I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman: Twenty-Year-Old Ana Gotmer


Professional photographers Dawn Sanborn and Tracey McGuire are moved to help women see their true beauty through the power of photography and asked RochesterWomen magazine to partner with them. We transformed the Extraordinary RochesterWomenAward into the I Am A BeautifulRochesterWoman program. Instead of featuring all six winners on the cover of the January/February issue, we are featuring one or more in each issue of RochesterWomen magazine throughout 2016. We hope as we show women how beautiful they truly are that you are inspired to see your own beauty.


Nominations for the I Am A BeautifulRochesterWoman were due October 2015. The organizers gathered around a table and read 20 nominations. Half of the nominations were self-nominations, and the other half were nominated by friends and family who see beauty in other women who don’t see it in themselves. 

 In November 2015, Dawn Sanborn and Tracey McGuire had the pleasure of taking Ana Gotmer out for what she thought was for her birthday lunch at Casablanca to tell her that she had been selected to be our first I Am A BeautifulRochesterWoman winner. Ana’s positive attitude about who she is and what she will do in her nomination essay titled “Beauty” is inspirational to women of all ages. Ana says about being selected for I Am A BeautifulRochesterWoman, “I felt really great, not for me (maybe a little bit for me), but for the fact that this could be my chance to inspire so many people.” Her advice to other women is, “Even if you have to look in a mirror, it helps to pick out at least one thing you love about yourself.”

By Ana Gotmer

I did not feel beautiful when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago.
I did not feel beautiful when I was diagnosed with severe depression shortly after.
I did not feel beautiful when I realized that most of the people closest to my heart were nothing but toxic.
I did not feel beautiful when I gave into everything everyone ever said about me.
I did not feel beautiful when my father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s two short years ago.
I did not feel beautiful when I went through all of the consequences of depression.
But now I am starting to realize…life should never be about the “(I) did nots” but the “(I) am” or “(I) will.” 
I will become myself again.
I am beautiful because my depression cannot define me.
I will not let people choose my fate for me.

My name is Anastasiya Gotmer. I was adopted from Russia by two of the most wonderful people I know. I am 20 years old and an aspiring photographer. I am currently a student at the New York Institute of Photography, a part-time receptionist (at Intrigue Hair Studio), and a full-time fur baby mom to a beautiful German Shepherd Husky mix who gives me life each and every single day. I studied photography under Dawn Sanborn, photographer and writer for Rochester Women magazine. She has kept me under her wing ever since.

My favorite quote is, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I have a wonderful boyfriend who takes care of me and is extremely patient even though he lives two states away (in Michigan).

 Loving yourself is not easy. I have struggled to gain confidence for over six years now. I cannot leave the house without at least putting makeup on first, afraid I will be ridiculed. Just this once, I would love to love myself. I would love to finally become who I remember being years ago.


Ana’s parents, Alfred and Candis Gotmer, her best friend and meter-plugger (during the makeover), Alysha Langfod, and additional friends and sponsors all came together for Ana’s reveal party at Forager Brewery. Laughter, tears and supportive words were offered as the guests recognized Ana’s sense of humor, smile and possibilities for a future in front of the camera in addition to her passion for being behind the camera.  

 Ana says, “I want to thank my parents. I got bullied a lot when I was younger, and they helped me see that everyone has scars, blemishes, stretch marks or wrinkles. It’s up to you how you see yourself, don’t let anyone ever change who you are.”


Thanks to our generous sponsors for making Ana Gotmer feel beautiful.

Gold Sponsors:
Casablanca Creative Cuisine & Wine, Dawn Sanborn Photography, Tracey McGuire Photography, Katie M. Kirckof, Urban Sanctuary, KAAL ABC 6 News, KROC 106.9, Le Jardin Floral, Garden of Massage, Custom Alarm, Blades to Ballet, Empowered Wellness, Herring Art & Frame, Rochester Art Center, Rochester Family Eye Clinic, Rochester Tennis Connection

Bronze Sponsors:
Camy Couture, Crossings at Crnegie, Kokoon, Premier Banks, Winona Radio. 

A special thank you to Elizabeth Harris, our summer 2015 intern, who helped secure sponsors for the I Am A Beautiful Rochester Woman.