One of the most amazing things for me about The Revelation Project is the transformation that takes place from the time a woman walks in our door, to the time she leaves (and I’m not just talking about the way she looks.) I find myself getting nervous right before the shoot about my own abilities to successfully do her hair, make-up and make her feel comfortable and when Meredith Armstrong came in it was no different. I was astonished to learn that Meredith came to us on her actual birthday, and that she’d given herself the project as the way she wished to bring in her 37th year- wow. As I sat with her doing her hair I got to learn more about her life, and the people and places that are important to her. I was astonished by her open-ness- and she seemed really anxious and excited to participate in the shoot- more so than most and I wondered why… what did she want to see? When i finally allowed her to stand up and look at herself she welled up with happy tears…. “oh, wow- I look so pretty!” she exclaimed. I had to remind her that we’d have to redo make-up if she continued to cry and so I kind of dragged her away from her image and turned up the music. Shooting Meredith was like being allowed inside of someone’s soul. Her every emotion rushed across the plains of her beautiful face like the passing of clouds on a summer day in the big sky of Montana. This was a woman who will dive deeply with her heart into the waters of life but who wanted to be finished with the drowning and treading…. she wanted to be baptized and reborn…. and so she was.
TRP: What did Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
MA: I am a 37-seven year old single woman, and I work at Trader Joes. I am a compassionate human being, avid indoor gardener, cat petter, art admirer, bug saver (not squasher) and Bee lover. I have an open heart and cry easily.
TRP: What is the biggest challenge that’s ever faced you as a woman?
MA: My life was progressing as I always thought it would: college, world travel, serious relationship that led to marriage, thoughts of home ownership, and a baby. In my mid thirties, everything changed and I found myself back at square one. My biggest challenge is to find the direction that I want to go in, but now as a single parent with a child to raise.
TRP: Are you a mom?
MA: Yes, to the most incredible four-year old boy, who is my sunshine.
TRP: What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to our gender?
MA: There is an image of perfection that many women feel they need to measure up to and feel less worthy if they can’t meet that unrealistic image. Women will sometimes judge each other on surface issues based on what they see rather than what they know, leading to isolation rather than being supportive of each other.
TRP: What’s your idea of a great “girls night?”
MA: Any gathering of women with no children in tow, and a great glass of wine.
TRP: Is there anything in particular that made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea right now?
MA: After viewing photos of the first few women in the project, I could see the joy and happiness that was brought out from the women in their pictures. I needed help finding that joy and happiness within myself that has been buried for a good long while.
About the shoot:
TRP: What did you you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot (before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?
MA: I was extremely excited about what I would find inside of me, but being the center of attention terrified me. I was hoping that I would be able to see the same light inside of me as I had seen in the other women.
TRP: How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?
MA: Initially I was unable to relax. The utter acceptance and non-judgmental support I received from Robyn and Monica, along with their hilarious banter and down to earth approach allowed me to completely open up to the experience.
TRP: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot
MA: Nervous, excited, anticipatory.
TRP: Three words for after
MA: Joy, acceptance, anticipatory
TRP: Three words for when you saw the results
MA: Insight, happiness, completion
TRP: After you left but before you saw the results – did you have any thoughts about the experience? What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?
MA: I felt worthy of the attention and love that I received and a strong sense of connection to women as equals. I could hardly wait to see the results.
TRP: When you saw the results can you tell me your first impression?
MA: I saw that there was still a lot of happiness inside of me. I realized that I am not a size two, that I have developed wrinkles, that I have a much wider smile than I knew. And I felt beautiful that I am not a size two, that I have developed wrinkles, and that I have a much wider smile than I knew!
TRP: Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs?
MA: A good friend said, “Now you can see yourself as I see you”. Another said it was nice to see me smiling so much. There were also a lot of compliments and praise for the beauty of the photos.
TRP: What are some words you would use to describe how you were feeling throughout the shoot?
MA: It was a cathartic experience that allowed deep emotion to come to the surface. I felt comfortable in my own skin, accepting myself just as I was internally and externally.
TRP: Did you learn anything new about yourself from the experience?
MA: That I am not alone; I am not abnormal; I am not a “messed up person” for the challenges that I have faced in my life. I realize that I like myself and I have the right to what I need and want.
TRP: Did you feel empowered? Why? Why not?
MA: I know that I am good enough today, right now.
TRP: Since the shoot happened can you talk about the lasting impact of the experience? Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?
MA: The insight I have gained about myself has not left me. What I realize is the importance of connecting with other women.
TRP: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? Why?
MA: This was am important experience for me because without it, I don’t know how I would have discovered these revelations on my own.
TRP: Do you think it’s relevant for other women? Why?
MA: This is an incredibly important way for all women to empower themselves, accept themselves and find their own beauty, inside and out.
TRP: How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? As gifts?
MA: They will be used possibly as gifts, but mostly as reminders of my own self worth.
TRP: What is your favorite song and why?
MA: Lately, It’s the “Thank U” by Alannis Morrisette, now I know why
TRP: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?
TRP: If someone were on the fence about doing it is there anything you would tell them about the experience or say to encourage them?
MA: I would totally tell them to do it because we all need to be reminded how beautiful we are, how strong we are, how worthy we are and that we are perfect exactly as we are. This experience illuminates these things and allows you to see this same light in the women around you.