Photography by Chris Thorn
Occupation: Entrepreneur (co-founder of Hartz Digital)
Describe yourself in under 100 words:
I’m an entrepreneurial woman who is guided by strong values and a love of connecting with others. I’m fortunate to have found a career path that enables me to work with inspiring business leaders around the world, focusing largely on helping them articulate and share their unique messages online.
Outside of work, I enjoy bringing people together, practicing yoga, being outdoors, traveling, spending quality time with friends and family, and volunteering my time to help further causes I believe in.
Describe your RAW shoot in one word:
What surprised you most about the experience?
How comfortable I was. I think that largely had to do with the incredible team and ambiance at the shoot, but also with knowing I was part of a larger group of women who have shown up fresh-faced and vulnerable in order to support a cause — and message — I wholeheartedly believe in.
What is your definition of ‘beautiful’?
To me, beauty is something you feel rather than see: it’s a sparkle in the eye, or warmth that radiates from a genuine smile, regardless of the depth of that person’s crow’s feet or how straight their teeth are. True beauty is kindness and love that come across in physical expression, which is timeless and universally accessible.
Have you ever struggled with a lack of self-confidence? If so please describe this time and share any advice you may have for other girls going through the same thing.
Absolutely. I struggled with confidence as a child, teen, and in my early 20s. I still struggle with confidence when faced with new challenges or vulnerable situations. Ultimately, I think confidence is something that’s earned through experience, whether through real world encounters or deep (often uncomfortable) inner work. Once you successfully navigate a new scenario, you earn proof that you can trust yourself in similar situations in the future.
As for confidence derived from physical appearance, I think everyone’s journey to self acceptance is different. I didn’t learn to appreciate my physical body until I was sick, weak, and exhausted as a result of an eating disorder that had started subtly in my late teens and peaked when I was 20. A major turning point in my healing was when my dad told me that the saddest part to him wasn’t that I looked frail and unhealthy, but rather that I’d lost my most attractive attribute: my mind. He pointed out that I’d lost my radiance, zest for life, sense of humour, and creativity. Until he’d articulated that, I hadn’t realized how true it was. Our minds, personalities, quirky characteristics and the way we experience the ups and downs of life are the timeless elements that make up real beauty. And our health (and the appreciation of our health as a tool) is the gateway to that beauty.
My advice to anyone struggling with outward image is to turn your focus inward and on the timeless, and use your body as a tool to experience joy, authentic connection with others, and to explore the vast possibilities of your mind and heart… that’s where life’s real beauty lies.
What insecurities (if any) have you struggled with?
Oh, the list is long! As a young teen I struggled with acne and it wasn’t until I was allowed to wear makeup that I stopped feeling ashamed to show up at school. I was also self conscious of my crooked teeth (so I didn’t smile in photos), the way my ears stuck out (so I’d always wear my hair down), and my flat chest (so I wouldn’t be caught anywhere without a padded bra). Now I’ve learned to embrace those “flaws” and see them instead as features that make me uniquely me, and I don’t think there is any greater luxury than being able to confidently explore the full range of who you are.
Recounting those past insecurities reminds me how exhausting those self-critical years were. I deeply feel for anyone going through similar thought patterns and would love to offer them tools to break free of those beliefs, but I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all formula. For me it was yoga, lots of journaling, time with family, and walks in nature that helped me tap into a place where beauty is timeless — where it’s about energy and state of mind rather than what can be touched or seen. But those are the activities that feed my soul, and wouldn’t work for everyone. My advice is just to start exploring the things that put you in a peaceful, grateful and loving state of mind, and do those things as much as possible.
When do you feel most beautiful?
Hands down, after a yoga class! The sweatier the better.
What part of aging scares you the most?
I’ve made peace with the fact that physical aging is inevitable, but like any woman I hope to age gracefully. It’s the thought of losing energy, stamina, physical strength and mental sharpness that really scares me, as well as falling behind on the times and being unable to fully connect with younger, more tech-savvy generations (particularly if I have a family).
What part of aging is the most exciting?
The wisdom that comes with it! I wouldn’t turn back a day in my life; each day teaches me more about myself, the people I love, and the fascinating world around me.
On average how much do you spend each month on cosmetic items such as make-up, hair cuts/colouring, waxing, clothing, nails, tanning, creams etc.
I’d say $200-$300, mostly due to hair and clothes (boots, coats and yoga gear can really add up).
Have you ever had cosmetic surgery or treatments? Why or why not?
No. I haven’t felt the need to. For a time I was curious about breast implants, but since then I’ve learned to love my breasts as they are. There were also a couple of incredible men who helped me come to that place, and for that I’ll be forever grateful to them. (Side note, ladies: if a man doesn’t appreciate your natural beauty, move on and find someone who makes you feel radiant being your most authentic and raw self. Your confidence in the relationship will be genuine because you’ll know he loves you for you — and no one should settle for anything less than that.)
Let’s talk Photoshop. What are your thoughts on this cultural phenomenon? Yay or nay? Or is there a place for it sometimes?
I studied photojournalism where Photoshop was part of our curriculum, but we also learned ethics about using it for storytelling (ex., cropping is OK, adjusting contrasts and shadows is OK, but removing or adding elements is not). But that was for news writing and reporting.
I actually love playing with Photoshop, and if I had a zit on my wedding day, I’d be so happy knowing it could be edited out. I think Photoshop has a place in media for sure, including in print and online editorials (whether for architecture and design, automotive, or fashion), but what’s missing is our education around it. It’s always refreshing when you can see photos of celebrities before and after Photoshop, or look through the RAW Beauty archives, as it drives home that most people really aren’t flawless.
How do we ensure that the next generation of girls grows up with confidence and a strong sense of self when they receive so many messages telling them that they are not enough?
By being fantastic big “sisters” to younger generations. By having vulnerable conservations. By helping them recognize their own inner beauty. By taking off our own masks and letting them see that every woman is raw underneath, because from that place, we are all relatable and imperfect, and that is truly lovely.
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