Eva Woolridge, a 22-year-old photographer, created her photo series, “Embrace Your Essence,” for a college photography project at the University of Maryland.
She did not expect her homework assignment to go viral.
The project’s purpose was to photograph what women found beautiful about themselves, thereby moving away from destructive self-criticism.
“I was surrounded by such beautiful women with such gorgeous souls,” Woolridge told INSIDER. “[But they] sometimes let their light dim because they constantly were trying to fit somebody else’s beauty standards.”
One of the photos she took was of her friend Felicia Taliaferro, who uploaded the picture to her personal Tumblr account earlier this year. The post got over a thousand notes within the first week, and that was when Woolridge said her work began to pick up steam.
“The wildest moment was three months later, when I was assisting a photographer at a male modeling agency,” said Woolridge. “I showed him Felicia’s work [and] he’s like, ‘Wait, I saw this photo. It’s on my girlfriend’s cell phone screen. It’s her backdrop.’”
This photo and the rest of the series has since been viewed over 100,000 times across the web, and featured in “Marie Claire” and other outlets.
The young photographer hopes her series will inspire women to embrace the features that make them who they are.
“There’s at least one thing about every single person that’s beautiful, so I think it’s extremely important for women to remind themselves of that beautiful feature,” said Woolridge. “In doing so, can you imagine how much more beautiful the world will be if we did embrace all of [the] essences that make us unique?”
Woolridge’s series and other work can be found on her website, EW Photography.
Story and editing by Alana Yzola