Portia-Ella Winnipeg Studio
In 2016 I was walking down the street, when a woman around my age flagged me down, stopped me, and said, “I just wanted to let you know that you look really well put-together today. Your outfit is fantastic — you just look great!” I was floored. She walked away and I must have stood there in place frozen and digesting.
There is an accepted social dichotomy between women. An air of competition. To speak brazenly woman-to-woman, stranger-to-stranger, and to give random compliments, is nearly unheard of. For some reason we grow up competing with one another subconsciously. It’s an act of vulnerability to build up another woman — but I truly believe it is one of the most empowering acts a woman can do.
Marketing tactics in the mainstream beauty industry have typically preyed on a woman’s vulnerability for sales, turning insecurities into profits. There is such a budget that goes into making women believe that these products will make them look beautiful, but there is a lack of focus on making us FEEL beautiful.
Did I ever see myself working in the beauty industry? No. I love makeup, and I love beauty products — otherwise I wouldn’t be here. When I found a world where beauty, ethics, and sustainability all mixed I was hooked. But for the last fifteen years when I’ve looked into the mirror I see uneven skin tones, I see blackheads, I see skin tags that prevent me from perfect winged eyeliner, I see stray hairs, and I know my eyebrows aren’t ‘on fleek’. Honestly — I’m 29. I am far more comfortable in my skin than I once was. My focus now is on what makes me FEEL good. Looking good is a byproduct of how we feel on the inside.
Since starting in the clean beauty industry, my views on myself have shifted. When I worked in an office environment it was filled with the female-driven competition. I worried about my pant size, about what I ate, and I coated my face in products needlessly to keep up.
Now my love has turned to skin care and how good ethical beauty products can make you feel. My skin care routine is my ‘me’ time. I wear less cosmetics on my face than I have in years, and I’ve switched entirely to products that allow my skin to breathe, to flourish, to heal, and to glow. I feel more comfortable in my skin, my pant size, and in myself, than I have in years.
My values have shifted.
I’m in an atmosphere of strong and beautiful women of all ages. Our focus is to build each other up, to build up the women we support as brand owners, and to build up the beautiful women (and people of all genders) who come into our studios every day. Our focus is on making people feel good — which is one of the strongest acts we can do — woman-to-woman. Our team is focused on making each other feel great, pointing out each other’s best parts, and building confidence within ourselves and in each other.
Yesterday I walked past a woman, and she had a really great jacket on, and her hair looked perfect, and her whole style was just unique and fun, and so I told her that. She said to me, “I was just thinking that you had great hair!”
We need to work on building each other up. No matter what that looks like — whether it’s choosing to support female-led brands, supporting our best friends, or chasing down a woman on the street to tell her she looks beautiful. It’s time to reverse the dichotomy.
We are beautiful.
My experience in the clean beauty industry has taught me this — and the power that making others feel beautiful as they are can truly have.
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