Teens go bare-faced, unfiltered in photographer’s ‘Born Beautiful’ challenge

COLOMA, Mich.-- A photographer in Berrien County is getting a lot of attention for his 'Born Beautiful' challenge.

Ten high school seniors were challenged to do a photoshoot wearing no makeup; they couldn’t do their hair and nothing would be photoshopped. The challenge would send a message about natural beauty and the insecurities  that sometimes come with it.

The photographer behind the project says the results were even more amazing than expected.

High school can be a very challenging time, especially for girls.

"Girls feel so pressured between what other girls look like, you have to look a certain way so it’s what people think is right, so they feel like they have to do it," said Emma Kraklau, a senior at Watervliet High School.

"They don’t see themselves the way they actually are," said photographer Josh Fairbanks. "They’re their worst critic.”

Fairbanks is a photographer in Coloma who shoots a lot of senior portraits.

Recently, he decided to do a different kind of photoshoot, unlike anything he’s done before.

"No makeup, no hair, no filter, no photoshop," said Fairbanks.

The Born Beautiful challenge included photoshoots with 10 seniors from different high schools all completely bare-faced and unfiltered.

“I really had to fight the urge to put on makeup," said Victoria Smith, a senior at Watervliet High School. "I guess it made me feel a little vulnerable, but it was such a great outcome.”

"I thought it was a really good idea, but even yesterday driving here I’m like, 'Oh crap, do I really want to do this? Everyone’s going to see me like this!' But I’m really glad i did it," said Kraklau.

It didn’t end there. Fairbanks had each of the girls write down what they like about the other girls to then read aloud.

“Yesterday was one of the most inspiring nights of my life and one of the most inspiring things we could’ve done," said Mandy Jones, a senior at St. Joseph High School.

"When we did this video it empowered me, like I can do this and I will do this," said Shaelyn Bundy, a senior at Dowagiac High School.

"The best part of the video, if you really pay attention to what they’re anxious about and what they’re nervous about is the same things that people compliment them about," said Fairbanks.

Fairbanks hopes other people will watch and share his video so everyone can feel comfortable in their own skin.

"It was a huge confidence boost to receive all those compliments about my insecurities that they thought were beautiful to them," said Smith. "It definitely changed how my thought process was.”

"It just makes you feel fully confident in every way with yourself," said Jones.

"It was tough in a way, it was moving," said Fairbanks. "It made everything that I do and everything that we do completely worth it.”

The girls also challenged others to go bare-faced and participate in the Born Beautiful challenge.

The full video project can be viewed here. View the original Facebook post here.

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