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Raw Beauty Project

These Empowering Photos Prove Beauty Isn't One Size Fits All

Raw Beauty Project

When you hear the word "beauty," visions of Gisele Bündchen, Cara Delevingne, and Kate Moss often come to mind. But what happens when you don't fit the stereotype? When model Wendy Crawford was rendered a quadriplegic by way of a drunk driver at the age of 19, her life transformed overnight — not only did she lose all of her bookings and much of her freedom, but also people started to look at her in a dramatically different way. "I began to see how beauty was perceived in the eyes of the world, and women with disabilities were not considered beautiful," said Crawford. After years of feeling isolated, she started to get more involved with organizations designed for those with disabilities. By learning from other women and sharing in their experiences, she felt motivated and empowered and partnered with five women to create The Raw Beauty Project in 2006.

Crawford, her colleagues, and a team of photographers created an exhibit of sensual, powerful, and confident portraits of 20 disabled women — including themselves — paired with their biographies. Recently, The Raw Beauty Project collaborated with (Crawford's online magazine for women in wheelchairs) and The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to bring these images to ACA Galleries in New York City. While they've already raised more than $45,000, the project has brought awareness to disabled women, a particularly underserved section of the disabled community. And by putting a different spotlight on disabled women, The Raw Beauty Project not only challenges the beauty status quo, but also helps these women feel more empowered in their own lives. One model, Emily, shared how she is often subjected to stares and insecurity, but after being in a photo shoot with an award-winning photojournalist, she still felt stared at, but felt beautiful, too.

"We hope to see this reflected in the media so that beauty is not limited to a certain size, color, age or physical ability," says Crawford. "Beauty is in strength, confidence, and uniqueness." To learn how you can contribute, visit

Source: Walter Chin

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