Julie.

Julie: “ I feel good about it. I mean, on my way over this morning, there were a lot of things I was thinking about like, ‘Oh, well, did I leave with enough time?’ or ‘What if I need an ID and forgot one?’ or…”

Kyira: “ Right, the anxious things that keep popping up when we are about to do something outside of our norm.”

Julie: “ Yeah, I mean this is something I can immediately associate with being outside of my comfort zone.” (laughter)

Kyira: “And I feel like that really connects with he question I always like to ask people in the beginning which is, what made you decide to join the #ReclaimBeauty movement? Especially when it pushes you so far outside of that norm.”

Julie: “I think that the way that we deal with beauty as a society is very strange because it is something we expect out of women and you know, some other people. But, we expect it with a lot of caveats. Like we expect it to be effortless and we expect it to be something that is not really made a huge deal out of but yet we already make a huge deal out of it. I don't know if that makes any sense…”

Kyira: “Mmhmm. Yeah totally.”

Julie: “Um, it is something that we demand but then treat as very shallow. So you are expected to have it and hold it but never really celebrate it or show that it takes you any time or effort to grow or maintain that.”

Kyira: “Right, yeah, absolutely. So it makes what we are doing here all the more important when we think about how we can call out those expectations and make note of the discrepancies within our society. So thinking about that too, I mean you mentioned the idea of culture at large and thinking more about society, how have other facets of culture shaped for you what beauty means - family, friends, the town you grew up in, etc?”

Julie: “Well, so the town I grew up in…I am from the Dallas area of Texas which is notorious for being very, very image based. And, there were a few ways that I felt like I really didn't fit in there and that was kind of one of them. Um, you know i had a mom from outside of the area that not only voted pretty liberally and talked about it but would say things that I don't necessarily think she would say now but when I was younger, she would say things like, ‘Oh, those people only want attention who care a lot about their appearance’ and stuff like that. It was about the attention those people were looking for and she would kind of push me to think that I didn’t need to do those things. SO I think there was a bit of the natural rebelliousness that I had just given the area I am from and my upbringing and things like that, where I am like, ‘Oh well I am not going to put a huge effort into my image because that is all I was surrounded by growing up’. And I think the other piece is that the people who did do those things were the ones that I felt never really accepted me. So there is a little bit of fighting that and I kind of feel like I have always tried to deflect any sort of image based judgment, mostly with humor but also, I am infinitely aware or, I guess, very very aware of any time I have done something that I know other people can perceive I did to enhance my appearance. Like, I get very insecure if I am wearing a lot of make-up or if I am wearing a really nice outfit. because I instantly perceive people being like, ‘Oh, you did something’…”

Kyira: “Right or like, even what your mom said. Yeah, like how these people are only doing things like that for a specific reason so if you are doing those things then you must also be trying to do XYZ.”

Julie: “Right, and really, I am like insecure about trying for something and then failing. So if, I am seen trying to look good and then I don’t, it’s like, whoa.”

Kyira: “But, like even that, there is this idea of like externalization of power because who are these people, really, to be the ones making these decisions about you or deciding your worth.”

Julie: “Right, because they don’t know me or care about me.”

Kyira: “Yeah, but that is the fucked up thing because it isn’t even so much if people care about you it’s whether or not you care enough about them that you want to give them that much power.”

Julie: “And what is interesting now is that I work retail in women’s clothing and like, I will see people coming out of the fitting rooms doing all kinds of ridiculous shit like grabbing their stomach, looking at themselves 80 times in the mirror, finding every reason they don't look good and like, I am completely honest with them when I say things like, ‘no one else could actually notice or would even care about these little things you are getting focused on’. But the problem is, I am clearly not that good at applying that logic to my own life.”

Kyira: “Right, I mean and that is always the rub. I say this all of the time to people I work with - in a loving way - that you are ultimately not that important. In the sense of, like, if I am walking down State Street and it is really busy, and I am thinking everyone is looking at me and judging me in this outfit I am already unsure about, I begin to think that everyone’s judgment and day is revolving around me and this outfit. But to the degree that I forget that, in a freeing way, it is not all about me. People are, unfortunately, carrying their own demons and are worrying about that or even, if they are lucky, are simply enjoying the day without self or other judgment.”

Julie: “Totally. And, you know I have other friends who are very opposite end of the spectrum as me who will wear really outlandish outfits and wear, what I would describe as “con” make-up. And they are doing it for opposite reasons but ultimately the same end game as me in that they are thinking if they can look as ridiculous as possible, no one is going to say shit to them.”

(Laughter)

Kyira: “Yeah, for sure.”

Julie: “But here I sit thinking that if I can look as unremarkable as possible then no one will say shit.”

Kyira: “And it is so interesting to think about the ways we are each protecting our sense of self from the world even if it looks different for each one of us. So, in thinking about this for you and your journey, what would you say has been the hardest part of it all so far to overcome or face?”

Julie: “I think for me, something i have made progress on but am still facing every day is getting rid of, what I think Amy Poehler described as ‘the Demon’. You know, the little person that talks to you and tells you about all of your short comings when you are already feeling bad about them. But what I have made progress on is accepting and working past that so when I get caught in a negative thought cycle, I am able to cut it off and remind myself that this has no basis in reality but is simply a reflection of just my bad mood or my being tired.”

Kyira: “Well that’s huge and I think it shows, too, that there is so much positive power in people sharing their stories because something Amy shared about her story has stuck with you and become a part of yours. And so, thinking about that ripple effect, something you are sharing here might become a part of someone else’s story and in that, we all become bonded in our journeys. So then, how do you…I mean as you described, you have made some very concerted efforts to take the power back for you in your own life. How do you nurturethat growth so you don’t get pulled back into that unhelpful head space?”

Julie: “I think that routinely stepping out of my comfort zone is something that have tried to incorporate more into my life. Like…doing things like this or wearing a really bold color of lipstick that might get more attention than say a brown or something like that…” (laughter)

Kyira: “Right like stepping away from those natural, nude colors a bit.”

(all laugh)

Julie: “Right. And, um, I think also letting my own beliefs shine. Because I don’t believe in a lot of the things that I am insecure about or that society tells me I should be insecure about. And so, I think that really celebrating when other people are comfortable in their own appearance or with themselves as a whole is one way I can do that. I mean, as a feminist, that is really important to me. And, to kind of challenge any internalized misogyny that I hold towards people that are proud of themselves and find ways to celebrate not only people I know but everyone, is something that can continue to help me grow and feel better in my own skin.”

Kyira: “Yeah, that is huge and I think the part that is often missed a lot. Being able to celebrate all of the beauty within those around you but then also finding the way to internalize that positivity and love and acceptance so you can begin to allow yourself to be equally as valuable or successful in that.”

Julie: “Right and remembering that no one’s contribution to me is their appearance and in that same breadth, my contribution to the world is not my appearance. And ultimately, I don't think anyone really expects that so it is about letting those ideals go.”

Kyira: “So true. And like we said, something we are all working on every day.”

Julie: “Yep.”

Kyira: “Thank you so much for being a part of this project and for sharing your story! It has been such a pleasure talking to you.”

Julie: “Thank you!”