Zara

1. If you wear makeup, why do you wear makeup and how often do you wear makeup?

On a normal day I wear mascara and a flush of blush. I tend to have a spare lip balm in most of my coat pockets (and at the bottom of most of my bags) so that usually ends up on my face too!  Devoting a little bit of time in the morning to accentuating the features of my face seems to give me a little extra confidence. I think it used to be more about hiding and concealing my apparent imperfections, where makeup (especially the heavier foundation and concealer duo) could essentially act as a mask, but I'm much more comfortable in my own skin now.

2. What made you want to participate in this portrait series?

I think there is something beautiful in being vulnerable. There's certainly something vulnerable in feeling exposed and baring yourself to others, whether that's in your motivations, in your body, or in your entire being. When I saw Kristie's earliest portraits, I was astounded by the raw beauty within the moments she captured; managing to see others in a new light and in the most natural of settings, it felt like a novel concept with a unique artistic perspective and message. Given this affinity, I thought that I would very much like to be involved in her 'As Others See Us' project. Vulnerability and trust are inextricable, and these combined lead to the founding of really beautiful moments, memories and—often—relationships. I feel that Kristie's candid portraits really embody a sense of that vulnerability, as it felt like there was a strong sense of trust established between the artist and (I'm hesitant to use this word but here I go anyway) model. As these initial images felt really empowering and deeply imbued with trust; and I wanted create that experience with Kristie, to challenge myself to come out from my place of hiding and to be exposed in a way that would make me feel vulnerable, but in which I could grow into.

3. Is being completely makeup free something that makes you feel in any way uncomfortable?

I think it would have made my teenage self extremely discomforted, but right now I actually love having a fresh face. I think there's often a radiance in our most natural state that gets diminished when we layer our faces in foundation, rouge and heavy liner so I'm trying to embrace my features without covering them up. Going out without makeup makes me feel self-conscious, so in a way I don't think I'm entirely comfortable with it - yet. But I know it's something I'll grow into. None of the women in my family wear makeup, and they are all gorgeous, but this doesn't mean that I'm going to stop applying a little bit of liner or dying my blonde lashes - because I think there's something artistic about emphasising your features and that gives me a little confidence boost.

4. Are there specific factors (positive or negative) that have influenced how you feel about how you look?  

THE MEDIA and the overt focus on female beauty. Isn't it curious that most of the time we address young girls, we usually say "oh, you look so cute! What a lovely dress. Your hair looks lovely today, did your mummy do it? Oooooh, how pretty!" And we coo, and we aahhh! and we forget to ask all about their interests in science, and sports and we always scrutinise them about their appearance and their behaviours. I have friends who have been tormented by family members concerned when they're too large, too thin, too clever, too athletic? I can't express how exasperated this makes me, and I think that it's truly terrible how many women in the world are crippled by insecurities and cannot truly achieve their full potential because of their self-doubt. This is not to say that men are not similarly burdened, but I feel that it has always had a larger impact on the women in my life. Magazines, social media and reality TV all perpetuate the same drivel and capitalise and prey on our insecurities and fears. "Who is wearing what?"/ post-pregnancy pics/ shaming women for looking dishevelled or TIRED/showcasing airbrushed, hairless, diminutive models draped in unaffordable attire/ exclusivity.Despite these alarming realities, I think we're slowly seeing some change. More heterogeneity in body types. Dimensionally-accurate Lammily (Barbie-esque) dolls with little lovehandles, acne scars and stretch marks. A greater, more representative diversity of women in ad-campaigns and more female role-models in science, technology, business and government. We can get there with some confidence in our abilities - not just our aesthetics. External beauty fades, but you cannot extinguish the most beautiful and radiant of personalities. Enthusiasm and vivacity can be infectious. Be committed and passionate to attaining your potential and to contributing to the greater society. Those are things which make you look good. Not just your style, your size or your subjective beauty...

6. If there was one piece of advice for the future you could give your younger self, what would it be? One piece simply isn't enough, but if I was to write myself a short message it would go something like this: Have confidence in yourself. You are worthy. You are enough. You have great potential and immense value.You are not insignificant. Reflect on your experiences, welcome feedback, affect change, be proactive about your life and accept everything as a learning opportunity. You have the capacity to evolve, develop, and grow. Invest in yourself. Treat yourself. Be KIND to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would to a friend. Cultivate empathy, reciprocity, and kindness. I promise you, that if you keep on keeping on, if you practice and cultivate confidence, you really can 'fake it til you make it'. That doesn't make you a fraud, and you shouldn't feel ashamed of your abilities and your talents. Soon the difference between acting confident and feeling confident will blur and you will feel comfortable in all the facets of yourself. Remain inquisitive and don't be afraid to challenge. Even with the confidence in your opinions, keep your mind open and ready to receive. Never be afraid to ask for help when things become too much. I love you so much, and I am always going to be here for you.

6. When have you felt most empowered in your life?

Probably this year, most recently. There's still a long way to go, and I imagine it will always be a challenge - but that's the beauty of it. What would be the point if everything were easy?

7. Is there a woman fictional or real that you admire? Why?

Where to start... Melinda Gates, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Mae Jemison, Liz Gilbert. The thing which these women share is that they are all positively contributing to our wonderful world in such a multifaceted way. They're using their voices (and often unique positions of privilege) to send affirming messages and to inspire local and global changes in their communities and throughout the world.

8. What quality do you most admire in yourself?

I'm thoughtful and full of thoughts.

9. Is there an achievement you are particularly proud of? Why?

I've recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh and I received the best grades in my cohort. I've been really downplaying it, but I realise it's something I should be proud of. It demonstrates my academic diligence and genuine commitment to edification so it's pretty neat.

10. In daily life what are the pressures you feel most exposed to specifically as a woman?

Doing everything and making it look so damn easy. I think women feel a pressure to make things look effortless, and with well-curated social media feeds we might be convinced that the lives of our friends are flawless and fault free. There's also this pressure to prove myself, especially in my scientific career trajectory. We need to learn to reach out when we need help, because otherwise its too much, and to really try to persuade ourselves of our worthiness so we can attain our potential in all of our pursuits.