Youngstown photographer holds women’s empowerment shoot to fight against verbal abuse

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Each woman chose both positive and negative words to be written on them

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Jessica Morales wanted to use her passion for photography as a way to send a message to others.

“The women here need to have a voice,” Morales said.

On Sunday, she held a women’s empowerment photo shoot at her photography studio in Youngstown. The idea behind it was to encourage women to be comfortable in their own skin.

“Just inspiring one another, it means boosting each other’s confidence, letting each other know that they’re not alone, there’s other women like them,” Morales said. 

Each woman chose words to be written on them. Some representing positivity, and some were negative labels from others they had to overcome.

“Just growing up, and even now, you hear things. Just negative words, and bullies that you have to fight to get through,” said Taccara Moyer, of Mineral Ridge.

Morales said the reason she chose to include the negative words in the shoot was to show the women a way to use those words as an inspiration and a way to convert them into strength.

“I’ve been called most of them a lot of my life growing up. As I got older, you know, you don’t let it affect you as much but it still is there with you, it resonates with you, it’s a part of you,” said Nichole Tarr, of Youngstown. 

“Even though those words might have, at the time, made them feel worthless, I wanted them to take those words and use them as power,” Morales said.

Morales also wanted the shoot to spread the message that all women should feel good and confident about themselves.

“Most images on Instagram and the media are photoshopped, and we have this unrealistic ideal to look up to. And we can’t photoshop ourselves, and we shouldn’t have to,” said Jessica Johnson, of Youngstown.

In total, nine women took part. Some posing and others doing the artwork.

Morales said the shoot was about more than just taking pictures. She also shared her story of overcoming adversity with the women there and wanted it to be a safe place for them to do the same.

“I think a lot of women are afraid to be themselves and speak out against verbal abuse, and this is a great opportunity to come together and hear everyone’s story and just feel free without being judged,” said Amber Pete, of Youngstown.

Morales said she plans to release the final pictures from the shoot within the next week. You can keep up with her photography on the Viera’s Vision Facebook page.

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