PROJECT REAL: Kathleen

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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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