Maryland Family Photographer/ The “Free to Be Tween” Project

Middle school is a tough place!

This is me just before I started middle school. Try to ignore the white Christmas tree in the background. It was the late 1970s after all! I look at this picture, and it reminds me of a time when life seemed so easy. But I also see a tween that I want to hug and tell her to hang on. Things were about to change: new school, new friends, new body. I want this kid to know that no matter how she changes, she is still beautiful, kind, and loved.

For me, middle school was a time of major change.  In 6th grade, I felt like I owned the world.  My family didn’t have much, but I had friends, confidence and joy. I was even confident enough to be in the school play. At the time, I didn’t worry much about the way I looked or dressed.  I wasn’t particularly tall or pretty. We weren’t rich. I didn’t stand out.  But I was a happy kid, unaware of the many ways my body was about to change. I was unaware of how my life was about to change.

When I was 11, we moved to a new town, and I started a new school. I was in 7th grade.  I was no longer the girl with friends, talents, or confidence. Now, I was the “new girl”.  My long hair and cute bangs were suddenly out of style.  My non-designer clothes were no longer cool (if you were in middle school in the eighties, you surely had Jordache jeans).  I didn’t get placed in the “smart kid” classes. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find my place. Although I did make friends, many days I felt awkward, out of place, and alone.  At this age, kids aren’t children anymore, but they aren’t quite teens either.  I was no different. For me, it was a very awkward stage, and I struggled to fit in. 

I remember that I never really felt pretty, didn’t have the haircut, the clothes, the make-up, or the “look”.  I wasn’t athletic.  And, perhaps the saddest of all, I thought I was fat (look again at that picture).  My body was developing and changing, and my mind hadn’t quite caught up. I began to develop a poor self-image that I still struggle with today.

Today’s Tweens

When I think about today’s tweens, I worry. These days, along with all the pressures of just being that age, social media dominates their lives. Unfortunately, it frequently portrays unrealistic body images, unrealistic standards, and unrealistic lives. And worse, it leads to cyberbullying. These added pressures can have severe consequences. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “National surveillance data suggest that roughly 7-8% of adolescents attempt suicide each year, and roughly 17% report serious suicidal ideation.” Asarnow, J., Dr. (2023). Suicide: Pediatric Mental Health Minute Series (American Academy of Pediatrics). It is hard to even imagine how I would have felt about myself with that added pressure. Imagine what might go through the head of a tween today.

I truly believe kids deserve to feel confident and powerful, even at the most awkward of ages. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a very personal project.  I want to celebrate tweens in all their awkward glory! I want to help them see that they are beautiful, confident beings, even at a time in their lives when everything is changing.  Whether they are smart, silly, quiet, or loud; whether they play music, sports, dance, or love to read, each tween is a unique and worthy individual.  I couldn’t be more proud to embark on such an ambitious and important project!

Welcome to the Free to Be Tween Project!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE OR NOMINATE A TWEEN:

Each session will be about capturing their individuality, designed to build their confidence and sense of self. The pictures will be presented, accompanied by quotes from all the important people in their lives.  Imagine how it would feel to read empowering quotes from the people you love alongside amazing portraits from a personal session designed just for you! I couldn’t be more proud to embark on such an ambitious and important project!

Please contact me by: COMING SOON!!

Please nominate people you think would enjoy the full experience that I provide. The session itself is complimentary and includes a $50 print credit (a total value of $200).

After you contact me, I will email you back with more information about the session, and you can decide if it’s right for your tween. But hurry, spots are limited!

Contact me! There is no obligation.

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