• #ProjectBRAVE / Body Love and Beauty

    #ProjectBRAVE photos Volume 1, Part 4

    Body love is NOT a trend, it’s a lifestyle.

    And the participants in Volume 1 from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are living that life! I cannot thank them enough. Thank you for trusting me, for trusting Dale, for putting yourselves out there. Thank you!

    This is the final Part of Volume 1. It features: Francine, Jilleen, Janielle and Dionne. I hope you are all inspired by their stories to be BRAVE.


    Francine 1 itsnasb #projectBRAVE


    “I was born with three birthmarks. Two big ones on my belly and knee and a tiny one on my right hand, just above my thumb. The one on my hand faded by the time I turned 8. I had hoped the other two would fade as well, but they never did.

    Most of my childhood was spent covered up. Pants. Skirts and dresses that came below my knees. One piece swimsuits. I hated looking different and I hated the pointing and staring and the questions I’d get asked. The most common assumption was that I had been in some terrible accident and now I have these ugly marks on me as a constant reminder.
    Jamaican superstition has it that if a pregnant woman is craving a certain food and scratches a part of her body while she’s having the craving, the baby will be marked on that same body part. Growing up, I heard all kinds of theories.
    I remember entering a “mini miss” pageant when I was around 7 or 8. My parents didn’t want me to enter because they didn’t like the whole idea of objectifying young girls, but I entered anyway. I was the second runner-up. The pageant coordinator said to me “maybe you would have won if it wasn’t for that ugly thing on your leg.” I cried for days.
    I’m not sure when I started accepting my birthmarks. It was such a gradual process that I didn’t even see it happening. Today, I can genuinely say that I love them. I think they’re beautiful. I love wearing bikinis and shorts. I don’t even think I own a dress that goes below my knees. I don’t mind answering a polite “what happened to your knee?”
    When I was little, I would always think that when I get older and had money, I’d do some sort of procedure to get rid of them. Now, you couldn’t pay me enough to do that.”
    Francine 2 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Francine 3 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Francine 4 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Francine 5 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Jilleen 1 itsnasb #projectBRAVE

    “When I was asked to participate in the #ProjectBRAVE , I had a little trouble identifying a feature to showcase. This wasn’t because I had no insecurities, but because I had many. Ultimately I settled on the one I had overcome the most, my lips.

    To this very day, when I look at my lips they look the same to me as everyone else but that was not the same for others. By the time I had gotten to prep school, names like Donkey and Monkey were attributed to my facial features, especially my pronounced lips. By the time I had gotten to high school, the comments turned more sinister. I was known as the girl with DSL (Dick Sucking Lips).
    After struggling for years not to feel cheapened by the derogatory suggestions attributed to my lips by the opposite gender, I had a light bulb one day. Women pay millions of dollars and many chemical potions in order to have lips like mine. I had big beautiful, full lips! Soon the comments began pouring in, about how many people loved my lips and how they were one of the best features on my face. It was as though my confidence was emanating through my lips!
    Today, don’t be surprised to see me wearing the brightest of lipsticks,because in short, I love my lips.”
    Jilleen 2 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Jilleen 3 itsnasb #ProjectBRAVE
    Jilleen 4 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Jilleen 5 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Janielle 1 itsnasb #projectBRAVE

    “‘Smile please?’ “Send me a pic & doh screw up your face! Smile!” “Fix your face.” were the general words from people who like my face. I’m not quite sure when it was but i realized I would always hear those things because i would never smile or I would make up my face because I didn’t like my face…maybe it was sometime around the age of uploading pictures for likes and everyone else would look so gorgeous and one glance of me would garner the response “Ew.” followed immediately by “Delete it.”

    This never got easier to overcome with comments from boys I liked telling me if I was ‘brown’ I’d be pretty, if I relaxed my hair I’d be pretty (I had natural hair until upper 6 & relaxed it for a myriad of reasons including this) – basically if I didn’t look how I looked I’d be pretty. And along came acne – HA!- then came acne scars – HA HA! – and I just wanted to hide everyday.

    Slowly, eventually, I taught myself that these person’s opinions do not matter and I’m still teaching myself this. I’m still not 100% comfortable with my face. I do try more frequently to be ok with it than not, because bottom line is, it’s mine. My first thought when I see pictures of myself is not ‘look at the flaws’ but ‘look at what’s good!’ Less “Gross.” and more “Yaas!!””

    Janielle 2 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Janielle 3 itsnasb #projetBRAVE
    Janielle 4 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Dionne 1 itsnasb #ProjectBRAVE

    “I sometimes refer to my butt (currently lovingly) as Schrodinger’s butt, and for good reason. Just in case you’re not too familiar with quantum physics, Shrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment that involves a cat that can be simultaneously dead and alive at the same time. Swerving away from that minimalist layman’ s explanation, the essential reason I refer to my butt as Shrodinger’s butt is that it somehow manages to be flat but fat at the same time….huh? Some have commented on the loveliness of my booty, while others comments on the lack thereof. Despite whatever qualms or joys that my derriere may provide to some third party, I can’t help but be self-conscious about the pancake comments (more so roti since I am Afro-Indian). An unfortunate repercussion of hearing not so desirable comments about your body is that despite how confident you are, the idea tends to float around, sometimes latent but ready to strike you down when you’re at a low point. Though I may not actually get teased heavily, when I look in the mirror I constantly criticize it. “Does it look acceptable today?” “How can I get these glutes engaged?” “I wonder if chicken pill is a thing? No it’s not silly” “You need to start doing isolation exercises on your glutes, brah.” “Glutes for the slutes”. After a while, when thoughts like that would hit me, at least some time after I will look at my hips, my boobs, or whatever else I might be fancying that day and just say to myself “Hey, you have tonnes of reasons to be happy, just let this slide today.” I am sill contemplating whether this can be the mecca of self-acceptance that one can have for their Shrodinger’s butt, or if it’s just a point on a journey that’s only halfway close to acceptance.

    I spent nearly a year doing squats in the gym. In fact, I ended up being the reverse of no legs day gym guy and was the gym girl that skipped upper body most sessions since my butt was the priority. My legs did look great after a while, but the booty would barely budge. Despite this, I have not given up on my dream of having a round derriere.  Though I still fantasize about having a butt of JLo proportions, I have come to accept that though my butt may be a pancake butt, it is my beautiful pancake butt (and if we’re being totally honest, who doesn’t like pancakes, IHOP anyone?). I think this may be a healthier stance on body acceptance than merely sweeping it under the rug by highlighting what we consider the more positive aspects of our body. Though I don’t claim to be some top tier Freudian psychologist, or some type of self-esteem expert with a detailed map of how to get to self-actualization and the like, in my humble opinion one of the most important steps we can take in accepting our flaws is not simply to accept that it is there, but celebrate it, give it a birthday, put a ring on it, make it feel like it’s the only girl in the world. I feel this is important because at the end of the day, your flaw is a part of you, and why waste a minute of your life not loving every fiber of your being?”
    Dionne 2 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Dionne 3 itsnasb #projectBRAVE
    Dionne 4 itsnasb #ProjectBRAVE
    Dionne 5 itsnasb #projectBRAVE

    Thank you so much for stopping by! If you missed parts 1, 2 or 3 of this volume of #projectBRAVE, you can check them out here:

    Part 1 here
    Part 1 here








    Part 2 here
    Part 2 here









    Part 3 here
    Part 3 here








    As I said earlier, this is the final installment of this Volume of #projectBRAVE. It was a whirlwind of a journey. I’d like to thank every single person who joined anywhere along the way for taking it with me. You helped me bring my vision to life and I will cherish this always. Stay tuned for more about #projectBRAVE in the future. I have a feeling there are BIG things ahead.

    #projectBRAVE team-

    Nastassian Brandon: Project and Creative Director, Photoshoot Coordinator

    Dale-Anthony Hines: Photographer

    Tracey-Ann Mullings: Creative Consultant, Photography Assistant

    Courtney-Claire Haynes: Photography Assistant

    Until next post!

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