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  • Gigi Kraus


"I am a bigger girl.. in skin that people still look down on.. but I am kind and I am caring. I have a huge heart and I nurture those around me. I am what people today need to be more of. I know I am not alone.. but we need more selflessness and caring in this world. Especially today."





My mental illnesses and physical illnesses are another attribute to who I have become.. as I am overcoming them.. or living with them. Its a battle. I know a lot of people have this issue. We aren't alone. Mental illness is a real thing.


I'm more beautiful than people treat me.. (not just physically.) My mother and the way she treats people. How good of a person she is. How selfless. How strong. She is my hero and i strive to be like her every day.


What life experiences have made you who you are today?

I grew up in a predominantly white area. I was chubby and Chinese. I've dealt with bullies and racism my entire life.. to make things shorter.. I've overcome how I've been treated. I've lost a lot of weight. I am now coming into my own skin, only at 37.. when it seems the world is falling apart. Its not a fantastic story, but its my story.


What is the life lesson that you learned from it that you could pass on to others?

Learning how to love myself when no one else did. We are all beautiful, all special and all needed and loved by someone. As lonely as life can be, we aren't alone.





Seeing the beauty within. Looking back at all you've accomplished and being able to face the next day with your chin held high. Love radiates from within.. and it heals the people around us, when we nurture it.




What words of wisdom, based on your personal experience, would you like to share with others who struggle to see their own self worth?


Your battles are what make you, you. Don't ever sell yourself short. We all handle things differently.. and we all see things differently. Every day is worth the struggle.


Why are beautiful photos important for you right now?


After a lifetime of being told I will never be what anyone wants unless I change.. I am finally able to accept me for me. I am who I am. I am proud of me.




If you meet this beautiful woman, Lisa is one of the most down-to-earth person you will ever get to know. She is the kind of person who is soft spoken and kind and when she smiles she radiates joy.


"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. BE KIND." -unknown



  • Gigi Kraus
"Sharing your strengths and weaknesses, experiences and love will set you free, it will set others free. Those people will also begin the healing process, and no longer live in bondage and addiction - they in turn, will do the same for others, and so on. Love will always defeat pain and fear. Love is the ultimate power. Love will set you free and love will set others free."


The Empower Yourself Campaign is a special project by Gigi Kraus Photography. Every single woman has a unique story to tell, and as a portrait photographer, my mission to help them tell that story through empowering women and creating powerful portraits showcasing their true essence while reminding them how strong, beautiful, and extraordinary they really are. So many times, we put everyone else in front of ourselves, but it is time to Empower Yourself and treat yourself to some amazing, life-transforming portrait experience that will absolutely change the way you see yourself!


MELISSA'S STORY


I grew up on a large cattle ranch in the country with no neighbors. My mother and father were young and were incredibly abusive towards each other. They were addicted and in bondage to substance abuse and on more days than not, I watched them try to kill each other. They said and did unspeakable things that left me living in constant fear and I would have night terrors every night that are worse than any horror movie I’ve seen.

When I was older, my two siblings were born one after the other. During their toddler years, we were left alone, or left at drug houses, sometimes separated for days at a time. We lived in constant fear. Many times, we were left without food, electricity or phone service.

Growing up this way in my pre teen years turned me into a insecure, confused person learning survival skills that no young person should be forced into learning.

After I left California to go to college at 17 I returned home only to land myself into trouble and receive a felony charge. I saw no way out, I was severely depressed and felt ashamed. My best friend and I joined the US Army together.


I traveled in the US and other countries as well as one deployment in Iraq. I returned home a person that would never quite be the same again. I finished my 8 year commitment to the Army in the Reserves. I met a man towards the end of my enlistment and became pregnant with my son. The father of my son became physically abusive during my pregnancy and until my son was 10 months old. Some homeless people watched him abuse me in a parking lot and called the police. I pressed charges that day, and was never abused again.

My parents were still continuing to be abusive towards each other and live in bondage to substance abuse. One day my parents were fighting while extremely intoxicated and my father was in a car accident that broke his neck, almost died on scene, but left him partially paralyzed. Within the same week my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a horrific dark time in my life.

It was at this time that I found a program at a church called “Celebrate Recovery”. I became involved in all it had to offer. I went thru the 12 step program. I evaluated my childhood in detail as well as my adult life. I made lists of things that were done to me, people that did them to me, what I did to people, etc. It was not an easy thing to do, but it began my journey to be set free from bondage of years of pain.

The next time I dated a man, would be 5 years later. I changed everything about the way I dated. I completely gave up my addictions. Years of disfunction and addiction had left me completely distorted on how I thought a relationship looked and my actions in a relationship. It is by Gods grace, I was paired with a man who completely respected me for everything I needed for myself and for my son. We were married after two years of dating. We had a baby girl in our second year of marriage. This man was and is a beautiful miracle that I am thankful for, every day.

My family life today is free from bondage, healthy and full of pure love. Something I have never known before. I don’t live in constant fear. My children don’t live in fear. We are not constantly leaving and moving around trying to find a safe place to live. My kids have food and electricity, they don’t dig thru the trash to find something to eat, or pray for someone to come home because there’s no electricity. They haven’t watched the ambulance come take me away because I almost OD' or watched a police man wrestle me down to the ground and take me away to jail. I have taken the steps to break the chains of bondage of pain. It can be done.

I spent quality time evaluating my painful past thru God's grace and began my healing process. I became involved in volunteering for many organizations helping others. I have shared my story and I have heard other's stories. I have laughed and shared grief with many people. What I found is that I wasn't a worthless, useless piece of unwanted trash. I know now I'm actually incredibly valued and others need me. I need them. I love telling people how valued they are to me and to others.

Sharing your strengths and weaknesses, experiences and love will set you free, it will set others free. Those people will also begin the healing process, and no longer live in bondage and addiction - they in turn, will do the same for others, and so on. Love will always defeat pain and fear. Love is the ultimate power. Love will set you free and love will set others free.


SELF-LOVE means

Knowing that you are capable of being successful at anything you want to do no matter what any outside influence or life tragedy tries to tell you!


What words of wisdom, based on your personal experience, would you like to share with others who struggle to see their own self worth?

That if they have a goal, they need to pursue it and find a person with a like mind to be their accountability partner, that will encourage them and that will love them thru any life circumstance unconditionally. -Melissa

  • Gigi Kraus



I'll just share and save this post right here. Maybe one day Marcus and Stephen will come across to this special, heartfelt letter from their amazing mom.




Dear boys,

I am so happy and proud to be your mom. Both of you have such amazing hearts and personalities. I know you both will one day grow to be strong, kind, successful men. I know one day you will grow to be men like your dad.

I want you both to know that I will always be proud of you. I will always be here to help and guide you in any way you may need. I want you both to be happy, to never settle for less than you deserve, and most and foremost always remember you are loved.


Love Always,

MOM


Stephen,


Marcus, 14

© COPYRIGHT 2020 GIGI KRAUS PHOTOGRAPHY