Day 211 - Erin (1st person I approached)
July 30, 2014 - Erin was sitting at a coffee shop. She was sitting in front of her computer, apparently working. The thing about people working on computers if I approach them is they’re either too busy to talk, or, willing to take break and chat for a bit. Erin told me she had five minutes to chat, and that she had a meeting to go to in 25 minutes. I felt we could work with that.
A true Vancouverite, Erin was born at St Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver.
“I have two younger sisters. One is a year younger and the other is four years younger. I think that I felt a self-imposed responsibility towards being the oldest. When you have sisters, you tend to look at them and what they’re doing, and I measured myself against them to a certain extent. Especially with my middle sister, being just a year younger, we were close in age. Definitely now as grown women we are very close and I appreciate who they are. I just got married and my sister’s were my bridesmaids,” said Erin, with a lovely, warm smile.
In high school, Erin was a high achiever.
“I always felt like I had to prove to myself I could do things. I always wanted to do the best that I could. I’m not sure where that comes from,” she said. Erin developed an eating disorder. When she was in Grade eleven, she was hospitalized.
“I’m 5’11” and weighed 89 pounds. I was an inpatient in hospital for three months in a new program aimed at young women with eating disorders. There were four other women in the same program that I was admitted to. They had all shaved their heads, I guess as an act of unity to say ‘We’re all together.’ I felt so out of place. I remember thinking ‘I grew up in Kerrisdale (a middle-upper class neighbourhood), I don’t belong here!’ There’s so many messages in every magazine, every advertisement you see. It’s all about image and the need to be a certain way to achieve this standard to be accepted as beautiful,” said Erin.
“It’s become the accepted standard of what beauty supposedly is. It’s sad and it’s wrong. I went from healthy to watching everything I ate, counting calories and looking at these women I was told were ‘beautiful’ because they were thin. I learned so much about myself in that time in hospital, and the months that followed. I came out of there feeling better about myself than before I had even started to watch everything that I was eating,” she said.
After getting out of hospital, Erin completed high school.
"Everyone knows someone that has some kind of issue. Friends of my parents would say to them 'Do you think Erin would talk to our child' and I found that to helpful as well. Helping others," she said.
“I had known for sometime that I wanted to own my own business. I thought I wanted to go into the arts. I got accepted to Western University in Ontario, and was all set to go. I wasn't even sure what I'd do with Arts degree. Then I realized that I didn’t want to do that. My parents were extremely supportive, they just wanted me to do what was going to make me happy. I saw a course in Marketing Management at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) and I went for that instead. The program has five areas of focus, and I went into the Entrepreneurship diploma program,” she said. Erin studied for two years, completing the course and graduating.
Erin then went to work for her parents.
“They own a physiotherapy clinic and I was helping with the marketing and social media. I also did a bunch of other things as well, being the high achiever that I am. I worked for a marketing company, and a social media company. I’ve helped with a few start-ups as well,” she said. Then with her parents, Erin thought of opening a yoga studio.
“It was going to be a studio for people that weren’t comfortable going to the bigger studios. Those places where everyone can already touch their toes and wears name brand exercise clothing. I wanted to help people who had injured themselves, or that were just starting out. We opened the studio. It’s progressed to being a Clinical Pilates studio where the instruction is lead by physiotherapists,” said Erin.
“I’ve tried to manage the high achiever within, and instead of doing a bunch of different things, I’ve narrowed it down to three. I help my parents with their marketing and social media. I’ve got my Pilates Studio, and I have this…” Erin looks at her computer and opens a web page.
“I started this project that has some similar qualities to your project actually. We've interviewed and photographed over two hundred women and asked them about their relationship with beauty. We take the photographs with the women wearing no makeup, and there’s no filters or photoshopping the images,” she said. Erin turns her computer around and shows me her website. (*Fact Check - see link below.)
“Raw Beauty Talks is a conversation about beauty, confidence and self-love. We talk with women about where they get their confidence from, what they think beauty is and how this all effects what they think about themselves and their relationship with themselves,” said Erin, speaking with passion in her voice.
“I started this here in Vancouver and it’s done really well. We just went down to the States looking at expanding the reach of Raw Beauty Talks. The singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat just released a song called “Try” that is essentially about all the things that we’re talking about. (**Fact Check - see links below.) Her record company contacted us and we just put her interview up on the Raw Beauty Talks website,” said Erin.
“There needs to be a shift. I know it’s going to be hard, but I feel like it’s starting to happen. I think that what we need to do is start a conversation about what beauty truly is, about confidence and self-love. It’s about talking to people, and educating young women. That's where I'm trying to take this,” she said. Our time was done and i didn't want erin to be later for her appointment. We had chatted for almost twenty five minutes.
As we were leaving the coffee shop, I asked Erin when she got married. “Last month, June 30th. So we’ve been married a month today! My husband is a mortgage broker. So I’m all AaaHhhh (she waves her arms around in the air) and he’s all calm and collected.” A great team. #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://www.rawbeautytalks.com/about-2/
** Fact Check - Colbie Caillat “Try” - http://bit.ly/1xVYLlA