Every photo taken for the Raw Beauty Project NYC captures three words: women, empowerment and sexuality.
The women featured in photographs in the exhibit, which will be displayed in Miami one night only on Thursday, cope with different disabilities. But the focus of the photographs isn’t these women’s disabilities — it’s their raw beauty.
“The Raw Beauty Project celebrates the lives of women with disabilities while redefining beauty and unleashing potential,” said Susan Solman of Miami, national co-chairwoman of the organization.
Solman manages the project along with Wendy Crawford, who is also a model.
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When Crawford was 19, beauty was about the glam of being a fashion model. But while she was driving to the airport for her first international contract in Tokyo, her car was rear ended by a drunk driver and she became paralyzed.
It seemed her career in modeling would be over, but Crawford was far too resilient to let one drunk driver stop her from being successful. To help women like herself, she founded mobileWOMEN.org, an online magazine for women in wheelchairs.
With a team and a goal, The Raw Beauty Project was born. The organization pairs disabled women with fashion photographers in New York for photo shoots.
“In different phases of their journey, many of them are insecure at first, but then we see a transformation once they get in front of the camera they realize they’re beautiful,” Crawford said.
After the debut was featured in worldwide media, including Oprah Magazine, TODAY.com, ELLE.com, Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan, the team decided to grow the project out of the city where it was born by launching an exhibition in Miami.
From 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Raw Beauty will be featured at Shake-A-Leg Miami, 2620 S Bayshore Dr. Shake-A-Leg is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making water sports accessible to everyone regardless of physical, developmental or economic obstacles.
Tickets for the one-night exhibit are $35 and include hors d’oeuvres and complimentary drinks by Bacardi. Proceeds will benefit Shake-A-Leg Miami and the Miami-based boating organization Impossible Dream.
A new South Florida model will be introduced at the event: Jessika Kattah, who became disabled after a tumor led to a spinal injury. Kattah, an avid blogger who followed the Raw Beauty Project herself before becoming a model, is an employee at the Broward Sheriff’s office and an FIU alumni.
“There was a period in my life where I didn’t see myself worthy of going out and I got through that kind of depression. [The Raw Beauty Project’s] message is that we’re still beautiful and it’s amazing and something that helped me personally,” Kattah said.
The tagline of this project is simple: All women are beautiful.
If you go
▪ What: Raw Beauty Project NYC
▪ Where: Shake-A-Leg Miami, 2620 S. Bayshore Dr.
▪ When: 7-10 p.m. Thursday
▪ Cost: $35
▪ For information: www.rawbeautyproject.com