Be forewarned, this is a somewhat personal post. And it's kind of long.
Last weekend I went out for First Friday, a growing art event in Sacramento in which you can avail yourself to art receptions and open studios to meet the artists behind the work. I found my way to the Warehouse Artist Lofts (WAL) in Midtown Sacramento: live/work spaces where working artists reside and create, with locally owned shops in the marketplace on the first floor. One of the apartments I stopped to visit belonged to a photographer named Tom Hyunh, who's photographed me before in candid shots around Midtown, usually when I'm selling at an art fair. That evening in Tom's studio I met several photographers who were exhibiting their work and sharing the studio space for the event; they were taking visitors' portraits and asked me to sit for a couple of shots. It was fun, seeing their different styles -- whether they shot in black and white or color, what their focus was, and the mood they wanted to convey. They were also nice guys and made the time enjoyable.
I didn't think about it until Monday, when I saw one of the photos on Instagram with the caption, "Radiant Energy." It was a lovely comment and the image fit well within the series of photographs on his page (you can see the rest here). But I immediately began scrutinizing my features and picking out the flaws, telling myself terrible things, like, "maybe I'm not that pretty after all."
Then I pumped the brakes. Because I know better. I know that we are often our own worst critics and that no one can pick us apart the way we do to ourselves. I know that holding myself to an impossible and unfair standard likely based on someone else's biased opinion of beauty is going to make me miserable and eat away at the confidence I've gained in recent years. And in truth, I know that I am beautiful. That every line on my face and grey hair on my cropped head, I earned. That without those characteristics and unique features, I wouldn't even recognize myself, and that self is pretty amazing. So I decided to repost the photo and use it introduce myself to my followers on Instagram and Facebook, because apparently that's something you're supposed to do once in awhile (I'm still learning, haha).
Here's what I wrote:
"I haven't done this before so if you've been following for awhile, don't worry, you haven't missed a previous intro. My name is Omonivie Okhade, and I'm the founder and designer of tula in bloom jewelry. I design jewelry for women who want to celebrate their authentic selves, so it seems appropriate to share the most recent photo of me, taken this weekend by @vincibleman in an impromptu open studio photo shoot. My mostly makeup free face, slightly crooked smile, and sprinkling of grey hair is about as authentic as it gets. I'm wearing my favorite everyday Palomino earrings of my own design and flashing the random dimples that my brother used to tease me about mercilessly when we were growing up. My smile is genuine and I appreciate those dimples now because they're a part of what makes me unique.
I make jewelry that reflects individuality, strength, beauty and self love. When you wear a tula in bloom piece, whether it's a one of a kind or collection piece, I hope you feel those qualities and they carry you throughout the day. And I hope that by being your beautiful, authentic self, you encourage others to do the same.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to meeting you."
I thank everyone who posted a positive response, it was truly appreciated, and I hope this message resonates with those who may benefit from it. Here's to owning your beauty and appreciating what makes you unique.
Find a look that celebrates your authentic self here.