“I believe that understanding your inner beauty is a journey that continues throughout all chapters of life. In every season, I had to decide to love the body that I had.” – Stephanie
Tell us about yourself, Stephanie!
I am a wife to the love of my entire life, mama to the sweetest baby girl, and I live my life to serve Jesus. Family is everything to me, and I am blessed to have a lot of people in mine. I’m originally from Illinois, but I am grateful to live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (definitely not as cold in the winter). I love helping others and making friends! Community is something I enjoy helping create.
I am a work in progress, and have made it my life’s mission to not leave this earth with an ounce of potential left in me.
How did you come to understand your inner beauty?
When I began to learn about my identity in Christ, it shifted my entire mindset on my inner beauty. At the foundation of my confidence in my inner beauty is my identity as a woman made in the image of God.
Growing up, I was raised with 4 sisters. The youngest, Sarah, has Down Syndrome. She has changed my entire view on what the world tells us is “beautiful.” She is radiant, joyful, and lives every day fully. Sarah has been an anchor of exuding true inner beauty and has been an exceptional example for me.
I believe that understanding your inner beauty is a journey that continues throughout all chapters of life. For example, when I was a collegiate athlete working out twice a day and a nursing student just trying to get by, I experienced a super tough season that led to weight gain. I learned about healthy living and choosing to fuel my body rather than feed my body. I got pregnant, birthed a beautiful baby girl completely naturally, then processed postpartum and worked hard to gain strength back!
In every season, I had to decide to love the body that I had. It is strong, resilient and beautiful. I also had to remind myself that no matter what I looked like on the outside, the way I treated people and the inner beauty that I exuded mattered much, much more.
This project is all about inspiring women to see their beauty. What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
We live in a world that tries to put their stamp of approval on what is “beautiful” or not… magazine covers, social media, movies, etc. It is so easy to get lost in the highlight reels and forget that those women have stretch marks, cellulite, and acne, too. Like us, they have hard days and struggle with loving themselves. I found myself all too often in the comparison trap that was leading to some serious head trash. Honestly, I would have become depressed and anxious thinking of getting dressed to go somewhere or having to shop for a bigger size. There came a point where I realized that I couldn’t help others love themselves if I didn’t love myself. I also hated the idea that I was going to be a poor example to my future kids – especially daughters – on feeling beautiful, and that didn’t sit well with me. Thus began the process of learning to love who I was in every season.
Here’s the thing: You can feel beautiful and confident in who you currently are WHILE in the process of eating healthier, working out, or finding ways to love yourself more! Confidence in yourself is the most beautiful “clothing” you can put on. Remember this: there is NO ONE on this earth just like YOU, and THAT makes you truly beautiful.
One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Tell us about your experience with the photo shoot.
To be selected was honestly a shock. I applied for fun and was not expecting to be chosen! I loved filling out the form because it really challenged my confidence in my inner beauty. That alone was so beneficial for me. To be chosen to was an incredible honor.
I was so excited about the photo shoot and I loved picking out outfits and jewelry! I have done plenty of photo shoots but never one just for myself. It came at such a perfect time. Kasper and Brandi were a literal joy to be with the entire time. I woke up a few days prior with a rash on the side of my face, so I was a little frustrated. Kasper was the sweetest and never once made me feel uncomfortable, and he covered it flawlessly! Brandi just has a demeanor about her that just makes you feel at peace and gives you a huge sense of confidence. It was fun to work together, to be creative, and to feel incredibly glamorous! I’d do it again and recommend it in an instant!
18 months ago I became a mama for the first time. It has been my greatest joy and highest honor, while being my biggest responsibility. If you are a mama you know that “mama time” is few and far in between. Especially time like this photo shoot was. To be pampered, talked to without interruption, and to feel glamorous was such a fun confidence boost and reminder of how my story can be used to help others.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you get to know me, you’d quickly learn that I’m a mover and shaker. I love to rock the boat and go against the grain. I don’t fit in a box and I don’t really have a particular style. I love breaking the mold and making others feel welcome just as they are. You were born to be someone that no one has ever been before. Walk in confidence.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL – don’t believe anyone who may tell you otherwise!
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International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer