Project Beauty 2020 | Dogfish Inn – Lewes, Delaware

When I first heard about Project Beauty, I knew I had to bring it to Delaware. While I was in Cincinnati over Christmas break, I got together with fellow photographer and friend, Thomas Nguyen, to discuss this empowering campaign. Thomas started Project Beauty in 2017 with his senior model crew + has since grown to hundreds more high school students throughout the country,  He has worked with girls who struggle with low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, suicidal ideation, bullying, and many other things

With this campaign, the goal is to help these young ladies define who they are and embrace their inner beauty. Project Beauty focuses on eliminating the idea of perfection and empowering those involved to not only feel confident about themselves, but to embrace the flaws that make them uniquely beautiful. It also allows those who are struggling to come forward, with strength and courage, to tell their story and serve as an ambassador and voice to those who feel they no longer have one.

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for all the amazing people who helped make Project Beauty 2020 a success. The moments I spent with these brave souls will never be forgotten. There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a cozy fireplace with a group of people you’ve just met, while they openly share their moving stories with one another. It takes so much vulnerability. The support these young ladies gave each other was beyond beautiful + made me wish that everyone in our world would follow their example. Through it all, we cried tears of joy + pain, while we broke down the barriers we had within us.

Thank you to these fearless women, my hardworking team, + Dogfish Inn for donating their location for this project. Together, we raised $300 for the Girls on the Run program at the school where I am counselor. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these young ladies, just from sharing their stories with each other + with you.

I’m so grateful to share their stories below. This project was very meaningful to me, not only as a photographer, but also as a school counselor. I felt like it was the perfect combination of two of my passions. These brave young ladies were so open to share their stories with me + to tell me their definitions of true beauty.  


“Too often I find myself looking at girls at school and in public, admiring their perfect hair, perfect makeup, and even more perfect outfits. ‘They’re so pretty.’ Often it overwhelms me and takes over. Beautiful never really left my mouth though. Beauty comes from what defines someone’s personality and compassion. Meaningfulness and thoughtfulness. Love and altruistic ability. I don’t think beauty can be described in one way because it comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes; however, if I was asked what true beauty consists of, it would be the beauty that’s presented when people aren’t looking. It’s the ability to show kindness in all forms to all populations. Beauty is what consumes one as a person in which far exceeds physical attraction and popularity.”


“The definition of beauty seems to carry a negative undertone with it. Society insists that social media and technology has ruined what beauty truly is. It is said that filters and editing have stripped truth away, creating skewed versions of self image and enabling insecurities to manifest into jealousy and comparison. While this may be true, there is a positive way to approach this idea too. There is so much beauty in this life. And the wonderful thing about beauty is that every person is unique, therefore beauty shows itself in countless and continuous ways. There is enough in this life for everyone to treasure and behold. Your concept of beauty is nurtured from individuality, experience, and your heart. A once abandoned child adopting a family of orphaned is beautiful. Two enemies working together for the good of something greater is beautiful. A mother who struggled her entire life watching her child become a successful adult is beautiful. Beauty stirs something within us, cultivates fires. Society says the world is fueled by fear and anger; but I believe the individual human is fueled by love. There is nothing more beautiful than love. My faith tells me that everything that has been, is, or will be, is so for a reason. So why not live life finding beauty in this life I’ve been given. Beauty is real, unedited, and raw. Beauty is weddings, sunsets, hugs; beauty is also surviving, sacrifice, and strength.” 


“I believe real beauty comes from your soul. It is who you are as a person. Having a great personality and character and how you treat others truly shows how beautiful one is.” 


“Beautiful isn’t just how someone looks, to me beautiful starts on the inside. Being beautiful is not only understanding yourself, but others . Being someone anybody can feel comfortable around . All in all being kind. Being a light to any and everyone! And most of all, just being yourself regardless of anyone’s opinion.”


“My definition of beautiful is having the confidence in who you are. I am proud of the person that I have worked hard to create. True beauty is when you are beautiful naturally, which means no make up, no eyebrows, no blush, no highlights, no eyelash extensions, no tattooed eyebrows, lipstick, or eyeliner. You are just beautiful for how your parents have created you.”


“Beauty is everywhere. It’s in nature, in objects, in every single human being. Beauty isn’t just what can be flaunted on the outside, but rather the ability to love, spread kindness, and just being joyous. I find beauty in laughter and pure happiness. As cliche as this sounds, it truely is what’s on the inside. It’s someone’s ambition, drive, curiosity. Their heart, kindness, soul. It’s in every single person, and I believe in finding beauty within all of humanity.”


“Well everyone is different, so I believe that there are all different kinds of beauty. Like one person can be beautiful in one way and another person can be beautiful in another. Beauty comes in all different colors, shapes, and forms, but the most important thing that makes a person beautiful is their personality and how they treat others.”


“Beautiful is a person. It is the way everyone looks. It is the face of a 90 year old or it is the face of a 7 year old. It is the body of a mom of 3 kids and it is the body of an athlete. Beautiful is the way people should be viewed by themselves and others. True beauty is oneself. A person doesn’t need to be accepted by others but instead accept themselves. True beauty is confidence and self love. It is the way that people need to view themselves, in their true beauty.”


“Being beautiful isn’t just about physical beauty; beauty is about inner beauty and most importantly how you view yourself. In this generation, we get so caught up trying to look like everyone else and we tell ourselves that just because we don’t look like the instagram models that flood our timelines, we aren’t beautiful. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Beauty starts with how we view ourselves. There are so many different forms of physical beauty, but physical beauty is the least important kind of beauty. True beauty means to accept who you are internally, to be kind, and be accepting of everyone.”


“To me, being beautiful is about how you treat others and treat yourself. True beauty isn’t pin straight hair, or pretty ringlets. It’s not flawless skin and a sculpted body. Beauty is living yourself and knowing that you are made the way you were meant to be. It’s about being kind to others and loving yourself.”


“My definition of beautiful is the true beauty where a person feels confident and is self-loved. Beauty is always portrayed as someone being more pretty or attractive than someone else, but the true meaning is a person being comfortable and confident in their own skin, but also not depending on others to feel like they are pretty ‘enough’.”

I definitely couldn’t have had this experience without the hardworking team, who gave of their time to make this day everything I dreamed it would be.  

Assistants: Brittany Lauren, Skylar Webb, + Leia Dypsky

Videographers: Adam Popper + Trey Kennedy

Location: Dogfish Inn

Project Beauty Founder: Thomas Nguyen

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