e4A homework project to photograph what women find beautiful about themselves turned out to not be just another assignment for Eva Woolridge. In fact, the University of Maryland student’s “Embrace Your Essence” photo series actually went viral when her friend Felicia Taliaferro uploaded this image that Woolridge took of her to Tumblr and it received over a thousand notes in the first week.

“The wildest moment was three months later, when I was assisting a photographer at a male modeling agency,” Woolridge told Business Insider. “I showed him Felicia’s work [and] he’s like, ‘Wait, I saw this photo. It’s on my girlfriend’s cell phone screen. It’s her backdrop.’”

According to the Insider, Woolridge’s series which features women of all ethnicities displaying the uniquely beautiful characteristics society often encourages them to hide has now been viewed more than 100,000 times — an accomplishment the 22-year-old photographer said she hopes will inspire other women to embrace their own features.

“I was surrounded by such beautiful women with such gorgeous souls [but they] sometimes let their light dim because they constantly were trying to fit somebody else’s beauty standards.

“There’s at least one thing about every single person that’s beautiful, so I think it’s extremely important for women to remind themselves of that beautiful feature. In doing so, can you imagine how much more beautiful the world will be if we did embrace all of [the] essences that make us unique?”

Check out some of the subjects from the Embrace Your Essence series on the next few pages.

Images: Eva Woolridge Photography

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