Raw Beauty

A graphic of the words Raw Beauty is Here.

 

 

 

This Valentines Day while the world is focused on loving others, we wanted our clients to sit down and focus on themselves. The goal was to promote being kind to yourself, radiating self love and acceptance. We asked each one of our stylists to nominate a client that has impacted their life. A client with a story, not just a story of victory but a story of pain, loss and vulnerability.

We sat 9 Victoria women down and asked them what it means to be a woman. We then put them in front of a camera and asked them to be their most vulnerable, most raw version of themselves. Our beauty campaign - self love is the only message we are seeking to spread this holiday season. Unlike other businesses, we are not pushing sales or promotions - we are pushing awareness of self and loving the woman that you have become and spend time with her.

From single moms, cancer survivors, retired health care workers, women of abuse and trauma, a non binary human simply at birth a female, to the women who have struggled and known loss and have risen up, found joy, happiness, inspiration, strength, purpose.

These are our clients, the women of Victoria.

 

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
It means understanding the world with a unique lens. It’s the nicest way I could say it, sometimes a life sentence or a great delusion. Being a woman in today's world isn't so different from what it was 20-30-40yrs ago. Especially as a WOC (woman of color).

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Confident. Streetsmart. Careful. Sincere. Secure. 

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
Rihanna or Myself on a good day 

How do you handle insecurity?
It’s hard to find one universal method. Personally, I don’t handle it as much as I ignore it. I also think doing things that make you feel good, will make you look good. A simple skin routine in the morning does it for me.

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. 
Growing up, surrounded by judgemental figures, there is nothing I haven’t heard. From the way my hair was styled, to the couple of calories that I gained. I had to trust myself and believe that only I knew what was best for me. Whether it was a hearty meal or binging a series. Anything that made me happy is something I never regretted doing. 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
There are so many emotions on this roller coaster ride. Don’t let anyone, especially men, make you doubt yourself. If anything be doubtful of your surroundings, and what they do to you. 

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
I’ve never failed as a woman. I don’t believe failure is gendered. I think we can fail as human beings. How I overcome that, is to reflect on the past and to learn from it.

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
“Know yourself to improve yourself” -Auguste Comte

I really feel this quote on a personal level. It reminds me that the best tool for growth is looking back at myself and what I could have done differently at times. Learning from that, is how I grow. 

What does self care look like to you?
Anything that makes me feel good! whether it’s a skin routine, nail salon or deep cleaning my house.

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
Misogyny… and how work sucks the life out of you.

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?Understanding my worth. I used to live a life ignoring it, while trying to satisfy it by peoples validation. It only takes a couple of years into your twenties to understand, you need to be the sailor of your own boat.

What lessons can you still learn?
There is so much more for me to learn! I still need a lot more life experiences. At this point, life is all about rinse and repeat.

 What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
I think a lot falls on a woman in today's world. As much as we want to be treated as equal, that doesn’t always happen. We are portrayed to be the “Wonder Woman” of the family. We are the Caretakers, Caregivers, Shoppers, House cleaners, Taxi drivers, Appointment makers, Chef, teacher, the organizer…etc….

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Hardworking, Caring, Courageous, thoughtful, Loving.

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
If I were to close my eyes I would like to  see an extremely fit, funny, secure, strong, confident, adventurous, beautiful woman.

How do you handle insecurity?
Insecurity sometimes takes over me but then I need to pull up my big girl panties and turn that around and face it head on. It takes a lot of mental Self talk.

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. 
Throughout my life I was told that I could never achieve my dreams and goals because I was a girl. As hard as that was for me to hear and face, I took it upon myself to challenge that and prove them wrong. Mostly everything I have done in my life has been a challenge for me. The biggest challenge was becoming a Volunteer Firefighter. Because I was small and a girl - I wasn’t taken seriously and I was looked down upon by some of my peers. It took a lot of work, training, commitment, confidence, strength to do it. I was a FireFighter/instructor/Pump Operator for 12 years. I had to resign because of my injury.

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can't achieve your goals. Take it upon yourself to prove them wrong. Believe me you will become a better person for it. Strong, Confident and Admired.

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
Failing to me is not being a man or woman. How I see it,  everyone fails at some point in their life. We learn from our mistakes and we become better people for it. God knows I failed at a lot of things in life but I am who I am today because of it.

What does self care look like to you?
Self care for me is trying to have a clear mind, trying to do something good for yourself everyday. I get my hair and nails done to try to make me feel better about myself, try to make me feel beautiful.  I workout to try to look in the mirror to love what I see.

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
How Hard life really is.

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?Becoming a mother to 4 precious beautiful children. Raising them to be great people in society, respectful and hardworking. I think I have done a good job so far.

What lessons can you still learn?
There are too many lessons to learn. You never stop learning in life. Everyday is a learning experience. My goal is to learn something new each and every day.

 

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
I think that being a woman in today’s world means being many things. Moms, teachers, engineers, athletes, doctors....you name it, we can do it all. Resilient, powerful, beautiful, inspiring, strong, cautious yet vulnerable, compassionate and so much more. We realize the power we hold and if we haven’t realized it, there’s many women to lift us up & help us accept ourselves & the love, respect and care we deserve. 

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Determined, hilarious/goofy, kind, gregarious, beautiful. 

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
My Mama. All my life she’s been the go getting, you can do anything you put your mind & determination into, women are amazing kind of gal. She’s never let anything or anyone stand in her way, and not by being aggressive or mean but by speaking her truth & honouring herself & values. She’s raised three kids (now all adults, one with their own new baby!) as a single mom & all while attending the Uof S & graduating in the top of her class with a Masters in politics & international relations. She’s had her struggles (everyone does) & has come out on top every time.  She started affordable programming when there wasn’t any available, she’s been a big kahuna boss babe & she’s travelled the world. She’s beautiful, powerful, intelligent and just all things amazing. 

How do you handle insecurity?
Depends on the day & what I am feeling insecure about. Connecting back to my breath & tuning into my body are usually my first go tos. I tell myself “you are not your thoughts.” Also reaching out to a friend or trusted family member helps sometimes too. Some days it’s hard to hype yourself up. My biggest areas that insecurity seems to go are: self doubt & questioning my path/value/worth. Those feelings used to rule my life, they were a constant. Insecurity seemed to be my middle name. I am grateful that I’ve had amazing mentors and women in my life that have helped and guide me to healthier ways of dealing with insecurities. Connection & support!!! 

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. 
I grew up in Saskatoon, SK. I’ve got two awesome & loving (even though they beat the crap out of me as a kid, they try now but I’m too strong) older brothers. Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors, in sports, and with family. Sports & movement have been a huge part of my life always. If I’m not active, look out. And I am thankful that my parents recognized I needed movement. My career choice is all about movement & I couldn’t be happier. My dad's side of the family had (still has) a farm back home in SK. I spent SO MUCH time there, I begged my Dad to take me almost every weekend and when I could drive myself out there, I still begged my dad ;). I dreamt of someday maybe having my own or them being a huge part of my life. When I lost my dad just over 5 years ago, I thought that was it, how do I live? How do I continue? How do I love? Just how? But thankfully I had been volunteering at the Victoria Therapeutic Riding Assc. For about 3 months prior to his passing & have continued volunteering there for over 5 years. 

Horses were my connection to him, and my way back to life. I am currently in the process of becoming certified as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor & had I not spent as much time with horses & my dad as a child/adolescent/young adult I doubt I would be living out my dream. 

I’ve studied at the U of S & UVIC (anthropology), worked with people with disabilities & neurodiverse individuals for 10 years, been a server & been jobless. 

My dad's death has hugely impacted who I am and where I am in this moment/day. It’s taught me so many beautiful, hard & weird lessons. It’s made me more vulnerable, compassionate, & powerful. It’s made me realize the beauty in the small everyday mundane things like never before. I was lucky to have an amazing, loving and supportive Dad. He set the bar super high. 

My parents, friends & family have all impacted the woman I am today. Every day, I feel, has the power to change & impact who we are without changing our truths. 

 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
That’s pressure right there! To my younger loves, all I can say is:

“You are strong, you are beautiful, you are resilient, you are not alone, you can do this.” 

There’s so much these days that can impact how we feel about ourselves & mostly (from what I see/hear) it can be negative. But there’s this beautiful shift happening. Be true to yourself & don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted someone, I guess is my best advice. And if you don’t know who you are yet, that’s okay too. That’s the beauty of life, figuring it out & having experiences. 

 

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
I fail all the time & I’m okay with that. From failure comes learning & experience. But if I have to pinpoint one recently or that had a big impact...I tried to go back to University a short few months after losing my rock aka my Dad & failed horribly. I found out my dad passed when I was in the library. I couldn’t even look at it when I went back. I made it the first maybe 2-3 weeks then boom. It all fell apart. I couldn’t get on a bus, I couldn’t read a page & retain anything, I couldn’t reach out or admit that I was struggling. So I silently failed. How did I overcome it? It took a good amount of time to look at that as something positive or something to learn from. I beat myself up about it for months, could’ve been a year, I don’t know. That failure stuck with me & made me fear trying new things, but there was a shift after I reached out & asked for support. Opening up & talking about it really helped. It made me realize I hadn’t done anything wrong & that I wasn’t alone. I think we’re afraid to speak of our failures but once we do we allow space for learning, support & just a chance to connect. 

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy. “Help,” said the horse. 

-Charlie Mackesy 

What does self care look like to you?
Self care to me can depend on the day or where I am at feelings wise. For me it looks like having a hot bath, taking time in nature or with the horses, opening up & talking about how or what I am feeling with my husband or best friend. Or maybe just taking some time to be by myself if I haven’t had it for a while. 

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
The amount of shit that I put up with as a younger teen/ woman. I look back on experiences or situations I was in and I wish I could go back & tell myself “girl you have so much more power here than you think.”

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of the changes I’ve made about how I feel towards myself & my inner voice towards me. I had an extremely negative & unhealthy self view. But can positively say that even though it is still a working process I love myself & am proud of who I am.  The relationship we have with ourselves (to me) is one of the most important because if we can’t love ourselves how do we give love & accept others. 

What lessons can you still learn?
I don’t know! That’s the best part. 

 

 

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
I see myself from a different generation and have a hard time finding my place in this question.

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Positive, energetic, present, grateful, compassionate.

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
A woman who takes herself seriously, who looks for the goodness in others and offers her very best. someone who is rooted in themselves and you can feel it and you want to be around them. someone who embodies a love for herself but also knows how to protect herself... someone who knows she’s incomplete and can be full of gratitude about that.  Someone who is authentic and accepts who she is.

How do you handle insecurity?
At my best I am able to state how vulnerable I feel and let that be okay otherwise I will; say or do stupid things. I find myself splitting in two - part of me running off in all directions and the rest of me numb or trying to catch up. I can be short, cool, and quick to anger and be defensive.

 

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. 
I became a head nurse at Toronto General Hospital at 22. Set up a subacute care nursing unit in cardiology. Loved every second of it. Married and moved to the west coast, messy divorce , raised 3 children on my own. Had a big surgery for a benign brain tumour. Coordinated Swift Street medical Clinic...looked after homeless populations, mental illness and addiction.....Wanted to make sure that medical, the illness, fit with living, the person. Thought I could make a difference - I learned that it was me who received all of the gifts....very very humbling.

Diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer two years ago - 2 big surgeries and chemo - doesn’t define me but makes me very grateful for each moment I have - life is messy.

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
At some point in your life, you stop dreaming about the life you might like to have, and accept the life you have..Need to develop a practice to mind yourself, to embrace yourself, to be curious about yourself....to have that solitude that embodies imagination and creativity. Love yourself enough to give yourself spaciousness to be yourself and the space to allow others to be as they are...look for yourself and the universe.

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
Failure is not a word I would use to describe my behaviour...I think at times in my life, I have slipped into a man’s pocket...made his happiness more important than my own...part of my culture, the message of the 50’s - please a man and you might get what you want. I have lots of regrets..I think there are times when I was scared to take the risks that I needed to.

I think that I am very fragile and messy and undetermined at times and I want to think about what it would mean to me - to really support and love those feelings in me. Most of the time, I do live in the ditch, things are not straight ahead, nor are they made of just one clear colour....those paradoxes we hold, all the shades of gray, the yes-no’s! I want to learn to support those parts of me that are confused and murky; the emptiness,  isolation and despair. Why is it we just support that straight ahead nature?...what is it I am supposed to “get”?.             

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
Love is the quality of attention we pay to things...attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

- John O’donohue

What does self care look like to you?
Self care has to do with looking after myself physically, spiritually, mindfully. I look after my body giving myself time.

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
What has surprised me the most is time and the way that you don’t get over things - loss and grief are always part of it...the past is part of the present moment; brokenheartedness is always there, you get to hold these things with awe, joy etc as a privilege in your life.

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?
I think one is accepting the fact that the most important things in my life are my intimate relationships, deep connection...for some reason, this embarrasses me.

What lessons can you still learn?
Look for awe . Don’t look for understanding - look to see what makes me feel alive, what touches me, infinite field of learning, graciousness, forgiveness, quality of mercy - no end to any of those things to understand the vastness, emptiness of my heart, appreciation and acceptance, the divine.

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
Being a woman in today's society means using our voice to empower those around us, support each other when we need it, and create a safe space for one another to be authentically ourselves.

It also means we must leave a legacy for future generations, inspiring young girls who look up to us as our younger selves once did to our own role models.

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Intense, empathic, dedicated, loving, hilarious.

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
I see a woman standing tall and speaking her truths—a woman who sets healthy boundaries and goes after what she wants in life. I see a woman who challenges the societal gender norms by breaking down barriers to pursue her dreams and change. An empowered and confident woman to me shows vulnerability and grace in how she lives her life.

How do you handle insecurity?
If I am honest, it is challenging. Self-love is one of the most significant factors. You cannot be so hard on yourself because there is only one you in this World, and that is something so unique and special that it deserves to be celebrated each day! Love yourself the same way you give love to others.

 

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. What was significant?
Genuinely, I am the woman I am today because of my family and friends I've been so fortunate enough to have in my life. I say that as a decorated Canadian Olympic athlete who has been blessed with their unconditional love and support while I pursue my dreams. Sure on my own, I have put in heaps of hard work, long hours, days, years to get to where I am. But it is their encouragement and love that helps me push that much harder, run that much faster, and believe just a little more, ultimately succeeding every time. The 21 teammates I play alongside every day are an extension of my family, and I cherish each moment I get to wear the maple leaf with them all. There is one person I credit a smidge more than others, though, the hostess with the most-est, my momma bear. She has always been such an incredibly hard-working, passionate individual who puts everything into her family. She has worked her way to the top throughout her career and is continuously pursuing her goals. I think the wonderful thing about growing up with such an excellent role model is that she has given me the courage and strength to pursue my own goals and reach even beyond my dreams. We are continually learning from each other, and I could not be more grateful for the powerful female role models I have in my life.

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
Be your most authentic self, and if you lose sight of that, think about what you would tell your best friend when she or he needs you the most. How would you encourage strength to rise within them? Wake up every day loving yourself and the gifts you've been blessed with, the ones you have worked hard to achieve and the ones you have yet to learn and grow in life, because honey, you are born to shine.

Tell us about a time that you 'failed' as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
Firstly, let's rephrase failing into opportunities for growth and learning. I do not have that many fingers and toes to count or even recall the times I have learned life lessons and grown from challenging experiences. Whether I've missed a tackle, lost a game, failed a test, lost my confidence or lost my way. What I do recall are the opportunities I've been given to better myself, the times I've picked myself back up, on my own or with the help of loved ones because I will never give up. No matter how hard things get, I continue to seek excellence within myself. Excellence is not always grand gestures or accomplishments either. Excellence is waking up and saying, I am going to put my best foot forward today, I will show up and put the work in because I am worthy of the goals, dreams and aspirations I want in life.

What is a quote that you live by, and why is it significant to you?
I don’t live by any specific quotes…

What does self-care look like to you?
Self-care focuses on your mind, body and soul and gives love to all parts of you that need healing, not just the superficial. I enjoy practicing meditation, journaling and believe it's important to be kind to yourself. Learn something new, take a nap, walk your dog and explore nature (one of my favourite things to do). To me, self-care is being able to give yourself what you need and be willing to know when you need to rest and unplug.

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
How now, more than ever, we as women need to support each other and accept how beautifully different we all are from each other. As I matured through life, I started to see the limitations society holds on women and that much work still needs to be done. This World can be a beautiful place, but we need to be better. It is essential to see more female role models in all workplace avenues, especially having women at the decision making tables. There needs to be a more visual representation of women in positions of power.

What change have you made in your life that you're most proud of?
Most recently, putting in the efforts of looking after my mental health. As an athlete, the apparent form of recovery is to look after my body. My physical self needs to be primed and ready to go for the vigorous and demanding training hours we put in each day both on and off the field to be successful on the World's biggest stages. The reality is that we also need to allow ourselves the ability to rest and recover mentally. To feel vulnerable and explore our emotions around pain, heartache, 'failure' if you will, and understand that these feelings are valid and normal. I wouldn't say it's a change, but I'd say I am invested more now than ever in my self growth and self-love.

What lessons can you still learn?
Life's lessons are never-ending, and I challenge myself every day to learn them all with an open heart, an open mind and the willingness to accept another perspective. Life is full of a million split decisions made every second of every day that changes the course of your life, and it is important to embrace all of it, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
I don’t feel that I can be general and speak for all women here.  But for me, being a woman in today's world is very interesting. I feel that I can reflect on history and say “Damn we have come far!”  and then I also feel that there has been too much of a shift and see an imbalance between the masculine and feminine.  As a woman I find myself embracing gentleness in today’s world with strong rooted feet. 

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Strong, Kind, Loving, Aware and Honest. 

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
Myself!

How do you handle insecurity?
I sit with it and ask myself where is this coming from? Usually by meditating or journaling and once I get a clear understanding of where the insecurity is rooted from, I set the intention to let it go and release it. 

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. What was significant?
This is a big question! I have had many experiences (positive and negative) in my life that have shaped who I am in this moment but a few stand out:  Being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 25 was life changing for me.  That is the experience that really started my spiritual journey and transformation.  The mental shock of being diagnosed with cancer and the physical strain treatment put on my body was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with.  Some of the darkest days of my life were sitting on my balcony at the time staring into the sky with no energy, no hair and very underweight asking the universe for answers; Becoming a mother to two amazing human beings has also transformed the woman I once was.  I find that society romanticizes the act of having children in a way.  I feel that words cannot even explain the role and commitment one takes on when they decide to bring another human being into this world.  To me, it has been the biggest and most humbling truth. As a mother, I am not just a mother.  I am a teacher, a guide, a role model, a protector, a safe space and so much more.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It is as hard as it is beautiful;  Marriage and divorce.  And one other committed relationship with a man who hid his addictions…. I feel like I could write a book on these relationships however without going into too much detail, they tested my mental and emotional strength beyond what I thought was capable.  I am grateful for every experience I have had because I have gained wisdom from them. I believe that one must experience darkness in order to know what the light is, sadness in order to know what joy is and so on.  It is how we grow. 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
To express and trust in your feelings first and foremost. With everything! From how you feel in certain clothes to how you feel hanging out with a certain person.  Your feelings will guide you; To not believe everything you see or hear.  Your life and path are unique to you.  To follow the masses, won’t lead you to where you are truly meant to be; and lastly, everyday give gratitude for the skin you are in.  It carries you through this life.

Tell us about a time that you 'failed' as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
I don’t think anyone can ever fail at anything because there is always a lesson and then wisdom you gain from the experience. I have many times ignored my intuition and learnt hard lessons. Mostly in relationships and placing trust in someone who was not trustworthy. 

What is a quote that you live by, and why is it significant to you?
 “Give love, allow yourself to receive love, be kind but take no shit”. This  statement is significant to me because there have been periods in my life where I have had a very hard protective shell from all of my difficult experiences.  I turned inward in a way that was hurting not only myself but my loved ones.  So this statement is a reminder to myself that I can be a woman of loving kindness with boundaries. 

What does self-care look like to you?
Self care to me is giving myself the time to take care of every aspect of my life.  Mind, body and soul.  Saying “No” has been a large part of my self care.

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
Honestly, I am surprised at how different I see the world and myself.  I am a completely different person and I live in a completely different world now.  My life has gone in an entirely different direction. 

What change have you made in your life that you're most proud of?
I let go of my 15 year career as a Dental Hygienist and my real estate to follow my passion in holistic medicine.  I am currently putting myself through school to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor. 

What lessons can you still learn?
Nothing specific comes to mind but I do know I have many lessons to still learn.  I believe we all do.  It is a lifelong journey of evolving into better versions of myself.  I can’t evolve if I am not experiencing and learning.

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
Being a woman was assigned to me by the universe and not exactly a label I feel comfortable wearing. But to be who I am in today's world can be hard. Breaking through the gender norms while not always feeling safe and supported is exhausting. People don’t always understand.

What are 5 words that describe the (woman) that you are?
Family, Unique, Puns, Immature, ‘Todd’ - Also , once I was called “The Alternative One “         

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
My partner, she is in the career that she loves , she doesn’t care what people think and flips her hair at haters #womancrushwednesday

How do you handle insecurity?
Honestly - I shut down on the outside and go full Gollum/ Smeagol on the inside…. just kidding , but I do talk to myself about healthier thoughts and I remind myself that my feelings are valid but also can sometimes be not accurate. Then I order some noodle box, lay down in bed fully clothed and wait it out.

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the  (woman) you are. What was significant?
It was the year 2000, in music class we played limbo and I (a young gay) realized the boys lineup was shorter than the girls and if I so felt like it, I could probably go in that line - and I did.  Not one person cared and from that day on I had options, boy clothes Monday-Wednesday, Friday dresses, Saturday cut my hair Sunday is for pyjamas and Thursdays, call me Todd . Anyways, all throughout school I bounced back and fourth trying to figure out who I was, where I fit in and it didn’t come easy .I had councillors tell me what I felt was wrong, my own parents telling me I couldn’t be a different gender or tell people who I was because the world was a scary place and that made me a target. I even lost friends due to their parents' ideas of me. Until 2015  “the cliche” I went through a rough break up in my twenties and obviously made the choice to get a haircut, a whole new wardrobe, work off that relationship weight and show off the new me whilst thinking “Fools, every last one of them. I have no idea who I am” ….  fast forward to 5 years later , today writing my answers . It was painfully stressful because I couldn’t figure out how to speak up and say I’m not this “woman” you're looking for , I don’t have these powerful stories, I’m just me!  I cried , it took me three days and I needed to call both my sisters to figure out what I should do. Be my authentic self and give you my raw answers. 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
Don’t change yourself for anybody else, friends, partners, or family. Love who you are and if the skin suit don’t fit, change it.

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a (woman) and what you did to overcome that? 
That is a super sad question because the reality is that women can be deemed as failures so easily like birthing the right gendered child or breast feeding the damn crotch goblin. I can tell you this though everyday as a person I fail myself by not being as confident as I'd like to be, by not being where society deems me to be , Heck failing at self care …sometimes I drink only two glasses of water a day. I can say I failed as a woman by not knowing how to love myself and my body until I was an adult . I can say I failed at being a woman by not wanting to participate in my body's natural functions or growth. But I am only human.

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
“You is smart, you is kind, you is important”  because “beauty” doesn’t measure anything. And a little reminder that you're smart before a test is essential. Being told you’re kind hits the heart and makes you smile, and being important to yourself is so hard to learn.    

What does self care look like to you?
To me self care is going to regular counselling sessions, running in the rain, cuddling with my dog , warm baths and cold showers. Self care includes daily journals to drop all the shit you’ve been dying to say. Having a perfect cup of tea and crying for no reason, can’t forget the comfort foods and fun socks . 

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
I’d say the amount of immaturity I’ve gained along the way. Sure there are life lessons you learn and you get a little wiser but half the time atlas for me I end making the same mistakes. I definitely was surprised at the amount of things I had to unlearn along the way .

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?
Changing the way I think about my life, it's worth it. Expressing that , and seeking help that I needed. I have struggled with depression and anxiety and lived my life for a long time feeling almost at peace with the idea that one day I wouldn’t have to do all this shit anymore. I could start over maybe in the same life until I get it right or in another body or not at all and that thought helped me fall asleep at night .I couldn’t think of any reasons to exist, until one day I reached out to my partner and a counsellor and I’m still here today because of that change of heart, because of the realization that I am worthy, I am loved and there is so much out there. I can be happy. I just have to make changes.

What lessons can you still learn? 
Continuing to learn how to be the best version of myself, to accept whatever life throws me because life shifts and changes and challenges people everyday for the rest of our lives. There will always be new lessons to be learned, and remaining open to that is important.

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
I believe women are redefining what it means to be a woman. Modern women are no longer accepting the limited views that have kept us one dimensional. We’re here to take space and be larger than we’ve ever been.

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Grateful, Enough, Kind, Sensual, Resilient.

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
I see myself, I see you, I see all the women of the world. The fact that we all get up everyday and show up...that’s empowering. 

How do you handle insecurity?
I remind myself how miraculous my existence is...yes mine (I know, the audacity right!) I repeat my mantra: I AM ENOUGH, just the way I am, forever and always...ENOUGH!

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. What was significant?
My doctor recommended a book to me that forever changed my trajectory. Learning how trauma is carried within my body was revolutionary. I had abandoned myself long, long ago. I had no sense of self and always looked externally for approval, love. I took care of others while completely draining myself. With the knowledge I gained I began the excruciating journey inward. Healing with grace is what I like to call it. Creating, choosing who I am and being fearless about it! I’m believing the endless possibilities of my future. I’m so very proud of myself! 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
Look within; nothing externally will ever be enough. Take care of yourself physically, mentally. Self care IS self love. Wear sunscreen!

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that? 
Falling victim to beauty standards (whatever that means) was my failure. I felt beautiful; why couldn’t I be? I chose to allow myself my opinion that I was beautiful!

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
“I am not a victim of my life
what I went through
pulled a warrior out of me
and it is my greatest honour to be her”
- Rupi Kaur

“My greatest honour to be her” need I say more. This means so much to me at the moment. 

What does self care look like to you?
Self discipline is my self care at the moment. I’ve forged this love for myself mentally/spiritually and now my physical health is up. Sleep is where I’m focusing. Skincare is new to me and I’m enjoying doing it. 

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
How patriarchal women’s rights, body sovereignty, and the way we look have been. I’m learning now how deep it goes and it’s mind blowing to think that we were just spoon fed this growing up without question. 

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?
Owning my power; choosing myself. 

What lessons can you still learn? 
I hope to always stay curious, always learning. I’m in absolute awe of the universe and it’s signs are everywhere, once you see them they never stop! 

What does it mean to be a woman in today's world?
It means much more than it did yesterday but not nearly as much as tomorrow. We live in a time where being a woman is such a powerful gift thanks to the many women who fought for us in past generations. We have gained so many rights and freedoms as a gender and yet we still have decisions being made for us and our bodies by men. To be a woman today, in this very moment is to be unapologetically yourself, to be loud and strong. To make a lot of noise and use your voice for what you believe in and be strong enough to have the courage to stand up and advocate your needs and the needs of others.

What are 5 words that describe the woman that you are?
Mother, creative, warrior, sarcastic, honest.

When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered and confident woman, what do you see?
I see the women who are doing things their own way. The women who are unapologetically themselves. Women going against cultural expectations to live a life that is true to themselves and their beliefs. The ones in countries fighting for basic human rights they've been deprived of simply for owning a vagina.

How do you handle insecurity?
Insecurity is unfortunately an emotion I am very familiar with. Insecurity isn’t just about your body or how you view yourself but - the kind of childhood you had, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs about yourself, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner. I have found that the best way to deal with insecurity is to be vulnerable with the people around you about what is making you feel this way and sit in the moment as long as you need to. Then wake the fuck up and remember who you are and all the amazing qualities you have to offer this world!

Tell us a little bit about your own personal path to becoming the woman you are. What was significant?
Becoming a woman wasn’t a path for me. It was an unpaved, rocky road that I needed to blast my way through. Every Moment was significant for me. I grew up in a loving home that always had the best intentions but both of my parents struggled with mental health and addiction issues. Growing up on welfare as neither one of my parents could hold a job meant that dreaming was free but we didn’t have the resources to pursue those dreams. As a little girl I was only praised for how pretty I was, nobody told me I was smart or funny or that I had much more to offer the world. The journey through being a teen was especially tough because I thought all I had to offer this world were looks and a body. Fast forward to being a teenager while I was leaving my apartment to go to school, I found a woman who had taken her life. That experience made me grow up fast. Not only was it graphic and traumatic but I couldn’t understand how sad any woman would have to be to jump to the end of her life - it turns out that she was a victim escaping domestic violence. As a young lady I had a really hard time connecting with other women so I leaned on men to give me the emotional satisfaction that I should have given myself. I became a victim of sex exploitation at 19 and I carried that sexual trauma around for a very long time. I was seeking safety and stability when I got married at 22… I became a mother at 27. As I matured into a woman I had no sense of self and I carried that around a very long time. I was my trauma and my trauma was me. Unable to love myself or others, I separated from my husband at 29 and had dreams of becoming a confident and strong single mother. Not long after that I found myself in an abusive relationship that would consume all of my sanity and almost cost me my life. When I had the courage to leave that man for the hundredth time and work on myself, I met my soulmate and the truly amazing man who stands strong beside me today. We got pregnant last year and I gave birth to a sleeping and still baby at 22 weeks pregnant. All of these experiences have been significant and everyone of them shaped me into the strong woman that I can confidently say I am today. 

What advice or suggestions can you give to younger women?
So many:

  • Find yourself, be yourself, love yourself.
  • Your body is your home, care for it, love it and don’t let strangers in it.
  • Explore your sexuality with yourself, you do not need others to do this for you.
  • For every negative thought you have about a woman, make yourself say 3 positive things about her too.
  • ‘Drug dealer’ is not a successful job title for a partner.
  • Never trust a man who brings you flowers with the thorns still in them. 

Tell us about a time that you ‘failed’ as a woman and what you did to overcome that?
The time I failed as a woman was also the same time I failed as a mother, a daughter, a niece and a friend.  It was the time that I stayed with a narcissistic sociopath for over a year. I lost myself in that relationship. I was in a very dark place, a place only the devil can take you. It was in a highly abusive relationship that I couldn’t find a way out of. I was in the circle of mental, emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse and nothing was going to save me. Not my friends, family or the police and social workers. I had lost every sense of who I was and I had spent a little over a year living in the space of fight or flight. My only goal was to survive the day ahead of me and avoid confrontation at all costs. It was last year that I hit rock bottom and made the steps to remove myself from that hell and start to rebuild myself. I am still making a conscious effort to overcome that failure every single day of my life.

What is a quote that you live by and why is it significant to you?
The answer is always no unless you ask.

This is my life mantra - you never know what you could have unless you simply ask for it. This quote has brought me a lot of rejection but also a lot of blessings. The job I wanted, the people I’ve worked with, the opportunities I’ve got, the beautiful man who sleeps beside me every night. If you want something, ask for it,  you’d be surprised at how often the answer is yes.

What does self care look like to you?
A hot bath, a glass of wine, a good stretch and meditation, a walk with the dog, coloring with my daughter, the sound of the ocean, a counselling session, a sexual release. It honestly depends on the day and how stressed I am. 

What has surprised you as you matured as a woman?
My ability to not give a fuck. I think with age we tend to become more comfortable in who we are and more driven to be where we want to be, that all the ‘opinions’ become static around us. As I’ve matured I have realized that nothing that has happened to me defines me anymore than I want it to. Everyone is going to have an opinion on you from the first impression you gave them, the stories they have heard about you, the way you look to how you parent, how long you breastfeed, the school you send your child to, where you live, the job you have - literally everything. As I’ve matured I am letting go of my ability to care about any of that and instead focus inward on who I am and where I am going and own by ability to simply - not give a fuck!

What change have you made in your life that you’re most proud of?
I think, looking back, changes I have made that are the most significant are refusing to settle. For far too long I stayed in places that weren't meant for me. All the people I tried to convince to love me who truly didn’t care and all the time I spent trying to explain myself to people who were dedicated to misunderstanding me. I lost a lot of years fighting to fit in situations I had simply outgrown. Energy and time I now realize was valuable. Through self reflection I can acknowledge that it is not my responsibility to change others or explain myself but to simply move on when the life around me no longer serves me joy and happiness. I am proud that after 31 years I finally have the courage to change where I sit, stay and invest my energy.

What lessons can you still learn?
Acceptance -  how to let go of all the anger I carry as a woman. How to turn the negative energy into positive energy and keep fighting on the path of the person I want to be instead of looking back at the person I was based on circumstances that other people made for me.

 

CREDITS:

Concept - Mariah Trigg
Photographer - Angela Funk
Makeup and Hair - Sarah 

Read more

A man is standing in the middle of the street wearing a mask, with a sign saying PPE Recovery Initiative.

Our PPE Recycling Program is Open to the Public

Woman looking up smiling, she is surrounded by Maria Nila hair products and flowers.

Vegan Cruelty-free Hair Bleach for Summer

Woman is holding her head and laughing, she has strawberry blonde hair. She uses Maria Nila vegan hair products.

Find cult-fave eco-brands Maria Nila + Neuma at The Natural Hair Salon