*They are Beautiful!*
"How do I look?" - This is a question that we often ask. We are asking others a question we should be answering ourselves. We often seek the approval of those around us in hopes to fit a stereotypical genre of 'beauty' that society is trying to form. What we should be doing is stop focusing on appearances so that we can start focusing on what's important in ourselves, as well as others.
I just recently read a quote from actress and mother, Jada Pinkett Smith. After her daughter, Willow, shaved her head she was asked by a reporter why she let her do it. This was her response:
"The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First, the 'LET' must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls, are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It's also a statement that claims that even little girls should have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother's deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be..."
What an amazingly accurate statement. This is exactly what this True Beauty project is about. I obviously don't personally know Jada Pinkett Smith or her daughter Willow. But, after hearing her words spoken so true, I would love to one day photograph them for my project.
Tonight I drove to Harrison, Ohio to meet with a girl named Danielle. A friend recommended that I contact her for my True Beauty project, saying that she would be great for it. Danielle was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Within a few weeks of her diagnosis the progression of cancer had gotten worse. She has been going through treatments, including chemo, which she will be going to tomorrow.
I met Danielle at a hair salon because tonight she shaved her head. As she walked into the salon, and I met her for the first time, she smiled at me. What a beautiful beaming smile she has. Behind her came a flock of support in the form of family and friends. It was amazing to see a room full of people all there for her at such an emotional time. As the hair stylist started speaking with Danielle the tears started to pour. I immediately felt myself well up.
We all walked back to the chair where Danielle sat down and started to cry harder. She told the hair stylist to save as much hair as she could to donate it to Locks-of-Love. Then came the first cut...
As the scissors started to cut, almost everyone in the room began to cry. This was more than hair. After her ponytail was gone the clippers began to buzz. She asked to turn the chair around so she couldn't look in the mirror. After a somber few minutes, her sister made a joke. And then, something beautiful happened. Her smile re-appeared...
I took one True Beauty picture Before her haircut and one After. No matter the length of her hair, her beauty is measured from within. What a beautiful fighter she is!
Almost immediately after standing up from the stylist's chair, her sister sat down...
Danielle then watched as her sister, Tiffany, shaved her head in support. The emotions began to flood the room again. Both of these woman were amazingly beautiful and strong. Danielle has already shown great strength in her fight against breast cancer and will continue to do so with the support of her family and friends.
Tiffany's hair was also donated. What amazingly beautiful ladies, inside and out! I feel honored to have been able to photograph them. They are Truly Beautiful!