I've never done a #transformationtuesday , but this seems like a good time to start!
Some of you may be familiar with @officialverityvaree , the company I was inspired to start with a team of diligent, authentic women in order to "reveal the truth about beauty" through other women's stories. We've had 19 Reveals so far (coming up on our 20th!) where we do an in-depth, two-part photoshoot and interview to tell women's stories and help them know the value of their person, their inner and outer beauty, in a way that few women ever do.
Through these stories we've found that both the women doing the Reveals and those who read them come away empowered and confident in the value of their own stories.
For two years we've run on donations, and a lot of hard work from both our local and online communities. We've enjoyed meeting like-minded women through our hashtag #liveverityvaree , which literally means "to strike truth."
And now...well, I wanted to share a little bit of my story with all of you.
At 16 I had the opportunity to start a professional career in modeling. I enjoyed fast success (I had been told it takes about 4 years to start getting big opportunities), and it left me so excited and nervous that I barely caught my breath between new developments!
As an actress, singer/songwriter, and model I was a young, new face on the market, and every day presented new opportunities. Fast-forward about a year and a half, after I admitted that I had an eating disorder, accepted the advice of loved ones to "take better care" of myself, and met my then-boyfriend, now husband.
Somehow, I still felt empty.
I'd gone to the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts on a scholarship for their summer program, had been urged by my professors to take my acting career seriously, had a brush with Capital records as a singer/songwriter and was told to "keep writing songs everyday," had several incredible modeling interviews (including my last interview with IMG where I was almost signed), then told to "get a little taller and lose an inch" off my hips.
At the end of it all I still had opportunities, but I quit answering emails, I stopped asking my mom to go with me to new, exciting places that would boost my career, and I paid little attention to the offers that continued to present themselves.
Why did it all feel so empty? I don't blame the industry, or the people of IMG. They were doing their job and at that time their job was to tell me I wasn't ready to be one of their models.
But, what was I missing? Surely it couldn't be as simple as "you're either beautiful, or you're not." During that year-long hiatus after I was turned down, I did some of the most in-depth questioning I've ever done with myself. And I didn't like most of what I found. Anger, bitterness, pride, and selfishness were merely the symptoms of a far bigger problem: I didn't know my worth.
In fact, I didn't think I had any worth. Anything "worthy" about me was something I worked hard for and was gone the next day. Even if I got that audition, or killed that photo shoot, or made the audience cry with that song, I'd need to present something even better the next day, or I'd be blown away, forgotten in the throng of other talented performers.
Beauty is something I dreamed of. No, I didn't have it, but I could surely work at it! Something to be earned: that was beauty. I thought that I had earned it—until the day I was turned down by IMG.
So, where did that leave me?
I'm sure many of you know the utterly horrendous, crushing, terrifying feeling that no matter what you do, it's not enough. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, more talented, more successful, more intelligent, more notable, and more capable than you. So, why try?
It's not that I thought of myself as any better than anyone else. In fact, if you knew me at the time you might think I had very bad self-esteem. But I did know that no matter how replaceable, insignificant, or ugly I felt that there was more to me than meets the eye.
Because if not, then where did that leave everybody else? If I was replaceable and insignificant then what about the people who looked up to me? Where did that leave them? And, isn't it fairly logical that if I was such a useless piece of human matter, that most everyone else was also? Unless the odds were completely stacked against me and I was the only piece of trash left in the world, which on some days felt plausible.
This is where I started Verity Vareé. At the bottom. At the lowest low my life has ever known. I asked the question, "What is beauty?" and invited women of all different ages, shapes, and sizes to come answer that question for me. The results have been some of the most illuminating truths and captivating stories I've ever known.
Would you join us? Ask yourself, "What is beauty?" then make an attempt to answer that question with the uniquely detailed tapestry of your life story.
I am embarking on an adventure story of my own to share this particular truth with the rest of the world. In authenticity, truth, and diversity I have stumbled into the most rewarding community I've ever known.
This is Verity Vareé. This is my story. What's your's?