Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Time to Change. It really is.

I've signed up for the Time to Change "Champion" programme. I truly believe that it's time to end mental heath stigmatisation. The fact that I've found/am finding this blog post so hard to write demonstrates beautifully that the stigmatisation is very much still alive and well. I'm really quite nervous about it. Have been for days.

I don't believe it for a moment but the term "superwoman" is used in relation to me fairly regularly. By others, I hasten to add. I'm in no way a superwoman, I just get on with things. Usually. It might come as a surprise to those people who have used that term that I have chronic and significant mental health problems, have had all my adult life - and probably most of my childhood but there's no real way of verifying that.

I have Borderline Personality Disorder. Won't bore you with too many of the symptoms, there's more information in the NHS link than I could tell you as I'm too close to it and can't see the wood for the trees.

In a nutshell, I get massively overwhelmed very easily (this is inconvenient as I work best under pressure) I have had great big long periods of debilitating depression (not for a while thankfully) and I struggle greatly with self image and my sense of self and self worth.

Now, no one can control the hand that life, nature, physiology deals them, but, to a degree, we can control how the effects influence us. For example, through 18 months of  psychological therapy, I've learned to sit on the sunny side of the bus, not the overcast side. I refuse to be a victim of my faulty wiring.

That's not to say that I don't have bad periods. It truth be told I'm currently navigating my way through one. Personally, I don't find talking to people about my feelings to help a great deal - I find it gives them weight and power. I prefer to talk about how I can counteract, improve and remove those feelings. There's generally an underlying reason for things now- that's how I know I'm not having a depressive episode. They come with no rhyme or reason. The things that might be causing my malaise may be tiny or massive, but one thing's for sure, they'll take a tremendous amount of effort to put right. As a result I sleep and feel exhausted, physically and mentally, a huge amount of the time.

A few years back I got myself into a bit of a pickle. I was so wrapped up in my self image and worth (lack thereof) that I inadvertently created an alter ego for myself - I called it "my brilliant self" when I was in talking therapy. It helped me to function initially in a bullying and oppressive work environment that was terribly harmful, looking back. But it also piled so much pressure on me that it ended up being one of the most destructive aspects of my life. Especially given that the pressure was to achieve and produce in an environment where those things would never have been noticed or appreciated, they just would have fuelled further expectation through negative reinforcement. It takes all sorts to make a world, of course, but people in relatively powerful positions need to be aware much more of the impact their behaviour has on other people - lots of sufferers of mental health issues are the masters of disguise. They can't help but internalise the negativity and it's harmful and painful.

In 2 years, I've gone from being unemployed and unemployable (mental health problems) to being a qualified, certified make up artist with my own business, successful, thank you. I have achieved my degree in Social Media and have a secondary career as a a consultant in the same, learned to ride a motorbike, bagged myself a fantastic personal life and have rebuilt my life totally. As a result of this
I'm aware that some may be confused by my claim to significant mental health requirements. I can assure you that they are true. I just refuse to let it limit me.

In my capacity as a Make Up Artist, sometimes it's super hard to put my face on, get out there, interact with my clients and do what I do best. That's the hard bit - getting there. The second I see my client it's all forgotten - doesn't exist. It's wonderful. And especially when we get to see the results - it's magical. Just difficult and frustrating that I have to go through that to get there. All the different people I meet, the creativity I get to employ and the focus a job gives me, they have magical healing properties. It just needs that kick to get me there. I can totally see how lots of Borderline people (overwhelmingly ladies) are addicted to substances. I've escaped that one, thank goodness.

I have read, talked, practised and medicated. A lot. I'm still on the highest dose of my medication. It's a relatively generic one now, and really I should be back on the hardcore stuff - I used to take the highest dose of that plus a second high dose specialist one - but I am desperately trying to resist changing back over. The side effects of the hardcore ones were pretty inconvenient and especially so when I have 2 careers to run. I also don't want to be in the bracket that those meds put me in.

I've wrestled for years about "coming out" about my mental health. I'm glad that being a Champion has encouraged me to write this post. I'm going to be canvassing a event shortly with Time to Change Wales information and paraphernalia. You may have seen the collective blog project about self image that 6 ladies and I wrote a few months back. I wrestled with the idea of bringing mental health into my post, but I just didn't feel able to do it. With hindsight I wish I had actually. it governs so many of my responses, thoughts and feelings - and not all negatively,believe it or not.

And just don't even get me started on accessing mental health services via the NHS.

Utterly appalling. That's all I'll say, for now!

Extraordinary, yes. Wonderwoman, no.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

"Oh, you're a model! That must be SO glamorous"


Or something.

Being a make up artist involves lots of standing around, often cold, a bit damp, holding too much stuff.

It's so much easier being a model! And if you believe that, you'll believe anything.

Now there are models, and there are models. Some are pretty laid back and easy going, pretty happy to do most things required to get the "money shot" (if only, most of the time) and then there are those that are just plain and simply bonkers.

Gingerface Model is one of them.

I've worked with her a couple of times, this was the first time. It was November, and this is a pond - completely covered in algae; in Bristol. She was not asked to do this - she asked to do it!

Probably some of the best behind the scenes images I have!

And being a photographer is just as glamorous, as Angi Wallace so beautifully demonstrates!

And just to prove that this is not photoshopped - a wee bit of video...

So who wants to be the next model? 

Fine Art Fashion Photography

On 24th August I was really lucky to participate in the final part of Sophie Pycroft's week long photographic art exhibition at the beautiful Penarth Pier Pavillion.  

A collection of beautiful models beautifully showed off this seasons new trends from Karen Millen, jewellery by Stella and Dot. Plum colours in large patterns, beautifully tailored rain coat and trilby and a beautiful fluid white robe dress were just some of the highlights. 

The setting is just glorious, with the late summer light pouring in through the ceiling windows...

Being just one of the make up artists working on the event I was very pleased to work with four girls - none of which I'd worked with before and all of which are beautiful, unique, talented ladies in their own unique ways. My make up tutor was one of the other artists - no pressure then! It was fabulous to work with her again. Inspirational.

After the catwalk, the girls mingled and chatted with the the audience giving an opportunity to examine pieces more closely. I should at this stage apologise for the poor photography - I had camera issues that day and was just grateful to have taken any images that weren't completely out of focus! 

Beautiful Victoria.

Gorgeous Rhiannon.

Just two of the girls I worked with that day. Sophie did a mini-shoot with all of the models individually so I'm hoping to be able to share those soon.

And just to round off a brilliant Sunday of work and fun, being sat on the beach eating Krispy Kreme donuts in the sunshine laughing with several like minded ladies - that was just the icing on the proverbial cake. 

Confessions of a Packaging Addict

My name's Bethan and I have an addiction to silly, pointless quizzes on Facebook - and PACKAGING.

I can't help it. I really try hard. I'm ruthless. I try to picture the factories where these things are made and the stacks and boxes of the things and try to think about what my home would look like if I kept all the lovely packaging that I'd ever had the pleasure of. That would just be silly. 

But it's soooooo pretty! I have a variety of carrier bags from MAC, e.l.f, Lush, all sorts of places that I neither use nor can bring myself to throw out. Ridiculous.

This one is causing me real problems:

It will come as no surprise to you that I had it for Christmas. It's now half way through September and I still haven't opened it.

I try really hard not to keep clothes for "best". When "best" comes you either don't like them any more, they don't fit or they're wrecked by dust. Just silly. I refuse to get annoyed when I smash a nice plate - I just don't see the point in being precious about things. They are just "things".

So why the flipping heck can't I just open and use my lovely Soap & Glory gift set?! I LOVE the stuff - but it's just soooooo pretty! 

And I know that once I do open it, the box itself will become another source of stress. It's too "useful" to throw out.

Just like all the other "useful" boxes I have...

Is there some kind of support group I can join? Shall I set one up?

We're really lucky in our house. We have awesome neighbours. Not only do they help us out all the time and come to our parties but they let us colour their faces in etc when we're practicing new things!

It's lovely when someone is inspired by the work you've been a part of. Even more lovely when it inspires them to create something that's truly fantastic also.

You may remember this picture I shared a little while ago...?

Photogaphy by Emma Bradbrook

Well yesterday we had a lovely surprise when Sarah popped over and gave us this gorgeous sketch that she had done.

It's really genuinely gorgeous and very, very good - we needed to share it with you! 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Turquoise Green Eyed Monster

I like to think of my self as being someone who has more than enough confidence.

That's not to say that I think I'm generally brilliant or anything, it's not that, it's just that I know that if there's something I need or want to do, there'll have to be a damned good reason why I can't make it happen in one way or another.

But every now and again something comes along to wrong foot me.

So there I was yesterday tea time, minding my own business coming out of "our local German supermarket of 4 letters" juggling some supplies and this vision appears before me (well, technically to the side but for purposes of illustration I'll stick with it).

Clearly some kind of beauty therapist (wearing swanky tunic/trouser combo in turquoise blue) long glossy, shiny, bouncy red hair like Farah Fawcett - I felt myself coming over all Johnny Bravo. Her face was polished to perfection, lipstick appeared immaculate. Nails - gleaming, nice diamond ring, polished toe nails and smooth, tanned feet in dainty matching turquoise sandals. She swanked effortlessly in through the door.

I took issue with several things,

  1.  My feet are like hobbits feet at best.
  2. It was tea time, not ten minutes after getting ready in the morning.
  3. My hair wouldn't shine like that if I coated it in chip fat.
  4. I can't even walk in sandals properly, let alone do a day's work.
  5. I have never swanked effortlessly anywhere.

So what's going on here? I'm supposed to be the one with all the answers. I'm the make up artist. I know the fancy pro hair people, I know how it's done. So why isn't she writing a blog post about me?

Well, I tell myself, for starters, she probably hasn't been nursing two very very (differently) poorly senior dogs constantly, night and day for 3 weeks nearly. She probably has a swanky fully fitted house that she's lived in for ages and has it just as she wants it. I don't. She's probably not trying to fulfill a lifetime's huge career ambition in the fashion world - from the outside. She probably didn't graduate two months ago. Probably hasn't got suspected gall stones and  high cholesterol she's trying to manage through lifestyle and diet. She probably didn't spend 12 days on top of a mountain working 18 hour days living in a tent helping make a music festival happen and surviving on one and a half showers in the whole time 2 months ago as her summer holiday and I'm pretty sure she didn't arrive on a motorbike. 

I did all of those things.

But still, I felt jealous, I felt incompetent, in some way less of a "lady" than her. Her (beautiful) appearance totally eclipsed my hard graft, my studying, my ambition, my drive, my passion and my ability to roll one's sleeves up and get on with the real stuff. Is shiny hair, dainty shoes and fresh lipstick the be all and end all? Is it right that beauty is perceived as the ultimate personal quality and it doesn't matter if it's real or fake?

I flipping hope not.

Yes, that's my trade. Do I do it to hold all other qualities to ransom? No. I love to make people look good whether it's for a catwalk, wedding, party, and I love to look good myself. But it isn't always absolutely necessary. And surely, if you look that good on a Tuesday tea time in Aldi then what have you got left in the tank for Saturday night?

Make up is costume, amour. I use it to mentally signify that I am "ready to go" on a daily basis. I do wear make up most days but I was running late for an appointment this morning so I went with a box fresh face. Did anyone cower behind a postbox? No, because I look like me with no make up on. That's different to me with make up on. Not better, or worse, but different.

I'm a big advocate of feeling ready to face the outside world, best foot forward, making the best of yourself, confidence boosting, etc. but not at the expense of realising that sometimes it just doesn't matter. There's a job to be done, things to get on with, no one is inspecting my naked or vaguely made up face. If they are, then they should take up a hobby instead. 

Looking after yourself is imperative. No one wants to end up a wrinkly old grot bag, but if I have to make a time based decision at 7:30am as to whether I'm going to get the tea ready for tonight, give the dogs their antibiotics or polish my face into a frenzy, I know what it'll be. And I probably won't be wearing sandals while I do it.

I guess what it boils down to is that, for some, looking the very best they can every single day and maintaining an appearance of virtual perfection really is very, very important. And I'm jealous of that. Because it's not as important to me by a mile. But if I did put that amount of effort in, it would have to be at the expense of things that make a difference to me, my (canine and human) family and the people around me. I don't want that. It seems to me that I have the best of both worlds. I can dress up, make an effort, totally enjoy every bit of that. But I don't have to do it every day. I have so many different aspects of my existence that sometimes it's not appropriate or necessary. 

I'd flipping love to swank about at tea time looking all glossy, mind. Tricky under Gortex and Kevlar, and no one would see my tanned dainty feet in my bike boots...

She did look amazing. I was jealous.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Student Life

I'm in the middle of putting together my portfolio to go to some agencies and agents and I came across these images.

I'd forgotten just how lovely they are.

The set is for a final year couture collection by an incredible fashion designer Siddra Syed and final year photography by the super talented +Sophie Leigh . They're from some time ago, but it's lovely when you stumble across some work you did ages ago and you're still proud of it.

This collection was exquisite and Siddra won "Best Collection" with it. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Girls on Film

Each of these images are captured on film by Scott Morgan Photography, model is Megan Brunell and make up by me.

An understated, nature inspired beauty shoot. I love the results.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Everyday Sunshine

I'm a ginger.

Not so much as you get older, the redness fades or darkens (fades in my case) but my colouring supports the ginger format so I (usually) just warm it up to the colour it used to be.

As a  result of being a child in the pate 70's/early 80's, despite having a clued up Mumatron, I spent a lot of time in agony with sunburn. I can burn through factor 50 without even trying.

As a result I've always felt quite passionate about skin protection in respect of sun. I carry sunscreen in my make up kit and face painting kit at all times - I never wish to be caught out.

Yes, a lot of beauty products have a sunscreen in them. I've always thought that was enough for day to day use.

Watch this.

I'm now researching the best under make up full on sunscreen.

Would you be brave enough? And is that tan really THAT important?

Disappointing Visuals

I fell of my motorbike a fortnight ago.

It's something that is inevitable, unpleasant, embarrassing, so at the very least I would expect a bit of  decent bruising in recompense.

The outcome was quite different. Immediately, nothing whatsoever was visible. A few days later - some disappointing colouration.

Despite disappointing decoration, I did give myself a bit of a jolt. Hurt a bit. Much more than was visible! So I decided to paint them up so they looked how they felt. I love painting bruises you see. I'm not much into the real theatrical stuff (I love it but I don't really do it) but I've always been fascinated by bruising, especially after losing my footing stepping into the over bath shower and bringing my body weight down on my thigh bone Vs. the edge of the bath. That was a corker.

So here's how they really looked.

You see what I mean? They're there, but not exactly impressive, are they?

But they felt like this...

And just for the benefit of the tape, it did actually hurt painting them - but even more taking it off! 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lazy Sunday

I love coffee. A lot. Especially Taylors of Harrogate's 'Lazy Sunday' blend. It's a beautiful coffee for any time at all - and I have always been in love with the idealistic packaging. The idea of drinking coffee, in the garden, under a lilac parasol, on a Sunday - heaven.

I was on Twitter yesterday and I follow Taylors, so when I saw this tweet, I felt compelled to do something good!

I played about with a few ideas but I just knew really what I had to do...

After a LOT of messing about, fun, and writing letters around the wrong way (duh!) I finally pressed the submit button.

...and the guess what?!

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Grand Finale

The final piece of the body image blog is in place!

On Easter Sunday, we donned our best get up, took a big gulp and took the plunge.

One of the 7 couldn't do it. She tried but she just couldn't. I'd love it if she wrote a small post about it - not to "explain herself" but just to tell us about it. Bear in mind that this lady is THE FITTEST person I know - she has an amazing figure, not to mention face, but it just goes to show how deep this whole body image thing goes.

So we were lucky enough to be permitted to shoot in the wonderful Angel Hotel in Cardiff, the Photographer was the super talented Cardiff girl Mel Davies, hair was wonderfully done by Simon Harvey-Mears, and the girls mainly did their own make up, just a few little touch ups from Michelle and I.

We arranged the shoot six or eight weeks in advance, we find out the day before that there's not one but two big rugby games going on in Cardiff that day and with the Angel Hotel being slap bang in the middle between the two venues, I must admit, I did do a facepalm.

We knew the traffic would be horrendous as a result, we became acutely aware that the hotel was full of men who may have had a lemonade or two but we had great fun and banter with them - they were incredibly good natured (and gave us old girls a boost!)

So here's the six of us, all glammed up.

I think we scrub up quite nicely! 

So are you ready for our "no make up shot" eeek! 

You know what? We're REAL women doing Real things and living REAL lives, and I personally think we look pretty damned good!