By Paola Sacerdote
Every woman is worthy of being loved. Reveal Beauty, a NYC-based 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2007 by Anna Doan has a mission of reminding survivors of Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking of their dignity, worth and beauty by cultivating an environment of empowerment and beauty through makeover events and professional development workshops. The organization has serviced over 1,300 women, partnered with 50+ corporations, over 250 volunteers, and 7+ shelter partners. During COVID they launched the ‘Be the Voice for the Voiceless’ campaign, to provide much needed resources including essential items to women during the pandemic. In our Q&A session with Doan we learn about how Reveal Beauty got its start, the healing it provides for survivors of domestic violence through their events, and the impact of COVID on survivors.
Bronze Magazine: Tell us a bit about Reveal Beauty.
Anna Doan: Reveal Beauty started as a small idea with a group of a few friends from a local church with a mission to re-define love on the most unfortunate day of love, Valentine’s Day. We partnered with one of the local shelters in New York City and hosted five women at an office for a makeover event. Every year it gets better and better. We now have seven different shelters in NYC with almost 200 women and we’ve also expanded to Austin, Texas, our first out of state location, so the goal is to continue to expand.
BM: What inspired you to create assistance for women who experience domestic violence?
AD: I had such a passion for empowering women, specifically survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking. I am also a lover of fashion and beauty, so I wanted to mix both worlds together. I believe that if you can create meaningful moments of truth for woman to believe they are beautiful, loved and worthy, then those experiences would spark hope, and we believe that with hope anything is possible.
BM: What inspired the idea of makeovers, the monthly self-care, and professional development workshops?
AD: In terms of the events we do at Reveal, I’ve discovered through the years that these extravagant makeovers are like New York Fashion Week on steroids! Our annual Ultimate Makeover events are so massive and overwhelming in a good way. A lot of the survivors are so in awe and feel beautifully transformed in these experiences. Our workshops are meant to provide self-care tools in fashion, beauty, health, and wellness. The workshops also provide financial tools like how to budget and how to provide for your family, and professional tools like career counseling, resume writing, and interviewing skills. We do anything we can holistically to help with self-care and building women up, especially in this transition when they are looking for hope, change, and the power tools to do so.
BM: What is a Reveal Beauty event like?
AD: We have access to survivors through our strategic partnerships with established women’s domestic violence shelters. The shelters determine who to send the invite to for our annual Ultimate Makeover events. Once the women arrive, they are met by a hostess who will guide them through the day. We have different beauty stations from skincare, nails, makeup, to hair styling, and fashion. This is a beauty event where women get to be Cinderella for the day.
BM: How is this year different than any other year for Reveal Beauty?
AD: Our shelter partners informed us that there are serious issues with woman who are locked or trapped with their abusers. Violence has increased during the pandemic, so this takes away hope because they can’t leave the home that they are trapped in. We were also informed that some of the survivors are essential workers, so they are able to still work while their abuser cannot; this switch in financial power also creates issues and tension and escalates the abuse in the home. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that in March during the pandemic
domestic violence increased by 6 percent compared to previous years, and then by April it increased to 15 percent. We are seeing a steady trend in higher frequency of calls and survivors looking for help.
.BM: What indicates domestic violence? What resources are available?
AD: Our partnered shelters have told us that domestic violence starts with isolation because that is what abusers do to take control and power over their victims. Reveal Beauty has created a whole page of resources posted on the website for friends, family, colleagues, or potential survivors looking for help. Resources include hotlines, different shelters, and legal support. The more survivors know that they are not alone the more they can escape from their abuser.
BM: What advice would you give a woman who might be feeling negatively about herself?
AD: I think women need to remind themselves where they came from and how far they have come. It is so easy to compare yourself to others and beat yourself down when you think you are not where you should be; and that is whether you are a survivor or not. I believe we women are really hard on ourselves. For those survivors who grew up without love, it’s especially important to remind them that they are loved and worthy of being celebrated, even if the celebration is for the victory of deciding to leave an abuser.
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