This week we talk to Marianne Fidel about overcoming her own struggles with self-esteem issues and how that helped her find her own way of empowering women by celebrating their beauty and femininity as a makeup artist.
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Tell us about yourself…
Growing up, I used to look to magazines for beauty tips and advice on life, like so many young girls still do today in order to navigate their way in finding where and how they fit into the world. But when you’re bombarded by so many images of girls and women who all look a certain way – who all look so glamorous, and happy, and successful – you start to equate the way they look to how well they’re doing in life and you question and measure your own self-worth based on those same values. There’s an incredible amount of pressure on young girls to look a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way, especially during that formative and impressionable stage in life and I wasn’t immune to this. I went through this period of questioning myself just like many others at that age. But I do believe that I’m the person I am today because of it. I do what I do now because I want to help women rediscover themselves, to see themselves as they are and to appreciate their own unique beauty.
It sounds like that was a really challenging time for you, can you tell us more about how you grappled with self-acceptance?
It was tough. I remember feeling like what was on the outside mattered much more than what was on the inside, and in one way or another I felt that I just wasn’t measuring up. But how could I? I was comparing myself to impossible and unrealistic ideals – illusions of perfection – which are dangerous social constructs.
It made me feel miserable at times. It got to a point where I wasn’t eating properly. Luckily, I’m fortunate to have come from a very stable and supportive family and their unconditional love really helped to build me up.
How did you overcome those challenges?
I had a few really good female role models and mentors that I looked up to that helped me learn to look beyond the exterior. By far, my most significant role model is my mum. She grew up in the Philippines and had very little growing up. She understands how to live simply and yet still be so happy. She’s magnanimous and always puts others first. She personifies the joy of giving to others.
I was also very fortunate to form strong bonds with two teachers at my school, who really took an interest in my growth as a person. They encouraged me academically, but most importantly, they helped me to understand how to dream big, be generous and make positive contributions to my personal relationships and to the world.
With their guidance I learnt to focus on my relationships with friends and family. Reaching out to others and focusing my energy on them was far better for me than being trapped in my head and thinking toxic thoughts. I was also fortunate enough to be involved in service projects to several disadvantaged communities. During this time I too learnt the joy of giving back, and saw beauty from the eyes of children who came from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Tell us more about that experience.
I started to see things from a different light. It was so long ago now, but the memories will stay with me for life. When you live a comfortable life like I did, seeing how other people lived with much, much less forced me to take a step back and made me more aware of my part in the global community.
I spent time with a young girl in Tasmania who was struggling through school while she looked after her mother who had a drug addiction. And in Tonga, we worked with people in overwhelming poverty. I remember wondering how they could be so happy despite not having very much. But they had their families and they had their community around them. To them, that was all that mattered. I was so worried about my weight and how I looked throughout high school, but all of those superficial concerns melted away into insignificance the more I came to see how much I really had.
I was fortunate to learn all of that at such a young age – I learnt to appreciate what I have, not only in terms of material possessions, but in terms of opportunities.
“I do what I do now because I want to help women rediscover themselves, to see themselves as they are, and to appreciate their own unique beauty.”
What is Marianne Fidel about today?
I want to empower women to live in authenticity. I use what I do as a way to promote a healthy and mindful approach to how we perceive ourselves and others. I want to help women become the best version of themselves, not by dramatically changing how they look through makeup, but by focussing on their unique and natural features and enhancing those.
What’s your favourite thing about being a makeup artist?
One of my favourite parts of this job is doing bridal makeup. It’s intimate and it’s such a privilege to do. I love getting lost in the beauty of each one of my clients. Some brides I work with will bring up some issue they have about their face that they don’t like. Sometimes they’ll even apologise about it! But what they don’t understand is that I really don’t see flaws, only raw beauty. It sounds like such a cliché to say that we’re all uniquely beautiful, but it’s so true! I truly believe that.
What does beauty mean to you?
My view of beauty is probably a little unorthodox for someone in my profession. There’s an endless supply of products that have been created to fix something that’s probably not even broken. We’re bombarded with so many different messages of what is and isn’t beautiful. As a makeup artist, I want to be able to bring to surface the kind of beauty that’s dormant in all of us. The kind of beauty that’s real and raw, and imperfect and fragile. I want to give power to that kind of beauty, to celebrate it and share it for all the world to see. Because these days, it’s so easy to lose sight of that. I look at beauty from a holistic point of view and I think of makeup and beauty products as tools that can be used to reflect what someone feels on the inside. Beauty isn’t what you put on in the morning. True beauty radiates from within. It’s how you think, speak and carry yourself. Beauty is a way of life. What’s inside is just as important as the outside. Feeling good about ourselves, and our appearance, is an essential part of our well being. And that’s what holistic beauty is all about. Feeling beautiful and celebrating femininity can be very empowering for a lot of women. But it’s actually a lot simpler than that – to me, being beautiful is simply being kind, not only to others, but also to ourselves. Sometimes, that’s a lot harder to do.
Can you elaborate what you mean by holistic beauty?
Holistic beauty is about doing things that help us be the best that we can be. It’s about the inside being just as important as the outside and taking pride not just on our appearance but also on our demeanour. Holistic beauty is about allowing ourselves to have a full and open, and giving heart. It’s about us living as whole people.
You practice what you preach in terms of giving back. Tell us about your volunteer work?
Giving back is one of my core values. One of the projects close to my heart is running workshops and activities for teenage girls and young professional women.
The workshops create a relaxed, non-judgemental platform to talk about the struggles that young women face. I tell them about my own struggles as a teenager, and encourage them to think past the pressure cooker of high school life.
Recently I spoke at a school about success. This talk wasn’t directly related to makeup, but it was about resilience and coping with difficulties and challenges. I heard from so many girls struggling with self-esteem issues the same way that I did in high school and I try to help girls by teaching them to focus on gratitude, for who they are and what they have.
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For more on the kind of beauty that’s real and raw, and imperfect and fragile, visit www.mariannefidel.com
Book your bridal makeup and hairstyle package with Marianne now at www.weplanr.com