If you know who Bobbi Brown is, you might know of the exceptional story of an unflagging woman who started as a make-up artist, and – slowly but surely – built one of the biggest and most well known cosmetic companies in the US, her big break created by a famously made-up Naomi Campbell on the cover of Vogue Magazine in 1987.
In the month that we celebrate South Africa’s women – and after a 2013 visit to Londolozi – Bobbi has written an open letter addressed to the women and girls of Londolozi and Good Work Foundation. But actually, while we are humbled to have this remarkable women address us in particular, this is a message for all women, and one that we are privileged to to be able to share.
For the first time in modern Londolozi blog history, we are not going to include a photo with today’s post. Enjoy the volubility of Bobbi’s words:
“I wish that as a young girl, I had understood that there is more than one way to be pretty, and more than one way to be smart. That is why I created a brand that celebrates all women and was built on my personal beauty philosophy: the secret to true beauty is simply to be who you are.
I struggled with self-acceptance as a teenager. I was short and had dark hair, while all the popular actresses and models at the time were tall and blonde. Traditional school subjects didn’t come naturally to me. I had to work really hard. The good news is that, with time, I found different role models and learned to appreciate and embrace my unique beauty. I also found a subject – makeup – that I loved and did come easily to me. So I finally learned to accept, and love, what made me unique. Self-acceptance to me is the key to looking pretty – if you are happy being who you are, you will look your prettiest.
I have also seen throughout the years how education can transform a woman. I always say that I would have been a teacher if not a makeup artist. My wish for all women and girls is to spend your time trying to learn. It is why I launched The Pretty Powerful Campaign for Women & Girls. My brand’s philanthropic mission is to support organizations that help empower women through job skills training and girls through continued education. Access to education doesn’t come easy to everyone, so I have recently partnered with an organization that is helping to remove these barriers to education that so many women face because education is key to transforming yourself and the communities around you. I realized that later in life. Sticking with school wasn’t easy for me, but it eventually helped me to discover a theatrical makeup program at a college that gave me the tools and knowledge I used to launch my company. I use that knowledge every day.
So, don’t spend your time looking at unrealistic images of models and actresses in magazine ads. Spend your time reading the articles next to them about how other women and girls are changing the world. Don’t spend time staring in the mirror and questioning yourself. Don’t pick apart the things you don’t like about yourself. Instead, celebrate and enhance the things you love about yourself.
These things will make you smart, and if there is anything I have learned in the 20-plus years I have been in the makeup industry, it is that a smart girl is confident, and confident girls are pretty and powerful. And when you get a group of pretty powerful girls together, they’re unstoppable.
Ladies (and gentlemen) – we welcome you to add your thoughts and additional words of encouragement and advice in the comments section below. We also welcome you to find out more about Women’s Day in South Africa by reading a recent speech delivered in the Londolozi village.