Sometimes we come across a story which stuns us through its depiction of one person’s unusual choice in the midst of great trauma. Jill Kelly is one of those people, a lady who took on the world’s notion of what defines beauty in a woman and rewrote it. When life dealt her a hand that immediately began to steal her
sense of worth and attractiveness, Jill stood tall. As she took ground, she realized how deeply she wanted to share what she was discovering. And so began this unforgettable story.
I became aware of this chronicle from a photographer friend of mine, Adrienne Wall, who studied the work of the world renowned photographer Sue Bryce. Over the last year or so, Adrienne has kept tabs on Sue and recently sent me a link to Sue’s website where I came across this account. I’m passing it on to all of us – women and men. Jill’s choice made room for us all.
For nearly 26 years, Sue Bryce’s work has centered on capturing the true beauty of women and reflecting it back to them in her photographic endeavors. Her work is masterful and original, and yet when Sue met Jill Kelly and heard her narrative, Sue realized this woman had much to teach her that she had not yet learned about the nature of true beauty which women harbor.
Women have always had a tough go of it when it comes to the standard society has determined as to what constitutes acceptable beauty in women. And most difficult of all are those times and circumstances that place a woman seemingly irreparably beyond any chance of coming close to that standard. Jill Kelly had such an experience and yet regained a sense of beauty in spite of the ravages of cancer. Rather than merely talk about how she triumphed, she allowed Sue Bryce to fashion a photographic exposé of her response to life as a young woman when the standard said she no longer “qualified” in mind and body to consider herself beautiful. I believe if you take a few moments to watch this video, she’ll convince you too that the true beauty of womankind radiates from within, from the light that fills our eyes, to the love that flows through our hearts and the way we so generously turn toward sharing with others. I believe you’ll feel yourself able, if only for a moment, to see beauty not only where it is easy but also in the more challenging photographic moments Sue Bryce captures. Jill’s husband found his way as well, thanks to Jill’s choice. He made a space for her, and she created magic in it. As Kahlil Gibran promised: Beauty is the light in the heart.
Click here and scroll down to The Light that Shines.
The video is to the right.