Real Beauty: Uncovered at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ

Yesterday was an emotional day for us.   We finished our 5 week workshop with the most amazing kids.  I really enjoyed spending time with the boys and girls learning and teaching them the importance of accepting our own uniqueness.   In the end I really felt the connection that made my heart leap for joy.  With the philosophy of Growing With The Seasons, I think or at least I hope we planted some seeds for the future.

XOXOXO

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Radio Interview with Cristina Maria Rojas-Fernandez for Transforming Gifts!

I was so honored to be interviewed by Cristina for Transforming Gifts! She made me feel right at home and talking to her about how Real Beauty: Uncovered became what it is today.  For anyone who knows me this is not such an easy task because I do tend to get a bit shy when I talk about my personal things.  But I wanted to audience to really get to know me and the reason why this movement is so important!

Before we started she guided me and told me some of the questions she was going to be asking.  Even when we had a little hiccup she was right there cool and collective!  Such an amazing women who I have the privilege of getting to know!

Thank you again Christina for your light and your wisdom!

Take a listen!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/transforminggifts/2015/06/11/live-wdani-allen-co-creator-photographer-of-real-beauty-uncovered

Introducing Nicolette V.

And now, it’s a great honor to introduce Nicolette!

Her Story…

“When I was in high school, my older sister battled an eating disorder. However, the way it came about is a little different than what they preach about in the media. My sister didn’t start restricting because she was unhappy with herself. She was never overweight and was absolutely beautiful. Her stress and anxiety took control of her mind and body and caused her to become extremely underweight. Her organs started failing and she was slowly killing herself without a choice. Throughout the entire process, she knew how sick she looked. She wanted to gain the weight back, her body just wouldn’t let her.

Fast forward 4 years and now I’m in college surrounded by people who have no idea what my sister went through. You wouldn’t believe how many times “I’m gonna stop eating” or “sometimes I wish I was anorexic” gets thrown around in casual conversations each day. These statements would infuriate me because I knew that my sister did that, was there, and absolutely hated herself for it.

From watching my sister fight her battle, I didn’t learn to eat solid meals, I didn’t learn to you have to be a certain weight, and I sure didn’t learn you had to follow trends to be beautiful. I learned beauty is what you make of it. If you’re overweight and feel beautiful, then you are. If you have a six-pack and are proud of it, then you have a reason to be. To me, there is no definition of beautiful. If you feel beautiful, you are.”

Lillian Faderman…

It’s not everyday that you get to meet someone with such a rich history.  I was fortunate enough to sit down with Lillian Faderman after a powerful presentation at Rider University.  I knew I was in the presence of a wonderful speaker when the first sentence was spoken and the whole room gazed upon her, eating up her every word like the most delicious sundae on a hot summer day. Refreshing and very much needed. In the busyness of our lives, we forget to slow down and remember our past. Remember where we came from and how far we have come.

Lillian Faderman is an internationally-known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as ethnic history and literature. Her work has been translated into numerous languages, including German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, Czech, and Slovenian. Among her many honors are six Lambda Literary Awards, two American Library Association Awards, and several lifetime achievement awards for scholarship, including Yale University’s James Brudner Award, the Monette/Horwitz Award, the Publishing Triangle Award, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives Culture Hero Award, and the American Association of University Women’s Distinguished Senior Scholar Award. The New York Times named two of her books, Surpassing the Love of Men and Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, on its “Notable Books of the Year” list.

When sitting to ask her some quick questions and take her photograph (which by the way was not on her schedule, but she agreed to do anyway because she is amazing), I noticed the tenderness in her eyes. It was truly an honor to get to talk to her. Here is my favorite question and answer from our chat:

Q. “What is Beauty?”

A.  “Nature is Beauty. The ocean gives me energy and peace. Beauty for me is two chairs looking at the ocean.”

Thank you, Lillian!!!

 

Real Beauty: Uncovered Featured on Push Pause

PP_NJ_realbeautyuncovered – Computer.m4v.

This video aired on television by FIOS1 News shows a unique behind-the-scenes view of Real Beauty: Uncovered. In this feature, Push Pause video journalist Tom DiDoanto interviews the photographer, Dani Allen, and her models, and they explain how this project challenges women to examine their assumptions about beauty and accept themselves for who they really are. (Push Pause features high-impact, in-depth community stories that get to the heart of New Jersey life.)

 

Gearing up for Montclair State University Exhibition…

Dani says: So excited to be going to Montclair State University for Women’s History Month. RBU will be at Life Hall from March 1st till the 31st! The women I interviewed were amazing and I can’t wait for them to see themselves on screen. For this show, we also added a video-based gallery in addition to the live photographs that will be hung. I can’t express the depth of the gratitude I feel for all of the real stories that the women shared, their openness, and the tremendous heart they showed. I love my Montclair Girls thru and thru!

Introducing Michele F.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele F.  I hope that through her story you will find inspiration!

Michele F: “I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine when I was 12 and can remember trying to recreate looks in my bathroom mirror.
Wishing my hair curled like hers, my eyes wider, legs slimmer.
I strived to attain that perfection on the page.
I always considered myself confident but the physical comparisons I made between myself and others never really left me.
25 years and 2 kids later, I find myself bombarded with images of physical perfection. Specifically, an image of a mom holding a new baby surrounded by her other 3 or so kids.
She was fit, ripped, and had a caption reading, “What’s your excuse?”
And I found myself wondering that too.
Then Dani called and wanted to take my picture 5 weeks after baby #2 was born sans makeup.
“Uh, no.”
Except this project stuck with me and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if I said ‘yes’?”
What if rather than complaining about the Photoshopped images we are bombarded with each day, I was part of showing the real woman.
Who loves her family, herself and her body.
The body that pulled me out of a 4-year illness with nothing but self-exploration, nutrition and herbal supplements.
The body that helped turn a 100-year-old run down house into a home.
The body that created carried and delivered 2 amazing children.
Children who are completely unique and their own.
A daughter that I hope never knows the word diet. That picks clothes because they express her individuality not hide her “problem areas.”
A son that will see a woman’s smile and want to know her heart and what it feels like to be loved so completely by another human being.
Who won’t choose where to look for that love based on a jean size.
What’s my excuse?
I don’t have one.
I live, I love, and I appreciate my body.
Every pound, every inch, split ends, wrinkles, freckles, and cellulite.
I can say this now because I saw how beautiful I can look.
Without the mask.
Without the smoky eye.
No Photoshop.
Dani showed me how beautiful I was.
Just as I am.”

Introducing Krissy…

Krissy: “I learned about makeup while playing dress-up with my sister. She was much older then me and I was her rocker Joan Jett doll, so make-up was introduced to me very young.  I remember growing up and getting a tinker bell make-up kit with all the glittery powder and blush and, for the first time, I felt so grown up!

It was years later–when I was about ten–while watching an old movie that make-up really became a forefront in my life. I saw beautiful women on the screen with these white, curly wigs and big gowns from the 1700’s getting ready for a ball. I noticed that they would always pinch their cheeks before presenting themselves in public. Why on earth would anyone ever do that? But then the older lady in the movie explained, “Pinch your cheeks and you will be more attractive to the boys.”  And thus the journey with make-up began.  My first venture was taking my mom’s blush to school without her knowing and applying it in the girls’ bathroom before class started. I was always scared that someone would catch me, or worse, think I was joining the circus.

Now in my early 30’s, I see make-up as an enhancement to the beauty that you already possess.  Beauty is the way that you treat people, it’s the compassion that you have towards others, and therefore, it is a combination of your character and your outer beauty.”

“Beauty is only skin deep. You can be the most physically attractive individual, but if you have an ugly personality, then it doesn’t matter. Being a good person with a kind heart will exude itself and that “real beauty” will show on the outside, too!”