Single Moms Reclaim Your Beauty!
By Melissa Chapman
We’ve all seen them and coveted their appearance; celebrity single mothers sporting rock-hard abs, furrow free foreheads and virtually untraceable laugh lines. In the real world of single motherhood, where average women inhabit a size 10, feel lucky if they can get to the gym once a week and have no discretionary income for Botox treatments these standards of beauty are impossibly unattainable and just downright unfair!
“From the time that we are little girls we are bombarded with the media’s images of unattainable beauty and perfection,” says Nancy Bruno, author of Beautiful Women, a photography book featuring 35 women ages three to ninety yeas old, who admits she too spent many years chasing impossible beauty standards. “Throughout my life I had many accomplishments, but because I was not proud of my body, I was not proud of myself.”
Then, one summer as she sat under an umbrella on a beach in Italy, her notions of what it meant to be beautiful began to unravel.
“Swathed in sunscreen and hiding myself from the gaze of others, I became aware of the women around me – women of all ages, sizes, and cultures; talking, playing, and embracing life,” says Bruno. “They were completely uninhibited by their bodies and they were so beautiful! I wanted to be just like them.”
Mesmerized by these women’s unabashed sense of confidence, and how they strutted about rather than shrouding themselves in bulky cover-ups, Bruno needed to know: what did these women know that she still couldn’t grasp at that point of in her life? So she sat at that beach, day after day until it finally began to make sense.
“Watching these women on the beach the notion arose that it was the sum of their life’s experiences shining through them that made them so beautiful,” says Bruno. “That was really the inspiration behind the book, Beautiful Women, to feature strong, confident women, whose beauty emanates from within.”
One of the women photographed and featured in the book, is Arlys, a single mom who had her first child at a very young age and found the strength to raise her daughter on her own, rather than remain in the dysfunctional relationship she had with her daughter’s father.
“I think what her photo and story can impart to other single Moms is how she was able to find her inner strength and beauty in her own time,” says Bruno.” Arlys has found her voice and by standing up for herself and her daughters has taught them that beauty has strength, and strength has beauty. They are not mutually exclusive.”
Another woman Bruno photographed is, Samantha, a newly single Mom raising two sons and admittedly still grappling with her new role. What makes her so relatable and beautiful is her admission that she is indeed in the midst of redefining herself in mid-life and learning how to live as an individual after having been one half of a couple.
“The road for most of these women has been a roller coaster and it certainly wasn’t easy for them to recount the hard times and the difficult moments,” says Bruno. “Yet, when they finished recounting those stories, they usually had a smile on their face realizing these were their greatest learning experiences and defining life moments. What they’ve imparted to me is that being proud of yourself and your accomplishments are the first steps in believing that you are beautiful.”
Writing the book has helped Bruno finally learn how to feel beautiful at the core of her being. It is a continual process—that she hopes other women, especially single Moms, will be inspired to undertake after reading the book.
“I think that it is important for single mothers to adopt a healthy notion of beauty because as their children’s primary care givers they are the most influential role models in their children’s lives,” says Bruno. “When children see their mothers’ believing in their own beauty and believing in themselves they will incorporate this into their own lives.”
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