What if the person who made you feel the MOST disempowered, actually handed you MORE power?
First of all, thanks so much for being one of my first-ever email subscribers. This is my first go-around, and the setup was pretty frustrating (thank you to my amazing friend Ixchel for all the help, and for being one of the most web-savvy people I know)! At the moment I have nothing to sell or pitch you. I want to share a story with you. Today I did makeup and hair at The Hive House Studio in North St. Paul, Minnesota (a place that has become like a second home) with photographer and beloved friend Madelin Zaycheck of The Hawk and Sparrow. A short while after preparing our client and packing up my makeup kit, I stepped into the kitchen to see that the two of them began their session on the all-season porch immediately in front of me. I watched Madelin with her camera, snapping photos and speaking loving words over our nervous client, operating in her areas of genius. She carries a confidence and a peace when she is working that stopped me in my tracks, and I had to take a picture of her. I felt a swell of love for her, our connection, this space and the life that somehow exists for me now, through a series of things I could never have planned. I started as an alternative model in the early 2000's which is where my journey as a makeup artist began. I really didn't have lifelong aspirations or an ability to think ahead about where it would take me. I didn't expect to get into the most horrifying relationship of my life, with someone who worked in my industry. To avoid crossing paths with him, I started focusing on bridal makeup... and weddings led to this increasingly-popular genre known as boudoir photography. It was in these two environments that I realized my passion wasn't for makeup. It was for people who wear makeup. They gave me hope that I could be trusted, respected and thrive doing something I enjoy. They showed me through their humanness that I didn't have to be perfect, "healed" or completely love myself all the time (like I had been told I had to be by the support and recovery methods I had sought out at the time) in order to receive love. The expressions of their fears and insecurities are what showed me my true purpose... interrupting the hateful conversations that women and those negatively impacted by misogyny, have with ourselves. The ones that are so ingrained in us that we don't even hesitate to say them out loud or notice how abusive they are. My true purpose is helping us to get to the truth about ourselves. I spent years reciting hateful things I had been taught to believe about myself, and I could almost never see it. But I could see when others would do it. It made me angry at whoever taught them those things and it broke my heart that they had come to believe it, when it was so plain to see that they were amazing people. I made an effort to challenge these statements when others spoke them, and also to begin surrounding myself with others who would challenge me to have a more loving relationship with myself. That's how I came to know Madelin and other people like her. It's how I came to spend dozens of collective hours meeting and working with clients who were getting radically vulnerable to do boudoir sessions in that very space. I thought today about the trauma and tragedy that led me out of my old life. It felt like soul death. I lost everything. It seemed that the only thing I had left was the horrible messages that my abusive partner constantly told me until I eventually believed them to be true. I constantly repeated them to myself and spoke them out loud. I tried to hide them, tried to fix them, and relentlessly apologized for them. I felt weak. I felt broken. I felt stupid. I thought it was my fault. And my entire existence until recently was consumed with trying to fix or heal or un-fuck myself so that I could be strong, normal, smart, safe, and good enough. Now, I look back at that Angela from 2012, and to be honest, I admire her more than anyone. I don't know how she did it. What she endured, survived, fought through and overcame does not seem possible me now. She was not deficient in any way. She was none of those awful things she thought she was. I admire her, I am astonished by her, and to be honest I don't think I could do now what she did back then. She did it all for the me who exists now. Maybe she wasn't aware enough to see goodness in herself. But she could see it in other women. She could see when they were being mistreated, and when they were living with trauma and self-hatred that they had come to think was normal. She could see the ways they apologized for their own existence, the ways they were taught to think of others instead of themselves, the mean shit they would say about their faces and bodies and thoughts and ideas. And she was not going to let them leave that makeup chair believing those lies without some serious, loving resistance. My life's purpose came out of the worst trauma of my entire life. Because of it I can see what other people can't. I can understand people in a way I never would have otherwise. I love and know myself in a way I never did before. I was never weak, I was never broken, I was not stupid. Someone saw my power, wanted to punish me for having it, and tried to convince me that he took it from me. But he didn't take power from me. I had it the whole time. In fact, I have more power now than I ever had. This is my message to you this week. The power you are trying to take back, has never, ever left you. It is always with you. It IS you. And if you let it -- instead of believing you have to hide it, apologize for it, or fix it -- it will take you to places you did not think you could ever go. This journey that I never intended to take, gave me experience, authority and power to live a purpose that I know is meaningful and makes real change. My purpose isn't doing makeup. My passion is speaking truth, love and power into the lives of people who wear makeup. And I do it surrounded by the most loving, creative, kind, supportive, genuine and inspiring women I now call my professional circle, my clients, my friends and my support system. I want that for you. I want you to Be Truthful, Be Visible and Be Powerful. In fact, I know you already are. We all have been, this whole time.
Be Truthful, Be Visible, Be Powerful,
P.S. I offer personal makeup lessons via Zoom, and offer social media management services and copywriting for feminist entrepreneurs. Interested?
Can you do me a favor sometime this week? If this email resonated with you, could you send me an email letting me know, share a screen shot on social media and tag me, or encourage someone to subscribe to my emails who might benefit from them? In an effort to use social media consciously and minimize the uncompensated emotional labor that women are expected to perform, my goal is to use a weekly email as my primary source of providing inspiration, information and updates to those who want to receive them. I deeply appreciate your support.