Kyira: “What made you decide you wanted to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project?”

Charielle: “So, um, I guess you can say this whole year, at least for me, has been about learning how to be comfortable in every respect and I guess the project really attracted me because I felt like it would help me redefine that for myself. I mean I am trying to push myself into uncomfortable situations so that I can learn to be comfortable, no matter what. Like, regardless of what I am wearing or what I decide to do with my hair - ponytail or not - I can feel okay within myself.”

Kyira: “Right. And that idea of being able to acknowledge and embrace your inherent beauty that exists regardless of those choices and regardless of how anyone else chooses to act or respond to that.”

Charielle: “Yes….yes.”

Kyira: “So, how do you think culture, whether that is family, community, society as a whole - whatever it means to you - how do you think culture has impacted your ability to be feel beautiful?”

Charielle: “I think the impact has really changed as I have changed the way I interact with society and my community at large, As it stands now, I think it allows me to express myself. It allows me to be me and not on anyone else’s watch. And, I am not striving to be on anyone’s standards. This is just me being me in every moment in time and carrying my value wherever I go. And letting that show through me.”

Kyira: “Yeah and I think that is such an important point that it isn’t necessarily how culture has impacted you but how you choose to represent yourself within those cultural norms and ideals.”

Charielle: “Yes.”

Kyira: “What do you think has been one the hardest parts in that journey? I mean, being in a society filled with so much pressure about how we should look and act.”

Charielle: “I guess for me, it has been realizing that I cannot please everybody and that I cannot change people. And that even though I might see myself as a commodity who carries my value with me, that still isn't going to change how people feel about me. I mean, whether this is on any ground - race, gender…in every respect, I cannot change that. And I think that has been a challenge for me every day when I wake up is to realize that I cannot change people no matter what I do. Like, all I can do is be me and bring my values to the surface and show people that I am a nice person who wants to live a fulfilling life just like they do but how they choose to interpret that and respond is outside of my hands.”

Kyira: “And I think there is a power in sort of, reclaiming that for yourself. To say that ‘I can’t change people no matter what I do’ and it is so much wasted energy to try and force someone to experience me in a way that may never be feasible just based on who they are or what they are working on.”

Charielle: “Exactly.”

Kyira: “So it is more about learning how to just love yourself and see the impact I can make for myself in allowing myself the freedom to just be me and to be a good person in this world.”

Charielle: “Exactly. Without feeling as I have been defeated because I can’t change the world.”

Kyira: “Yeah. And almost the idea of you being able to be you and doing things like this and having these conversations is the way we can at least create the space for change to happen aspeople are ready for it.”

Charielle: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “Because so often it feels like we need to do these big, grandiose things to make even the smallest dent but in fact change happens in the courage to simply show up and be you.”

Charielle: “Yeah for sure.”

Kyira: “So how do you nurture that quality in yourself? Like, to me, that is a rare thing for someone to be able to say, and not only say but believe that they have these values and that they can hold them at the forefront and allow themselves to simply be who they are. How do you nurture that so you don’t get swept up in the chaos of it all?”

Charielle: “It’s constantly reminding myself of my worth. Every day. And affirming it every day. Whether it be through physical or mental means. Or even with how I treat myself each morning when I wake up. To remind myself every day that I have a purpose and I am important. And that I matter. And I feel like in doing that, it gives me the stamina I need to get through the day simply being me regardless of what animosity might be lurking in the corners of every day across all points of our community.”

Kyira: “Has motherhood changed the way you think about these things or your capacity to go about doing that every day?”

Charielle: “Definitely because there is very little time in the day for me. I mean the job doesn’t stop. Motherhood is 365, 24 hours a day. So now, I have to make time for that, consciously, every day. Because it is no longer just me. I have another tiny little human I have to worry about.”

Kyira: “Right” (laughter)

Charielle: “You know and so not only do I have to find the space to take care of me but I have to make sure I am reminding him that he has value. So, yeah, I mean motherhood definitely does change.”

Kyira: “Yeah and that piece of only being able to show that to your son but holding both - being able to show your son and nurture your own belief in your own values. Because ultimately, without that self-love, your son wouldn’t be able to believe it about himself in the same way because he would pick up on the phoniness in your message. And so it is being able to use your time to nurture both of you in a way that when you talk about your value, you know in your deepest depths that value both of you have n this world.”

Charielle: “Exactly. He needs to see that confidence showing in me. And it is difficult when you have to allocate so much time to them because they are growing. You can forget that you aren't taking time for yourself. And you can forget that you aren't taking time for you because it becomes a priority to be there for them. But you have to remember that while they are growing, so are you and so it is about the team.”

Kyira: “Absolutely. So, if you could leave a final message to others or tell something to the people reading your story, what would you like to tell them?”

Charielle: “I guess I would like to just say…walk around in this world as if you are a commodity. Realize that you are in demand And that you are the hottest thing. And that is just about it. Because the more you do that, the happier you will be. And the more prosperous you will be.”

Kyira: “Yeah and I can imagine how hard that could be for someone who has spent so much time either telling themselves they are not or believing others when they say they are not, to begin to even fathom the idea that they are a commodity. But over time and in learning to say that to themselves over time, they can begin to erode that negativity and begin to believe in themselves again, or maybe even for the first time.”

Charielle: “Exactly. And one thing I have noticed, especially in my line of work, there is a fine line in making goals for yourself and having good habits. So, in all of this, it is about setting up those habits. Taking time everyday to not only create the intention but do what you can to set yourself up for success so you can see what I believe in that you have value already within you.”

Kyira: “What a powerful message. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for being a part of the project.”

Charielle: “Absolutely. Thank you!”