SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. - In a world of selfies and social media, it can be hard to see what natural beauty looks like -- but a Sun Prairie woman is on mission to show young girls unfiltered confidence.
Earlier this year professional photographer Brenda Eckhardt began taking pictures of soon to be high school seniors without makeup. It started off as a personal challenge during the offseason.
The project featured girls including 17-year-old waitress and aspiring paramedic Leah Kelley.
As a senior spokesperson for Eckhardt's business, Kelley was no stranger to getting her picture taken, but then she was asked to do a photo session with a bare face and no touchups.
"I was just kind of nervous cause I've never had professional pictures taken without makeup and I knew everybody was going to see them," said Kelley.
Then she saw the pictures.
"Of course I looked different, but I felt like I looked like that was actually me, like who I was seeing and that was really cool," remembered Kelley.
At first Eckhardt didn't know what to do with the pictures. Then a personal experience put them into perspective.
She found out her daughter, Skylar, was being bullied.
"It rocks your world it rocked her world and it definitely rocked her confidence. It took a while for her to come back kind of to herself," said Eckhardt.
The photographer went on a mission to spotlight high school seniors who younger girls could look up to. She wanted to show others how beautiful they were without primping.
"It doesn't take the fashion the makeup the hair accessories or the right phone to be somebody that you want to be it's about who you are without all those things. That stuff's fun and it has its place and even for girls growing up it's fun, but that's not what it's all about," explained Eckhardt.
Ready to start sixth grade, Skylar said her mother's project reminds her of an important message. One she hopes others will take away, too.
"God made you in a way that he wanted you to be, so he wanted you to be yourself obviously and you should just be proud of who you are," said the young Eckhardt.
Eckhardt plans on continuing the project through the summer. Find more information at brendaeckhardt.com.
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