Bold Beautiful Perfect: Cristina
“Life is too short to do what everyone else is doing. I want to be remembered for the people I’ve helped and for the impact my unconventionality may have had.” – Cristina
In anticipation of a very exciting BBP event to be hosted later this year, we’re going back to the beginning of the Bold Beautiful Perfect project. Cristina was one of our very first BBPs way back in 2019, and we are so excited to highlight her again today and to share her story!
Experiencing the Process
You never know what to expect from filling out a survey online to participate in a project like this one, where deep down you want to believe that you ARE bold, beautiful and perfect, and yet what you are does not seem to match what the current common definitions are. When I filled out the survey, I was going through a particularly difficult phase – I had been very unceremoniously let go from a job that I had grown to hate with terrible leadership, and my sense of self-worth and my identity were all up in the air. Not only did I not really know who I was or what my purpose was, but I also couldn’t help but feel that some part of this “failure” had to be connected to my lack of conventional beauty and lack of a conventional mindset. Getting the phone call with the invitation to participate was such a confidence booster.
To even be considered was enough, and I believe that it helped get my mind and goals back on track, and that it helped with my confidence and finding a new path and new goals. The process was very simple and so personalized, and I loved getting asked to think about my favorite spots in the city that might make for a good backdrop. I am grateful for the kindness and professionalism of everyone involved, and for making the process of understanding what my commitment was. A lot of work was put into all of the logistics so that everything felt very effortless.
The day of the shoot was so much fun and a truly special experience. I rarely treat myself or put myself first, given my nature as a giver and provider, and it was refreshing to let that go for a minute and allow myself to relax and play with the inner star that rarely gets to shine. I absolutely loved the finished look from the hair and makeup, and wish I could replicate it easily. I greatly appreciated being asked to bring heirloom jewelry, as that was a really special way to bring my grandmother into the experience. The location at the hotel was beautiful, and getting to go to my favorite little strip on OC Haley with the restaurant and the murals was really personal and special to me.
Getting to see the images in their raw version at the reveal was also more emotional that I expected. I tend to feel that I do not photograph well, but these images proved me wrong. It really is about being guided to the right angle and having the right vision on the other end of the lens. The entire experience was truly empowering and a crucial part of the healing process I was going through in that transition from one job to another and one identity to another, where now I feel I am in a much better place.
How Did I Get Here?
It’s challenging to pinpoint a specific situation or time that created the fire and passion that drive me, because it is something I feel has always been there. From being called “stubborn” and “headstrong” for most of my life, I have always interpreted that as being determined and persistent, even if at times it feels like a lost cause or when it causes a lot of pain when things don’t work out how I envisioned them to be. I get joy from going against the flow, from ruffing feathers, from being untraditional and unconventional – life is too short to do what everyone else is doing. I joke about having Oppositional Defiant Disorder, because if you say “this is how this should be”, I will naturally want to do the complete opposite, because why be like everyone else? If I could choose, I’d want to be remembered for the people I’ve helped and for the impact my unconventionality may have had.
I would say I believe a large part of how I came to be this way is from being a citizen of two countries and that entire unconventional upbringing. It is the greatest privilege I have had, and while it doesn’t always come with a lot of understanding or acceptance from others, it has given me the ability to find deeper ways to connect with others; to have a greater appreciation of culture, art, and history; and to inspire a lot of my creative outlets.
My Hopes for You
I want to be able to show other women and girls like me who may be a blend of two or more places and cultures that you DO belong just as much as anyone else. What you can contribute is beyond valuable. Whether you check off more than one box, or can’t really check off any box at all, it’s ok. You are what the future is already beginning to look like, and you are stronger because of it. If someone has a problem with who or what they think you are, that is their problem and not yours. I want women to be proud of that defiant nature, to feel comfortable being different, and to use that fire to fuel positive change.
For a long time it was difficult for me to reconcile my background, the color of my skin, and my journey with what most other people seemed to be identifying with or going through. I allowed myself to be put down by stereotypes or misconceptions. However, I’ve gotten to a point in my life where now I embrace it, celebrate it, and defend it to the death. I see it as a true and beautiful privilege to have my unique DNA, my unique perspective on life, people, and the world, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I want women to love their tone, love their extra curves, love their dark eyes, and love their internal fire that has been inherited by strong, powerful women for generations before and from all of the courageous battles they have had to endure. We represent them as much as we represent ourselves.
Your best asset it being YOU! Let’s celebrate it!
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International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.