What used to have the ability to enhance a woman’s self-esteem now has the power to do the complete opposite. In today’s society, the guidelines defining “beauty” have reached unattainable heights. “A lady will risk her health, invest her money, and alter her physical appearance in pursuit of it,” explained Connecticut-native, Shakia, founder of Bare.Bold&Beautiful. “I found myself not wanting to be seen without my ‘face on’.” As a young woman determined to inspire all women about the beauty they possess, Shakia explained to Bronze Magazine how she, too, had to overcome insecurities of how she looked. While attending graduate school in New York City, Shakia stated how she easily got caught up in the competitive nature of New York; pressured to look her best at all times, no matter the circumstance. Shakia realized her strong dependency on makeup and, after graduating and returning to Connecticut, decided to temporarily stop wearing makeup to embrace her bare, natural beauty. During that time, Shakia created a Facebook group called Barely Beautiful; a space where she posted encouraging statuses and photos showing the beauty in having “flaws.” What started out as a Facebook group eventually became the movement Bare.Bold.&Beautiful. In one year, Shakia noticed how much Bare.Bold&Beautiful has made an impact on the lives of many women. From emails to an overflow of photo and story submissions, many women have shared with Shakia how Bare.Bold.&Beautiful has helped them embrace their beauty, “flaws” and all.
Bronze Magazine had the opportunity to sit and chat with Shakia about her journey towards impacting the lives of women and expanding the Bare.Bold.&Beautiful movement:
When was it that you decided to stop wearing make-up and what encouraged you to do so?
I never decided to completely stop wearing make-up as I still wear it from time to time, but there was a time when I found that I was defining my beauty through make-up, no longer seeing it as something that enhanced my beauty. My goal was to recognize the beauty that lay within my bare face and to find the beauty I possessed outside of the physical.
What is your definition of beauty?
This question is so interesting because my goal is to redefine beauty, showing that there is no true, single definition of beauty, but many. I don’t necessarily have a definition of beauty in which I use to gauge what beauty is. Instead, I allow myself to experience all sorts of beauty as I encounter it. Beauty one day may be the hearty tone in someone’s laugh, the soft feel of suede or the scar on a person’s face in which they show off un-apologetically. I think that is why I don’t and never have understood the word ugly. The word is overused and misused. I think because I have made beauty in my perception limitless, the word ugly rarely has a place in my vocabulary.
What are the steps you took to create the Bare.Bold&Beautiful movement?
During my time of wearing no make-up, I started planning my cross-country road trip (https://www.youtube.com/
How have women who have joined this movement changed the way they see themselves?
So many ladies have shared how Bare.Bold&Beautiful has allowed them to love who they are, flaws and all. One young lady wrote a powerful poem explaining how the movement had saved her life. She explained that she had been suicidal all her life, but with the encouraging words & uplifting compliments that she received from members, she wrote “Now I embrace the person that God shaped, made, and molded me to be, I walk around with confidence and count it as a blessing to be me.” Another member wrote explaining how she hated her lazy eye and I advised “The same energy you use hating that eye can find something to love about that eye.” That day the lady posted a frontal photo with the description “embracing my lazy eye like Shakia said.” Members of the group flooded her photo with reassuring compliments; she was so moved that she wrote & later recorded what is now the official Bare.Bold&Beautiful theme song.
Why do you think women are so ashamed or insecure of their natural beauty?
Natural beauty often comes hand in hand with imperfections and many ladies have their own perception as to what is imperfect. Imperfection may be an uneven skin tone, dark circles around the eyes, moles, acne scars and or freckles. Natural beauty is us in our most raw form. Somewhere along the way we have become so uncomfortable with it. The discomfort may come from our natural beauty sometimes being uncontrollable, unpredictable, and bringing to light what we are trying to keep in the dark. For example: those dark circles may be a sign of a lack of sleep because of a troubling matter and that acne a sign of poor hygiene or stress. Although those associations are not fact, they are the case in some lives. We shy away from anything that would have us look anything less than having it all together and looking flawless while doing so. Natural beauty is no different. We want to put our best face forward while putting our best foot forward; and sadly many ladies have decided their best face is the one which is made up.
Every Thursday, ladies are encouraged to embrace their bare beauty by posting a ‘selfie’ wearing no make-up. No Make-Up Thursday (#NMT) quickly became the most popular day where the groups’ timeline fills with a variety of Bare Beauties with adoring compliments from members under their photos. I always encourage members to compliment another lady’s #NMT photo explaining “your compliment can uplift a lady’s self-esteem; if not for a lifetime, for that moment.” For some ladies it is easy for them to post a #NMT selfie, but for some ladies it is very difficult, taking months to post. I encourage them, as well as other ladies to post in their discomfort because that is when they truly begin to grow; And on those days when I see a member who was once hesitant post a #NMT selfie, it is one more member who has taken the step to embrace herself.
How can a woman be Bare.Bold&Beautiful?
Bare.Bold&Beautiful has three simple goals: Bare: to encourage ladies to wear make-up less often, Bold: to see the beauty/boldness in their “flaw(s)”and Beautiful: to define their own beauty, not allowing the media or others to do so. Any woman who meets these three goals is without a doubt Bare.Bold&Beautiful.
What do you hope to change with this movement?
It is my greatest hope that people will read and or hear something that I have shared on behalf of Bare.Bold&Beautiful and their perception and definition of beauty will change.
What’s a motivational quote that inspires you to keep going?
It may be a cliché one now, but “Be the change you want to see in the world.” –Gandhi. I have been motivated and convicted by that quote for years. I truly believe in these words and am doing just that with the Bare.Bold&Beautiful movement. I am being the change that I want to see in the world.
Shakia travels to speak and present her ‘Girl Talk’ program to various groups. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries.
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by Ashley R. Cottrell