Everyone is beautiful.

And this is the post where I get all mushy about my friends. You can skip it if you want.

Earlier this week my friend & author (Katherine Center) asked my friend & photographer (Chookooloonks) to take pictures of her painting the last paragraph of her latest novel (Everyone Is Beautiful) on me while my friend & girl-I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up (Laura Mayes) kept me distracted enough to not want to run away when I stripped down to my bathing suit. I expected to be able to write something funny about how terrible it was and to have Katherine give up completely but I never expected how therapeutic it would be to have someone write beautiful words over your scars, or cellulite, or parts you keep hidden from the rest of the world. And Chookoolooks (aka Karen Walrond) captured it so perfectly but we were all a little surprised at the response her photographs received from both men and women. She admitted that the day had seemed like a fairy tale to us but wondered why people reacted so strongly to the photographs, but I think I know.  There’s something very golden about the honest emotions of the words, and the flawed body that becomes art through the lens of a friend. I think it just reminds us all of the truth…that everyone *is* beautiful. It’s a gift for any woman who has doubted herself, and a knowing nod to any man who has “found” beauty in a girl who never saw it there herself.

(I took these pictures.)
(I took these pictures. Check out Karen's for the less gritty versions.)

Go.  Look.  Explore.  Watch the video.  Then go tell someone how beautiful they are.  Because for the first time in a long time I almost believe it myself.

Comment of the day: Every flawed body is art & every body is flawed – it’s a body who wishes for the best but accepts the worst that is graceful – art is oft times accidental – grace is in the acceptance of what is – not would we wish it to be…and if you don’ t believe me ask any woman over 50… ~ Suzanne

168 thoughts on “Everyone is beautiful.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. wow. lovely. This made me tear up:

    “It’s a gift for any woman who has doubted herself, and a knowing nod to any man who has “found” beauty in a girl who never saw it there herself.”

    I’m still waiting for such a man in my life….

  2. I think anything I say will ruin the magical moment here for me. Thank you.

  3. I had a friend in college who was a fine arts photographer and we did projects like that. I never felt so gorgeous, even on my wedding day. I’m so glad you did that, Jenny. Proud of you and admiring the photographer.

  4. Between this post and Tracey’s yesterday at Sweetney.com – http://www.sweetney.com/sweetney/2009/06/panopticon.html – I’m turning into a pile of mush. You girls ARE beautiful. I’m still a long long way, even at this far point in my life, from saying *I’m* beautiful though. Something I’ve always always struggled with. As I said to her yesterday, I’ll have to write about all this myself, I guess. Lucky thing no one reads my blog! 😉

    Thank you. Oh, and? No credit for that incredible music in the vid?? who is it, please?

    gurukarm (@karma_musings)’s last blog post..Darfuri Women: Nowhere to Turn

  5. Maria: “I love your serious, mushy posts as much as your funny ones.”


  6. What did Hailey think about her mom with writing all over her? Was she wowed? I bet she’ll remember this.

  7. I’m with Rachel… Where is this flawed body you speak of. All is see is a beautiful woman covered in truth. There is no greater beauty.

    Also, where did you get the bathing suit. I am covetous(sp).

    daisy’s last blog post..Thirsty Thursday

  8. sometimes every woman needs to be reminded that they all are beautiful creatures.

  9. Gorgeous. Words, photos, you…the whole deal…

    Thanks for sharing. The slideshow is amazing.

  10. It was a forgiving lens but I can still see all my age spots and wrinkles and roundness. But thank you, everyone. And I got the bathing suit at Target. It’s one of those old lady bathing suits with a skirt but I keep telling myself it’s just pin-up retro.

  11. I’d like to add that I actually like your own photos a LOT. Love the framing in the layout, and how you do justice to the words and yourself.
    The black and white and soft glow makes an already beautiful concept even more gorgeous. 🙂
    And aren’t we all the happier for being able to recognize beauty everywhere and in everything? Unabashed. I think so.

    Cessie’s last blog post..New habits!

  12. I like when people are able to show the real person they are inside every once in a while. Though, it is hard to see that you really don’t understand how absolutely beautiful you are. But I also know that someone telling you how adorable you are, and that you’re the only woman my wife would totally go lesbian for doesn’t make it any easier to believe. You have to do that on your own.

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  14. It amazes me that people who think they are “ugly” are actually more attractive than most. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We shouldnt judge ourselves so harshly. Very nice project dear Jenny. Kudos.

    peedee’s last blog post..Accessorizin to the Max

  15. The whole project is beautiful. And Jenny you are no where near fat, you are just not chip a tooth skinny. Who wants to make love to a bag of hangers?

  16. But see, the fact that you see beauty around you also makes you beautiful… Plus, those people who are :totally: convinced that they are the most beautiful thing ever kind of suck and aren’t. It’s our insecurities that make us who we are and that’s what makes us beautiful. It’s like a catch 22 on crack. 😉

  17. I teared up. At work. “and a knowing nod to any man who has “found” beauty in a girl who never saw it there herself.” I’m 22 and have that guy. You summed it up beautifully.

  18. Wow. Beautiful, powerful, moving… Amazing!

    But if you have doubts about your own beauty, what hope does that leave for us normal people? 🙂

  19. You are beautiful. I did not think you, of all people, would get me to produce tears of anything other than laughter. You are a well-rounded writer, from humor to clown porn to this. I am going to go buy this book, because everyone around me is recommending it and now I see why.

    Jessica’s last blog post..For the Love of Good Coffee

  20. Oh how much I loved that book! I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t someone biography it was so realistic. And that last paragraph, I still remember it even though I read it months and months ago. What a beautiful thing for her to ask of you and for you to do for her. That’s friendship, pushing each other to grow in confidence and see in ourselves what others see in us.

    Dawn’s last blog post..cuddly

  21. Bloggess,

    I think it would be safe to say that everyone (except maybe the Pope) who drops in here leaves a little happier. Every. Damn. Time. That goes way beyond beautiful.

  22. This was an amazing post. I loved every second of it, until I got to the word “almost”. Oh, Jenny! I hope that you were being funny. Was that like the fart joke thrown in just to catch us off guard? I hope so.

  23. Very touching post. I am very lucky to have a man in my life (my wonderful husband) who sees the beauty in me when I can’t.

    You are a beautiful person, inside and out. If you ever doubt that, try looking at these images as though they were someone else. See yourself as the rest of us do. When you can let go of what you think are your problem areas, or the things that make you feel less than beautiful, you will see that you are radiant and the kind heart within shines through.

  24. i’m just shaking my head. this is totally what i needed to read and see today. 🙂 love your blog and your beauty.

  25. I think you are incredibly beautiful… and I love reading your blog… especially when you go on and on and never take a breath… you inspire me!

    IF I wasn’t already married – I’d marry YOU…. (but I think my husband would be jealous)!

    With deepest regards

  26. Look at you being all brave and beautiful and…
    I am running out of excuses to avoid the camera.

    Honestly. You look lovely.

  27. That was sooo fabulous, so gorgeous.

    A while back I heard about a writer who had the idea to have each word of her novel tattooed on a different person. Only the people who got tattooed would be able to “read” the novel if they contacted others who had been tattooed. It was like a puzzle. The novel would not be released to the public, and those who were tattooed would not know in advance what the novel was about. I signed up to do it, but alas, the novel was finished already.
    I always thought that was such a killer idea. And now, you being painted on is just as cool. I love concepts like this. Immediate art, moving, living art. Love it.

    DogsDontPurr’s last blog post..blog by phone

  28. those are stunning…truly one of the most original and inspiring pieces of art I have seen Thank you for sharing them with us and being her model 😉

  29. I’ll have to look at all of the pictures when I’m not at work, but what I’ve seen are absolutely gorgeous.
    It’s a fantastic, different kind of art. Like you said, it almost makes you appreciate who you are a little more [I think you’re beautiful, but I’m not your brain, unfortunately. That sounded weird. Let’s just roll with it.].
    I had a friend in high school who did something similar for a school project. I wasn’t brave enough to strip completely like some of the other models, but looking back on black & white pictures of me in my skivvies, with bold black lettering where only pale skin resided before, I realized that I might not be the most stunning girl there ever was, but in that moment, I was art. The poetry, the paint, & the canvas.
    Really, really, neat.
    Well done, lady.

  30. Oh and I forgot to mention how jealous I am that they got a sneak speak of your book beginnings. I cannot wait to read it!

  31. This is a wonderful reminder to not get irritated by my 14 year old daughter who insists on writing song lyrics all over her hands and arms.

    You are both beautiful.

  32. Wow, you look so pretty Jenny! And I LOVE the writing, and your explanation of how freeing it was. Makes me want to do it too! If we all (women) just found a way to really BELIEVE those words, we’d be a lot better off. Thanks for being so brave and sharing!

    P.S. Do you realize how MUCH you actually do that you say frightens you? How willing you are to put yourself out there despite your fears? It’s amazing and inspiring. The fact that you have a sense of humor to go with it makes it just so endearing. YOU ROCK.

  33. I love your pictures way more than the professional ones.
    You look fab woman! No doubt.

  34. Wow, all the June 11th birthdays coming out of the woodwork. Represent!

  35. “People . . .are like . . . chocolates.
    You never know exactly how they taste until you bite into them. . . . . .

    And usually the screams sound pretty much the same.” (anonymous)

    Very lovely, Jen. Your self doubt seems unfounded.

  36. We should do something like this for BlogHer, but each of us get a snippet of the words and write on our bodies on the part we hate or want to hide or where there are scars, and then link them all together in a collage. What say you guys?

    Shash’s last blog post..These Are Days

  37. Oh, damn. Just … damn.

    This was gorgeous. (All of it – the idea, the content, the execution.) I think all women should be painted thus.

  38. When I was in college I agreed to participate in a body painting project and be an artists canvas. I thought it would be something similar to your experience, what with the bathing suit and all, so I was a little freaked out to discover that not only was I to be topless, but with 2 other girls. But just like you said, it was actually a very soothing and therapeutic experience. I got to bond with the other girls and in the end became a part of a very beautiful piece of art. I’m proud of you for rising to the challenge, and for helping to bring something beautiful into the world. Thank you.

    MonsteRawr’s last blog post..How I Ruin Other People’s Meals or Don’t Dick With Hockeytown

  39. I got goosebumps from imagining the paint brush on my body. Going to have to make a stop at the craft store on the way home. I must acquire some friends who will paint me. It looks awesome.

    Cat’s last blog post..Amusement

  40. What an amazing experience. And amazing photos. It’s like the afternoon was crystallized, a beautiful background, a beautiful woman, beautiful words and thoughts and feelings. The moment of openness, vulnerability and power come through in the photos.

    Absolutely wonderful.

    Melissa’s last blog post..Puzzeles Come in Pieces

  41. My friends and I did this once, but we used the words from a George Foreman grill instruction manual. You can still make out the “Do not put hands inside” on my left buttcheek. I decided that should stay.

    MayoPie’s last blog post..My Heroes

  42. these are so beautiful they made me cry. there is a book by allan moore called “the hypotetical lizard”, and one of the characteres is a woman called book. her body is covered in words. i just love the image and the significance of the humam body covered in words. wonderful.

    Tatty Franey’s last blog post..Sorry, fear, I am not ready to talk yet

  43. Those pictures are beautiful, the idea is beautiful, you are beautiful. I really, really loved this. I think you are such an amazing woman, and it sounds like you having amazing, beautiful and talented friends as well!

  44. This post… made me cry. And then my hubby told me I was beautiful. Everyone is beautiful and you were gorgeous.

  45. Nudist beaches. It’s a great way to reset your image of the “ideal body type”. Plus sun on the boobies feels good. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

  46. What you have written is really lovely. The video is really lovely. You are really lovely. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Just beautiful. What a wonderful idea! Just gorgeous! You all are what I call Ungirdled Women for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  48. Wow! I had physical reaction to this. Body image is such an issue for so many of us. Sometimes I don’t realize just how wide spread it is. You truly are beautiful and these pictures are very personal and poignant and deeply moving. Thank you so much for sharing them.

  49. You have a beautiful smile Jenny, except for in that one picture where your kind of laughing, I mean your still beautiful, but more in an i’m going to stab you in the kidneys kind of way.

  50. Who has spent the past 2 years telling you how beautiful you are? Hmmmm???

  51. “There’s something very golden about the honest emotions of the words, and the flawed body that becomes art through the lens of a friend.”

    That is one of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever read. Poetry.

  52. Thank you for this. So amazing. Although when I forwarded this to some friends, I had to warn them that if they want to look through the archives on the bloggess, they are not going to find… um…. exactly the same kind of post as this one. You know. Actually this is kind of the perfect way to figure out which of my friends is really on the same wavelength as I am. The ones who email me back at 3:30 a.m. after reading straight through all the archives and laughing until they pee themselves (basically what I did when I found this site).

    But really, I had to send them to your site, because not only are your b&w pictures really lovely, but you summed up the project, the idea, so well. Ditto what puravida said.

  53. every flawed body is art & every body is flawed – it’s a body who wishes for the best but accepts the worst that is graceful – art is oft times accidental – grace is in the acceptance of what is – not would we wish it to be…and if you don’ t believe me ask any woman over 50……

  54. Amazing stuff, Jen. The last time someone painted words on me it was after I’d passed out drunk at a party, and someone wrote “glory hole” on my cheeks with arrows pointing to my mouth. That, too, seems beautiful to me.

    Kevin Tumlinson’s last blog post..Step

  55. This post brought tears to my eyes and much needed perspective. Thank you, Jenny.

  56. Last year was tough for me. I had hit my “goal weight” through a deep depression. It wasn’t as beautiful as I thought it would be. Something in me told me to start taking pictures. I took one a month through my recovery. I was happy to watch my color return and the weight come back on, month by month. It was like the phrase “Beauty from Ashes” brought to life in photos.

    And so you know, I think you are SMOKIN’ hot. In a straight way. 😉

    Sugar Jones’s last blog post..The Dish on Food, Inc.

  57. Thank you for this. It is amazing. I wish someone had done this for me then I would have had the courage to leave the man who told me I was ugly every day sooner…..I no longer believe that but this would have made me believe quicker. First time I have visited this blog but not the last x

  58. All I can say is WOW!! Having a fifteen year old daughter I struggle with beauty and pain. We are both big in stature and people have always associated that with ugly, lazy, no good to society,ect. But I have come to realize I am not ugly or lazy or no good. I do what I can to manage my weight and I’m getting better at accepting me for what I am. In doing this I have relxed about trying to lose weight and lost 65 pounds this past year without effort. I almost feel guilty when people comment or ask how I did it. I’m just happy with who I am. Isn’t it ironic? Thank you for sharing that . It’s more beautiful than anything I’ve seen. We all have flaws and we are still beautiful. Hope I can teach my daughter this before it hurts too much.-AndiFaith

  59. hi! this is my 1st time visiting this website. i loved the last quote by suzanne, i believe beauty is natural, genuine. most people believe that beauty has to be skinny, tall, blue eyes etc. If that was beautiful then most of us don’t qualify. Everyone is beautiful. I always see the heart not the outside of people, the inside is what counts.

  60. You have yummy legs. And I just realized they look a lot like mine- a revelation! Next week at the beach I will just pretend I have lots of inspirational words written on me and that I am sitting sexily like the Bloggess getting photoshooted (photoshot? It all sounds so violent). Anyway, thanks.

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