Bridgett Burrick Brown of Beyond Beauty Project: “We are helping our community recognize that they are enough”
… We are helping our community recognize that they are enough!! Reminding them they are beautiful just the way they are and affirming that they are much more than their appearance! Systemic unrealistic beauty ideals are causing mental health issues such as body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and perfectionism. Our society places harmful expectations on young girls and women and sends us constant messaging from a very young age about how we should look, act, and feel. At BBP, we recognize that these expectations often erode our self-worth, restrict our ability to feel empowered, and limit our potential. That’s why we are redefining the meaning of beauty and celebrating the unique qualities that make each of us beautiful. Beauty is much more than physical appearance — it encompasses our mental, physical, and spiritual health. It is an energy that radiates from within. While we love fun beauty rituals like slapping on a red lip or doing a luxurious facial, we don’t believe these things are needed to feel worthy, valued, or beautiful. We are here to empower women to embrace their individuality, prioritize their well being, and cultivate a sense of self-worth that is not tied to external validation or societal pressures. By celebrating the beauty within ourselves, we can live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. And I firmly believe if we all did this, we would live in a beautiful world!!
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bridgett Burrick Brown.
Bridgett Burrick Brown, a former model with over two decades of experience, is the founder of Beyond Beauty Project. The multimedia platform provides education and encourages confidence and acceptance regarding beauty, body image, and mental
health. Through her advocacy and activism, Brown aims to redefine beauty by empowering individuals to shape their own self-worth, free from societal expectations because we are more than our appearance. She is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, W.I.T.S Certified Personal Trainer, certified in Ayurveda, and also a mother, wife, former dancer, and host of Beyond Beauty Project: The Podcast.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
This story is really the history of my life, but I will try and condense it a bit for you here 😉
My mother is a significant source of inspiration for my Beyond Beauty Project. She worked as a hairdresser, and we would spend hours in her bathroom together curling our hair and experimenting with new makeup. When I was five years old, she got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and as the years went on, it took a toll on her body and mental health. This experience made me acutely aware at such a young age just how deeply attached women can be to their appearance, and how this attachment to appearance can negatively affect self-esteem and overall well-being.
Growing up I was also immersed in competitive dance and quickly learned to compare myself, whether it be to another dancer’s turning ability or six-pack abs. Later in my high school years, I experienced a lot of ‘mean girl’ bullying. Looking back now that I am older and wiser, I realize that the bullying likely stemmed from jealousy — something that I was largely oblivious to at the time. But back then, I often blamed myself. I’m still trying to fully comprehend it in order to raise awareness for our children. Those early years were pivotal for me as I started to understand the power of confidence — I started understanding the feeling of having it, and when I felt like I didn’t have any. It was also when I began to see how my appearance, as a woman, held weight in the world.
My career as a model is one of the biggest aspects of my life that brought this project to fruition though. I spent over two decades working as a professional model in an industry where worth and value are based primarily on what you look like. During my career, I was often told to lose weight, and I was typically the largest model on set, referred to as ‘healthy’ at a size four. I always found it unnerving to be judged in such a superficial way. Throughout my years of modeling, I went on a journey of educating myself about our bodies and mental health. I studied personal training, holistic nutrition, and Ayurveda medicine, did a lot of talk therapy, read all the self-help books, and attended all the self-love workshops.
Around the time that I felt was the ‘height of my career,’ I also met the love of my life. I was happy, I was healthy, and I was grateful. Not long after that, my world started to unfold through a series of losses. I lost my mom, dad, and brother within two years, followed by a series of miscarriages — the last being identical twin girls at 5.5 months. Lost, searching, and wanting my life back, I slowly took steps to return to modeling and heard those all too familiar words, “But first, you need to lose weight.” It broke me. There’s beauty in breaking, though, because it gave me the courage to walk away from something that wasn’t serving me anymore and do something my heart was pulling me to do! My rock bottom is really what led to the birth of the Beyond Beauty Project. I was the image of what societal standards saw as beautiful — I was white, thin, tall, with European features, and on the cover of magazines. I was privileged. I was also trained
from an early age, as many women are, to be the “good girl.” Add this conditioning to my privilege, and we have exactly what society wants a woman to be.
When I chose to walk away from the modeling world, I vowed to be a role model for my daughter and invest my energy in changing the way that we understand beauty as a society. I believe we all hold immeasurable value that extends well beyond what we look like. The message that we must act and look a certain way to be accepted by society starts to infiltrate us at a very young age. I wanted my daughter to walk in a world free of the constraints of patriarchy and societal standards. I wanted her to grow up feeling confident in her worth and value and empowered to embrace her authentic self. In addition, I didn’t want to use my beauty in a way that could be harmful anymore. Devoting so much time and attention to my appearance was controlling and limiting me, and I believe that we have to take responsibility for how our actions and behavior can influence others. If I felt controlled and limited, then how were these images making others feel? I started thinking of my niece and daughter and how these images impacted them. Around this time, I also deeply understood that it didn’t matter what I looked like on the outside if I wasn’t healthy on the inside. This is when it all really clicked for me. When I tended to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, I realized that intentional love and care for ourselves is key to embodying our beauty — because beauty isn’t about how we look; it’s about how we feel. By healing ourselves, we break generational traumas and create a better future for our children — and our children’s children.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I’m always fascinated by how many girls and women are affected by the need to be “perfect” and run around endlessly trying to live up to unrealistic beauty ideals. I am surprised and inspired by the education I’ve received since devoting myself to this work. One of the most interesting things
I’ve noticed is as I focus on helping others, I am endlessly learning, which serves me, helps me, and heals me at the same time — I love that part!
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure I can think of a specific mistake, as I’m really just figuring things out as I go and enjoying the process of it all! But I do still think it’s funny that when I started, I didn’t even know how to make a file folder on my computer. Now here I am, producing a podcast and editorial space with contributing writers! I never miss an opportunity to point this out to my team any time I do something “techy” on my own 😉 I am learning every day — whether it’s something about company structures or how to help support myself and others to love themselves more from the inside out. I don’t believe in focusing on our mistakes, but if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t dim my light or silence my voice out of fear of failure or imposter syndrome for as long as I did. I am moving away from that and stepping into my light! Sometimes we just need to go for it, unapologetically and be okay if we fall along the way — we just need the resilience to get back up! Thankfully, I have that!!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We are helping our community recognize that they are enough!! Reminding them they are beautiful just the way they are and affirming that they are much more than their appearance! Systemic unrealistic beauty ideals are causing mental health issues such as body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and perfectionism. Our society places harmful expectations on young girls and women and sends us constant messaging from a very young age about how we should look, act, and feel. At BBP, we recognize that these expectations often erode our self-worth, restrict our ability to feel empowered, and limit our potential. That’s why we are redefining the meaning of beauty and celebrating the unique qualities that make each of us beautiful. Beauty is much more than physical appearance — it encompasses our mental, physical, and spiritual health. It is an energy that radiates from within. While we love fun beauty rituals like slapping on a red lip or doing a luxurious facial, we don’t believe these things are needed to feel worthy, valued, or beautiful. We are here to empower women to embrace their individuality, prioritize their well being, and cultivate a sense of self-worth that is not tied to external validation or societal pressures. By celebrating the beauty within ourselves, we can live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. And I firmly believe if we all did this, we would live in a beautiful world!!
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One of my most memorable moments so far happened after my first preteen workshop — I didn’t know what to expect, and the girls seemed to walk in a bit skeptical — potentially thinking, “What in the world did my mom sign me up for!?” But as our time together went on, they quickly opened up, and I could see the relief in their bodies and faces as we discussed societal beauty pressures, social media, and our bodies. Watching them actively participate, and witnessing them leaving feeling lighter, more alive, and more fulfilled sparked feelings in me that I carried for weeks after!
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
There’s a lot I could say here but here’s my three 🙂
Mental Health Resources: Prioritizing affordable and easily accessible mental healthcare for all, and investing in continuous research and treatments so that we are learning more and helping more. When we don’t have our mental health, it affects all other aspects of our lives so we want to tend to it daily just like we would physical exercise. I genuinely believe many of the issues we see in the world today could be prevented or cured through providing mental health education and support starting at a young age.
In-depth education around our minds and bodies: Implementing body-mind education programs, taught by trained professionals in schools that explore: feelings, mental health,
movement, meditation, gender identity, body image, healthy relationships, consent, puberty, the menstrual cycle (males should learn this too), reproductive care, body autonomy, menopause (aging wouldn’t be as feared if we were all taught this at a young age :), healthy aging, and more. I believe learning about these unavoidable aspects of being a human should be woven into our school systems, alongside academics. I’m in the thick of parenting my daughter, and I see how parents are left desperately trying to help children navigate all of the things mentioned above, without resources or communal support.
Banning harmful media for our children: Creating more laws involving harmful media and advertising, recognizing and creating solutions to shift the deeply rooted patriarchal messaging of past and current media, providing education on the media for ourselves and our children, and sharing personal experiences to inform others that they are not alone.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership is both an honor and a responsibility. I do not take leading lightly and I am always pausing, learning, and acting mindfully when given the opportunity to lead. How you lead sets the tone for the impact you have on others, and to me leadership means being the type of person you would want to be guided by. I want to be guided by someone who is kind, understanding, a good listener, someone who provides good direction and feedback, and someone who can help nudge me to be my best, so that is who I strive to be. I believe clear communication is a vital foundation and a way to thrive in any relationship dynamic, so my intention is always to be as honest as possible!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Building a brand and a community takes time — as Tony Robbins says, ‘We overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in 5 years.’ So I remind myself to have patience and repeat my favorite mantra, “Little by little,” very often!
- Stay focused on what you love to do so you don’t get consumed by busy work! Delegate the busy work so you can focus on the heart of your company!!
- Take moments to celebrate your hard work, your wins, and your accomplishments!
- Hire people you admire.
- Rest! I got so excited the first year, and I still do sometimes that I have to remember to take a break and rest consciously otherwise I exhaust myself 🙂
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would keep doing what we are doing now, but it would be more extensive and global — our movement is to reject harmful beauty ideals and inspire us all to feel beautiful — I would love to run a campaign where influencers, celebs, beauty brands, fashion brands, etc., stood up and said
‘NO more — unrealistic standards and rules won’t confine us!!’ And then, we would fight for legal bans on harmful media messaging and advertising. We will do it one day! It’s happening!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The phrase ‘little by little’ is something my Dad used to always say. It lives with me now and forever. Whether I’m overly excited about something, impatient with anticipation, or frustrated by a situation and want things to feel better instantly, I always go back to ‘Little by little.’ ‘Little by little’ will take you a long way if you let it!
Is there a person in the world or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oprah — of course! 😉 Because I love her and everything she stands for and has done for humans in this world. I love her vulnerability. She was at the forefront of helping us start talking collectively about our feelings, mental health, bodies, and self-esteem. I’d love to meet her because I know I would leave a different and better person than I was before meeting her. Oprah — want to have lunch? 😉
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We are super active on our socials — specifically on our Instagram: @beyond.beauty.project. We welcome DM’s 🙂 Our website is www.beyondbeautyproject.com. If you’re reading this and our mission resonates with you, and you are interested in becoming a podcast guest, contributing writer, or supporting us in any other way, please reach out to us — at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to hear from you!!
This was very meaningful; thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Bridgett Burrick Brown of Beyond Beauty Project: “We are helping our community recognize that they… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.