Have you ever wondered what defines you? What people see when they look at you? Have you wondered if you are good enough or measure up? I have wondered and cared more then I willingly admit. Throughout my life there have been measuring sticks that I have allowed myself to lay subject to and while over the years the sticks have changed and morphed the need to be measured and then defined has always persisted. When I was young my parents approval, athletics, boys liking me, and my outer appearance really really mattered. Then in college my goals and future and the need for a direction was ever pressing- where was I heading and was it in the right direction? As a young wife I felt measured by my career, the perfection of my home, and the pressure of being a steamy lover, genuine friend, constant companion all rolled into one overwhelming and cherished role of wife. Now married and with children, in many ways the “fairytale years” of marriage, the measuring sticks still present themselves and they are high. They demand late nights and early mornings, laundry loads that are always folded, and the desire to balance everyone and everything without loosing yourself along the way.
Definitions might come unsolicited from many things in our lives however for me I’ve decided that I would like to take the pen and start the writing, start the deciding. I want to define what a good mother looks like to my daughters, what my marriage needs, how my body is beautiful, and most importantly what I am NOT going to defined by. I personally find solace in these verses when I feel lack luster in my own life.
I am my own definition. This mantra has birthed within my soul whether it be from the painfully clear lies I see women believing while taking photos (another great women’s blog post here) or the ways I see my now 3 year old watching me to learn and grow and fully grasp who she is and what beauty, what love, and what happiness is. I want to know who I am so I can better nurture her journey to discover the woman she is going to be.
I have decided to extend this thinking to 365 women for the “I am not Defined” fine art project where 365 women, ages 9-99, all with different insecurities, stories, and backgrounds will be photographed for this project. The hope is to share in vulnerability and build a community of love and genuine beauty. This project is meant to impact more women then I or the women can personally reach. After the project “I am not defined” has been completed, fine art coffee table books, will be made and sold. Profits will be donated to Tubman a women’s battered shelter organization located in Minnesota.
To participate all that you need is an insecurity, a black dress, and a willingness to share. The sessions are free and photos released to the women. To find out how to get your session booked simply like Ashleigh Rachel Photography on Facebook and message her about the “I am not Defined” fine art project.