Beneath Your Beautiful magazine is born from a desire to show that beauty is everywhere: from heart-warming to heart wrenching. The title refers to the lightness in our soul, as well as the darkness. It represents all that we’ve wrestled with as well as our triumphs.
After hundreds of intimate conversations with people I’ve photographed and as the host of Beneath Your Beautiful podcast, I understand the beauty of a single tear rolling down a mother’s cheek as she holds her stillborn baby, just as much as in the image of a sweet elderly couple holding hands.
Beauty is in all of us, no matter what we look like or what challenges life presents us.
I have seen my share of struggles. My parents divorced when I was 1. Single with six kids, my mom struggled financially as the kids struggled emotionally. My childhood was a chaotic mix of drugs, police interactions, powdered milk and reduced-cost school lunches.
At 7, I was sexually abused. Nothing was said or done when I told my mom and I let that define my worth. I carried so much shame. With a child's perspective, I believed it was my fault. It took 45 years for me to be convinced it was a trauma worthy of discussion.
My mom passed away from cancer at 46 and I was just 18. For six brutal months I watched her slowly deteriorate and then I was thrust into adulthood.
I lost my dad twice: once to the fog of Alzheimer’s and later when his body succumbed to the disease.
I lost a brother to a drug overdose and another to cancer.
When my daughters were only 2 and 6, I found myself a divorced, single mom barely making it on one salary. I filed for bankruptcy twice and almost lost my home to foreclosure, while surviving on a diet of top ramen because that was all I could afford.
Through all of this, I battled my weight and self worth.
After years of work, however, I have found my way to love. Instead of pointlessly wishing I was smarter, smaller, or anything I'm not, I honor my strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and appreciate what I have.
I am more than my struggles. I am more than what I look like. I’m proof that there is always hope and to find beauty you just have to seek it.
This magazine, then, hopes to recognize beauty in all things and to create positive change through honest and compassioniate storytelling that inspires empathy and understanding.