The Beauty of Vulnerability: An Open Letter To Change The Mental Health Conversation

Depression Beauty Vulnerability

When I re-launched Makeup Madeover in March, I was (and remain) hellbent on having in-depth, holistic and humorous conversations about beauty— warts and all.

In light of the heartbreaking news about storytellers and creatives who have inspired us in accidental and profound ways, I am compelled to say I can empathize personally with those who experience grey and dark thoughts; depression and addiction run in my family.

The veneer is full of cracks

Makeup Madover is committed to delving deeper into the topics society often deems seductive, strange, unsexy and, well, goop-y. I believe that within those previously untouchable subjects lies a rich and wonderful treasure trove of stories, waiting to be told. It’s clear to me that when we understand, we have a greater capacity to appreciate and empathize.

Life can suck sometimes, especially for creatives… Let me rephrase that: Life can suck for all of us sometimes. The highs of life can feel tremendous and fleeting, while the lulls can feel like hell.

The time is now to view life in a comprehensive and consequential way: Mental health is paramount to a person’s well-being. And while it’s a huge step forward to have an open discussion about self-care, I believe it’s time for us to move beyond talk and recognize that self-care looks different for each person, and that a salt bath is not the answer to lifting everyone’s mood.  

We don’t tend to frown on those who take Lipitor or go to physical therapy. So why the judgment towards those who take medicine to treat a brain’s chemical imbalance or seek help from a therapist to strengthen their emotional arsenal to cope with hardship?

We are in a precarious moment. Our tendency to view events through the lens of our comfort zone is hurting us. Life is not about things being black or white, cool or uncool, famous or not, rich or poor, fat or skinny. Life is much more nuanced than that.

But it’s easy to think in overly simplistic terms; we interface with one another through screens, from our couches or offices. We are not asked to listen, or even make eye contact with each other. But viewing the world through these limited lenses prevents us from seeing someone in their totality; it shortchanges them and ourselves, reducing complex ideas down to sound bites.

Too many unknowns

Kate Spade symbolized creativity, success and whimsy. Buying my first Kate Spade purse was a rite of passage for me, and it was about more than her brand. She was an icon, a trailblazer and sooo on point with color theory and patterns.

kate spade suicide depression
Portland, OR 1998

Her plight proves that it is impossible gauge a person’s mental well-being based on their press or their Instagram highlight reel.

Then, Anthony Bourdain.

To me, he was the ultimate badass. But he obviously felt very differently about himself and his circumstances than we did. I had a Tony spotting in 2009 on Madison and 61st, which cemented my affection for him: Here was a sarcastic guy, with tattoos with a broad vocabulary, who had an equal love for fine dining and pungent shrimp paste who was carrying a small Hermès bag…this is the stuff dreams are made of!

Then this past winter, I learned that my French bulldog, my great lovebug of almost twelve years, was at the end of his life.

grieving loss of pet
West Hollywood 2017

All I could do to get through the misery was binge on Parts Unknown and cuddle with my ailing dog for hours on end—rewatching the Vietnam episode multiple times, plotting how I would go visit and follow Tony’s tracks and consume all the same meals he had.

Vietnam 2000

Changing the narrative of what depression looks like

Although I’m no stranger to how depression can look, I wrestle with denial that a renegade who seemed invincible could suffer so much and was unable to build the coping skills or support system to overcome his struggles.

But it is exactly this judgement and misunderstanding–our society’s go-to reflexes–that enable isolation, amplifying the negative chatter that already runs amok inside a depressed person’s head.

Our objective here at Makeup Madeover is to become curious about, and empathetic towards, those who are unknown to us. Whether we share the same preferences for food, or in how we present ourselves, we share a commonality that is universal: We all want to be understood, accepted and seen for who we are–acne and all.

EQ is equally as important as IQ

In our culture, we tend to fixate on the shiny objects, while ignoring the humdrum experiences of our humanity. But the humdrum takes up a good chunk of our lives, and it is only by getting real, and exploring the hard stuff, that we grow.

What I have learned from opening up about my family history (with those who get it), is that speaking uncomfortable truths can be difficult, but it builds an important muscle. It’s like learning a new language or doing planks; hard at first, but it gets easier.

If you wrestle with depression, I urge you to reach out, talk to someone you trust and break the isolation, and withhold self- judgement. If you are afraid that you might hurt yourself, please call 800-273-8255 immediately.

Flexing this sharing muscle allows me to make real life connections with those who can empathize, which creates genuine bonds and minimizes shame. I’ve learned to separate my family’s condition from myself and not let it define me. Discussing subjects outside of our comfort zones is part of our evolution. It is also critical in the fight against depression.

Life is challenging, and we all need help in different ways. Makeup Madeover is committed to creating a space where you can feel safe, tell your truth, laugh, and share your triumphs and struggles.

Because we believe there is beauty in vulnerability.   

3 comments

  1. The look that you have designed in the form of makeup is looking hot. You have to use everything prefect. Eye shade is also matching on the face look, don’t need to change that.

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