Natasha, from Cardiff, blogs about how her calendars promote confidence for the body and mind, all while raising money for better mental health.
This blog mentions domestic abuse and a suicide attempt.
I first got in touch with Mind following a traumatic incident in my life. I’d been in an abusive relationship with a now ex-partner who constantly talked down to me and treated me awfully, making horrible comments about my looks and tearing my confidence apart.
At my lowest, it resulted in me attempting to take my own life. I couldn’t find the help I needed, and thought it would be better if I wasn’t here anymore.
Miraculously, I survived. It wasn’t my time to go.
I called Mind’s Infoline, and the voice on the other end of the phone helped me tremendously. They were straightforward and passionate, encouraging me to do more of what made me happy and be more productive.
I went to university to study psychology. At first, this was partly down to the blame I still put on myself, and wanted to understand more – why was I treated so badly by my ex-partner? What had I done to make them do that? People had told me it wasn’t my fault that I had been treated that way, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe them. Through my studies, I gradually learned to be kinder, and value myself more.
Since I was at my lowest, I’ve rebuilt some confidence. I work as an actress and as a model, which has been such a boost to my self-esteem after my ex-partner tried to ruin how I felt about how I look. I started thinking about what I could do to boost the confidence of other people, while raising money for a worthwhile charity. That’s why I founded Beauteous.
Our mission is to build confidence in people, helping them to find the courage to value and be the best version of themselves.
In February 2020, inspired by Calendar Girls, I gathered a group of women of all shapes and sizes from all walks of life and we spent a wonderful day together taking some beautiful pictures for a calendar to raise money for Mind, to give a little something back for the help I received. We had such a good time!
Following the buzz from that calendar, I started getting some requests from men. Could they be in a calendar too? Of course, I said yes – and got so many applicants we had to make two men’s calendars!
The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to get together, but we managed to meet and photograph everyone in the gaps between lockdowns – socially distanced of course.
One of the best things about the project has been that it’s created a real sense of community and compassion.
Though we couldn’t meet in person every time we’ve wanted to, we have managed to have virtual meet-ups and drinks, which have helped enormously with the isolation and loneliness the pandemic has caused.
Several of our models have had problems with their confidence in the past, be it with body image or more general self-esteem. It’s been a privilege to help them feel beautiful and has even empowered me to take the next step in my career. I’m now training to be a counsellor, in the hopes that Beauteous will be able to offer even more as we grow.
I’m so proud of how the project has helped so many people already. In 2021, we hope to help even more people find their confidence.
Natasha is based in Cardiff, and is the founder of Beauteous. Each sale of Beauteous calendars raises money for Mind, for better mental health. Find out more about Beauteous.
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.