Debbie Brecker: A Model for Bold Beauty
Lights, makeup, costume changes, the flash and click of the camera all characterize Debbie Becker’s six-hour photo shoot. It’s her first time as a model and she’s excited. It’s more work than she anticipated but it will be worth it.
Debbie isn’t your ordinary model posing for famous designers or a fashion catalogue – using canes due to having cerebral palsy, she’s doing the shoot to empower women.
“I had a hard time as a teenager,” she recalled. “I didn’t feel attractive, desirable or that I was getting the same attention from young men as my peers. I carried a lot of those negative feelings with me for a long time.”
Debbie is featured in the exhibition of the Bold Beauty Project at the North Regional Library on the Broward College North Campus from May 29 to August 31. The exhibit focuses on women with varying disabilities as seen through the lenses of award-winning photographers. The goal is to elevate and celebrate the strength, sensuality, and spirit of resilience and courage of women. For participants as well as viewers, it creates a transformative experience while expanding the concept of what it means to be beautiful.
Using Her Uniqueness as Purpose
Debbie became involved in the Project after seeing the exhibit twice. She was impressed by its message and contacted the organizers. They responded and asked her to be part of the Broward College exhibit, which is coincidentally where she also works as a Student Affairs specialist and counselor. The experience, she says, changed how she views herself.
“I started to view my body differently, not focusing on the parts that don’t work which is what I used to do but on my beauty as a person, and as a woman. I’ve realized that the limitations really don’t matter; it’s how I feel about myself and what I project from the inside.”
She is already using her experience to encourage students in her role at the College. On her office wall are photos showing her athletic accomplishments. Among them, adaptive snow skiing in New Zealand, a shot of her crossing the finish line in a 10K walk for cerebral palsy in Australia, and skydiving.
“I reference those pictures when I work with students [when] I can tell their self-esteem is low or when they are getting impatient because they want to progress more quickly through their degree. I let them that ‘what matters is that you finish the race and not how long it takes you to get to the finish line.’”
More about the Bold Beauty Project
The Bold Beauty Project was founded by Shelly Baer, a Tedx speaker who engages in dialogue on the beauty of disability. For Debbie, there is no greater reward than helping others see their beauty. “I want people who come to see the exhibit to walk away realizing that as human beings we all have something beautiful about ourselves and when we chose to focus on the negative, they become hidden, but when we acknowledge our beautiful traits then they can be appreciated and acknowledged.”
The photography exhibits have been featured at major international art shows in different parts of the country, including Art Basel Miami. The Bold Beauty Project has plans for growth, with a replication model in the works so that other cities can reproduce the project. The South Florida team behind the Bold Beauty Project is an all-volunteer team of diverse professionals supporting the non-profit.
To learn more about the Bold Beauty Exhibit at Broward College visit the Eventbrite page.