"Beautiful Me" program helps girls see themselves in new light

The power of photography

TAMPA - A picture is worth a thousand words, indeed very true for the young ladies at the PACE Center in Tampa who have seen first hand the power of photography.

Its all thanks to Gayle Hill, owner of Beautiful Me Photography.  It was her vision to somehow give young ladies, who haven't had the easiest road in life, a chance to look at themselves in an entirely new light.  Through photography, she has been showing them self-worth and the importance of self-esteem.

"If i can take an image and leave them with an image that can represent that and leave them with something that makes them feel good about themselves for days to come or years to come or however long," says Hill.  "I think i have helped."

Jasmine Blake is 17 and has helped raise her three siblings, while trying to keep up with her studies.  After having to leave her home school, she found herself at PACE, wanting a second chance to catch up, graduate and realize her dream in cosmetology and social work.  She says these days its easy to get caught up in Hollywood, the pretty faces, but the "Beautiful Me" program helps her see how gorgeous she is inside and out.

"I think its really good that everybody has a chance to dress up and see how good they really look," says Blake.

Hill says this program started off as just a test run so to speak and has grown into something that she is really thankful for.

"It was sort of a test program.  When I dropped the images off and i saw the girls looking at the images, it was so powerful in me that i felt selfish.  Because I felt like I had gotten more out of it than they had," says Hill.

Tanya Hollins, Executive Director at PACE, says the Beautiful Me program has truly been a saving grace for the young ladies at the school.

"Our young ladies living in urban environments, sometimes they don't have the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful young women that they are inside and out," says Hollins.

"So what the Beautiful Me program does, is by dressing them up and focusing on the principles of pace it really pulls out the best in them and the beauty in them and it really helps them see it straight forward that we are absolutely wonderful in every way shape and form and we are absolutely beautiful."

And Hill's time is definitely appreciated, because with the click and the flash of a camera, she is helping young ladies like Blake, make it.

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