I used walk into work and stroll to my desk every day wearing my steamed slacks and a cardigan, my hair tousled with curls. From the outside it looked like everything was great — I had an amazing husband, sweet son and wonderful job.
That image though wasn’t my reality at all. My heart was so heavy some days I could hardly breathe. My husband and I were struggling with conceiving a second child. And those fertility struggles — let’s be honest — they were awful.
As I sat through work meetings with mostly women, I would look around the room and think, “Everything is great in their life.”
I was Judgy Mc Judgerson.
I judged my insides with their outsides. I would see that they had a nicer car than me and think, “They aren’t struggling financially. She must be so happy.” I would see a beautiful, sparkling ring on a woman’s finger and think, “Her marriage must be perfect.” I would look at a house that was larger than mine and think, “They must be so happy in their big, beautiful home.”
The part that was the most disheartening was that one of my main goals at that point in my life was to empower and support woman but what I was really doing with the exact opposite.
I felt gross. It was eating my lunch. I was projecting all of my fears, insecurities and anger on to other women.
But I knew in my heart that all of this was bogus, and I just needed to prove it to myself. I needed to know that everyone is human, everyone goes through hardships, and I am not alone. Even with the new car, shiny ring and mansion people had struggles.
It started with an idea, well, actually two ideas.
The first, I wanted to do a photo shoot of women without makeup on.
I thought women needed to be more vulnerable and that makeup was like their mask. I needed them to “be real.” We did the photo shoot, and it was pretty cool.
Photos by Molly Bartels
Back then I thought that WAS vulnerability. A short time later someone wrote me a note saying that having makeup off may equal vulnerability for some but for others it may not mean much. I had never thought of that but it was so true.
So, after some time and reflection, it turns out, it wasn’t the other women who needed to be real, it was ME!
It’s not about other women being authentic and real; it’s about me bringing the most authentic version of myself to the world; it’s about me having self love, acceptance and faith allowing me to have compassion and be loving and kind towards others. Let’s be real, I am human and can still have judgements of others, but it is miles away from where it was.
This is why we started the “Be Real” and “Embrace You” apparel. We love that it empowers others to be real, but more importantly it reminds the women wearing it to be authentic, vulnerable and love herself.
The second thought was that I wanted women to share their stories. I needed to know what women were going through and how they got through it. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t the only person going through something that hard. I needed to know what they were thinking and how they were feeling so I didn’t feel so alone and so I could provide that validation to others. From experience I know there is a connection that only happens when I allow myself to be vulnerable enough to be open and honest with others allowing them to see inside my struggle.
That honesty and openness is what started it all. I was so moved by this that I wanted to continue this movement of being vulnerable; I wanted to encourage myself and others to be seen, not just for their cardigans and curls but to truly allow their whole selves to be seen.
I wanted to bring these stories to other women so they could feel the connection I had experienced and realize they are never alone.
Women started connecting with our stories. They started reaching out and saying, “This story empowered me to face a similar fear.” “Thank you for sharing that; it is exactly what I was feeling.” And, “I have been through that to, and I don’t know what to do.”
We pick up from here in our first episode, sharing what happened after I published all those video and diary reveals I had worked on creating for two years and how we got to where we are today.
I am overwhelmed I get to live this life. I am overwhelmed God has given me the talents and drive to create Project Reveal.
And I am overwhelmed you are continuing to be a big supporter of Project Reveal. Thanks so much for caring and continuing to be a part of this journey. Join us Mondays at 9pm on WNIN for our second season of Project Reveal.
Husband – James
Children – Jude, triplets – Jillian, Alex and Reid