The Honest Beauty Project Shows Us What True Beauty Is!

The Honest Beauty Project, founded by teens Ilana and Marlena, is a collection of user-submitted photos that aim to fight the media's portrayal of beauty. In a recent interview, Ilana told us what inspired them and why the project is so important!honest beauty project

The Honest Beauty Project was initially created as a reaction to society's perception of beauty.

"Seeing the people around me, myself included, being so affected by unrealistic beauty standards and the media pressure to look and act in a certain way started to take its toll on me," Ilana explained.

The situation made Ilana stop and think about what true beauty is really about.

"Around the same time, I also began thinking about the fact that what makes people beautiful goes so much beyond the outward appearance, but we don't pay enough attention to this inward beauty," she said. "So I started thinking, what if there was a way for us to reclaim the idea of beauty and declare for ourselves why we are beautiful?"

Ilana started working with her friend Marlena, and together the two created The Honest Beauty Project.

The project uses social media as a reminder of what beauty is really about. In a collection of images, people writing on whiteboards to share what makes them beautiful on the inside. The project aims to fight media's unbending and distorted portrayal of what beauty means.

Ilana sees that these unrealistic beauty standards are often set by advertising companies as a means of peddling their merchandise.

"I think with Photoshop, this standard has just been blown out of proportion and has become genuinely unhealthy," she said. "Whether it's girls constantly feeling the need to shrink down or boys always having to buff up. We've become a society obsessed with the mirror."

When these standards are constantly reinforced by the media, young people can become incredibly insecure, and it's not always about appearance. Boys start believing their not allowed to show any emotion or weakness. Girls think they can never deviate from ladylike, delicate behavior.

"[It's] a society where people don't feel comfortable being themselves, inside or out," she said.

The Honest Beauty Project wants to make people rethink what it means to be beautiful.

"We aim to reclaim the idea of beauty and remind people daily with our posts that beauty can be anything from having a fighting spirit to being a survivor of cancer to being a passionate performer," Ilana said. "Being able to declare for yourself why you are beautiful is very empowering, and when people see these pictures they too can remember that beauty isn't just about aesthetics. And that in itself is very powerful."

In addition to spreading a message, the project aims to help people realize their own self worth.

"I want The Honest Beauty Project to help people be happy and love themselves above all else," she said. "If we can put a smile on someone's face, just for a moment, then I feel we have succeeded."

Follow The Honest Beauty Project on their Facebook page here to keep up with all of the latest!

Also, if you'd like to participate, privately submit your message to The Honest Beauty Project, following their guidelines, and they'll share your photo on their page!

The rules are:

1. Take a high-quality, high-resolution photo, with good lighting. Please avoid photos of Instagram filters.

2. Write "I am beautiful because…" in black, and your reason in color.

3. Show off your creativity and have fun with your post, and try not to be vague.

"Rather than say 'I am beautiful because I care,' try 'I am beautiful because I cared for my grandma when she was in the hospital,'" Ilana said. "The more specific you are the more meaningful it will be!

4.  Lastly, once The Honest Beauty Project has posted your photo, feel free to tag yourself in it!

What does beauty mean to you? Join our girl power community at Sweety High to share your thoughts with us!