Perfection is boring. Bravery is beautiful.

Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Beautiful.

This piece is part of my weekly newsletter series powered by SWAAYSubscribe for more.

As entrepreneurs, we are all obsessed with perfection. We want to look like we have it all: like we are the best bosses, have the best teams, the best future visions and the most incredible business plans that will change the world. The reason? Vulnerability equals weakness, failure and even shame.

Just one quick scroll through any social media platform will further reinforce the unrealistic standards women are being challenged to live up to. How many of us actually show the reality behind our perfectly filtered smiles?

These past two weeks SWAAY has challenged the very notion of perfection by spotlighting brave, beautiful women who have owned themselves wholly — through the good, the bad and the ugly, and are stronger for it. Owning your pitfalls is a powerful tool, because once the worst becomes part of your story, no one can use it against you.

Although recovering from drug addiction, lingerie modeling, and launching a new business in the cannabis industry may seem like topics to stray away from, these women boldly spoke out about how their pasts were their tickets to success.

Cheri Garcia is a blonde and bubbly former cheerleader who has dedicated her life to helping reform inmates through her venture. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago she was battling a severe meth addiction that resulted in multiple jail sentences and could have killed her. “I believe that I’ve taken the biggest risks of my life by always literally ‘risking my life,’” Garcia told SWAAY. “The struggles with entrepreneurship seem minor compared to the life I was living.”

Another inspiring SWAAY cover girl is Alejandra Campoverdi, a former Maxim model, who just ran for Congress in California’s 34th District. Despite not being elected to the seat, Campoverdi ran an empowering campaign in which she openly discussed her background. “For me it’s very important to own all parts of myself and all parts of my experiences,” Campoverdi told SWAAY. “That’s why in my campaign for Congress I’ve been so honest and vulnerable about things other people might feel embarrassed to share. It’s a strength. It’s not something to hide from.”

Then, of course, there’s the stunning beauty queen, Jessica VerSteeg, who I competed alongside in the Miss US pageant. Although her looks and lifestyle connote an All-American image of perfection, VerSteeg exclusively spoke to SWAAY about the very real, very traumatic experience of losing her NFL player boyfriend to CTE and eventual drug addiction. “In the end I decided life isn’t about what has happened to you it’s about what you can do to change it and help others,” said VerSteeg. “I decided if I’m going to keep going, the only way was to tell the truth about what really happened to help people in a positive way.”

It’s easy to forget that for every picture perfect cover girl there is a back story. For every multimillion dollar business, there is struggle, and for every achievement there are multiple failures. Those women who are strong enough to share these truths embolden us all.

Perfection is boring. Bravery is beautiful.

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