In my early 20s I suffered from a lack of self-esteem. Like anyone, a combination of things were to blame. I was in my final year of a Political Science degree at The University of Birmingham and had quite literally locked myself away for three months to ‘get it done’. The stress of University was taking its toll in lots of ways, but it had started to show in my skin. In my second year my skin had become oilier than usual and these weren’t just blemishes. I’d developed quite severe acne. This was the kind of congestion under the skin that hurt to touch and really, no amount of makeup was going to convincingly cover the lumps and bumps that were developing on my face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Not the greatest confidence boost for any young female.
To say it got me down is an understatement. It actually hit me so hard that one Christmas I made my excuses and stayed upstairs in my room all night, rather than have my own family see it. I couldn’t even be around the people that love me. I claimed I was too tired to stay downstairs and socialise and got away with it. It didn’t matter how often I’d heard it, or who I heard it from. It’s only spots, don’t let them stop you. It’s not that bad. It could be worse. We all know that it could have been worse. We all know acne is actually a very common skin complaint. Truly minor in the grand scheme of things, I understood that. But honestly, how can it be any worse when you’re so uncomfortable in yourself that you can’t stand to look your family in the eye?
Like most youngsters who are just growing up and finding their way, I was often balancing on the edge of self-loathing anyway doing the usual thing of comparing myself to everyone else, unattainable images in magazines and what I saw on TV. But this time it tipped over in a big way. My hate for myself was so strong that I developed body dysmorphia and an eating disorder. A kind of eating disorder that I teamed with over exercise too. The more I could punish myself the better. The control I’d lost in one way, I’d managed to gain in another. I was happy to be back in my own driving seat and that’s how I coped. Yep, my weight plummeted, I never needed a haircut, my nails stopped growing and my skin was actually worse than it had ever been, but I was in control.
So how have I ended up loving an industry that has also played such a big part in these issues?
Yes, my inability to accept myself definitely does have roots in this industry. This industry presents alot of pressure to be a certain kind of way. But it’s also the industry that enabled me to get out of bed every morning. I don’t know if vanity really exists. I think so much of what we perceive as vanity comes from these insecure places, and the way we’re wired to compare ourselves makes us question our self-worth. But that aside, hidden in this industry which likes to present perfection, there’s a side thats actually helped in getting people like me out of the house in the morning. Yes, in an ideal world I should have had the confidence to leave the house every morning with absolutely no makeup on. I believe those memes too, but reality is so different. Truthfully, I was that ashamed and insecure about my skin I couldn’t have left my room without putting in two hours of concealing just to camouflage my face. Everyday.
And that’s how I’ve ended up here.
I love makeup. But I’m absolutely in love with bridal makeup. A wedding day is a huge occasion. It’s brimming with sentiment and meaning. Everyone that means something to you is there wholly for you. In recognition of that, bridal makeup is all about helping women show up on the biggest day of their life with pride in their appearance and confidence in their own skin. Something I’ve previously found so difficult to do. Daily I found it difficult just to be present in my own life, because of what was happening to my skin. Everyone has anxieties and insecurities. Yours might not be a skin condition, but I guarantee there’s something. So to help a woman show up on the biggest day of her life radiating confidence and self-worth is something I’m always privileged to be part of.
I love the big reveals of wedding days. They’re packed with once in a lifetime moments. It’s what makes weddings so special. The impact of a brides confidence spreads much further than her as an individual. To see her excited to show herself off is an amazing part of what I do. It’s also about how infectious that happiness and assurance can be to the people around them. That’s beautiful. Take the first look between the bride and groom, or when the bride sees her father for the first time when she’s all dressed up and ready to go and team that with the joy that visibly fills your mothers heart as she witnesses all that love and leaves the room to take her seat amongst the congregation. There’s true beauty in those moments that make life-long memories. They’re the kind of genuine, loving connections we’re all chasing. And for a time like alot of people, those were the kind of looks, glances and long adoring stares I would do anything to avoid!
This whole industry offers an imperfect solution. But makeup is also an everyday hero for so many people. The impact that makeup can have on someone’s confidence is priceless. It’s often not put on in vanity and it’s actually rarely self-indulgent. Makeup has been a tool I couldn’t live without. At times I’ve totally depended on it. That’s because it created a level playing field where I was able to function. It gave me a day to get on with ‘stuff’ without being taken over by insecurities and anxieties. It was my secret weapon. We’re all different. And we all have different ways of coping with things that we perceive to be wrong with ourselves. But looking back, I’m truly grateful for makeup. Thankfully for a long period of time makeup was simplest of tools that got me out of the house every morning and where my love for it has grown from.