Tag Archives: girls

Let your Light Shine Through: Celebrate Your Natural Beauty

Image from Feminine Transitions
Image from Feminine Transitions

As young as I can remember, my father always made it a point to tell me I was beautiful, just as I am. He was completely against me altering my hair from its natural state and wearing make-up as a necessity.

Despite my dad’s positive reinforcement, I went through a period of not feeling very beautiful. I was at the beginning stages of puberty and it wasn’t an easy time period. Besides that, when I looked in magazines and viewed TV the “pretty girls” didn’t look anything like me.

After a few years I grew to see the beauty that my father embedded in my head. And although I did perm my hair as a pre-teen, 5 years later I cut it off and went back my natural.

Hearing such positive reinforcement from the first man in my life, prepared me for what I believe would have most likely destroyed me. Society.

Read more…

Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty

As young as I can remember, my father always made it a point to tell me I was beautiful, just as I am. He was completely against me altering my hair from its natural state and wearing make-up as a necessity.

Image of girl looking in the mirror

Despite my Dad’s positive reinforcement, I went through a period of not feeling very beautiful. I was at the beginning stages of puberty and it wasn’t an easy time period. Besides that, when I looked in magazines and viewed TV the “pretty girls” didn’t look anything like me.

After a few years I grew to see the beauty that my father embedded in my head. And although I did perm my hair as a pre-teen, 5 years later I cut it off and went back my natural.

Hearing such positive reinforcement from the first man in my life, prepared me for what I believe would have most likely destroyed me. Society.

My project, Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty, is a photography book that promotes the importance of self-love for our authentic selves as women.

I started off photographing younger girls before moving on to increasingly older women. At the beginning of each photo shoot, I asked the models to pose without accessories such as earrings, necklaces and nose rings with the exception of a few, since they recently received a piercing.

My objective was to truly express the bare beauty of each model without distractions.

I vividly remember looking at one of the older women through the lens of my camera and feeling displeased.  At that moment, I was unclear about the issue.  It took me awhile to realize that my hang up was with her makeup.

I couldn’t see her skin. Her makeup filled in the natural lines on her face, and gave her an unrealistic appearance.

Realizing that her cosmetics hid her face, I politely asked her to remove it so that I could see her authentic beauty. From that point on, my project embodied a new focus.

ImageMy original idea for Feminine Transitions was to simply create a photo book celebrating the beauty of females young and old. The topic of make-up never occurred to me prior to this day.

After that day, it became a requirement that all models remain bare, free of makeup, accessories, or wigs for the photo shoot. All images are also free of digital enhancements (NO PHOTOSHOP).

Unfortunately, this prerequisite became the deciding factor to those who chose not to participate.

It was then I realized many women had serious issues with their self-image. For several, not being able to put on their “face” was a huge problem.

My intent was not to cause any discomfort. I simply wanted to create a photographic celebration of womanhood in their organic state.

Those who decided to participate despite their hesitation seem to discover a part of themselves on a deeper level. As they took off the mask they had been wearing for most of their lives, they felt the sensation of freedom.

To make each woman look as subtle as possible, it was necessary for them remain simply bare. So I requested that they pull their shirts down below their shoulders.

Some of the models felt comfortable enough to take off their top completely. When they did, they felt a growing sense of release. Quite a few of them said to me, “I felt like I took a load off my back.”

ImageThere was an emotional significance attached to the bareness in the photographs. The women became vulnerable. There was only the individual and the camera — nothing in between.

It is quite obvious that our society plays a major role in perpetuating a negative attitude towards aging. Commercials, magazines, advertising, and even doctors do an effective job of marketing “age defying” products.

I will never understand why growing old is considered taboo, particularly in the United States.

In spite of this, even while being bombarded with such negativity, we must take responsibility for embracing our true selves and not look to the media to do it for us.

When we do, we will help the younger generation develop a healthier view of aging.

Thankfully other artist and some companies are promoting material to encourage positive self-esteem. I believe we are at the peak of a natural beauty evolution.

It is my hope that Feminine Transitions will be an aide in this progress by bringing forth a movement of change in the confidence of females in all age groups.

As girls and women we experience the bulk of pressure when it comes to accepting our physical appearance. We’re constantly told by society that our bodies, our faces, our skin, our graying hair, our weight and height are not good enough.

My mission is to foster a woman’s love for herself and encourage women to believe in their own beauty, despite what we are being fed. We must also acknowledge that our mind may be our own culprit.

ImageUpon reflection, I know now that Feminine Transitions is a tribute to that little girl who is constantly told by society that she is not beautiful. I want that girl to know that she is beautiful, just the way she is.

And for the older woman who hides behind her makeup and colors her gray hair, I want her to take off her “mask” and be free to celebrate the changes that come with aging.

ImageAnd finally to the senior woman who feels that her wrinkles are a negative reminder of growing older, I want her to know that each line is a story map of her soul and her wisdom. I am not alone in honoring you and looking up to you for guidance.

I want every woman, young and old, to know that you are beautiful, just the way you are. Let the radiance you were born with shine through.

Adapted from “Let your Light Shine Through: Celebrate Your Natural Beauty,” published in Advocating Creatively: Stories of Contemporary Social Change Pioneers.

Above image of girl looking in the mirror copyright: Image from http://blackhairmedia.com/beauty/black-women-mainstream-society/

Alyscia Cunningham Presents At Women’s National Democratic Club

Feminine Transitions book cover
Feminine Transitions book cover

Please join me on Thursday, May 23, 2013 from 6:00-8:00pm for “True Beauty is Natural”.  I will do a presentation on my upcoming book Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty.

Women’s National Democratic Club
1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 8:00pm

Visit WNDC website for detailed information.

“True Beauty is Natural” Speaker Reception will be a particularly special evening because two graduating seniors from the School Without Walls will receive Ruth G. Nadel Leadership Awards, based on applications which showed their academic achievements, community activities, and potential for public service. These students participated in the Young Woman’s Leadership Program, WNDC’s partnership with this DC public college-preparatory high school, through which students attend several Club events. Members are urged to attend and meet the award winners, their classmates, and their teacher.

Come out and show your support. I’ll see you there!

UPDATE

If you missed it, here are a few photos from the event.

 

 

Alyscia Cunningham speaking at WNDC
Alyscia Cunningham’s authors talk at the Women’s National Democratic Club
Alyscia Cunningham speaking at WNDC.
Alyscia Cunningham’s authors talk at the Women’s National Democratic Club
Alyscia Cunningham at WNDC
Alyscia Cunningham’s authors talk at the Women’s National Democratic Club
Alyscia Cunningham speaking at WNDC
Alyscia Cunningham’s authors talk at the Women’s National Democratic Club

 

Crowd Funding Campaign for Feminine Transitions

Image

My Story
Feminine Transitions unmasks women and exquisitely demonstrates that young is beautiful, old is beautiful, and natural is beautiful. Never before has a book so vividly projected the images of women in all stages of life in a way that reveals who they really are as women. Feminine Transitions: A Photographic Celebration of Natural Beauty is a refreshing and inspiring, full-color book of photography. Its pages present a series of portraits that reveal the elegance and subtly honest beauty of female faces between the ages of 7 weeks and 105 years.
Author and photographer Alyscia Cunningham has truly unmasked the natural beauty of aging. “In a world filled with ‘Photoshopped’ images of women who are heavily made up, this book is a breath of fresh air”, says Trista Hendren, author of The Girl God and writer at the blog Elephant Journal.
What I Need

I am so proud and excited to produce my first photography book that is scheduled for release in March 2013, Women’s History Month. I am also coordinating traveling exhibitions showcasing the images from my book. With your help and contributions, I hope to be able to raise the money for my shows and book production. The funds will be used for printing the first 500 copies of my book, rental space, framing, invitations, marketing, installation and all of the other things that go along with launching major solo exhibitions.If I do not reach my entire goal on this round, I will purchase 100 copies using Blurb to publish. However, Blurb’s prices are far higher than going to a traditional printer. Nonetheless, have a few copies in hand will be beneficial as people would rather see a product in hand. From there, I will continue to collect the funds until I reach my goal by holding future funding campaigns. I’ve also submitted applications via my local arts organizations for grants and currently awaiting the status.

How To Contribute

You can make a contribution by visiting my Indiegogo campaign http://www.indiegogo.com/FeminineTransitionsBook/x/123267.

I sincerely thank you for coming to my page to take a look at my project. I want to share the beauty of Feminine Transitions with the world. Your contribution is helping to make this happen.

Feminine Transitions Re-Design

Feminine Transitions book cover
Feminine Transitions Re-design

I’M IN LOVE!

No more…”What is Feminine Transitions?”

It was a bit frustrating when I received responses via email or my social media pages  asking, “What exactly is Feminine Transitions?” At first I would pause and say, to myself, “What do you mean? Can’t you tell by the cover?”  In order for me to process this, I had to take myself out of the equation (as the Creator of Feminine Transitions) and look at it as an outsider. My niece really helped me to clarify the difference.  She told me that she liked my old design but, comparing the two, the old resembles a poster and the new looks more like a book.  She also mentioned that the various images above shows a transition of ages and tells a clearer story.

Feminine Transitions Title Spread
The title spread

The new design of the front and back cover as well as the inside page were created by Robin Benson, a retired publications designer from the UK.  I originally contacted someone to do a book review for Feminine Transitions.  However, because this contact does not evaluate photography books, he referred me to Mr. Benson.  After connecting with Robin and sending him a few jpgs of my book layout, which I constructed myself, he informed me that my publication was in need of serious help.

Let me first admit that I AM NOT A DESIGNER! Due to the fact that I am self-published and wearing many hats, I did what I thought was (or should I say looked) best at that moment.  Mr. Benson never said my arrangement was horrible but made very valid points, as a TRUE DESIGNER should, about the consistency, flow and color scheme.  Although I previously hired someone to do the actual pre-press work for me, he never mentioned or made reference to any of Robin’s points. All I can say about that is…ASK FOR WORK SAMPLES before hiring anyone. Lesson learned!

Old sample page layout

New sample page layout

So instead of white type on black pages, Feminine Transitions has a beautiful color spread that really compliments the portraits.  Not to mention, I’ve learned more about design in the two months that I’ve connected with Robin than I have in life thus far. Did I mention, Robin’s helped me free of charge?  When he first introduced that idea of course I was extremely appreciative of his offer.  I also thought, YES! MY GOOD KARMA HAS COME BACK TO ME.  I pride myself on sharing what I’ve learned along the way by passing the torch. What use is it to have a wealth of information and talent and keep it to myself?

Although I loved MY previous design of Feminine Transitions, I AM IN LOVE with the new.  I see growth in it, just as I do in myself. I am so very thankful for the continued blessings that are showered upon me. Mr. Benson is one of them.  I thank you for your sincere advice and guidance and send many blessings back your way.

What are your thoughts?

Alyscia Cunningham’s Interview with Shawn Mason Spence

Portrait of Alyscia Cunningham
Alyscia Cunningham

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, I will be a guest speaker on The Shawn Mason Spence Show, a lifestyle radio program. The topic of the show is Oh Natural!  From hair care to household products, Shawn is talking to entrepreneurs, health professionals, and artists who support self-love, health and wholeness. My topic will be, the story behind FEMININE TRANSITIONS and how it is a call for girls/women and to encompass self-love.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TIME: 6pm

LINK:  http://blis.fm/shawnmasonspence 

CALL IN NUMBER:  202-629-3746

The production assistant will be tweeting, posting and pinning throughout the show.  Shawn will be quizzing the audience on words or phrases mentions by the guests speakers. You can win cool prizes if you get your answers right. I will be on Twitter as well. My twitter page is https://twitter.com/AlysciaCPhoto and Shawn’s is https://twitter.com/shawnconnects. Looking forward to answering your questions tomorrow! 

Missed the show? No problem, see link below.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/shawn-mason-spence-show/id521719551?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4