shannon, 48

“I’m a refugee from Corporate America and worked in the Mental Health field for 15 years. Sadly, we went from helping people to housing people due to insurance regulations and limitations. I was able to leave that behind in 2016 and focus on my small candle company called Dark Candles. Owning a small business is rewarding and challenging. I’m thankful for every moment of it. In addition, I am able to help my community more and co-chair a non-profit called Back to The Bay. We believe that everyone should have access to food. Our food pantry places no limits or income guidelines and can be accessed 24 hours a day.  

The last time I was photographed was last spring by a Lansing photographer. The experience was very different. I felt The For Real shoot was very empowering. I have battled with my weight and self confidence my entire life. I also wanted to show other women to stop waiting until they “lose weight” to have their photos professionally done, or even get in front of the camera. Embrace who you are.

That said, I did have trepidation about doing the shoot. I wouldn’t say I am vain, but as a female who has spent the better part of my life obese I always strived to dispel the myth of the fat, lazy female.  I never step out of the house without being put together. I was afraid it would look like I didn’t care about myself.  

I felt comfortable however during the shoot, I believe this was due to not only Trish herself but her her stylists. As a team they made an unknown situation welcoming.  

I was astounded when I viewed the images. When I saw them I cried. Even though I have had professional photographs of myself taken, I felt that Trish captured who I really am. I saw myself and I liked what I saw.  

As a female who was teased, not included or invited and considered undesirable because of my weight, I felt these pictures showed I did have value and that I mattered. I hope this project can encourage other women to stop comparing themselves to others. I want it to encourage women to come out of hiding and show the world who they are.  I am a huge fan of this project and I can’t state its importance enough. Everyone is beautiful, no matter our size, shape, color or beliefs. Thank you Trish for showing the world that.”