to buy me make up, I just observed my little sister while she experimented with make up and all that girly stuff. Now, I’m almost 29, and I finally have a make up bag along with make up. But I still have noooooooo idea how to properly apply it, I can’t pluck my eyebrows into a shape I feel is attractive, I just bought my first pair of high heels last year. I swear I’m a dude trapped in a woman’s body! A gay dude. hahaha. Only I bet a gay dude can put make up on better and feel more confident in heels!!! Haha”

mallery’s friends and family:

“Mal is beautiful. Duh! haha – MOST hilarious chick… EVER. She’s a huge flirt with the best laugh and voices. She’s very smart, strong, creative, happy, talented, sweet, caring, thoughtful, classy, practical, and easy to get along with. I have shared many memories with Mal with traveling and being best friends for so long. She is a great mom, great friend, and she is like a sister to me. She has a great family and we share many friends. She’s a great artist, has great taste, cute tattoos, she’s fun and adventurous. She had a beautiful wedding too. I love Mal.” – tara

“Mal is a really, really good mom. She’s super generous when she has something that someone else does not. She listens to you when you talk and does her best to empathize with you. She’s absolutely gorgeous. She’s hilarious.” – ashlee

“Mallery is a super talented artist—photography, editing, painting, etc. She is absolutely gorgeous and has a figure to die for. She is hilarious. She is kind to a fault. If I told her I needed pants, she’d give me the pair she was wearing—-literally!!! Oh jeez. I don’t know what I’d do without Mal. I swear she keeps me sane some times. I can tell her ANYTHING–and I mean ANN-KNEE-THING—and she doesn’t judge or think badly of me or anything or whatever. She just sympathizes or comforts or gives advice; whatever is needed. She makes the party, yo! She is completely honest with me. She makes me feel comfortable and I know I can be honest with her. She likes me despite the fact that I’m kind of a B and am crazy, so how can I not like her? LOL She is always there when I need her. As I said, I can be honest with her and tell her anything. I just love her to death. I’m not sure what else to say…I’m sure I’ll think of something. I really can’t say enough nice things about her. She is so great. She is one of my besties and I can’t imagine NOT having her in my life. Love love love that little lady.” – becca

“1) She has a kick ass sense of humor.
2) She is amazingly loyal. Not only to her family, but her friends also. There’ve been so many times since I’ve lived in WA that I just needed another human being, and she was always there for me. No matter how little gas she had, no questions asked, I needed her and she was there for me. She got me through my first 6-9 months of being in WA, for sure.
3) She doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. Inside AND out. She could be in a room full of people and light it up, with not only her personality, but also her naturally bright and beautiful complexion. I’ve seen it happen.
4) She is insanely patient. And I know she’ll laugh about this one, but this is true. With adults and kids alike. Especially my kids. That’s AWESOME.” – jen

“She’s hilarious, artistic, beautiful! She has so much passion in what she believes in and just in everything that she does! She’s a great mom and a strong woman! Oh and a very good friend, heheh.” – jennifer

marains mara ~

“A Very Hairy Nightmare –
I never realized I was a chubby girl until a boy in second grade screamed, “Watch out for thunder thighs!” across the playground at me during a game of tag. I became even more aware of my size and stature when my mom called me a fat ass and put me on a serious diet at age eight. I was stuck with braces, and later neck gear, for the better part of my awkward tween years. Just my luck, I also had terrible vision and had to wear lenses as thick as bottle caps. As the years have passed, I learned to get contact lenses, use an invisible retainer, embrace my curves, and, when I can’t, just wear clothes that flatter my shape. Now, after recently having a baby, I am trying to learn to love my body all over again.
Then there is the hair. Ugh – the hair. Women were always commenting on my thick, dark, wavy hair when I was a kid. Unfortunately that hair stuck to my body in more places than the top of my head. I had the bushiest, thickest uni-brow as well as hair on my arms and legs that made me feel like Sasquatch. I remember begging my mom for a razor as a 13th birthday present. She finally acquiesced after catching me cut worse than an incident with Edward ScissorHands on the bathroom floor, her adult razor in my hot little hands. To this day, I still shave my forearms. Additionally, I have been plucking every stray hair from my face since fifth grade. Have you ever looked at your face under high magnification? It seriously changed all my grooming habits. I can’t leave the house without giving my entire face a once over with tweezers. The facial hair plucking is now an obsession. All I can see when I look in the mirror is a bearded lady. I can’t even go camping without a hand mirror and travel tweezers. I wish I could get over it and just get waxed or laser hair removal or something but, honestly, I have been too embarrassed to grow my hair long enough for an esthetician to see and remove it! I wish I had been born hairless.“

mara’s friends and family:

“It’s hard to put into words everything that Mara is. She is spicy, passionate, flirtatious, and a tease. She’s a blast to have fun with. She is very protective over the ones she cares for. Motherly and nurturing…sometimes even when you don’t want it. Stubborn as hell, and depends on if she will let up on her stubbornness in a situation. She gets matter-of-fact on ya when she wants you to do something. Great friend.” – jen

“Although I’ve only had the pleasure of Mara’s company a handful of times, I cannot help but feel impressed by her wonderful, positive personality and stunning face. In my experience with her, I’ve witnessed a gracious hostess, an engaging charmer of children, and a very talented artist. I was really amazed by her artwork and her ability to decorate. She is very talented and I hope she continues to develop these talents and share them with the world.” – andrea

“I knew Mara and I would be fast friends the moment I met her and heard that sarcastic tone in her voice. She is hilarious and has the best laugh – makes you want to laugh with her all night – so, we do. ☺
Mara is fearless. She is bold. She is dynamic. She walks into a room and demands attention just because she radiates fun.
She is BEAUTIFUL. Mara has the most beautiful smile and most captivating expressions. And THOSE EYES. She is my dream to photograph, as she is full of life and not afraid to show it. She is dramatic and captivating and lovable.
She is incredibly patient. I am blown away that she is not in pieces after the troubles she’s had with little Balen. ☹ I feel like I would be a constant sobbing mess, but that woman is an enduring powerhouse – a sacrificial, patient, and loving mama.
She is a STRONG woman – she stands up for what she believes in and is protective of those she loves.
Mara is one of those friends that I am always able to just pick up in our friendship from wherever we left off, (if we don’t see each other for a bit, as life has become busy for us both, now that we’re not just gallivanting single ladies) ☺ which is incredibly comforting. I appreciate this woman wholeheartedly. I only wish we lived closer to each other.” – alana

melissains melissa ~

“Beside the obvious insecurities of being “big boned” and my personal fave of having no boobs is… I’m scared stemming from being very shy. Scared to talk to people, of not being good enough, afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, of not knowing what’s going to happen… the list goes on.
When I was young I was scared of everything. I was so shy; people would be so mean to me. I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I remember when I was about 12 that what I was doing wasn’t working and I didn’t like myself this way. So, I decided to change. Well the “being scared” thing didn’t change; I just had to push through that. I’ve learned to pretend. Pretend to be confident and convicted in my actions and words. Through this game I played with myself, I find myself being a better person.”

melissa’s friends and family:

“You know Melissa well. What doesn’t she do well?
M will make sure everyone she encounters smiles with her.
That girl can LISTEN. Quietly, em.” – bobbie

“She is a great friend. She is a great listener and has a wonderful heart. She is honest, loving, understanding, kind, and compassionate. She has a beautiful smile that can brighten an entire room full of people and she has a great sense of humor. She is so much fun and always knows what to say to cheer you up if you are feeling down. She is full of life and energy. She has become part of my family. I love her very much.” – valentina

“I have known Melissa for around 5 years now. She is an incredibly giving and special person. I have always known her as a fun, energetic person who is up for anything and has a huge heart. She pretty much organized my bachelorette party and it was amazing! She really went all out for me and it really made the whole time so special. She is an amazing mom and always has time to listen and talk about things that may be important. She is a wonderful, true friend.” – jessica

“I love Melissa and could go on and on…. Here are the first few traits that come to mind: 
Welcoming, inviting, warm, quick to offer help, funny, comfortable, hard working, beautiful, and talented. A true friend. She is also an amazing cook and gives great hugs!!” – stephanie

“What can I say about Melissa?? Sheesh. This woman is HILARIOUS, for one. She also has the most beautiful smile…the kind that still radiates in her eyes. I always know that when we have plans to hang out, it does not matter what the hell we do, we will have the BEST time doing it. I think we could sit at a funeral and have a great time…maybe that’s not a good thing…but, it’s probably true.
Melissa is dynamic. I first got to know her when she was a customer of mine in my skincare & makeup artistry days…I always, always looked forward to her visits. She would sit in my chair and we would have the greatest time. She listens oh-so-well…she would be my therapist at those times. And no matter what I may be saying or not saying, the girl is perceptive. She can read me like a book.
Melissa makes people feel at ease in her presence. She is immediately lovable and someone you want to call your friend.
She is bold and commanding, when she wants to be. ☺
She has a wonderful laugh and can light up a room with her smile and presence alone.
She is comforting and nurturing. She is no-bullshit. She is down-to-earth. She is unashamed and open. These are all reasons why I chose her to be in the room with us when I was in labor with my son. She is quite obviously an excellent and loving mama, which definitely shows – especially in situations like that – where someone is relying on her for her calm, comforting manner.
Melissa also gives some of the best hugs ever. EVER.” – alana

rachelins rachel ~

“So. The word “insecurity,” to me, is a complex thing. When I think of an insecurity–because I overthink EVERYTHING (which I suppose would be my number one insecurity)–it leads me to question what the underlying fear is. As in, “I’m insecure of my stomach because it always looks like I’m five months pregnant,” leads me to, “what is it about having a big belly that scares me?” Usually, the answer is, if I don’t fit into the “ideal” body size, then it will be difficult to “look” successful: ie. be able to purchase clothes that express how sassy I really feel without looking trashy, and generally not be able to feel comfortable in my own skin when surrounded by people that I feel are judging me. Also, there are other associations with “a big-bellied girl” that maybe I internalize a bit too much. Like, it means that I drink too much, or am lazy (which both happen to be true, but I know that’s not always the case with others that might look like me). On the flip side of this, my insecurity is one of the things that led me to leave the cosmetics industry. Frankly, I was fucking sick of feeling disected every goddamn day of my life.

My second insecurity (so, the first one is belly…I hope this is making sense…) and probably my biggest, is that I will inevitably offend someone that I admire or respect (friends, aquaintences, Joe, family, etc..). Like, if someone knows me long enough, then they’re going to eventually unveil the crazy town going on in my head and they will run screaming for the hills. Usually this surfaces in my writing or just plain ol’ conversations with people.
Seriously, typing it out even feels crazy.
I’m not sure if that even counts as an insecuity..sorry. See, I told you this felt complex.

Lastly, I’m insecure about my “accomplishments.” I always have a little voice in the back of my head that is telling me that I don’t deserve (insert accomplishment: like a good grade, a promotion, or a decent marriage) and it’s really because of strange coincidences that my life has turned out the way that it has, rather than any hard work or genuine talent on my part. Maybe it’s a mechanism that keeps me from getting too attached to the good stuff…I dunno.

And there you have it. You now know more about me than 95% of anyone I know. 🙂 “

rachel’s friends and family:

“Many things make up the Rachel I know. A few traits I deeply love are: 1. Her intelligence. 
2. Her witty, yet sometimes snarky humor. 
3. (This may sound weird)… but, her awareness of herself and the world. 
4. She is steadfast. Resolute. I respect that quality immensely. 
5. Not sure if this counts, but as analytical as she is (like me) she is also a bit of a dreamer, and that combo is rare and pretty damn radical!” – brooke

“I love Rachel! She is someone who thinks deeply about life and desires meaning and truth in this crazy rat race, not only for herself, but also for other people. She challenges me to think beyond my perceptions and into places I haven’t gone. She is loyal, creative, and an amazing writer! Her voice is unique and articulate. Rachel is so beautiful too. Her facial features are stunning…. and she has a nice ass! 
Rachel has loved me and been such a faithful friend over the years. I hope she knows how much she has been a model of strength and honestly seeking something better in life. She is a loving and sacrificial mom, too. You are an inspiration, Rachel, and I love you!” – sayde

“Hey Alana, haha – as much as my sister and I make fun of each other and can be pretty bratty, she has so many positive traits. I think the biggest one has always been her ability to take care of you. When we were younger it meant being a nag or always needing to fix boyfriends, but as we have gotten older it has become much more appreciated. When I was pregnant she was so helpful. If I ever had questions or concerns she was there. If I was too tired to cook she always fed me. She is an amazing beautiful person and I am sure you will have tons of great traits to write/photograph about. Let me know if you need anything else!” 
- madeline

“Rachel is one of the strongest, most intelligent women I know. She is passionate about whatever it is she is doing and applies herself deeply into her interests; whether it was makeup artistry, anthropology, or currently – writing, the labor movement, and women’s studies. I am always excited to see her eyes light up when she gets excited about what she is doing and learning. She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and seeks out truths and facts in everything she does.
She is incredibly strong and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She speaks up when others are treated unjustly and is never afraid to be honest with someone, even if that honesty isn’t what that person wants to hear.
Rachel has become more beautiful as time has gone on. I don’t care what she says about her own body image. I watched her give birth to our daughter and son and NOTHING is more beautiful than that. She is the mother of our children and she is sexier than ever.” – joe

“There are so many amazing things I can say about Rachel…..
I will never ever forget the first time I ever spoke to Rachel; I was working in the hosiery department at Nordstrom, selling socks and pantyhose. We were going up the escalator at the same exact time and we had said hi to each other. I asked her if she was the MAC manager, she said yes, and I told her that it was basically my dream to work at MAC, kinda like a psycho…. she told me that she was hiring and to bring over my resume to her and the department manager. Rachel hired me, and I thought it was my dream job…. except for one thing… I thought my manager (Rachel) hated me…. Now that I know her, her telling me that I looked like I worked for Bobbi Brown and that I should cut off my hair was actually her wanting to make me step out of my comfort zone…. She then started promoting me, and pushing me to always work hard. Although work Rachel is very different from friend Rachel, I love them both the same because I have learned so much from both…
At work Rachel always worked hard, and she was always fair…. I have worked with many different managers and Rachel will always be the one that has made the biggest impact in my life. When Rachel went on maternity leave to have Henry, I was made the interim assistant and when she got back, the position at another store opened up and she immediately pushed me to go for it… she coached me through the whole interview process and was always positive. When I left, I told her that I wished I could just work under her forever. While managing I got to develop a friendship with her… and when I became pregnant…. I got terrified… and I knew I had to leave my management position and work for Rachel again… I knew that no one else would understand how hard it is to work and be pregnant…. and sure enough no questions asked, when I called her and asked her to take me back, she did…. When I was interviewing for another job, one of the questions was, name a manager whose qualities you admire, and I of course named Rachel… and still to this day, when people ask me how to do something, I start off with well Rachel taught me this way so this is the right way.
Friend Rachel is just as amazing…. she has so many qualities that I admire… As I was pregnant and event after I had my son, I’m still finding myself think of what would Rachel do… other than my mom, she is the best mom I know…. she always puts her family first… and never does anything that would make anyone think otherwise… August and Henry are so lucky to have such a strong woman as their mommy…
The most admirable quality that Rachel has is her ability to always stand up for what is right… When working for her, Rachel always had our teams back… no matter what she always stuck up for us even if she got the blame…. As a friend, Rachel will always tell me like it is and never sugarcoat anything…. She also stands up for what she believes in and is open to everyone no matter what their thoughts or beliefs are…..
Rachel is truly an inspiration to all women…. her ability to manage a household… have a happy marriage… take care of two children…go to school full time… and still work…. is mind blowing… and I can never thank her enough for believing in me and always giving me inspirational words in my time of need and I know only great things are yet to come with her and her family because she deserves everything great in life.” – vena

rhiins rhi ~

“The insecurity that reigns supreme for me is basically that no one will like me. I know that this is somewhat a broad and vague, but I have been told by many people throughout my life that I have a tendency to be “brash” or “harsh” when speaking with people. It comes from a strong desire to be completely honest and not sugarcoat my opinions or advice. In the process of this honesty people get their feelings hurt. So, yah…I’m pretty much always paranoid after meeting someone new that they are immediately going to walk over to their friend and tell them what a bitch I am.”

rhi’s friends and family:

“Words about Rhi ~
A Heart Awakened by Compassion we all experience by being in her presence, even if just for a moment of time.
An illuminous creative Spirit that knows no bounds and inspires all to call forth their creative power.
She has a kindness towards all living creatures and plants that brings awareness to the beauty surrounding us.
She emits from every pore a calm determination for success as an example to move forward with fluidity.
She is a Goddess – sexy, brilliant, and desired for her beauty.”
 – winter

“Rhiannon is one of the only people in this world I consider to be a lifelong friend. I would do anything for her. She’s always honest and always real. She doesn’t lie to spare my feelings, which I value much more than complacency. I would kill or die for her.” – ian



“I wanted to take some time to think about why Rhiannon has had a special place in my life for the past 12 years or so. I’ve realized that there are numerous amazing qualities that add up to make the wonderful person that some of us are lucky enough to know. I am just going to list a bunch of them in no particular order.
-Rhi has a talent of finding beauty in the world that others will never see. Whether it’s in a person, a place, or even in an absurd situation.
-She has a strong sense-of-self that I sometimes envy. No matter what life throws her way, she always endures and keeps her sanity.
-I’ve never felt judged by Rhi. I can always talk to Rhi about anything without worrying about losing a friend over my opinions or decisions. She doesn’t always agree, but she accepts people for who they are.
-Rhiannon has a wonderful imagination. Some of my favorite conversations with her have been full of speculation and interpretation.
-She isn’t afraid of her feelings. If she’s feeling something, she embraces it and runs with it. It could be happiness, anger, sadness or whatever strikes her at the time.
-Rhi is one of the most attractive women I’ve ever known. Tall and voluptuous. Long, full hair. Pretty eyes, with a hint of mischief. Full of grace and beauty.
-She is a very nurturing person with a strong sense of empathy. She loves animals quite a bit. She does her best to care for the people in her life. She’s always there if you need to pour your heart out.
-Rhiannon is a fun buddy to hang out with. You can talk about video games, movies, TV, music, books or whatever comes up. She’s down to get out of the house or chill on the couch.
-Rhi is an excellent cook. She has a way taking the traditional and making it taste fresh and exciting. I never feel guilty after eating her cooking because I know it’s much healthier than anything I cook.
-I think Rhi’s best quality is her free spirit and love of life. She’s open to what the world has to offer and she isn’t afraid to go after it.
I hope this is what you were looking for, Alana. I think of Rhi as one of my dearest friends and am a better person for knowing her.” – joe

“I love Rhi for her awesome silliness. She’s always making me giggle even if she’s talking about something that is bugging her. 
She radiates positive energy -my favorite trait in a person! 
She’s also very open and honest. I can’t ever have a quick chat with her; we always end up talking for hours. 
Her talent is inspiring to me. She’s hands-down one of the most creative and artistic people I know. But she is her biggest critic; she doesn’t see how talented she is a lot of the time. Thankfully she has people like us around to tell her, “HOLY SHIT, THAT’S AMAZING!!,” when she’s unsatisfied with a project.”

 – mallery

“Rhi is a force. She is strong and sensitive all at once. I have seen the intimidation on women’s faces when they meet her (I felt it when I met her, as well), only because she just has a very powerful vibe about her. When she listens to you, her eyes seem to pierce your actual soul, and it’s not because she hates you, but because she is REALLY LISTENING to you. ☺ She has a thirst for understanding – whether it be understanding people, concepts, how things work, whatever else – and it’s fun to watch her face light up when she understands and gets excited.
She has an infectious laugh, which always makes me want to make her laugh even more.
She is honest. She’s one of the few women that I know will give me a straight answer, whether I’m asking about photography ideas, friendships, music, whatever-the-case, I know she’ll tell it to me straight.
Rhi is INCREDIBLY talented. Like, amazingly so. She also compelled me to get my ass back out there to shoot again. I can’t thank her enough for that. She thinks very much outside the box and blows me away with her creativity. It’s also been super amazing to have another female photographer to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, and recommend to others who doesn’t feel threatened by our professional relationship, but, instead, there is a mutual growth that happens. It also has brought us very close as friends, which is a blessing I couldn’t appreciate more.
One of the other things I love about Rhi – she embraces the positive. She always, ALWAYS has something positive to say, no matter the conversation. And we’ve definitely had conversations in which you would think there was nothing positive to find, but she’ll find it. That makes me smile…and makes me check myself to stay positive, no matter what.
She is very in touch with herself. Very open to new ideas. Very accepting of others. Despite her immense talent and creativity, she is incredibly humble – maybe to a fault. She needs to recognize how amazing she is.
She’s totally nerdy, in the best, most relatable way.
She is compassionate and incredibly generous.
Rhi is gorgeous. More than gorgeous. She has been referred to as a goddess, and I think that is accurate. She is magnetic.
I’m incredibly thankful to have become closer with this woman.” – alana

alanains alana (otherwise known as me) ~

“I used to hate my ass. HATE. IT. I’ve always had the bubble butt – the one that made me look like I should have been born a black girl. The one that people would “say” they wished they had, but I was sure they were always just making fun of me. They could NOT be serious. This was before J-Lo. Before Beyonce. Before that Kardashian girl. Before anyone actually believed that guys were really into any curves besides boobs. (Sure, Sir Mix-A-Lot had made his statement, but, c’mon now…)
That obsession kept up all of my influential years, from junior high on…progressed into adding an obsession with any weight gain to my thighs, as well. And then, JOY OF JOYS!, 20 months ago, I had a C-section and was given the curse of an even worse focus to just pile on top – my belly.
The damn belly – where once I hadn’t seen weight stick, I now get to obsess every minute over how the pounds seem to pile on right at that scar. EVERY MINUTE. That is no lie. Every minute, I am self-conscious about my weight.
Despite that this has always made me feel like I’m spending an obsession on something incredibly shallow…despite how I try to remind myself that I’m supposed to just tell myself I’m beautiful no-matter-what…the absolute WORST part about this being my main insecurity is that it goes against everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that I try to instill in my daughter. Everything that I tell her about how our society is completely screwed up at putting such a focus on appearance. How “thin” doesn’t factor into “beautiful”. And I mean all of those things. I just didn’t have an influential female figure telling me the same things. But, that is a story for another day. For now, I would love to change the cycle.

and lose this belly…
and feel truly beautiful, all factors considered.”

alana’s friends and family:

“Well….I love her because she’s Alana, and there’s no better daughter that could have happened throughout eternity for a father.
Sent from Breenholme, North Alaska by dog sled.” – dave

“her ability to laugh when dumb things happen. her smile.” – ravyn

“just some of alana’s many positive traits! please lemme know if you need me to clarify / elaborate
-loving, responsible mother
-great listener, kind & attentive friend
-honest, trustworthy and open
-highly intelligent
-wonderful sense of humor
-extremely creative, talented and motivated
-a smile that warms the heart
-great at improvising plans, seeking & having fun
-gorgeous!
i could go on and on, i feel like these are some of the major ones
i hope this helps
t” – toby

“The most immediate and wonderful thing anyone notices about Alana is her laugh. Her laugh is big, its loud, it’s enchanting, it’s undeniable. After her laugh you see her humour; by which I mean, she’s actually laughing at funny shit (albeit sometimes dumb funny shit, funny shit all the same). Then you see how beautiful she is, her face, her eyes, that big ass smile…These are the things that EVERYONE notices about Alana. Then you find out she is talented, creative, and bad ass with a camera…These too are things that EVERYONE notices about Alana. These are undeniably super awesome qualities. (Seriously, that’s a lot of really rad attributes in one tiny package it’s almost unfair.) However, those are not the truly impressive qualities that made me love her so very much. My dear friend, Alana, is one of the most empathetic, compassionate, loving, patient, and kind, mothers I have ever had the joy of knowing. Not only in regards to her own children, the whole lot of them. Alana is a brave champion of every kids delicate beings. Her intolerance of shitty, thoughtless, and cruel parenting, brings me great pleasure on a regular basis. I have have so much respect for her ability to give the truest love so completely selflessly…it’s pretty amazing. I’m so happy to know her, I’m happy my kids know her and above all I am happy Ravyn and Grey get to call her Mom.” – jamey

“The first time I ever saw Alana playing with Grey is when I knew I loved her. The faces and games she shared with her son were completely devoid of authority or patronization. In that moment, she was with him an equal. They were on the same level, playing the same game, and both deriving the same amount of joy. As her and I became closer, it didn’t take long to realize that this is her true nature with everyone she loves, and even some strangers too. Not once during our friendship have I ever felt she was secretly conspiring, or judging me out of some deep conspiratorial competitiveness she hid from the world. No, Alana is absolutely genuine. She will stand up and defend her family and friends for the sake of what’s right and hold her own down to the gritty finish. I am constantly surprised and inspired by her creativity and talents as well as her compassion and desire to make the world a better place to be. She brought us all together here today to carve out a new path for women that would be deprived of judgment, censure, or competition. This act, to which she gave her time, talents, and efforts is one of the most beautiful and compassionate events I have ever witnessed and I count myself as one of the lucky few who gets to participate and enjoy the life and adventures of the beautiful, talented, gifted, and compassionate Alana Tamminga.” – rhi

“Personally the list for me about alana goes on and on. She is beyond selfless in her friendship, taking me into her home time and time again. I truly feel blessed to have her vibrant energy in my life. She has a gift of making you feel both special and awesome in her attention to you. I know one of her major insecurities is a body hang up, but that’s probably because she has so much of her life already on lock down. That lady goes above and beyond, as a cheerleader, a support system, someone to make you laugh and just someone to chill and relax with. I know I can trust her to give me straight advice and remind me of my priorities as well, I am so damn grateful that she is in my life.” – eden

“I’ve actually started this a few times. I am going to simplify things. What I really like most about Alana is that she’s genuine and she expects me to be my genuine self. So what does that mean to me? She’s honest, she has my best interest at heart and she is a true friend. I don’t have to see or talk to her all the time but I know I can always count and confide in her. Alana would definitely makes things better just by being her. I love Alana for all these reasons and so much more.” – melissa

“Words of Love for Alana
‘I want to know her.’ That’s what I thought to myself the first time I was introduced to Alana Tamminga. I was working at a Philosophy freelance event for Nordstrom at the Downtown Seattle location for the very first time. Intimidated and nervous don’t even begin to describe how I was feeling when I stepped onto the floor that day. I looked over at the other girls bangin’ out some fresh, fierce faces and I smiled when I heard Alana’s infectious laugh. She doesn’t laugh like most folks. It’s a throw-your-head-back-and-laugh-like-you’ve-never-heard-anything-so-funny-in-your-life kind of an experience.
Once you’ve both stopped laughing, because it is impossible not to join this girl in said giggle-nonsense, you’ll be drawn in by Alana’s beauty. She’s not your girl next door. She’s definitely not the kind that wears mom jeans, though she’s just about the coolest mom I know. Alana is a beauty that is not just skin deep; hers is a beauty that spills out from her soul. My dear friend Alana clearly is a most attractive woman – I mean she can rock just about any style, color and length hair known, her skin is practically flawless, and goodness she is blessed with a whole lot of gorgeous, bouncy booty – but what is truly fantastic about her is her ability to be herself. I not only admire that quality but strive to emulate the same within myself. Alana is kind, genuine, generous, thoughtful, loyal, confident, forgiving, hilarious, talented, artistic, nurturing, fun – my friend.
I am so glad, years later, I can now say ‘I know that girl – she’s one of my truest, dearest friends.’” – mara

“Anyone who has met Alana will tell you that she’s a blast, funny, gorgeous, sexy, and smart. Those are the easy ones and you see them the minute she opens her mouth. I’ll go a bit further and describe what I see and what she means to me.
She has the rare ability to be a sincere friend to lots of different people at the same time. She somehow makes you feel like YOU are special and funny even though it’s her that brings that out in you. She instantly makes most people feel comfortable and at ease upon introduction. I don’t think she’s ever met a stranger, everyone is her friend until proven otherwise (which is rare). All of these things are what make her a great photographer and able to capture the real personalities of her subjects.
Alana is open with her feelings. If she’s happy, mad, excited, she shows it. She puts herself all the way out there even though she’s been hurt before. As someone who loves her, I’ve wished that she protected her heart a little more because I didn’t want to see her hurt again. That’s not her though, she’ll put it all on the line and she figures that if it doesn’t work out, at least she tried. Since I’m the exact opposite in this department, I admire her ability to do this.
She’s the only person with whom I can truly be myself. She’s the only one that I can tell my true thoughts and feelings without being afraid of being judged or loved less. She’s a great listener but will offer fantastic advice if asked. I can trust her 100% and I don’t trust anyone, so that’s saying A LOT. I know that if I needed her right now, she would drop everything and help me in whatever way I needed and I would do the same for her. How many people in our lives can we say that about? I say all of this knowing that there are tons of people out there who feel the exact same way about Alana. She cultivates loyalty by being herself.
She’s real. She’s loving and giving. She’s courageous. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and is never condescending or arrogant or conceited. While she has some insecurities like we all do, she has tremendous self-confidence in a lot of areas.
We can all see that she’s gorgeous and sexy, but she doesn’t know it…which makes her even more so.” – peni

“Years from now, I’m going to look back at my life and anything that I’ve done, that I’m happy or proud of, will be because of Alana. A baby boy, a daughter… She’s an amazing mom, my best friend, the best companion I could ask for. Beautiful, compassionate, hilarious, dumb (in a good way, like me, she’ll understand), she gets me out of my comfort zone and helps me enjoy things I may have thought I didn’t. I got more than I bargained for but I wouldn’t change anything.” – dylan

bayrykwatermarked2 jen ~

“Although I’ll be joining you ladies in spirit, my insecurity is: always feeling like I’m failing as a parent, and not getting over bad decisions I’ve made as a parent.”

jen’s friends and family:

“Jen was actually one of my very first friends when I moved to Oregon! She is such an accepting person and would do absolutely anything for her friends! She’s a very dedicated and loving mother – she loves unconditionally! You can also tell her that I think she’s absolutely gorgeous!! She’s willing to go the extra mile for her friendship and give it all she has. She’s a free spirit and strong-willed! She’s also a great cook!! I’m sure I can go on and on about her forever but she should know she is truly cherished as a friend. And you can tell her she’s the L to my C… she will get it, hahaha!!” – maggie

“1) She’s an amazing mother. She has such patience. So much so that she has no idea how patient she is. She has a calming tolerance for dealing with her children even when they are driving her nuts. Her patience is something to be commended…especially since I have a toddler the same age as her, and I wish I had her patience. 
2) She has a beauty about her that is just natural. She doesn’t believe that it is there and almost seems shocked when someone compliments her on her appearance. She has an effortless beauty that shines even when she hasn’t done anything. She can throw her hair up in a clip…claim it’s a rats’ nest, yet she carries herself and appears as though she spent an hour forming it in that particular “up-do”. 
3) She has a childlike, playful side. She laughs and finds humor in silly things. An innocence that shows her youth when she giggles, yet, being a mother of two and an amazing homemaker girlfriend/wife to Justin makes her appear so much older than she is. She has wisdom well beyond her years, and I believe that is from taking such good care of herself and her family starting at such a young age. 
4) She is beautiful. She tends to think she needs to exercise, or diet or lose weight…. but she is absolutely beautiful. I think her insides exude just as much beauty as her outside does.
When I first met her, we clicked so fast. She said I looked like her family member or something. We decided that we were Italian sisters from another life, lol, our mutual love of the movie Goodfellas was a kismet thing for us and we understood each other instantly. Like we were always on the same wavelength. Our boys were born two days apart in the same hospital. She came into my hospital room while in labor just waiting out her contractions while I sat there …she was so strong and tough…she carried on a conversation with me during contractions. It amazed me – her strength – in so many ways.” – stephanie

“Jen is one of the strongest women I know. She has been through so much in her 25 years. She is one of the best moms I know, too. I look up to her, straight up. She is such a positive influence on me. It’s friends like Jen that make me grateful for social networking, not only because I would never have reconnected with her if it weren’t for Facebook, but also because she’s moving away from me again soon and I’m sure that ’cause of Facebook and such, we will keep in contact forever, and I will be able to ask for her advice anytime. Jen also has a good sense of style. And is never afraid to try new things. I admire that. So many people out there fear change. Jen welcomes change.” – mallery

“Even though I’ve only known Jen for less than a year, she has become one of my favorite people for many reasons. The more obvious reasons: she’s hilarious, a fantastic mother, and she makes awesome food. But anyone could see these things in a first meeting. When you get to know you her, you come to learn how thoughtful and caring she is. Jen is just a super genuine person and, I’ve already said it once, but, she’s one of the funniest people I know.” – alicia

“She is a woman I highly admire. She is beautiful, both inside and out. She is an amazing mommy first and foremost. I love to watch her interact with Bay and Ryker. She is playful, loving, and understanding, yet they know she means business. She has a way of teaching independence and responsibility to her children that I find amazing. She takes great care of my cousin Justin and their home. She’s an awesome cook and so crafty. She’s a great listener and easy to talk to. She’s funny. She is an amazing woman!” – mandy

babypants18 peni ~

“I’ve had a hard time nailing down an insecurity because I have so many. I really started paying attention to that nasty voice in my head to see what she was talking about to get an idea of what my biggest one might be. I talk to myself worse than I would ever talk to my worst enemy let alone someone I loved or liked even a little. Whether it’s telling myself how hideous I am when I look in the mirror or telling myself that I’m not pretty enough for my fiancé and that he should be with someone else or that I’m stupid or clumsy or lazy, or, or. What really made me hone in on the underlying problem though was the recent birth of my son. It was a relatively easy and quick labor and delivery. Only 14 minutes of pushing and 4 pushes to get out a 8 lb. 2 oz. little guy who had one arm up by his face. The midwives even thanked me for a beautiful experience and for reminding them of why they do what they do. I couldn’t accept any of the praise though, all I could think was “but I tore and needed stitches…it wasn’t PERFECT…I wasn’t PERFECT.” I was really angry with myself and kept thinking about what I could and should have done differently to prepare in the months before and/or while in labor.

I realized that this is my insecurity…not being perfect. I’m not the most beautiful person I know so therefore I’m hideous and not deserving of my fiancé’s adoration. I can’t be proud of my natural home delivery of my perfect son because I screwed up somehow and was injured. I know how stupid this sounds but there it is.”

peni’s friends and family:

“For Peni…
She is an unwavering truth seeker…
Generous with her laughter…
A Happiness warrior!” – alison

“Peni sparkles. Her eyes smile and laugh right above her strong and gentle cheekbones. Even her thick and shiny hair has kind of a happy bounce to it. I love her laugh and even though it’s been years since I’ve seen her, I can hear her laugh. I don’t think the girl works out much (unless something has changed), yet she has a great figure and really good arms. If I ever needed to find humor or a positive slant to something not so fun in my life, I would go to Peni. Her ability to flip to the positive is instantaneous. I don’t think she even really has to think about it. Peni is supportive and loving to her friends, boosting them any way she can to succeed.
I’m so excited that Peni is a mom now, as I’ve always believe she’s a kindred spirit with the little ones, having so much patience, and is just damn fun for a kid. Milo is one lucky dude…as is Danny. My husband used to joke with Danny “She’s out of your league.” I admire this woman and am grateful she is here as the planet needs her!” – dana

“Where to start? After gorgeous, the next thing that pops in my head is so, so witty! Intelligent, funny, loyal, fearless, and just plain amazing! Easiest assignment ever! Lol” – whitney

“Hi Alana,
There are so many wonderful words that come to mind when I think of Peni, 
here are a few: Organized, Healthy, Fun, and Extremely likeable!” – ruth

“Ms. Peni Rae: 
1. Compassionate. She is the most compassionate person I’ve ever met. She knows how to put herself in others’ shoes and be incredibly understanding. 
2. Funny! Peni has the wittiest sense of humor and uses it well. 
3. Gorgeous! I never saw such beautiful skin and shining eyes as with Peni. 
4. Great listener. Peni knows how to listen when a friend needs an ear. She gives great advice but also knows when it’s just about listening. 
5. Passionate. Peni is very passionate about so many things. The health and well being of everyone, for one, but also now motherhood. 
6. Caring. Peni cares not only about the people she loves in her life but also about strangers on the street and about the earth and the environment and its future. 
7. Supportive. Peni goes above and beyond to support those she loves in whatever crazy dreams they might have. She believes that anything is possible for anyone. 
8. Positive. Peni is the most positive person I’ve met since being on the West Coast. She always has a way of knowing and practicing that when times are tough, there is a reason for it and that she wants to get the most out of any situation and encourages those around her to do the same. 
9. Diplomatic. Peni has a peace about her and knows how to handle people and sometimes their negativity in a peaceful, fair, and non dramatic way. 
10. ☺ And ❤ ❤ ❤ " – stacie

“Beautiful,
Thoughtful, Loving,
Brave,
Sweet,
Intelligent, Creative,
Wonderful, Loyal, Nurturing, Outgoing. I knew that I was blessed when Peni came in to my life. She is such an incredible woman and friend. Her loyal and devoted friendship is rare. Her unconditional love for her friends that have become her family is admirable. She is a person with wonderful insight on life because she is a person who thinks things through. I am blessed to have her in my life and anyone else who has come to know her truly knows they have met an angel here on earth.” – bianca

“I have a sister. I didn’t even know she existed until about 7ish years ago. Nope, she doesn’t share the same DNA as me…but, man oh man, do we share the same blood. She is my confidant, my rock, my teacher, my therapist, my dork, my best, best, bestest friend in the universe.
When I first met Peni, it was at work – we were told that this AMAZING chick had just moved from California to Washington and was going to join our freelance team…our trainer went on and on about how awesome Peni was, so, immediately, because we were a bunch of insecure women, we knew we were going to hate her.
Well, damn him if he wasn’t totally right. You couldn’t hate Peni…not even if she really was better than us (she was). Peni is freakin lovable. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who doesn’t love her. She is smarter than all of us, but she keeps her opinion and knowledge to herself unless you ask for it. She is humble as all get out.
People who don’t know her very well would think that she’s just a cute, quiet little thing…but, Peni is HILARIOUS, and talkative, and full of quips that could just shut you down if she wanted to. She is so damn witty. I don’t know if anyone in my life has ever made me laugh as hard as she has. And, I dunno if you know me, but I laugh A LOT. And at a lot of dumb shit. But this girl is the funniest.
Peni is my go-to for advice. She’ll tell it to me straight. Or she’ll somehow use her jedi mind-tricks and, without hurting my feelings by telling me that whatever I’m thinking is a REAL DUMB idea, she’ll cause me to think of something better. I don’t know how she does it, really. I’m constantly blown away.
Peni is STRONG. She can hold herself together in the most trying situations. I can probably count on my hand the number of times I’ve seen her cry, and they’ve been for damn good reasons.
She is PATIENT. Man is she patient. Which is really coming in handy now, because, not only is she the raddest new mom ever, but she’s a super patient rad new mom. What kid doesn’t want that??
Peni deserves every beautiful thing that can ever happen to a person. She makes us better people just by knowing her. The beauty that Peni is shines strong through her fiance’s eyes. You can see who Peni is by how much he adores her. She deserves nothing less than to be adored like that.
Peni is GORGEOUS. She is the queen of nutrition, so, she has the best, strongest, healthiest, cutest little body. She has the most beautiful skin…always glowing. She has the BEST smile and makes you smile with her when you see it.
Peni is no-bullshit. That is something that I have proven most thankful for, as she sets an example in not wasting time on toxic people. She focuses on the positive. She has no need for negative. And she exudes the positive for all of us. Remember, we’re better people because of her…
Peni is also the most trustworthy, nonjudgmental person I have ever known.
I would do anything for Peni. ANY. THING. She is the pants to my boots. I love her so much.” – alana

Group 1, Part 1: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/women-raw-honest-loved-part-1-2/
Group 2, TEENS!: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/teen-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 3, 55+: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/55-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 4: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/group-4-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 5: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/group-5-women-raw-honest-loved/

women. raw. honest. loved. (part 1)


monablog beccablog aardeblogcherylblogedenblogjameyblogjennieblog

ktblog

Have you ever spent an evening with fifteen other women that was filled with only positive energy? Where there was no gossip, no cattiness, no bullshit, no sneers from across the room, no whispering behind someone else’s back, etc?

Yeah, me neither.

Until Friday, February 8th.

The evening started with the majority of these women never having met. There were shy introductions, nervous small talk while everyone got comfortable and cozy. Drinks of choice helped to calm some initial nerves. And then it began – the discussing, revealing, crying, sharing, hugging, affirming, LOVING. And, of course, the photographing, as you can see…but that felt like a side note in the whole scheme of things.

Why were we doing this? Let me give you a brief description of why.

You’ve probably seen the movie “Mean Girls”, and I’m sure you related to at least SOMEthing in it, whether you were the one bullied, the co-conspirator of the bully, or the bully yourself. We’ve all experienced at least some aspect. And we realize that it is usually destructive behavior over what is generally incredibly silly things…jealousy that someone is prettier than us, weighs less than us, has a better job than us, has a better boyfriend than us; we weren’t invited to such and such party…the list goes on. And, yes, all of those things sound like a list made by a girl in junior high or high school, but, lemme just say – I’m 35, and I hear conversations (and see…thank you, social networking) about these very silly things ALLLLLLLLL THE TIME. I also have recently felt the effects of peer “bullying”, by women who don’t even know me very well at all. I just said I’m 35, right?!?! Yeah. So, I found all of that ridiculous and it spearheaded me writing this blog here: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say/ which led to this project.

One of the problems is that women tend to bond over negativity. How sad is that, ladies? We trash-talk another woman with our friend, and so our bond with our friend becomes stronger. Gross, right? I’ve been guilty of it, for sure. My stomach actually hurts to think about that now. And I wish I could apologize to anyone I’ve done this to, and actually anyone that I’ve done this WITH, as I wasn’t helping to build up that person, either. Consider this my apology, please. Pretty, pretty please.

Bottom line: talking trash generally happens because of our own insecurities. We struggle with things deep inside of us, and we inadvertently take them out on others.
So, that’s what got me thinking…

Maybe there needed to be a bigger conversation.

Maybe we needed to face those insecurities.

Maybe we needed to face them together.

Maybe we could relate to each other and get a whole new perspective on women in general.

And guess what? That’s what happened. That and so much more. I’m so grateful to these women for being so raw and honest, and so willing to bare this to not only their friends and family, but strangers alike. The ladies have used such words to describe it as: Scary. Intimidating. Exposing. Liberating. Empowering. Bonding.

As you’ll see, all of these insecurities these eighteen women face stem deep, to the core. Even those that are insecurities about physical attributes, they stem emotionally. Not just physically. So many of them (maybe all of them), go back to our respective childhoods. The ladies have mentioned that doing this has made them appreciate how much they need to pay attention to the messages that they are sending as parents, (myself included, wholeheartedly.) Hopefully, you will read and appreciate all of this as well and be able to relate in some respect, however small it may be.

We had this opportunity to recognize that all of us deal with these nagging insecurities, but that all of us are equally loved and appreciated by those close to us. Our loved ones don’t even see these insecurities, most of the time. They only see their beautiful friend/sister/mother/daughter/girlfriend/wife/etc.

That said, my goal for this project: to think about this night, and these women, when a negative thought about another woman crosses our 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.

Before you delve into reading these women’s revealing, honest, raw emotions, let me set the scene for how this project flowed.
Basically, after the responses to my previous blog about this subject, I had the women involved send me the biggest insecurity that they obsess over, that they were also willing to share with the world. This took a lot of thought on their part – most of them gave it a good month or so before really writing something up for me, because, as I’ve mentioned, it was scary.
In addition, they each selected five-to-ten family members and/or friends that they feel especially close to and sent me their names and contact info. I then proceeded to contact these individuals personally, requesting some information on what they personally love and appreciate about that particular woman. Some chose to list traits, some chose 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 had each woman read her own write-up about her insecurity aloud. This was rarely done without resulting in tears, not just their own tears, but also the tears of fifteen other women who felt their pain. We would do this one at a time – one woman would read hers, and I would immediately take her over afterward to take her photo, holding her insecurity summed up in her own choice of words. They all got a little bit mad at me for this 🙂 because they were still crying, for the most part – but that is why I wanted the photo right then – to capture the raw emotion that they were feeling from just sharing that with this group.
Immediately following that, we would sit back down with the group and I got to read to them the kind, loving, reassuring words of their friends…which led to more tears. But, happy ones this time. (I should also mention that I didn’t share these women’s insecurities with anyone else beforehand, not even the friends and family of whom I was requesting information.)
It ended up feeling like we were 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.

That said, meet the ladies. (The following eight..ten, actually…are included in a PART TWO that can be found here: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/women-raw-honest-loved-part-2/

***The project has continued…links to other groups here:
Group 2 (Teen Version!) https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/teen-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 3 (55+ Version!) https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/55-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 4 https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/group-4-women-raw-honest-loved/)

monainsmona ~

“Ok, so I wanted to go with the standard too fat, and too old to have a four year old, but I decided to be a bit deeper and vulnerable.

Takes deep breath and here goes:

I’m afraid that one day, I will wake up and everyone that I deeply care about will have stopped loving me. That somehow I am secretly undeserving of their love and that they will realize I am not worth it and leave me.

Because of this, I work really hard to show everyone who I care about how much they mean to me. But no matter how secure I feel in my relationships (I have been with Scott for 20 years, good relationship with my mom, many of my friends go back decades), I still have that little seed of doubt that maybe I didn’t do enough, care enough, listen enough, give enough, etc. to deserve their love.

There you go. That was hard. 
Oh and I am fat and old.”

mona’s friends and family:

“My friend, Mona, has a LOT of amazing traits but I’d like to focus on what makes her uniquely Mona.
When I think of her I picture her in a black and grey super-hero cape adorned with a super sparkly, super flashy “J” for Justice. Her cape would perfectly match her black and white coordinated superhero outfit, complete with 3-inch heels. Her sense of justice for all is what drives her other wonderful qualities – her compassion, empathy, and kindness, helpfulness to all human beings, and her deep love and loyalty to her friends. She is the superhero that coordinates and pulls together to help all, but especially her friends in need. What draws people to her is her acceptance and her sense of community.
All of this pushes me to be a better friend to other people, and that will be her legacy. She drives people to be better because she is so good at being a friend. Mona puts much thought and care into her friendships and truly understands what it means to be a real friend. As a friend, she works so hard to build you up, to support you. She is so giving and loving, and always has your back.
To sum it up, our Justice superhero is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Her support has helped carry me through these last 4 years and I am so grateful that I get to call a beautiful (inside and out) woman like her my friend.” – noelle

“Mona: *Gives more of herself to others than any person I know
 *has an astounding capability to keep track of all the loved ones in her life – and knows exactly when to check in to celebrate a happy time or make a bad time feel better 
*is devoted to guiding her daughter into strong womanhood
 *is not afraid to say what needs to be said 
*is just a damn good friend.” – sara

“I’ve known Mona since high school… um she is an incurable spaz, seriously have never known anyone as erratic and off the cuff as she is. It’s the most beautiful thing ever!! She would bake you brownies, organize your yard sale and take a bullet for you, tirelessly!!” – andrea

“Strengths: Passion, Determination, Beauty, Brains, Compassion.” – wendy

“I admire Ramona for so many of her positive traits, but I would have to say her tenacity, wit and loyalty are among the very top of that list.” – lisa

“Mona has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. She is first to help anyone in need. She is one of those rare people who is beautiful inside and out. The definition of the word friend. Loyal even if it hurts her.” – ally

“What can I say about Ramona? I have known her all her life, maybe this due to the fact I am her Mom. She has always made me very proud of her and she still does.
Ramona is the type of person you would like to have in your corner. She is very kind, considerate, helpful, etc. She will help you selflessly, give you a shoulder to cry on, be your ally through thick and thin. When you need a friend, you can count on Ramona.
When you need help with anything, you can count on Ramona. The only thing she will ever ask for in return, play it straight with her.
I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.
I feel very blessed that she is my daughter and I love her very much.” – sylvia

“Can light up a room with her smile.
Constantly re-invents herself.
Truly cares about her friends and family and will do anything for them.
Fantastic mother & wife.
Great role model.
Super compassionate.
She always makes you feel good.
My perfect balance – “she completes me.”” – scott

beccains
becca ~

“I am insecure about my acceptability to others. (I had to look that up but it seems to go with what I’m trying to say). I don’t measure up. I’m not smart enough, not cool enough, not mom enough, not wife enough, etc. I don’t live up to what I portray myself as.”

becca’s friends and family:

“I can tell you that I think my sister is one of the coolest people I know. I always thought highly of her (well, maybe not always. I’m sure you know how sisters can be.) Though I never truly appreciated her until well after I should have. I think she’s beautiful (not just because we’re twins :D) inside and out. She’s smart, a smartass, hilarious, and a very snazzy dresser. She’s a great friend, always willing to help anyway she can, when she can. She’s a great mother. I don’t know. I just think she’s all around pretty cool.”toria

“Her ability to see the humor in every situation is one of the things I love about her. I don’t know if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for. But also her smile and dimples. I’ve always been jealous of her dimples…I don’t think she knows that. If we’re going for the physical attributes, also – her curves. Especially since she’s had kids. I know she’s insecure about it sometimes and thinks she has huge hips, but I think it’s just made her more beautiful.”summer-lynn

“My absolute favorite thing about Becca is her honesty. If you ask her how she feels about something, she will tell you exactly how she feels – no bullshit. She’s also always willing to stand up for her friends. If we’re out at a bar with a group of friends and one of our friends runs into trouble, she will be first in line to fight for them. Whether it’s telling some asshole off, or punching some asshole in the face, Becca to the rescue! 
And she always welcomes families into her home that are falling on hard times and need a place to stay and stuff like that. Or offers hot meals to friends or acquaintances who don’t have much money.” – mallery

“Becca is an amazing mother, wife, and sister-in-law. She is kind and generous. She is patient and thoughtful. She is fun and silly. She has a beautiful smile and a great ass! Lol… I wuv her.” – jen

“Becca is a very good friend of mine. I know that when I need to talk, she will listen, not try to fix it. Just listen. That is a rare quality in our one-up society.”
She is a wonderful mother to two very busy boys.
She has a magnificent resting bitch face, not rare, but has been perfected.
She has a great sense of style, which most of the time is “I don’t give a shit what you think. I like boots with shorts. What?!”
After having two kids she went from no butt to having a nice ass!
Becca and I have the same sense of humor and hopefully will love her positive traits I have outlined!
Love You!” – ryan

aardeins
aarde ~

“My insecurity is being overweight/unhealthy. I suppose it’s because I have back fat, a double chin, my mom’s stomach, and I feel like no one will really love me enough to see past it. My brain is so caught up on my weight that I can’t be confident in my being. It doesn’t help that a douche chose to use that as a reason over anything else to break my heart. I know I should exercise and eat better but when I have time to do it, I just get sad like I can never accomplish it, so I eat. I eat for comfort, I smoke for stress and I sit for rest from everyday pressures that feel out of my control. Sometimes I feel beautiful and then I see a picture of myself and think…is that what I really look like? What a gross fat pig, which is a horrible thing to run through your mind, when you thought you were beautiful. I feel like the men I am interested in are looking for someone thinner and look at me as a friend…if only I were thinner and in shape, I know I could have anyone I wanted because I have personality and compassion for days…but it doesn’t seem to matter…which brings me to feeling lame for thinking that I would want anyone that doesn’t see me for how beautiful I really am.”

aarde’s friends and family:

“Positive Trait, hummmm, let me see…
Jenny (as I know her) for me displays these beautiful traits: 
She is magic…. she lights up the room where ever she goes. 
Compassionate . . . .she takes the time to really listen. 
Versatile . . .. ready to climb the ladder or jump in the 
canoe, do whatever it takes to help someone through their 
day. 
Humble . . .she does without asking. 
Intellectually stimulating . . .
Beautiful . . .truly…. from the inside out… she is
 sunshine.” – vicki

“Kind, self-confident, self-reliant, resourceful, empathetic, great Mom, patient, quick-witted, creative, and very lovable. Beautiful lips, strong firm physique, pretty feet, nice perky bum, great smile, and pretty eyes. Geesh, the whole package for God’s sake.” – cheryl

“Aarde has a big heart and is willing to help a friend in any way she can. She has a great sense of humor; she is outgoing and will strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I think one of the things that I liked about Aarde when I first met her was that despite what she was going through in her personal life she was always laughing and having a good time. Overall she is a good friend. Even if it’s been years since I have seen her we still pick up as if no time has passed.” – jennifer

“Aarde is an amazing person…she is a great mother, a talented artist, and a wonderful friend. Her sense of humor is so bizarre and quirky; we laugh about the weirdest stuff. Definitely one of the coolest people that I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.” – jeremy

cherylins

cheryl ~

I have just started to finally be able to tell myself that I am not ugly… that I can get by to some degree regarding the physicality part…still have a hard time when people look at me or a photo is taken. 
I still feel unlovable, mostly for the reasons stated below.

I was made to feel boring and unintelligent if I spoke for very long. I was never going to be bright enough, pretty enough, or talented enough to follow the dreams that I had. 
Any feeling of self-worth as a kid was squashed. 

So, here I am, a 50 year old woman who still feels like an ugly, stupid, and boring kid unless I give myself a good talking-to, which I do quite often. 
I started my own mantra when I was seven to get me through the day and I still use it over and over. 
I feel bad for that kid and for my four of the six brothers that lived with us while I was growing up. 
There you have it – the raw and the short of it.”

cheryl’s friends and family:

“Cheryl is my constant friend from high school! She is usually the one that inspires the girls get-togethers. She enjoys friendships from so many different walks of life, the young and old alike. She is a nonjudgmental person. She is a woman of confidence. She enjoys life and seeks adventures. She loves to travel the world. Her heart is in Europe. She enjoys the finer things in life or just reading a book at home. I am proud to call her my friend.” – patrice

“She is bold, passionate, caring, kind, beautiful, hilarious, intuitive, creative, fun, almost psychic, loving, smart as a whip and so much more.” – amanda

“She is intelligent, unique, supportive, a good listener, inspiring.” – aarde

“Cheryl is: 1. Loyal 2. Fun 3. Vibrant 4. Eccentric 5. Generous. These are five traits that come to mind…” – annette

“Cheryl is a dear and trusted friend. * Cheryl was an avid social networker before Facebook existed. She has a great way of making a connection with people. * Cheryl is someone who knows her friends very well.” – deette

“Cheryl has the ability to liven up a room wherever she goes – people are drawn to her self-assurance. She puts people at ease and can get them talking, making them comfy in any situation. She is strong-willed (which is not a bad thing). She would do whatever it took to protect someone.” – vicki

“My ten words about Cheryl: the glue that keeps friends in touch. Worldly, knowledgeable, opinionated, worthy, adventurous, passionate, outgoing, fierce, independent, loyal.” – kim

“Cheryl is a very kind person. She is the most generous person I know. One of my very favorite traits about Cheryl is she is trustworthy. If you tell her something in confidence it will go no further. When we get together, we are silly and laugh. I am so relaxed with her. She does not judge anyone. Gossip, NO WAY. In fact when a conversation starts to go in that direction she is the first to say, “lets change the subject.” She really values friendships and over the years has been the one who has kept our friendships going. We all get busy in life but Cheryl is NEVER too busy to get together with her old friends. She makes me feel safe and cared for. Cheryl is one of the best women I have known in my life. I really look forward to all the fun years to come.” – deena

edenins
eden ~

“I am terrified of not living my life right, whatever right is. Which is a broad term. But I am scared of being disappointed in myself, not taking opportunities, of being scared of letting myself be alive. I am terrified of being unsatisfied, and stuck in a place of created for myself that I don’t like. In the end, I am scared of being unhappy.

Yikes, there it is.”

eden’s friends and family:

“Eden is one of the nicest and most caring persons I have ever met. She is also prettier than she will ever know!” – ashgan

“As Eden’s mother, I believe she is a bundle full of positive traits. I think her determination is one of her most outstanding traits. When she believes she can do something, even against great odds, she can do it. She makes things happen for herself. Eden also is caring and never intends to harm anyone. Eden is very smart and very capable. She delves into situations and comes away with a more thorough understanding of what is happening than most people do. Finally, Eden is open to all types of people, experiences and ideas. This openness has lead to a large variety of friends, great confidence in herself as a world traveler, being a practitioner of diversity in thought and deed, and much more.” – kim

“She is brave, accepting, and curious about all peoples, and affectionate…and she’s very clean, isn’t she.” – jerry

“I could go on for DAYS about ALL the wonderful things about Eden. She is one of my closest friends at this point and time and I can’t currently imagine life without her. 
She is Adventurous, Independent, Determined, Confident, Caring, Curious, Diligent, Considerate, and Athletic. She is very easy to talk to. Open-Minded. A go-getter. She has a ROCKIN’ Body. Naturally beautiful.” – heidi

“EDEN…
is joyous; 
is ever-present;
 is courageous; 
is thoughtful; 
has an inspirational sense of self;
 is authentic; 
is honest;
 is sexy as hell; 
is kind and warm; 
is an amazing athlete.” – alayna

“Eden is: 
One of the sexiest ladies I know (especially the American accent ;))
Unique and not afraid to be herself. 
Always knows how to cheer someone up, such a caring friend. 
The kind of person everyone wants as a friend. 
Soooooo much fun to be around! 
Honest.” – jess

“Eden is an amazing and strong woman. She is fabulous and funny with a free-flowing laugh. Eden is a beauty inside and out. She is a force to be reckoned with – bold, brave, and bright. 
Eden is a friend who cares deeply about those around her. She is a generous woman who has become a sister and welcomed me into her own family. I just plain love this woman!” – kerri

“ahhhhh, Eden. Eden is one of my best pals, for sure. Even though there is nearly a ten year age difference, we have always gotten along brilliantly. She started as an employee of mine at the coffee shop I was managing, and she was always the first to get excited about dumbass plans that I had for theme days there…always ready to join me in some crazy adventure. She is fearless when it comes to letting loose and just being a complete dork. I love and appreciate that about her so very much.
She is sensitive, in the best way. She doesn’t ever want to offend anyone…even if it means that she hurts in the process – sort of a double-edged sword at times, I suppose. She cares deeply about her friends and family.
She is adventurous. She would love to have a reckless abandon when it comes to adventures, and I hope to see her one day be able to experience just that. I’ve loved watching her grow through her travels.
She is honest…the way you require & love & hate a best friend to be.
She is super smart and incredibly humble all at once.
She has an infectious laugh…which is lovely, as we laugh a LOT.
She is sexy as hell, and doesn’t even have a clue that she is.
She is beautiful. To her core.” – alana

jamey


jamey ~

I thought for a long while about this project and what it was asking of me. I felt that sharing my easy to admit insecurities (not pretty enough, not thin enough, not educated enough, boobs, butt, hair, etc.) didn’t quite live up to what I interpreted as the heart of the project. I decided I was going to be stupid and brave and try and admit my greatest insecurity. So I thought about it…and then I thought about it some more…and then I realized what it is. Then I argued with myself about whether or not it was honest enough. Whether or not I was phrasing it correctly. I decided there was little I could do to change the way it sounds so, here goes: I don’t believe anyone can love me. I believe I am unlovable. I can say that to you now in the letter, that part is easy…but the hard part comes when you ask me to explain it. If I have to explain it, then I have to consider why, how, I feel that way…and while I now know why I feel that way, (guh) explaining it just make me feel bad.”

jamey’s friends and family:

“Jamey is one of the best women I know. She has so many wonderful qualities, it is very hard to name just a few, but here goes…
Jamey is one of the most intelligent women I know. She could be anything in the world she wants to be, and, thankfully for her children, she has chosen to be the best mother I know. She is understanding, demanding, loving and nurturing, in her own Jamey way. She knows the pain of a difficult childhood, and has made sure that her three children had someone that loves them unconditionally. This is the greatest gift any parent can give her kids. I turn to her for advice for my own children. 
Jamey is one of the most beautiful women, who I don’t believe is truly aware of her beauty. She has a style that I only wish I could pull off. Despite the fact that she has her own unique style, that style never takes over her natural beauty. She has such a beautiful face. I have to put a lot of my beauty on. She is lucky enough to look gorgeous just as she is. 
Finally, Jamey is one of the strongest women I know. She has seen a lot in her years, but rather than wallow in self pity, or let it keep her from enjoying life, she learns and grows from life’s experiences. To be able to be philosophical about life’s shitty experiences is so important. I think she knows that the sum total of her life has made her the incredible woman she is today. I admire Jamey and all the wonderful qualities that she has. I am thankful and proud to call her my friend.” – laura

“Jamey is a fierce and loyal friend. She’s a lioness – generous, impulsive, and never backs down from a fight. She is tender to those she loves, inquisitive and hard working. Most of all, she is a devoted Mother, who always puts her children first, and whose happiness and well being are her reason to get up in the morning. She is a good wife, and incredibly beautiful. She turns hardship into challenge, and is constantly evolving. She is also a hothead, crazy *ss wacko, and I love her all the more for it, because without this, she would be insufferably perfect. I’d give her any organ I could spare, and maybe a few I could not. I am very lucky she is in my life.” – diana

“Ok, let’s see… words to describe Jamey… thorough — she’s a friend that, if you got lice from your asshole kids, would help you deal with it (since the boyfriend wouldn’t). haha. Kind, an avid recycler, spontaneous, funny– (as in HAHA but also sarcastic haha), brave, strong– (she could take a man down and stands up for her family and those she cares about), smart (hell, she homeschools Ethan) a great decorator, (we’ve all seen her house), animal lover (from her urban farming to cats and dogs and what else resides in the house, haha), good listener (she’ll let you vent but also gives you pros and cons about irrational crazy thoughts), humble, a great cook (all those years watching Food Network paid off), fun (just typing that makes me laugh…she’s a friggin’ hoot) in love (I’m surprised they get out of bed)…..” – jooley

“CONFIDENT, BEAUTIFUL, A GREAT MOTHER, AND SHE IS GREAT AT BURYING YOUR DECEASED PETS WHEN YOU JUST CAN’T FIND THE COURAGE….” – sara

“Lets see…I have known Jamey since we were 6yrs old. She is right in that I can share a thing or 2 or 50! 
Jamey is loyal. Even when years passed between times that we spoke, she has my back. 
Jamey might be the smartest chick I know (person, really). And I’m not just speaking of intelligence, although she has an abundance of that! 
Jamey is so funny…always. She has one of the best senses of humor of anyone I know…& I know some funny people! 
Jamey’s heart is bigger than her person. She cares deeply about everyone she meets (even those who may not deserve it). She cares deeply about causes too – environment, children, animals, human rights…
Jamey is strong. She has gone through things that would break most people and she keeps going, almost stronger after each thing. I am amazed everyday by the person she’s become. 
She is an awesome mother. She’s kind of my “mom” idol. When I have a mothering issue, I often find myself thinking, “what would Jamey do?”
I know this project isn’t about outer beauty, but she has that in spades as well…
I could go on & on about how amazing she is, but I will probably start crying and then I won’t be able to type.” – paige

“Hi Alana, 
I could write an essay about my beloved Jamey and never be able to describe her adequately. But here is the mixed bag of qualities that I admire about her. I think what makes them so great is that they are so contrasting. She isn’t one way…Majestic, Decisive,
Brave,
Direct,
Unflinching,
Commanding,
Fierce,
Nurturing,
Resourceful, Persuasive,
Authentic,
Tender,
Protective,
Brilliant.” – jillian

“Hey Alana…
I don’t know…Jamey usually just makes fun of me…
But seriously, 
I think one of the best qualities of Jamey is her confidence. She is funny and sharp-witted. She is also a fantastic mother and very protective of her children.” – greg

“My wife sees a new world. She lives a new world. She spends every single day, at great personal, emotional risk to herself, living and feeling and loving as if the people she knows and loves are somehow better than we are; somehow kinder, and gentler, and funnier, and more caring, than we are, because that is how she is, and that is what it takes to evolve. Every breath is encouragement, to be better – to try and transcend. Jamey somehow manages to live in the big picture, seeing the past and considering the future, while living within each moment, and the macrocosmic power contained within each breath, each touch, each sound, each look. She lives and loves without a net, without hesitation, and with no expectation other than to be treated with the same love, the same hope, and the same promise she gives. Our kids, who – let’s be honest – get more from her than anyone else, are the best testimonial, as they are quickly growing to be even better – their kindness, tolerance, sensitivity and intellect are entirely their mothers fault.
She’s also fucking hilarious – seriously, the funniest person I’ve ever known. Honestly, she’s so funny, she could be kind of a dick and I’d still think she was amazing. Bonus she’s not, right?” – ash

“Jamey…
How would I describe her? 
Charming, funny, bright, compassionate, a great mother, a good friend, diligent, hard working, thoughtful.” – rebecca

“Jamey etc etc etc is the kind of woman that deserves to have a four-name-long name. This chick is one of the absolute strongest women I know. BUT, one of the things I especially love about her is that, while I rely on that strength of hers, she also lets those close to her see the other things that make her beautiful – her vulnerability and sensitivity. The woman can cut a chicken’s head off, yell at the asshole down the street, and then come in and cry with me over the latest Parenthood.
She is a friend to the death – incredibly and fiercely loyal – an ally that anyone would want on their side, while also being the secretly emotional woman you need that enveloping hug from that only she can give. She is the friend that I know I can call on to attend a memorial for innocent children that we never knew, but feel their loss as if they were our own. She is the one that will hold my hand at those times that I just need to FEEL.
She is selflessly generous.
She is a super devoted, loving, and protective mother (in the most balanced, perfect way). One that I take many a lesson from in mommying, like how to be nurturing when it goes against your normal grain…
She exudes love for her family and earns that love and respect back.
She is super intelligent and very self-aware and aware of the world around her. As dumb as the world can often be, she is not fazed.
Have I said that she’s beautiful? She is STUNNING. The most fabulous tattoos, always the best hair, the best style (even when it’s a peacoat with yoga pants, she looks amazing), and just the way she carries herself – she exudes confidence. People can’t help but stare at how gorgeous she is. I think one of my favorite things to watch her do is to cover her mouth when she laughs, as her nose scrunches up all cute – I see this gorgeous woman transform into an adorable little girl for a minute. J
The chick is HILARIOUS. I could go on for hours about this. We have enjoyed many a night where we just end up in a heap of tears on her kitchen floor from laughing so hard. There are probably pictures. Indeed, there are pictures. But they will never capture the actual extent of the hilarity. For that, you must experience Jamey for yourself. Everyone should be lucky enough to have that privilege.
p.s. she’ll also watch The Cure dvd trilogy with me for many hours in one sitting…gotta love that!” – alana

jennieins

jennie ~

“I would have to say that the insecurity that plagues me the most is my skin. For such a long time I have been battling acne scars, eczema, and very irritable skin. As I have grown older things have gotten better, but I still feel the need to hide in my clam shell whenever my skin breaks out.”

jennie’s friends and family:

“Alright, so she and I have been friends since the last day of high school. We met through a mutual friend and both decided she was crazy and we needed to be friends. She’s my hetero life mate. She’s always been so real with me. Even though it pisses me off sometimes, she always gives the best advice. After talking to her, I always feel like I have a way better grip on reality and what to do in any situation I’m in. She has the best family ever, and if you know her and her parents, you realize why she is the way she is. She cares way too much for others… sometimes to the point where it becomes a problem because she’s trying make everyone happy when everyone’s already happy. But she only means well. She’s so personable and can talk to anyone. She’s one of those people that becomes friends with my boyfriends and if I have to leave to go to work or something, she will stay and chill. She’s always been there for me through thick and thin, and in ways that other people could never think of being. I found out that my 5 year old cousin was killed when I was with her and a boyfriend of mine. I left to go on a drive for a while and then go see my mom. When I got back they had made me the most delicious cake that was totally me. It was black and white stripey Oreo Pie cake with a quote I used to say all the time: “Look at me go.” They fucked it up, even, but it was better than it should have been. It was the perfect idea to help me feel a little better, and to remember to laugh and be positive in a time where you can’t even think about it. She the man!” – kt

“What can I say, Jen is my soulmate of best friends and a hero to me. She probably doesn’t know, or realize it, but she’s saved my life a time or two. From the very beginning, at a time my life had so much darkness, she shined a light right through it, the day we became bf’s. It’s been nearly 14 years (I think) since that day and I thank God for every moment and memory I have with her.
I don’t know if anyone else (other than Jim- cause he just knows everything) knows the triumphs Jennie has had over her insecurities like I do, to be honest. I think when Jen and I became friends, she was probably her most insecure self. And although Jen is the same beautiful, kind, and funny girl that she was 14 years ago, she’s not the same girl I met – she’s so much more than that girl. She’s so full of life, when she laughs…I mean really laughs… you can see, hear, and feel how the world values someone like her.
The honesty Jennie has towards herself as to who she is as a person portrays so much about how she treats others and who she allows to have in her life. Her morals, dignity, compassion, and unconditional love are qualities most people strive to have. As an example, watching Jennie grow as a woman – all that she has accomplished and overcome in such a spiritual way, how she applies and lives out all that she has learned and still learning till this day – allows me to put her so high up on a pedestal in my life…that when I look into my daughter’s eyes, and think about all that I wish for her life and for her to be, not only do I think of her father and I… but I think of Jennie and who she is, and hope that my daughter will live and love in the aspiring way that Jennie has.
I have so much more I could say about her, but knowing my Jennie, she already knows how much I love her and all the things I love about her. And she’s not a person who doesn’t love herself or lets insecurities get in the way of that… My Jen has confidence, and those that don’t have confidence in her or think she has too much confidence generally get a real sophisticated fuck you… so I will end with this comment…
I think the only down fall Jennie has is that she doesn’t realize how truly special she is to people and how much she makes a difference in their lives. And now I will address Jen- “Jen, you’re not just another person in this world, you’re an inspiration- a movement-a statement to this world, and we desperately need more people like you… so with that said, my love, don’t stop with just inspiring me – get out there and inspire others.
Love always,
Sami aka “Yoshi”” – samantha

“My sister Jennie is a lot of amazing things…She is the Best friend that a person could ask for. She is caring and kind and always there when you need her. One of the things I love about her is her views on life…She is very realistic about things, and very honest about what she feels, and I love that! She is a very positive & real person!” – shellie

ktins
kt ~

“My insecurity is that I’m a picky eater. Might sound dumb, but its something I totally struggle with. I’ve definitely gotten better the last few years but I might still be pickier than grey (alana t’s son). Doesn’t help that as a kid my parents didn’t really have me eating fruits or veggies or anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I was forced to just eat the same few meals every week even if I didn’t like it. My dad always ate pineapple at dinner and they literally made me gag, but I still had to eat them everyday, even if he had to shove them down my throat. Made for great family time. Growing up, I only ate grilled cheese sandwiches at restaurants. My mom would even make like Chinese restaurants make em’ for me. When my mom remarried, my step-sisters took to calling me “bread girl” because that was what you could always count on me eating if I didn’t like anything else at the table. It made it difficult to eat at other’s houses or eat meals with boyfriends on a regular basis. Funny thing… I’m even picky about liquids – I only drank water my whole life. No milk, no soda, no juice. Even as I got older, I didn’t start drinking forever cuz, hey, I didn’t want to try any beers or anything. So even tho I’ve been excited about this get-together with you guys… I don’t like wine and I know it’s not a big thing. I’ll bring some beers (I do like me some beer now but its just always been that feeling like I gotta always be the odd ball.) And fortunately I’m not super sensitive and don’t have many insecurities, so I can usually just deal and laugh it off. But It was always embarrassing for me to have to order off the kids menu as a young adult, or once I started eating other stuff, I’d always have to special-order my meals. Plain cheese burgers, meat and cheese only tacos…. stuff like that. On top of being picky, I hate trying new things, but that kinda goes without saying.
One of my boyfriends always wanted me to try new things. We’d go out to restaurants that literally had nothing I’d like and it would totally put me in a bad mood. One time we went to a Mexican place and the waitress only spoke Spanish, so I had him order my tacos – I wanted meat and cheese only, but he thought it would be good for me to branch out and order what he wanted for me without telling me. When my food came, I was totally stuck because I really couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it. It was super lame and again brought the spirits down.
I try not to be like that but it’s really hard. Makes me feel like a kid. There is a somewhat good reason behind it though. I can’t smell. Never really have been able to. I can sense fumes and things like that just not so much fragrances. So therefore I don’t have a great sense of taste either, meaning I rely greatly on texture, and a lot of food has really bad texture. Like, I absolutely hate onions. Doesn’t matter how tiny they are – in my spaghetti, or tacos, or whatever – I can always tell when I bite down on one cuz I’m hypersensitive to it, so it totally grosses me out. So ya. That’s my insecurity in a nutshell. I hate that I’m a picky eater and considering it’s one of those things you do all the time, I constantly have to be like, “Hey look at me, I’m a child.””

kt’s friends and family:

“Katee is driven w/ imagination, focus, and hope! She is determined to develop herself and become successful as a human and w/ her passion. She is the type of person that you enjoy being around cause she makes you want to be a better person also!!!” – sativa

“KT is an amazing loyal friend, unique, confident, one of the most generous people you will ever meet, great with kids, extremely creative, hard working, incredibly positive, destined for absolute greatness and stardom – HANDS down!!! One of the coolest people I know! One last thing … Once you meet her she is one of those few people that are just completely unforgettable.” – brittaney

“KT, You are beautiful. You are so amazingly talented and so creative, your art amazes me. I love that you never stop fighting for everything and everyone that you love. Your love for your family and friends is unsurpassed. I remember that being the first thing I noticed about you, and I said “yea, we’re gonna be best friends.” And, man am I glad that we are. You are one of the most thoughtful people that I know. You give so much of your heart to everything that you do, and that is why everything that you do is always so amazing! And last, but most certainly not least, you are an amazing friend. Good times or bad, you are always right there with me – loving me and being a great friend. I always appreciate it. I am so grateful to have such an awesome best friend whose awesomeness is out of this world! Oh yea, did I mention you’re awesome?! Love you KT” – jenn I e

“As long as we’ve known each other, which is the better part of 15 years, she has been a beautiful human. There’s never been a moment that we’ve had together that she wasn’t willing to help. Or even just exist with another person. Like if you were to need someone around, but didn’t feel obligated to talk – KT is that person. She’s attentive, but not attention-seeking. When she talks to you about your problems, it’s about your problems, not her life in light of them. KT has always known how to care about people without a self-serving attitude.
Creatively, she’s one of my personal inspirations. She views art in a pure space. Where you do what you love, and find even more to love after the fact. She hasn’t let herself stop learning and I’m happy that I’ve gotten to watch her do what she loves and I’ve gotten to watch her hone in on her talents and really bring them out. She’s willing and ready to break out of her shell, but still keep in tune with her own talents and sense of self. We all have problems with knowing ourselves, but she’s actually happy in her identity. It boggles my mind sometimes. While she’s seen me change from this to that, she’s never really strayed from her own identity.
I really haven’t seen KT be anything but a beautiful human. Between inside jokes, drawing together, or just driving aimlessly across town trying to find something to do with no money, it’s always been honest and awesome. She’s a rare person where insincerity isn’t really an option – you get what you get. And instead of that being one of those “I’m a bitch and I know it” people, you just get someone who’s honest, and who hates nonsense. Not because it inconveniences them, but because it’s a waste of time. She’d rather be doing something productive, always.
She’s a brain that would rather laugh with you than find bits and pieces to tear apart or “fix.” And it’s nice to have someone who isn’t brutally judgmental watching you meander through life and love. And laugh at you like a friend when the inevitable happens, instead of pushing the fact that she’s smarter than you. Which there’ve been plenty of chances to do. I don’t know what else to say… KT is just a great person. Creative, beautiful inside and out, and a kind of neutral that seems almost impossible in today’s world. She loves, always. And acts as if that love is the only thing that really matters or holds any tacit value in life.” – chris

“Katee Carroll Wright born Christmas Eve 1986… she will hate that I used her middle name. She prefers KT. Sitting here trying to figure out how not to write a book. She is a very old soul, wise beyond her years. She is my best friend! I have turned to her in many trying situations with family members, she always has the words that make so much sense, when no one else’s do. I’m so proud to be her Mom!!!” – mom

“As for KT, she is an awesome person. My step sister is quite an amazing person. She has always been her own individual that has been judged by her appearance. She has a heart of gold. People have been so quick to do the same as you talk about, whisper like kids and throw dirty looks at first glance, but she is a great aunt that is involved with all her nieces and nephew, Gives great advice, and even when struggling inside herself, still manages to stay positive and rain light on any situation. She’s had her hard times in life, but has always pulled herself in the right direction. 
Not sure what all you are looking for, but KT is a great person, not judgmental, and just fun to be around. She enjoys laughing and having a good time which usually results in her photography as well!” – val

Group 1, Part 2: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/women-raw-honest-loved-part-2/
Group 2, TEENS!: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/teen-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 3, 55+: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/55-version-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 4: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/group-4-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 5: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/group-5-women-raw-honest-loved/
Group 6: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/group-6-women-raw-honest-loved/
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roup 7, MEN!: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/group-7-men-nope-not-women-men-raw-honest-loved/
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roup 8: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/group-8-women-raw-honest-loved/
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roup 9, Moms & Daughters: https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/moms-daughters-group-9-featuring-melissa-lily/
https://alanatphotography.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/group-9-moms-daughters-featuring-liz-caitie/