Photographer : Chris Thorn
Occupation: Chef on a time out
Describe yourself in under 100 words.
On October 31, 2013 I was walking in downtown Vancouver heading to a Halloween party when someone behind me launched a firecracker that coincidentally landed and exploded in my face, which resulted in the amputation of my left eye. I have been learning more about myself everyday and am extremely appreciative of my community. I’m healing with both happy and sad emotions, but for the most part I am choosing to be positive, to grow and look beyond my injury and myself. I am also a wildly silly prankster so comic relief has been a great contribution to the process.
If you had to describe your RAW shoot in one word what would it be?
What surprised you most about the experience?
How comfortable Erin, Chris, and the team made me feel. A solo photo shoot is my personal nightmare, but everyone was so lovely and supportive.
Beauty can be defined in so many ways. What is your definition of ‘beautiful’?
Being honest with yourself, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and just be.
When do you feel most beautiful?
When I’m belly laughing.
What part of aging scares you the most?
Sun spots from my ignorant youth!
What part of aging is the most exciting?
Experience, yet still having that ever-present thirst for knowledge and growth. I also want to be one of those silver fox ladies with one of those slick silver haired bobs haha.
Have you ever felt pressure from men to look a certain way?
Thankfully, in adolescence I think my tomboy ways, fear of makeup and ‘Harry Potter’ glasses allowed me to mask any of those pressures. In my college years I certainly did have a heightened sense of “how do I look?” and wore things I would never today. A part of growing up or a lack of self esteem I am unsure…perhaps a product of the two, but my days of dressing for men are thankfully long gone! In fact, I stopped wearing my prosthesis as I realized I was wearing it not for myself, but for the comfort of others. It’s a tad heavy so I am quite happy without it, I suppose I’ll pop it in if I have a hot date or something!
What kind of relationship did/does your mother have with herself in regards to beauty, confidence and self-love? Has this had any effect on you?
My mum has the skin of a new born’s bottom. It’s remarkable. It is also due to her bi-daily morning and evening rituals of cleansing, sun block (SPF 90-seriously this is a thing, an actual product) and moisturizing serums and potions etc. She has always told me from childhood that the best makeup you will ever have in life is the beauty of one’s skin and that natural is always optimal. Makeup was to be used in minimal amounts to enhance your already “beautiful features.” Of course as a self-righteous teenager I though this was complete BS, but I now see her wisdom. Although I am still a bit of a sun junkie, I am smart with my moments. Of course I use cover-up when I have an unwanted visitor on my face, but my mother’s teachings have really resonated and I am thankful she was so militant about moisturizer!
On average how much do you spend each month on cosmetic items such as make-up, hair cuts/colouring, waxing, clothing, nails, tanning, creams etc.
I don’t dye my hair and cut it maybe once a year (I know, not good) or have much elsewhere to wax (including zero eyebrows! Everything has a price ha ha!) so, I know I save a bunch in those areas. My one vice would be monthly mani/pedis (no gel or shellack) and of course I stock up on high quality moisturizer, toner, cleanser, face wash and eyebrow pencil, which I replace every few months. On average I would say I spend approximately $50-100.
Have you ever struggled with confidence, body image or insecurities in your life? If yes, please share your story. If you have any advice for people going through the same thing please feel free to share your thoughts here.
Growing up I was constantly teased for my small eyes and huge glasses. I learned to laugh along with it, but I know it stung inside. My mum describes me as a “late bloomer,” and when I did start to develop I started receiving attention from the boys. I think at first you welcome it, almost relish in it when you’ve been one of the boys for so long, but this is horribly misguided confidence and in fact can feed insecurity further. Kids can be mean, and I wish I could tell all the Harry Potterettes out there, that it’s such a temporary phase—that cultivating a brilliant mind, great friends and a strong sense of humanity will provide far greater confidence than lipstick or fake hair.
Have you ever had cosmetic surgery or treatments?
I am set to have two cosmetic procedures on my left eye in late spring 2014. Obviously for reconstructive purposes I think it is absolutely wonderful. I can’t say that I am for or against elective plastic surgery (ask me again in 20 years!!!), but one thing I notice is this: women who get excessive cosmetic procedures don’t appear youthful to me, they just look like they’ve had “work” done. In terms of facial procedures, I think it gets a little sad when people start looking like one another—I think one’s unique identity is the most beautiful thing. However, to each their own. If a procedure is going to give you a genuinely better outlook in your life by all means. The only caveat for me would be age. I think it’s unfortunate when young women get procedures before allowing their bodies to fully develop.
Let’s talk Photoshop. What are your thoughts on this cultural phenomenon? Yay or nay? Or is there a place for it sometimes?
Is Photoshop going to disappear anytime soon? Probably not. Is it fun to mess around with Instagram filters? Definitely. I think the important thing is to understand that it is not a realistic representation of the subject. We can’t hide our children from everything, but I think we can educate them to “take things with a grain of salt” so to speak. To explain how the massive production of stylists, photographers, lighting, make up artists, editors, digital manipulation et all it takes to produce one beautiful, yet false image.
How do we ensure that the next generation of girls grows up with confidence and a strong sense of self when they receive so many messages telling them that they are not enough?
To further my Photoshop response, I think it is also important to place more focus on other areas of interest and less on esthetic. Be it sports, cooking, music, art, animals etc., there are so many activities available for young people especially in Vancouver. I think encouraging a “renaissance [wo]man” type of lifestyle can only enrich and grow one’s mind and hopefully self confidence will be nurtured internally so that outer beauty won’t be as much of a concern. Of course it’s fun to hit the spa with your girls and mess around with make up, but that can be one facet of your interests not the main priority.
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Instagram Handle: @lesleyakim
Twitter Handle: @bonjourdinner