She Is More Than
The Eye Can See!
By Tamara L. Dean
As women we tend to define our beauty by the standards of others, or by the images constantly flashing across our television screens and magazines! They dangle the carrot out in front of us and off we go chasing after the dream of having a better body, smoother, tighter skin, and longer, shinier hair. It seems like a never ending quest for beauty as we are lured from one trend to the next.
There's nothing wrong with desiring a better body, skin, or hair, but at what cost? We often pay for it by bartering contentment, peace of mind, and self- love. We exchange it all for the opinion of others. But, there is a woman who is making it her business to help us to redefine beauty on our own terms. Alyscia Cunniningham, is a graduate from Montgomery College with a degree in photography and web design. She is an author, public speaker, and accomplished photographer whose contributed to such outlets as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, America Online and the Smithsonian Institution.
In her book, Feminine Transitions, she uses the lens of her camera to capture raw beauty as it transitions through time. She gets up close and personal snapping pictures of early womanhood beginning at 7-weeks of age all the way up to 103 years of age. Proving that beauty doesn't end when the skin starts to sag, or the crows feet have deepened and widened across the face. True beauty can stand confidently alone without the assistance of hair and make-up, or all that we feel we need to be beautiful.
The women photographed in Feminine Transitions were asked to do so without any make-up or accessories. Alyscia wanted them, as well as others, to see that beauty doesn't have to be masked, which is why Ms Cunningham chose to use very little photoshop when preparing the images for her book.
Alyscia continues to push the envelope on true beauty. In October of 2013, she did the 'Big Chop,' cutting her long locs of 16 years, in support of a Cancer organization. This inspired yet another endeavor to help women realize that we are more than the eye can see. Alysica is working on a documentary as well as a new book titled, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me!
Feminine Transitions Trailer
The project consist of women who have lost their hair due to medical conditions. She provides these women with a platform to share their personal stories. Alyscia Cunnginhgham challenges the belief that a woman's hair is her crown and glory with this question: “What would you say to a woman or little girl, that you care about, who was losing their hair due to an illness?” In other words are we less than a woman, or less than beautiful because we are minus our tresses? I think not.
Before the big chop
Bald and Beauiful Me!
Not only does Alyscia Cunnignham’s passion for what she is doing come across in her work, it's apparent in her voice. In speaking with her over the phone I could sense that she is a woman who is focused, and deliberate. She says what she means, and means what she says. Being that she is so committed to helping women understand their greatness, and worth, I was interested in knowing her personal definition of self-esteem. This is what she told me, “Self-esteem is your view of you.” Simple, yet powerful. It's not how others see you, it’s all in how you see yourself, which leads to the next question I asked her. I said, imagine yourself on a stage in front of millions of a women. You have been given the mic for only one minute what would you say to them? She replied, “ I challenge each person to a 30-day self-love test. Every day for 30 days look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I love you. You are beautiful!” That's’ it? That's it!
Jesus did say that the second greatest command, next to loving God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, was to love our neighbor… as ourself (Matthew 22:39). Why is that so important—loving ourself? Perhaps it's because we are created in God’s image. To reject you is to reject Him. But also, when we embrace and love ourselves we are embracing all of the gifts, talents, and abilities placed on the inside of us making them more operative in our life. In other words, loving ourself can give birth to our purpose. So, go ahead take the challenge; love yourself for 30-days, and maybe you will find out how to love yourself for a lifetime.
"My Father's positive affirmations became constant reminders of my worth. Then I began to understand what the true meaning of beauty...and I was her~ Alyscia Cunningham