Group celebrates individuals by sharing stories written on skin

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Everyone has a specific experience that has shaped their life story.

Dear World shares those stories through the art of photography.

The group visited Missouri State Tuesday and Wednesday to take pictures of whoever wanted to share their story.

“We are here at Missouri State because the campus wanted a way to celebrate the individuals on campus. So we’re granting them a safe space where they can share their stories, and it’s essentially a story only they can tell. They choose one line of that story, they write it on their body, and we take their portrait,” says Christopher Cruz, the Head Photographer for Dear World.

They used a marker that came off easy with a wet wipe to write the stories on people.

Students, faculty, and community members who heard about the booth had their pictures taken.

Kennedy Brown wrote, “More than a number” on her arms to highlight her history with an eating disorder.

Kennedy Brown, Courtesy: Dear World

“So I’ve had an eating disorder since about freshman year of high school, and it’s something that I’m working hard to get over. Looking at the scale used to be a huge part of my life, but I’ve gotten over that and realized how much more I am than that number on the scale,” says Brown, a sophomore at Missouri State.

Tyler Miller wrote a Bible verse that has a special meaning to him.

Tyler Miller, Courtesy: Dear World

“It stands for Matthew 28:18-20, it’s when Jesus gave his last words to his disciples before he left,” says Miller. The message is to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Tracey Wolff, a pastor at a local United Methodist Church, wrote “Called to preach,” a message that changed the course of her life.

Tracey Wolff, Courtesy: Dear World

“Because it was a big journey for me to realize that it was my calling. I grew up in churches where women weren’t allowed to preach. It changed my life. It became my vocation, and along the way like I said, I realized that’s been my calling for a long time,” says Wolff.

For Damien Richardson, the opportunity was to share a simple message “Instead of spreading love, we’re spreading animosity.”

Damien Richardson, Courtesy: Dear World

“It’s a quote from the Blacked Eyed Peas song “Where is the Love,” and I think that song has a good message in general,” says Richardson, a junior at MSU.

Cruz says the group has been doing campus and business tours for about ten years, and the stories that make him emotional the most are cancer-related.

“For me, the cancer stories always hit me the hardest; it’s been something that’s affected my family the most. Just last week, I did a story where the lady wrote ‘cancer does not determine my life’ across her chest bare-chested,” says Cruz.

Before our crews left around noon Wednesday, they had about 90 people share their stories; the event lasts until 6 p.m.

For more on Dear World, click here.

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