Brenda DeRouen's friends describe her as a "strong woman," but DeRouen says she hasn't always felt that way.
For years, the Houston-based lawyer and mother hid two uncomfortable secrets from the public — her stretch marks and her insecurities about them.
"I struggled for years to accept the stretch marks on my body," DeRouen told Cosmopolitan. "For the past year, I've been on a journey to love myself and inspire other women along the way."
After learning to accept and to love her body, DeRouen wanted to commemorate the end of her insecurities with a photo series. She soon met photographer Deun Ivory, who she called "super dope and super talented" on her blog. DeRouen knew that Ivory would be the perfect photographer for her project — and looked to a Kendall Jenner ad campaign for some positive inspiration.
"As Deun began to photograph me, I felt a sense of pride and liberation," she wrote on her blog, Oh Brenda. "This moment was bigger than any photo shoot I had ever done. This was personal. This moment was a defining moment to erase years of self-hatred and revel in self-acceptance. I removed society's standards of beauty and stood tall in my truth. I have stretch marks, so what! I'm no longer ashamed."
The photos were shot in the style of Jenner's infamous Calvin Klein ads. DeRouen insists that her photos were not meant to mock Jenner or the Calvin Klein campaign.
"I'm not hating on that; I think that's awesome! That's what I want for other women. To feel comfortable and confident in their skin, and to know there is no such thing as a perfect body," DeRouen told TODAY. "Confidence is the best accessory a girl can wear. That confidence and that energy — people will see that and notice it, and that's what makes someone beautiful."
While the project was originally intended to help moms love their bodies after giving birth, DeRouen soon realized that the photos could be used to empower all women who struggle with body image.
Less than half of women reportedly feel body positive or even body neutral, so this type of project could provide incredible inspiration for women everywhere.
"Scratch the mommy body empowerment article and lets just focus on the basics: LOVING YOUR BODY," DeRouen wrote on her blog.