I was struck yesterday by a young woman who I was teaching to apply make-up. She was just like many women, full of negative beliefs about her looks. She told me that she wanted to look different and from what she said I gleaned that she meant that she wanted to look like the pictures in the magazines.
When I looked at her, I saw a beautiful young woman with procelain skin, golden green eyes and auburn hair. I saw the joy in her eyes and the brightness in her smile. It saddened me that she did not see that in herself.
She had never worn make-up before and was part of a tutorial series that I am doing for Furniture Now! as part of their back to work skills programme, helping to get people into employment. I was at the offices in Eastbourne to teach women how to apply daytime make-up appropriate for an interview.
As we went from foundation, to eye make-up, lips and finally to blusher, I could see and hear her confidence growing. I showed her how to apply the make-up on one half of her face and she applied it to the other side, checking in with me occasionally for reassurance. She began to see a different side of herself emerging.
As part of this process we laughed and I gently challenged her about her perceptions of herself and told her how I saw her – not to flatter her but to be honest and truthful.
When she looked at the final result in the mirror and saw herself for the first time in this way, she beamed a big smile at me and told me, in her words, how pleased she was. I felt a lump in my throat and a tear form in the corner of my eye. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me.
I took her through to the office to see the lady I had organised the tutorial with so that she might see the result. She hesitated at the door, suddenly losing her confidence to enter the office. With my encouragement she took a deep breath and entered the room to be met by compliments and smiles. One girl said ‘oh you don’t look any different, just nicer’ and I thought ‘job done’. It was not my intention to ‘make her look different’ but to simply let her natural light shine through.
In some ways it was such a simple thing for me to do and it had such a profound impact on her that I felt full up with emotion. On the drive home, I reflected on the last two hours and felt satisfied, humbled and thankful.
Thank you Katrina for giving me such a wonderful experience.