Meet Kyira Hauer
Meet Kyira Hauer, the founder of the #ReclaimBeauty project. Her goal in everything she does is to make a statement and get people talking about the things often swept under the rug. She believes that change is only possible when we create the space for people to embrace their vulnerability and uses her business to try and create those spaces for people in her community.
Where did your journey begin?
Growing up, I had trauma in my life. At age 11, my mother relapsed after a 12-year period of sobriety and fell back into the hands of an insidious cocaine addiction that led us down a 12-year path filled with jail, prison, rehab, and treatment. In that time, my mother was also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and worked hard to carve a path toward recovery from both her addiction and mental illness, facing so many obstacles throughout her journey.
During that time, I was forced to talk to priests, therapists, doctors, school counselors–you name them, I probably saw them. Everyone kept telling me what I “should” be feeling and doing. I began to lose myself and confuse everyone else's ideas, thoughts, and feelings with my own. Eventually, I developed my own addiction–an eating disorder–that in many ways, was a form of protection against all the pieces in my life I felt I lost control over. But then, I found art.
Art became my saving grace and helped me climb out of deep holes. Creating was something where I never accepted a 'should' or 'supposed to'... Creating became my diary, my therapy, my confidant, my protector. And so, I carry with me, in everything I do, the purpose for why I started and continue to create–to give hope. But now, it is not only for me, but for others where and when they need it.
What is the mission that drives you in your work?
My mission comes down to both living and empowering others to live an authentic and intentional life that supports creative freedom, self-awareness, and celebration of the beauty we each have within us. I really wanted to create something that people might identify with on an everyday level. Too often, people hesitate to call themselves creators or artists, saying, 'I am not a real artist.' But, we are all creative.
Where did the idea for the #ReclaimBeauty project come from?
As I worked on finding recovery from my eating disorder, I was also starting my masters program in counseling psychology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Knowing both from research and my own experience how debilitating an eating disorder and body image issues are, I assumed this topic would come up quite a bit in my training. But, I was shocked to find how little there was on this topic. Most people I talked to were unhappy about the way they looked in some way or another. Many had faced some sort of disordered eating habit or in some cases, full blown eating disorders in the chase for the cultural ideal of beauty. No matter what gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or age, no one was immune to these pressures and in our own ways, everyone felt victim to the chase. Over time, as I uncovered more, I started to feel both frustrated and energized to do something that might allow us to break free from the chains of our perception and the pressures to look a certain way.
And, so came the #ReclaimBeauty project with the mission to challenge the cultural perceptions of beauty as they exist today and empower people to reclaim their beauty by uncovering, celebrating, and nurturing their true and authentic selves. Thus far, we have several facets of the project including a community blog, a social media campaign, an open mic night, and our biggest component, our warrior project.
The warrior project involves a photoshoot and interview with brave warriors who share pieces of themselves to empower others to let go of society’s pressures and to move themselves further in their own journey to celebrate their beauty. The goals of this project evolve based on the voices of each of our warriors, as I see this as being community-owned and a journey we are all on together.
What motivates you to do this work?
The biggest drive for my creative work is the idea that I can provide a sense of hope, connection, and empowerment for people. Whether through an art piece, talk or video, or individual coaching, by opening the door to have hard conversations and show up fully with curiosity and intentionality, someone might be able to find strength or the tools to begin the next part of their journey or tap into a piece of their past.
You are also a developing therapist. How do you see your two worlds merging?
I think in order to be both an effective creator and therapist, it requires a willingness to be vulnerable and comfortable in ambiguity. The end product when you are creating anything cannot be foretold and neither can the end result of therapy. The goal is to simply create space for expression and growth, using your tools, skills, and knowledge to inform your quest. There is no right way to create nor counsel.
With anything interpretable, where you have creative freedom to develop your work, you have to be prepared for rejection and understand that rejection is not personal. I am not going to be able to create art, give speeches, or do therapy that fits or is liked by everyone, which means I don't have to take on the responsibility of creating, doing, or therapizing for the world. Being liked by everyone usually means you aren’t willing to push limits, and when you don't push the limits in your life or for other people, real, true growth is never possible.