She had seen too much.

Caitlin Leppo-Reed, a junior at Central York High School, got tired of her classmates starving themselves to be thin and hearing young people struggle with the pressure to be beautiful.

"It really hit me when my 5-year-old sister started putting on makeup and said it would make her look even prettier. She was just playing, but it really bugged me. She's already pretty," Leppo-Reed said.

That's why she and 26 other high school students started the Perfectly Imperfect Project, an organization dedicated to promoting the importance of inner beauty.

They've designated no-makeup days, when students are encouraged to go to school without wearing makeup and take selfies of their plain, beautiful faces. They've created walls of Post-it notes where students shared a few words about what was making them happy. They've held assemblies in which speakers encouraged the audience toward a healthy body image and overall wellness.

It's even a cause Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, can support. The pageant winner was on hand Thursday to speak about diversity and women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Be yourself," she said.

That's a message Leppo-Reed hopes PIP is also spreading.


"I think it's necessary at every high school for people to know they are perfect just the way they are," she said.

The group intends to extend the program to the middle school next year and also grow its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) membership.

"We don't discriminate in PIP. We try to just see the real person and accept others the way they are," Leppo-Reed said.

— Reach Candy Woodall at