#3 Faces Project - Caitlin

Kids can be so mean to each other, teenage girls in particular. Instead of building each other up, supporting each other and growing together, we try to cement our own place in society by pulling each other down.

This was one of the reasons I wanted to do the Faces Project. I had experienced it myself, as a teenager and an adult, but I wanted to support and build confidence in others - to show that we are stronger together than on our own.

When Caitlin volunteered for the project I was saddened by what she had gone through because all I could see was the unique beauty and poise that she had. She told me that she had nominated because she wanted to feel beautiful on both the inside and outside.

Although I’m young, I’ve struggled with my body image and self-esteem for a long time. I’m about as redheaded as they come – I have the pale skin, blue eyes, freckles, pale skin and a temper to boot. Growing up, I always got picked on. In fact, I was bullied for the most of middle school. Please know that I absolutely love my hair now, and I’m so blessed to have something so unique. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve had hairdressers and adults tell me how fortunate I am to have my colour hair and curls.

On top of this, when I entered my final years of high school, I got acne. I tried absolutely everything when it came to clearing up my skin: home remedies, facials, LED light therapy, prescription medication and more. Nothing seemed to work. When my acne was particularly bad, I would curl up on my mum’s bed, cry and touch the parts of my face that I didn’t have any active pimples. I’d say, “mum, one day my entire face is going to feel like this”.

After high school, I experienced the most difficult, trying and stressful four years of my life. With all of this together, I suffered from depression and anxiety, and there were many times when I didn’t particularly like the person that was staring back at me in the mirror.

So, in the end, I nominated for 15 faces because I knew it would give me a chance to feel beautiful. I wanted to see the person that my family and friends saw – someone loving, warm-hearted and kind – not a person that picked out her flaws in the mirror.

I wanted to see myself in a different light, and again, to feel beautiful. I wanted to see my freckles, my red hair in all of its shining glory and everything that makes me, me.

I also wanted to see photographs of myself where I looked strong and confident. I don’t ever take photos of myself without smiling or pulling a face, so not smiling in my photos really took me out of my comfort zone.

 
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We had a lot of fun during the photo session - we tried serious photos, we had big laughs and grins, we took peaceful, photos and fashion photos, but Caitlin tells me her favourite part was when I asked if we could just wrap her in a piece of green velvet fabric.

[These photos] were so different to the other photographs we took, and the end result was just amazing – it literally looked like a painting! Then I heard that Amelia had entered it into a competition and I was just blown away – to think that a photo of me was entered! I couldn’t believe it! I got to see myself pictured in a completely different way, and it made the experience really memorable for me.

However, the most important part was the Caitlin felt happy and carefree throughout the experience.

After seeing all the photos I asked Caitlin if the experience and seeing the photos had changed the way she saw herself.

I got to see myself the way my friends and family see me when I’m happy – carefree and smiling all the time. Unlike me, they don’t stand in front of the mirror and criticise the little things, but they love me exactly the way I am. When I saw my photos, that’s the feeling I got.

I especially got to see myself as a strong, powerful woman in my more ‘serious’ photos (particularly the one where I am in the velvet green dress). It made me feel really special and I was so grateful I had the opportunity to see myself in that way.

 
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