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Meet Chloe.

Dress--American Eagle. Shoes--Converse.

Dress–Goodwill. Shoes–Marty and Liz.

“I would categorize my style as sweet girl-next-door meets sexy librarian/elementary school teacher.”

And with that sentence, Chloe began our interview. I mean, how can you not like this girl?

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Chloe was one of my favorite people to shoot during this project, not only because of her incredible talent as a model, but also because of her vibrant personality. She’s not only easy to work with, but easy to be around. “I love my sunshine-y nature. I really like to light up other people’s lives and make them happy.”

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I think Chloe’s existence gives the expression “DAAAANG!!!” new meaning. The camera couldn’t get enough of her! Chloe isn’t afraid to embrace her body with a “hips don’t lie” attitude, and it totally shows.

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Chloe’s style inspiration comes less from what a person wears and more from how they wear it. “One fashion model for me is Chloe from ‘Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23’…she doesn’t take any grief from anyone, and she couldn’t care less of what people think of her.” Chloe also seems to credit me for inspiring more adventurous looks, but I think we all know that’s more thanks to her driven and adventurous spirit.

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“For all my pear shaped girls out there (and everyone else, at that): you don’t have to ‘balance’ your body like fashion magazines want you to. You don’t need to have an hourglass figure to be beautiful; you should wear what makes YOU comfortable and confident. Don’t try to cover your stretch marks or cellulite or anything else out of fear of judgement! If someone has a problem with your appearance, then they probably wouldn’t make a good friend. If someone doesn’t like how you look, then they don’t have to look at you. Plus size girls can wear whatever they want–even pixie cuts! Being different doesn’t mean you should hide yourself.

One more time with that last line: being different doesn’t mean you should hide yourself. If you stray from the traditional, standardized image that the media and society has unceremoniously labeled as “beautiful,” don’t hide. For the sake of those who are also different and feel insecure, for the sake of those who need an inspiration and role model for change, for those who choose to fuel the parasite of destructive marketing tactics and need to be checked at the knees, do not hide yourself. Being different should be celebrated. Chloe is a great example of a powerful woman embracing the fact that she is beautifully and unapologetically different, and loving every minute of it.

Thanks for helping the movement, Chloe. You run this world.

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Thanks for reading the fourth Project Real model post! I hope you enjoyed viewing this post as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Huge thanks to Chloe for being gorgeous and awesome and kick-butt, to dad for photography expertise, and to mother for holding down the fort at our downtown base.

Want to know when Project Real makes its next appearance? Follow PM’s Facebook Page for updates, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ProjectMaganda for more details and behind the scenes looks with the hashtags #ProjectMaganda and #ProjectReal.

Much love,

Erin

Meet Ashley.

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Top--H&M. Pants--Pacsun. Shoes--Target. Jewelry--F21.

Top–H&M. Pants–Pacsun. Shoes–Target. Jewelry–F21.

Ashley defines power. She is one of the calmest and most collected women I know; her poised manner and quiet persona overflow with maturity and elegance. Her personality is perfectly captured by her style–free flowing, but simplistic and sophisticated. “I have always loved mature and timeless styles, but really enjoy experimenting with trendy, more bohemian looks as well,” she says.

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Ashley takes style inspiration from many platforms such as Pinterest and YouTube, pulling from Lauren Conrad, Lauren Elizabeth, and others. And for role models, she turns to her circle of friends: “I try my best to surround myself with people who reflect the traits I desire…I have been blessed by some really great friends and family.”

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As a short girl, Ashley learned to love her height. “I used to hate it, but over time I have realized that there can be something great about every size.” She jokes that she makes up for her short stature with her sense of humor and rockin’ heels.

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“The main thing to remember is that whatever insecurities you may have, so many girls have the same ones. Everything about you is special and beautiful. One thing that has been an insecurity for me is that I have super thick hair, and lots of facial and arm hair comes with the territory, so embracing that it is a natural thing and not worrying about what others think is a huge thing for me.”

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Part of the purpose of Project Real and Project Maganda as a whole is to not only promote body positivity, but to also represent those who feel under-represented in today’s media. Ashley is a gorgeous reminder of the fact that you are not alone in any struggle, whether it be thick hair or a short stature. To embrace those things or to change them is completely YOUR decision and YOURS ALONE–you should never have to comply to someone else’s idea of how you should look.

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Thanks for reading the third installment of Project Real! Make sure to stay updated on the next post by following the PM Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ProjectMaganda.

Huge thanks to Ashley for modeling this shoot, Chandler for her Snapchat coverage, my mom for providing a home base in downtown and my dad for these awesome photos.

Much love,

Erin

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Meet Chandler.

Shirt, shorts, and shoes--thrifted. Shoes--F21.

Shirt, shorts, and shoes–thrifted. Shoes–F21.

Chandler likes to bring her inner quirkiness out through her fun style. Her outfit here gives off a vintage summer vibe, which I’m totally into. She uses these vintage silhouettes to her advantage: “I’m really short (5′ even)…I’m also curvier. I tend to wear high waisted shorts or pants to compliment my waist and elongate my legs.” (Short girl tip: nude heels also elongate the legs.)

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In addition to Chandler’s adorable freckles, she loves to listen to others’ points of view and helping through tough situations. I can certainly vouch for her on this–she’s listened to me endlessly this past summer.

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Chandler’s style icon/role model? Kacey Musgraves. “She encourages people to be themselves–whomever that might be!” Chandler loves not only Musgraves’ style but the message she sends through her music as well.

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One thing I really love about Chandler is her honesty. There’s something to be said for a woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and for others, and I know I that I can always count on Chandler to be real and upfront with me from the start. All too often it is thought that a woman’s place is to be the agreeable, silent, and helpless. This is just not the case, and Chandler is a prime example of that.

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So to all the short, curvy girls out there: you have the opportunity to harness an incredible power. Don’t let people look down on you. Speak your mind, be heard, and embrace all the wonderful things that come with shortness.

“Life comes in sizes, shapes, weights, colours and heights, however it comes to you can only be the best way it should and you can only make the best out of it when you are proud of who you are.” ~Unknown

Way to harness your girl power, Chan.

Thanks for reading installment two of Project Real! Stay tuned for more Real Girls, coming soon.

Photography: Ruel and Erin Oquindo

Like the Project Maganda Facebook page for updates on new posts, and my Twitter and Instagram @ProjectMaganda for day-to-day details.

Much love,

Erin

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Meet Kathleen.

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Dress–Pacsun. Bag–F21. Shoes–F21. Necklaces–H&M.

Kathleen doesn’t really define her style, and for good reason. “Some days I’m feeling very grunge or urban, and others I go for a more bohemian style. But I think that’s the whole point of fashion: play around with your look and don’t get too caught up in a single style.”

She’s no stranger to variety, finding inspiration from YouTubers from diverse backgrounds and different stories such as Ingrid Nilsen and Jenn Im. “There’s so much diversity [on YouTube] that you don’t see on a lot of other media platforms,” she says. And there’s no denying that–YouTube has become a mecca for progressive thought and widespread acceptance within the past year, with Internet personalities breaking the barriers of social constructs and giving a more personal exposure to the world’s diversity than ever before.

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Kathleen takes joy in empathizing with not only those who share their stories online, but also those around her. This is a strength that she demonstrates everyday, and she urges others to do the same.

Her advice to us? “Embrace who you are. I have always been really skinny and people have come up to me and said, ‘Wow, you’re literally skin and bones. Eat a cheeseburger,’ or ‘Are you anorexic or something?’. It hurts. You’re always going to be too skinny or too fat for someone, but screw them. Focus on how you feel about yourself WITHOUT society’s input. If you want to change something about yourself for YOU then by all means do, but don’t do it to fit someone else’s definition of ‘beautiful’. I love my body, but it’s not because Kate Moss said ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ (did this girl ever eat ice cream?). I love my body because it’s a part of me. I just hope more girls can feel that way about their own unique bodies and features.”

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She brings up a wonderful point. As we fight this fight against a standardized definition of beauty, it is easy to assume that thinness equates to conformity, that changing yourself–whether it be through a reform of image or surgical alteration–equates to “fakeness”. This is not the case, and Kathleen reminds us of that. Some people are naturally thin–and that is beautiful. Some women are naturally curvy–and that is beautiful as well. Some women sport a natural look, and some find joy in strong makeup and daring outfits. Both are an expression of personality, and both are beautiful. So please think twice before shaming the “silicone stick-figure Barbie dolls” like artist Meghan Trainor (who, if you listen closely, claims that self worth comes from meeting the sexual desires of men. Just chew on that for a second.) Stay healthy, happy, and committed to making a positive influence on your community.

“We are all a work of art.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kathleen. Thanks for being you.

And thus starts our journey into the depths of Project Real! Thank you to our first model Kathleen for getting the ball rolling with your words of wisdom, and our photographers Ruel and Bianca for taking these breathtaking photographs (check out Bianca’s work @MadeOfWaves).

Want to know when the next Project Real model will debut? Like the Project Maganda Facebook page (www.facebook.com/projectmaganda) for automatic updates and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ProjectMaganda for the latest news.

I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it a million times again after this, but I really do appreciate all the wonderful feedback Project Real is getting. I’m treasuring every text and encouraging comment. I can’t wait for you guys to see the rest.

Much love,

Erin

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