The Embrace Project is a collection of our stories and our images in our vulnerable self. The project aims to inspire and empower women and to advocate self-love to all women. I strongly believe that we can’t give what we don’t have. So it starts from us. It starts with a very simple step. A hug. An embrace. An act of kindness to ourselves. This time the embrace is for ourselves.
Often we put ourselves last. We become little. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe that we can give more love if we have the love to give. More kindness if we if we are kind to ourselves. More gentleness if we practice gentleness to ourselves. It starts from us. Then it becomes a ripple effect.
Every woman’s journey will be different. Some will get there quick, some will wander around, and some will rest and give up. I hope that YOU will find what you’re looking for… because YOU are beautiful.
“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” – Brene Brown
Fifth Embrace: Valerie Poppy
Embracing myself has been a long journey.Growing up, my weight was always a prevalent issue in my life. I have two sister, one older and one younger, who both seemed to have zero issues with their weight, food, and overall confidence, all things that were an area of frustration and struggle for me.When I was in college, I hit my highest weight around 250 pounds and I decided to make a change, but I went at it all wrong. I genuinely hated my body and wanted to change myself because I hated myself. It worked, I lost around 50 pounds, but because life happens, I gained almost all of that weight back. I retreated into my old ways of eating and thinking. I tried to shed the weight on my own, hired a personal trainer, the whole shebang, for almost an entire year. Nothing really seemed to click until Thanksgiving 2014. I was visiting my sister with the rest of my family, they were all busy helping my sister and brother-in-law add an addition to their closet. I kept retreating to my room all weekend, using the excuse “I’ll just get in the way” but in reality, I was too overweight and tired to help. More importantly, I didn’t want anyone to notice me. So I hid.
Then, sometime after yet another nap and in-between meals, I heard my family in the other room. They sounded like they were having so much fun. At that very moment a thought popped into my head. It went a little something like this: “They sound like they’re having so much fun and enjoying their day. Somehow they can do all of these great thing, eat the same foods you do, and still love themselves; and here you are napping and feeling miserable. This is not right. Get up this very minute and love yourself!” So right then and there, I decided to make a change. Not because I hated myself or my body (something I knew got me nowhere), but because I genuinely loved myself and loved my body and wanted me to be the very best version of me out there. Today, I have lost 50 pounds, and am over halfway to my overall goal. I’ve learned that confidence, and overall embracing yourself, is a habit, something that we always need to work on, but it always always always, will start with loving yourself.
“I had never even thought of embracing myself until Maricris said to me, “Go ahead. Hug yourself.” When I wrapped my arms around my body, it was one of the strangest feelings I had ever experienced. I felt unusually safe, but I was acutely aware of how unfamiliar I was with my own body. When I was a little toddler, someone I loved and trusted starting sexually abusing me for six years. As I grew older, I also experienced physical abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. This horrifying experience lasted until I was nineteen years old. I grew up thinking, “No one loves me. I’m not worth anything.” When you believe a lie like that about yourself for so long, it becomes a very difficult thought-pattern to break. I hated myself because I believed I was nothing more than an object for people to use. I thought I was ugly, untalented, unlikable, and stupid. I would look in the mirror and often cry because I simply wanted to see a pretty face staring back at me. I thought I was despicable. After having been in counseling for several months, I no longer think that. I realize that I’m strong, that I have a fighter’s spirit, that I’m gifted, that I’m intelligent. But I was still unable to tell myself, “Hey, YOU are beautiful.” When I wrapped my arms around myself for the first time, something clicked: I would never believe anyone telling me that I was beautiful until I recognized my own beauty. I needed to learn to love my body. When I hugged myself alone for the first time, I sank to the floor and starting sobbing. My body had never known self-love. My body had never known self-comfort. That broke my heart, because my body survived 15 years of trauma and anguish. My body got sick often, and it was tired, and it was worn down, but it never gave up. It fought with strength, resilience, and beauty. And for the first time in my life, with my arms wrapped around my naked flesh, I said to myself, “Thank you.” In that moment, I suddenly understood just how amazingly beautiful I am. My body relaxed in my own arms, and I let out a tremendous sigh. I had never known safety around anyone, and it was high time that I started feeling safe around myself. We might think that it’s incredibly narcissistic for us women to love ourselves, to enjoy our own beauty. After all, we live in a world where we thrive on comparing ourselves to other women. We live in a world where it’s totally normal, and maybe even encouraged to think, “I’m not as pretty as her. I wish I could change this about myself.” Stop. Your body is *lovely. You *are lovely. There is a deep connection between our mind, spirit, and body. You need to take care of all three elements equally well, because they make up the person *that you are. *It really is okay to sit down, hug yourself, and remind your body that it is truly a thing of beauty. I will forever be grateful that I learned the importance of loving myself. It’s a thrilling adventure to learn how to value my own worth and loveliness.” – Brittany Polhemus
“Rather than re-energizing the events of the past and gazing at my scars, I choose to focus on what is happening right now and what the future will bring. This portrait of me embracing myself and being vulnerable was a decision I made. A decision to embrace my beauty and my imperfections. It was a decision to be kinder to myself— that means I will not talk mean to myself nor think mean about myself. Never will I say “Bad girl, Maricris.” Never will I even think that I make “stupid” mistakes. But instead, I will embrace the fact that I am human, and I make mistakes. And so does others. I have decided to erase the word “Perfection” in my vocabulary because I am not perfect. And even though striving perfection sounds really perfect and tempting, I will remind myself that I am a work in progress. I have decided to let myself cry when I need to cry, laugh out loud when I need to laugh, dance like no one is watching. And when I get hurt and scarred, I will remind myself to get up again and again and dust myself off. For after dusting myself off, I will have that courage to go back in the arena again with renewed strength and courage. I will listen more. I believe that our world is so noisy and that we need more people who listen. I believe that authenticity and genuine interest in people is important because I want to be treated the same way, and I have decided that if people do not treat me the way I like them to, I will remind myself that they too are human. I have decided that I will wear whatever I want because wearing the clothes I love is my way of screaming at the top of my lungs saying, “Look at me, I love myself and I am happy with myself. And there is nothing wrong with me.” This is liberating.” – Maricris Treuenfels
Please fill out the form if you are interested in joining the Embrace Project and explain what “Embracing Yourself” means to you. You may also include your story. My hope is that other women will also be inspired from your story. 🙂
Please make sure that you have thought this over– to truly embrace yourself and to really accept everything about you. This is a process… a journey. To some, it is an easy decision. But for others, it isn’t. Please know that you are not alone. This project aims to inspire and support each other to our greatest potential… to loving ourselves.
Thank you for joining The Embrace Project!
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Have a photoshoot session with MC Photography LLC! Photographing women for The Embrace Project is FREE.
The photoshoot takes about 10-15 minutes. You may wear nude makeup if you want, otherwise, no makeup is preferable. You may style your hair if you like. Please note that hair and makeup is not provided. You will be photographed the same way as the rest of the women who shared their story were photographed. If you are do not want to be photographed but still want to share your story, that is fine as well. Again this is a process… a journey.
You will need to fill out paperwork which include Model Release and Agreement. This complimentary Photoshoot is exclusively for photographing women for the Embrace Project. The images will be posted online. And no other shots or poses will be taken.
Joining The Embrace Project is not for modeling purpose. It is a decision, your decision— to embrace yourself completely. And I mean completely. Not partially, but completely. All the way.
The goal of this project is to inspire women and promote self-love. Or better put, to jump-start the process of self-love. Rome was not built in one day. Do not expect to love yourself and be super hyped in one day. It is a continuous process. Some days will be good and some days won’t. And that is where the photograph (the image of you in your vulnerable self) comes in handy. It is a reminder. To remind you that you made this decision, this promise to yourself to love yourself… to be kinder to yourself.
And also please understand that the photograph that will be taken of you is for YOU. For you. Not for your husband. Not for your boyfriend. Not for your partner. It is for you. If you decide to do this, I pray that you really do it for yourself because if you are doing it for others, then it just contradicts the goal we are trying to achieve.
You will receive ONE 5×7 print in an 8×10 mat of the same image as the image posted on the website (here on this web page). This image will also be posted on The Embrace Project Facebook Page. This print is a gift for you and a token of your courage and beauty. Enjoy it!
Tell us your story. Share what “Embracing Yourself” or “Loving Yourself” means to you. Tell us the process you’ve been through.
Below are some questions that might help (from an article written by David Arenson from Mind Body Green)
1. Do you love yourself enough to forgive yourself?
2. Do you love yourself enough to forgive others?
3. Do you love yourself enough to nourish your body with life-affirming nutrient-rich food (the way nature intended), or do you feed yourself processed non-foods like sugar, white bread, etc.?
4. Do you love yourself enough to exercise your body, stretch it, build your physical resilience and strength, and continue to improve your body’s conditioning?
5. Do you love yourself enough to feed your soul with whatever your heart intends?
6. Do you love yourself enough to live in the moment — to forget the past and not worry so much about the future — to be truly present to the opportunity within each and every moment?
7. Do you love yourself enough to commit to your decisions — to take action that serves your spirit with all your heart? If you want to truly go somewhere, you’ll only get halfway when only half of your heart is in it.
8. Do you love yourself enough to consistently expand your mind, by learning new things, and continually growing your expertise about life? With more knowledge about life, you’ll have greater awareness and ability to deal with any event.
9. Do you love yourself enough to have fun, allow your soul to be joyful, do the things you love doing, to release stress, relax your mind-body-soul, take the time to rejuvenate and re-energize?
10. Do you love yourself enough to rest sufficiently — to sleep enough?
I believe there is power in numbers. So please help spread the word by talking to friends and family about the project. Tell them a tidbit of inspiration you got from other women. Who knows they might get inspired to open up and show their light that is wanting come out.
Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Embrace yourself!
Enjoy the following videos: