WOMEN

12 Breathtaking Photos To Encourage Every Woman To Embrace Her 'Essence'

"Only when we embrace ourselves, is when we will truly love who we are."

Embracing your essence never looked so good. 

Created by photographer Eva Woolridge, "Embrace Your Essence" is a photo series highlighting women and their favorite physical features. Inspired by her mother's quote "be the flame, not the moth," Woolridge defines a person's "essence" as "the inner flame that attracts positivity and beauty." 

"Embrace Your Essence" features images of 12 college women showing off what they love most about their bodies, with quotes from each about why they chose that specific feature. 

"The foundation of the project was based on an idea that my mom instilled in me when I was growing up; that everyone has at least one beautiful feature to be proud of, whether it's one's hair, eyes, freckles, scar, or birth mark, as well as an endless list of their inner beauty," Woolridge told The Huffington Post.

The series started as a senior class project and most of the women featured are Woolridge's classmates. "I think the women involved wanted to be a part of the solution," she said. "They wanted to change this cycle of self-criticism and embrace every magnificent element of themselves."

"The essence I embrace is Lola... That's the name of my hair." -- Brianna
"The essence I embrace is Lola... That's the name of my hair." -- Brianna

Woolridge said that it took some time for each woman to openly talk about what she found beautiful about herself during the shoot. Woolridge would ask the model what she found beautiful about herself and the young woman would reply, "Well, people tell me that..." and Woolridge would immediately stop her. "I told them 'I do not want to know what other people find beautiful... I want to know what you find beautiful about yourself,'" she said. 

Through the project, Woolridge said she's really begun to recognize how much strength and perseverance it's taken many of these women to find self-love, including herself.

"As a young woman, I have faced my own turmoils with who I am and my body image," she said. "I can tell you 100 of reasons why I don't like my hands, but why waste the energy and hurt my self esteem in the process. Let me instead tell you 1000 reasons why I love my smile... We already face enough negativity. Why add to it? Instead embrace your essence, because only when we embrace ourselves, is when we will truly love who we are."

Scroll below to see the rest of Woolridge's stunning "Embrace Your Essence" series.  

  • "The essence I embrace is my bone structure. I feel like I have really Indian features. Growing up, my strong, facial bone st
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my bone structure. I feel like I have really Indian features. Growing up, my strong, facial bone structure made me insecure, but as I got older I practiced self-love and embracing who I am." -- Sana 
  • "The essence I embrace is my dimples. It's funny; technically a dimple is considered a skin deformity, but I always
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my dimples. It's funny; technically a dimple is considered a skin deformity, but I always saw it as a reminder of my childhood innocence." -- Niny
  • "The essence I embrace is my nose, I actually bought this nose stud and scarf when I was visiting my family in Pakistan.
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my nose, I actually bought this nose stud and scarf when I was visiting my family in Pakistan. How gorgeous is this pattern?" -- Ghonva 
  • "The essence I embrace are my curves, and if I could, I'd be naked most of the time... After years of being insecure and half
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace are my curves, and if I could, I'd be naked most of the time... After years of being insecure and half-loving myself as person who isn't the 'normal' shape, size and sometimes even color, I decided that it would be easier to embrace who I am than to fight everyone telling me who I have to be." -- Felicia 
  • "The essence I embrace are my eyes." -- Leigh Ann 
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace are my eyes." -- Leigh Ann 
  • "My best feature is my ears. Can you hear me? Haha, it is a necessity for me to wear my earrings everyday. If not, I feel lik
    Eva Woolridge
    "My best feature is my ears. Can you hear me? Haha, it is a necessity for me to wear my earrings everyday. If not, I feel like I started my day on the wrong foot, and based on how hard I work, being on the wrong foot is not an option." -- Jewel
  • "The essence I embrace is my birthmark. It covers my entire left leg." -- Opeyemi<br>
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my birthmark. It covers my entire left leg." -- Opeyemi
  • "The essence I embrace is my stomach.&nbsp;A strong core means I can hold myself up every day, in yoga, in life and through m
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my stomach. A strong core means I can hold myself up every day, in yoga, in life and through many hours of supporting women through childbirth... The soft gentle skin that will one day be a home for my children. My mission to become a midwife and to love bellies for all that they are and all that they do for the rest of my life." -- Roni 
  • "The essence I embrace are my lips." -- Kanisha
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace are my lips." -- Kanisha
  • "The essence I embrace is my clavicle." -- Soraya&nbsp;
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my clavicle." -- Soraya 
  • "The essence I embrace is&nbsp;my feet. My whole life I loved to dance, but people don't really understand how much work goes
    Eva Woolridge
    "The essence I embrace is my feet. My whole life I loved to dance, but people don't really understand how much work goes into the craft. Many think I just have an easy major, but my body is constantly working." -- Sydney

Head over to Woolridge's Instagram, Facebook or website to see more of her work. 

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