“You gotta have a sense of humor after having seen the things I have. Honestly. It keeps me sane.”

I hadn’t laughed as hard as G made me laugh in a long time. She is this beautiful woman with dark cinnamon eyes that tell me a thousand stories about the rough life she has had. Here she was though, making me laugh so hard I was crying. This was definitely not what I was expecting when I agreed to volunteer at the What Matters Foundation makeover event. I was told I would be doing makeup on survivors of sex trafficking. It sounded almost intimidating! I was pleasantly surprised when immediately after sitting in my chair, G leaned back, closed her eyes, and said “Okay, girl. Make me feel pretty. I’m not picky, do your thing.” (basically, my dream client).

In between jokes and stories she took a long pause and sighed. She told me about the new job she was starting the next day and how she was trying to gather up the strength to “show up and kick butt”.

I had just finished doing her makeup, the last step in her makeover. I told her how much I loved her eyes and that I used bronze and violet tones to make them pop even more.

“Whoo! These eyelashes are making me feel strong, girl! Look at that curl! You think they’ll stay on for my first day of work tomorrow?!” She couldn't put down the mirror I had just handed her. Mission accomplished.

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A lot of people think makeup is just skin deep; that my profession as a makeup artist promotes vanity and low self-esteem. I am sure they wouldn’t think that if they got to see the confidence a fierce contour and a great pair of lashes can bring to a woman feeling down about herself. Putting on makeup doesn’t serve as an attempt to fix issues of the heart or to cover them up, rather as a reminder of our inner beauty and strength; a reminder that we can actually “show up and kick butt”.


Special thanks to What Matters Foundation for hosting and to all the volunteers.

Photos courtesy of Wendy Nolte Photograpy.

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