When social media site upworthy.com created a video with “pictures of women that make you feel better about yourself instead of worse,” local mothers Jennifer McDonald and Terry Beigie were inspired. Fed up with the media-supported charade of the ideal woman being 5’10” with “perfect teeth, huge Barbie bosoms, and beautiful long blonde hair,” McDonald said, the two mothers put together a blog called The Eleanor Project.
The Eleanor Project, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, features non-photoshopped images of local women, and the answers to four questions: How would you describe yourself? What inspires you? What makes you feel powerful? What is your favorite part of yourself and why?
Women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and backgrounds are featured in the Eleanor Project, and McDonald said she hopes it inspires young girls and women alike to stand up and be themselves.
“We’ve all been those teenagers who don’t feel strong, who don’t feel powerful, who don’t feel in control of our bodies,” she said. “A great many of us struggle with how we feel about ourselves.”
McDonald said she’s been surprised at how many women she perceived as having it all together who are actually crippled with self-doubt and insecurities. As a mother, she encourages her two teenage daughters to be active and confident, and said she never focuses on physical appearance. A running joke in her household is answering “Oh you look fabulous—but are also very smart, funny, and great at sports” when her daughters ask if an outfit looks O.K., or they’re concerned about their hair.
The Eleanor Project has been up and running since early January, and McDonald said she and Beigie hope to update it regularly with fierce and fascinating local women.