In my 40 something trips around the sun, what I have learned and seen and experienced, especially by standing beside those friends who have struggled with fear, grief, loss, abuse, and health issues, is that a woman’s beauty shines brightest through her tears.

All of us carry with us hurts and scars that shape and transform us, scars that we fight to transcend, forgive, and live beyond. Some of us have scrapes and others deep wounds that cut us to the core; it’s not the depth of the injury that dictates the transformation.

Like a butterfly emerging from the broken shell of the cocoon, the moment of joyful, beautiful, colourful flight into the sunlight comes after days of darkness, a seeming brokenness; an end.

It’s this moment, this flying toward the light with sunshine blinding you, that I have been so transfixed by lately. There is wholeness to those people who have moved beyond their experience and into a new space for themselves, a transference of energy that, if you pay attention, has a physicality to it. The leaning in, the reaching out, the steady and loving gaze that says “It’s ok, I’ve been there. Me too.”

And through that I have envisioned photographing women in what I feel is a completely different way from much of what we see and consume in daily media: women as whole, complete, messy, people; courageous, sexy, strong, vulnerable, defiant, and imperfect. Opening a space for women to be at-once broken and perfect, grieving and hopeful, to embrace and live into this moment of uncertainty with presence and reverence.

You can find out more about Michelle McDaid through her website Memories by Michelle, FB Page and her personal IG: eat dessert first.

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