How do women define authentic beauty today? Photographer and author Rebecca Friedlander packed her cameras and set off to interview 50 women around the world, chronicling their stories of transformation and hope using makeovers and photo shoots. Whether in Paris, Hawaii, Ireland, or the Middle East, women shared similar struggles of feeling insecure, overwhelmed by life, or out of control in a world that required perfection. In their deeply personal metamorphosis, they offer us keys to unlock true beauty, no matter where we live.
In their “before” photos, Rebecca staged the women using a written phrase that defined their struggle. In Israel, Oriel’s word was “Unloved,” to reveal life under the shadow of grandparents who suffered torments of the holocaust and her own journey toward mental health. Karla wrote “Ugly” to define her life in Hawaii where hidden abuse played out in her childhood world. Lucie in Paris chose the words “Despised and Rejected” to relate childhood bullying. Lauren in California opted for “Boxed In” to describe the pressure she felt in attempting to live a normal, middle-class life while something inside of her longed for a greater adventure.
For each woman, the process of finding authentic beauty revolved around discovering their true worth and value. Like cleaning a closet and tossing out an old wardrobe to make room for the new, each woman began to renovate her thought process and see herself in a different light. Faith impacted the journey: realizing that she was loved, deeply known, and cherished by the God of the Universe began to shift her ability to receive and give love. Lies were shattered, and hope was restored. Today, these women are embracing freedom and passionately giving back to the world.
During their makeover and “after” photos, Rebecca dressed the women in ball gowns and posed them in front of stunning backdrops to illustrate their new perspective. Today, Oriel is enjoying a healthy life while opening her heart to new relationships, Lucie is a motivational speaker in France, Karla is leading other young women into health and healing, and Lauren took a trip around the world to assist with social work in over a dozen countries and is writing a book about her adventures. “Freedom, peace, and safe” are the words they hold today, and for them, this is how they define authentic beauty.
Compelled by these true stories, Rebecca released the hardcover, full color book Finding Beautiful: Discovering Authentic Beauty Around the World, published by Baker House Publishing. Not only can you read the heart-warming stories of these women’s journey to wholeness and health, but you’ll travel with Rebecca in her quest around the world, and each chapter offers thought-provoking questions that will help you define “beautiful” for yourself and those you love.
Film Producer, Author, Speaker