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America's Most Beautiful Women Are ...

Have you ever had one of those days, when you walk out the door just feeling really good about yourself? Maybe your jeans fit just right or your skin is looking especially clear. Perhaps you just got a good night's sleep or your daughter told you that you looked pretty. Whatever it was, you entered the day feeling confident.

And then, through a series of seemingly benign encounters, perhaps that confidence faded. It might have been a magazine you were flipping through on the subway, with photos of models you couldn't help but compare yourself to. Or perhaps it was a comment made by some stranger on the street. Slowly but surely, though, the outside world started to chip away at your confidence—and you began to question your own beauty and outward worth.

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It would be nice if we could all maintain those confident moments, but if you're anything like me, your confidence in regards to your outward appearance ebbs and flows. Some days, you feel great about how you look. But others, you walk out the house just praying you won't run into anyone you know.

Some days, it's hard to keep the negativity from seeping it. It seems as though our world is intent upon tearing women down.

As a woman and a mother, I am forever aware of the messages being sent by the outside world about what defines beauty. And usually, I try to push those messages aside. But it isn't always as easy as all that. Some days, it's hard to keep the negativity from seeping it. It seems as though our world is intent upon tearing women down.

Which is why I was so excited when I received an e-mail a few weeks ago about a campaign geared toward shifting those standards of beauty. A good friend of mine, and the creative vision behind Leslie Meadow Photography, had put a friend of hers in touch with me: Michelle Gifford, mom of four, the driving force behind the growing Beauty Revived movement.

Michelle is a photographer as well, and as I started talking to her about Beauty Revived, I knew it was something I wanted to share. So we sat down and chatted about the movement and all she hopes it will accomplish.

Can you explain what Beauty Revived is all about?

These women aren't assessed based on their waistlines or their facial features. They are chosen based on how they treat others, how they face challenges with courage and how they inspire others to do good.

Beauty Revived is a magazine and website that uses photography to celebrate real beauty. Photographers from all over the world have joined with Beauty Revived and donated sessions to tell the stories of women who exemplify that real beauty. These women (some featured in this article) aren't assessed based on their waistlines or their facial features. They are chosen based on how they treat others, how they face challenges with courage and how they inspire others to do good.

What started out as a campaign in one California high school to highlight the good the seniors there were doing, has now turned into a worldwide photography movement. Photographers are able to donate a session to a deserving woman and submit the session to Beauty Revived or join in one of their "50 Most Beautiful" campaigns. Beauty Revived has joined with amazing organizations like Senior Style Guide, Denim and Grace, Lemonade and Lenses and Adoption.com to bring campaigns like the 50 Most Beautiful H.S. Seniors, 50 Most Beautiful Mothers, 50 Most Beautiful Children and 50 Most Inspiring Adoption Stories.

Left: At the end of April, Amber—wife and mom of 3-year-old twins—was reading on the couch when she discovered a lump in one of her breasts. She was diagnosed with triple negative stage 2B breast cancer. This summer she lost both of her breasts to a double mastectomy, her hair to chemo, but not her hope or courage. She's constantly smiling and laughing, always looking for the positives in her trials. Image by Kylee Maughan

What was your inspiration for beginning this movement?

I used to get really mad at the media and its portrayal of women, as well as its effect on how women viewed themselves. Then I realized that I, as a photographer, was a part of the media. Once I realized that, I realized that I could use my camera for good and maybe change the lives of women. I started Beauty Revived with the high school seniors in my area and saw the change that it had in their lives. I knew that it had to spread and that it couldn't stop with me.

Above: Morgan was born with amniotic band syndrome, which caused her limbs and extremities to band together in utero. Her fingers were fused together and she was born with one leg, and her toes were webbed together except her large toe. For many, many years Morgan has experienced countless surgeries on her hands and her leg, and since she could walk she has had a prosthetic right leg. Yet, she plays volleyball for her high school, loves to be active and lives her life as a teenage girl who loves to shop, hang out with her friends and sing pop songs. Image by Christina Ramirez

Will this be the first year you have launched Beauty Revived, or has it been a campaign you have run in the past?

Beauty Revived started a year ago and we have done five "50 Most Beautiful" campaigns since then. This summer, in commemoration of our one year birthday, we are launching America's 50 Most Beautiful Women. Anyone from anywhere can nominate a woman that exemplifies real beauty. One woman will be chosen from each state and will receive a free photo session. Her story and pictures will also be featured in September's Beauty Revived magazine.

What type of women represent Beauty Revived?

While the world celebrates women who are the perfect size and shape, Beauty Revived is celebrating all women who show their beauty through their kindness, courage and love. The women featured share very little in common physically, but all are beautiful because of their service to others, strength when tried, and happiness in defeat.

What are your goals for the campaign this year?

The America's 50 Most Beautiful Women campaign will be unique to the other campaigns because anyone from anywhere in the United States is able to nominate a woman of real beauty. For our other campaigns, we asked photographers to apply to join the campaign, and then choose their women to feature. Our hope for this campaign is to reach more people in the general public and get them become involved in the nomination process. So now you can nominate your sister, mother or friend—anyone who you believe truly exemplifies real beauty.

Right: At the beginning of the summer, Peyton was in a horrific car accident at the hands of a drunk driver. After the car wrapped around a pole and Peyton was thrown to the back of the vehicle, paramedics had a difficult time retrieving her. She was airlifted to the hospital and in a coma for five days. Despite losing her leg in the accident along with a traumatic spine injury, Peyton's first words when she awoke were, "At least I'm alive." Because of her courage and optimism, someone whom Peyton had never met (Christina Ramirez, a Texas photographer) nominated her for a Beauty Revived session. Kids in many schools around the city have been following her story, praying for her and pulling for her. They see how in the face of adversity, Peyton remains strong, positive and unstoppable. Image by Christina Ramirez

How will you be selecting representatives for each state?

Each woman will be chosen based on the quality of nominations and their ability to represent real beauty. I have to admit, this is going to be the hardest part of the whole process. I know that every woman is beautiful and has a story to tell, so it will be difficult to choose just one woman from each state.

Above: Barbara has spent her 80 years of life in service. She currently teaches piano to the children in her neighborhood, teaches horse riding lessons, boards horses, trains horses, rides in the riding club, plays piano at the Joseph Smith building in Salt Lake City, developed a calf roping training dummy with her husband, helps run a lawn care business and feeds more than 600 homeless people every winter. Image by Michelle Gifford

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Anything else you would want to add?

Please join us and nominate a beautiful woman today! Visit www.iambeautyrevived.com or find us on Instagram @iambeautyrevived to nominate a woman to be featured as one of America's 50 Most Beautiful Women.

Image via Kylee Ann Photography

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