Your Beauty Your Way
43, New York
Radio host, insurance specialist, mother
Favorite feature: my freckles
When I was younger I tried to use a vanishing cream on my freckles and I got a rash. Now my freckles are a part of me. I would never try to get rid of them; without them I wouldn't be who I am. I have battled alcoholism and depression. I'm proud of the fact that I don't look like what I've been through. I use my experience to uplift and encourage women. We all have the potential to change. It doesn't matter where you've been or where you've fallen; you just have to be willing to take that first step.
21, New York
College student, blogger, volunteer
Favorite feature: my dark complexion
I was teased a lot in high school because of my dark complexion. There was another girl; they called her my twin -- same dark skin, height, body structure -- but they acted differently toward her. I never saw them tease her. I realized it was because I let my vulnerability and insecurity show. I had to own up to the fact that the only way people would be more receptive of me and my dark skin was if I loved it first. I just want to go out there and let dark-skinned little girls and boys know that just because you have darker skin doesn't mean you're any less of a person or that you're not beautiful. You are very beautiful.
911 assistant supervisor, mother, grandmother
Favorite feature: my natural hair
I went natural to be closer to God. Being my natural self is a symbol of my coming back to Him. God has done so much for me and I want to be the way He put me on this earth. I was a single mother; I had both of my daughters while still in high school. But my greatest challenge was becoming a grandmother at age 27 when my 11-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted. Prayer is what really helped me make it. God loves me and didn't give up on me. So I took off my fake nails. Grew out my relaxer. Now I don't say, "I'm a big girl." Instead I say, "I'm voluptuous." I tell myself I'm beautiful every day when I look in the mirror. It's a feeling I never had before. I feel wonderful!
Mentor, wife, mother
Favorite feature: my bald head
Thirteen years ago I woke up and the top of my head was bald. I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. To add to my discomfort I discovered that I was allergic to latex, so I couldn't hide my condition under wigs, weaves or braids. Ten years ago my husband encouraged me to shave it all off and that's what I did. Now I can't imagine having hair. When I look in the mirror I see a woman who is walking in confidence and grace and is strong in knowing who she is. A lot of women are really suffering because they don't have any hair. I want them to know that they don't have to wear wigs or worry about the shape of their head. It's what comes from within you that makes you beautiful.
Claims examiner, mom, children's home volunteer
Favorite feature: my gap
Gaps are not really acceptable, especially in the beauty world. I had mine "fixed" with a filling when I was in middle school. When it started to get discolored, I had it done again, but this time it fell out. So I let it stay out and let my gap show. I like it now. I am comfortable with it and myself. I'm beautiful because of my flaws and, most important, because of who I am on the inside.
Product research and development investigator, wife, mother
Favorite feature: my lips
Every day my lips are painted red because I want everyone to know that I love them. When I was younger I used to be insecure about my lips. I grew up in Jamaica, and my features were different from the other children's. I would always get teased and had to endure comments about my "big lips." As I've grown into adulthood I've built confidence and now own the fullness of my lips. At age 40 I have never felt better or more secure about the way I look.