Hello my name is Christine and I was raised in a low-to-middle income family where my mother was the only income provider. My father stayed at home taking care of the household due to medical reasons. I have two other siblings, a brother and a sister, both of which were at least 12 years older than me. I was the baby! My sister lived with my grandparents and my brother lived with us until I was about 7 years old.

My mother was a hard worker. She had to be! There was one time where she had three jobs just to make ends meet. Things were tight and she was not home often. Thank goodness that my father was a hunter and butchered it himself! Sorry animal lovers, but otherwise, we probably would’ve been a little bit hungry during some periods of my childhood. I love animals too! I have always had some kind of animal in my life (most of the time dogs).

Anyways, you know the stereotype that the baby is the spoiled one? Yeah, well, my brother and sister felt the same exact way. Which makes me wonder how it was for them? I know that when my sister lived with my grandparents she was given everything that she could possibly want. The only thing that I remember about my brother is that he babysat me once in awhile. So, I don’t know. But I remember wearing the not popular, not cool, generic, clothes and shoes. I didn’t have much to accessorize with. I remember going to school and seeing all the cute clothes and name brand shoes and backpacks. I remember seeing all of the accessories. And eventhough I knew it was wrong, I was green with envy. I couldn’t say anything to my mom because she was already working hard enough! I kept quiet.

Middle school was a very difficult time for me. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was a heavier girl who kept to herself. I didn’t have many friends. It felt like I never really fit in with anyone. I would get bullied and laughed at. I was called “thunder thighs”, “Tiina tuna” (Tiina was a nickname of mine), or “wrinkles.” I remember falling down a flight of stairs and my books went everywhere. Everyone laughed and no one asked if I was okay or helped. I remember being yelled at on the bus to move because I was in someone else’s seat. We didn’t have assigned seating. Spitwads would get stuck in my hair on the bus. I never told anyone – especially not my parents because then they would get involved and the bullying would be worse. I kept quiet and let it be.

I turned 16 and, boy, was I happy!! I got my driver’s license. I didn’t have to ride the bus anymore!!!! Then, I received a job at a Rite Aid drug store. A couple of weeks went by and I received my first check. It was like holding onto gold. I was so proud of that piece of paper. I was RICH! I went shopping and bought a pair of white and baby blue Adidas sneakers and a matching sweatshirt. I remember feeling so excited to have a shopping spree and I looked into my wallet to see how much more I have to spend. I have so many things that I want! I wanted to get a shirt and pants to match. I wanted to get mascara, lipgloss, and some colorful eyeshadow, and a new scrunchy for my hair. (Yes, I wore scrunchies proudly. It was in!). That is when I learned a quick lesson. Excitement turned to confusion and disappointment. How did I spend $120 already?! I still need to put money aside for gas for the next two weeks!!

Now, I understand why it has been so difficult for my family to make ends meet. I had no financial responsibilities except to pay for gas and I couldn’t even do that. That’s the moment when I realized that I need to budget my play money AND to buy on sale.

Every two weeks I gave myself a portion of my paycheck and bought clothes, makeup or jewelry. That’s when I really started to play with my makeup and outfits. It was so much fun to sit in front of the mirror and try certain looks. I would see something on TV or in a magazine and think that I’m going to recreate that look.

I would sit in my room for hours and hours playing and recreating. My parents thought that I was a hermit crab or an introvert. But really, this was the first time that I started to feel comfortable with myself. I was able to create something beautiful. My confidence went up and I started to see myself as pretty.

I had the opportunity to go to a training school while attending high school. I wanted to do cosmetology but at the last minute I decided to do something else. Why? Because the stereotype was that only the girls who were not very smart did cosmetology and I knew I was smart. I graduated from high school with my diploma and my certification from my training school. I started to go to Elmira College in New York. A new school, new people, new everything! I was excited and nervous. By that time, I had lost alot of weight and was pretty happy with myself – IF I had makeup on. I had to have makeup on to feel good. I felt naked, insecure, and ugly without it.

I decided to play on the college ice hockey team. The ladies were so fantastic and everyone got along with everyone. They were my friends. I finally had a group of friends that were uplifting! My confidence started to build again and I started wearing less and less makeup. But I always wore the basics! Mascara, eyeliner, and lipgloss or lipstick. I still played with makeup, my clothes, and my hair in the evenings while I was supposed to be studying. I finally found my place of self-esteem. I don’t have to be wearing the latest clothes or a layer of makeup to feel pretty. I was happy.

I graduated from college and started to work in the human services field. I was never truly happy but I was happy enough. I got married and had two beautiful kids, a boy and girl. I kept on being promoted at my job and climbed the ladder. To everyone else, it looked like I was a very happy and lucky woman. I had everything that everyone would want: an average sized family, a cat, two dogs, a great job, a house, two cars, a good church, and went on vacation once per year. What more could anyone want, right? I wasn’t completely happy. My marriage was on the rocks and I wasn’t completely satisfied with my job. That’s when I found an outlet. Houseparties to sell skin care and makeup. I was able to get out of the house away from my marriage and I was able to make others feel beautiful. That felt so rewarding and I was good at it! I climbed the ladder in the beauty field while keeping my human services job.

Later, I needed to quit the beauty field and my job because we relocated to a different state hoping for a new beginning for our marriage. This whole time, makeup and fashion was still a big desire. I started to cut my husband and children’s hair as money was getting tight. That was fun and I enjoyed it! Who knew?!

A few months later, I realized that things were just not going to work between us. We seperated and then later divorced. Life went on.

Then, something fantastic happened. I met a fantastic person who was caring and loved everything about me. A person who makes me feel like the only woman in the world. Things moved quick because we were both head over heels commited. I moved in with him and made a house a home. I love everything about him. He also has a boy and a girl that are a little older than mine. They are sweet kids and get along very well with my two.

I found a new job but it still wasn’t satisfying. It was depressing actually. I needed social contact and this job didn’t have that. I ended up getting another job. It was good for awhile but then I was promoted. Good, right? I wanted to be promoted! Wrong. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be and how often I would have stress. I kept getting more and more depressed. I couldn’t sleep at night because I was already stressing about the next day. Weeks went by with little sleep and hard emotional days. I had a breakdown. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I went to the doctor and she diagnosed me with “burn out” and depression. She prescribed me to be home and suggested that I explore what would make me happy. She recommended for me to go to a career counselor to help with this. She also thought it wasn’t a good idea for me to go back to work at the same place because the stress will remain.

I talked to the career counselor and, after one 2-hour session, I discovered that I have been fighting my passion my whole life and that is the reason why I just can’t seem to be fully happy with any of my jobs. Beauty and fashion. I love beauty and fashion and I need to pursue it. She gave me homework to do before our last appointment. I signed up for a haircutting course with the Beauty and Lifestyles Academy. I applied to several different jobs revolving around beauty and fashion. I went to my last appointment with her. She gave me a big thumbs up and gave me more to think about. What is the plan after the haircutting course? I am finished with my course in about 3 weeks and the plan is to work in a salon for the experience but then on the side have my own business for hair, makeup, and fashion. I’m going to offer my hair and makeup services but then also offer my services as a personal stylist.

This is the start of my new journey. This is everything that makes me different than others as a woman in the business industry. I remember everything that got me here and even my struggles. I am no better than anyone else and I am here to make women feel better about themselves and see the beauty that they were born with. I am here for them. That makes me happy.

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