Olay, What It Taught Me About Skincare and Women:

After walking in an Olay runway show sans makeup, the entirety of my body covered beneath a “SkinVisible” dress, I’m still riding an unexpected high that purportedly stems from healthy skin and the unifying energy of an eclectic, inclusive group of mighty women.

On the heels of New York Fashion Week – which is an experience replete with impenetrable cool girl cliques — my interaction with the women at Olay restored a feeling of unshakable optimism in me that I didn’t realize lain dormant.

Using three of the brand’s best-selling products, the Regenerist Whip Moisturizer, Ultimate Eye Cream and Daily Hydrating Facials, for twenty-eight consecutive days, I prepared to showcase my results alongside of eighteen other women, including, to name a few, a two-time Olympic medalist, a self-made YouTube millionaire and an NFL sports anchor.

Stripped of all makeup, hair pulled away from my face, I could’ve easily felt bare, unprotected, insecure. Although I was impressed with the results of the products, and — as such — I felt comfortable exposing my naked mug to a live audience that included reps from various media outlets, I’d never met any of the other women before. With two full days of rehearsals scheduled, and everyone other than the participants prohibited from entering the space (Olay took the initiative to protect our privacy while we changed into and out of the dresses), I didn’t know if I’d feel confident engaging with so many unfamiliar faces. Cue the feelings of gross inadequacy; cue the social anxiety.

Over the years, I’ve armed myself with a repertoire of tools that have empowered me to present my most confident self to the world and to become something of an extrovert. Without hair, makeup, or an outfit, though, and in a room full of women who were collectively so much more accomplished than me, I easily could’ve walked away from the experience feeling that old familiar pang of intensive self-loathing.

Instead, I found myself interacting with women who were deeply humble — nurturing but strong, powerful but kind; what’s more, we were all genuinely interested in getting to know one another. When I arrived for an eight-hour rehearsal on the second day, I immediately recognized the space as being a safe one.

The show itself was a tremendous success; afterwards, we ran backstage, bear hugging and celebrating one another. I’ve never felt an energy like that before. It was born from authenticity, openness and acceptance.

While I’ll always remain loyal to my trifecta of Olay products, and I’ll never forget the experience of walking in a runway show on the last day of Fashion Week, my greatest takeaway was the affirmation that woman are boundless in their power, that when we’re gentle with each other — we’re beautifully mighty.

Showing Up

I know as well as anyone that a level of every day exhaustion rivaling the residual effects of walking pneumonia is a thing, that crossing six New York City Avenues to reach preferred salad bar/therapist’s office/workplace, can render one desperate for an extended state of repose, and that day to day quasi adult life (because, let’s be serious…on time bill paying whereby the lights aren’t shut off prior to a dark and humiliating late payment? Right.) can diminish the concept of downtime to something that’s synonymous with a Real Housewives of Orange County marathon and a full body snuggie.

What I also know is that, at the risk of sounding grossly misguided (what with a career that’s centered around social media and a prolonged IPhone6 slouch that resembles more of a perpetual stoop than a graceful saunter), there’s no supplement for authentic engagement and the act of being physically and mentally present for one’s own life.

Regardless of what’s going on with Saint West via all of the click bait articles peppering the screens of our gently lit social media devices, nothing makes a more noteworthy memory than saying, “Even though I’ll invariably go numb and ruin the pointed toe tips of my suede BB pumps on the way to drinks with my bestie, I’m not going to pull out because of a psychosomatically manifested post work ‘headache,’ cramps, or even the all consuming nightmare that is chronic fatigue.”

When I got engaged in September, I immediately envisioned the loved ones who I wanted to surround me at my white and chrome laden (that’s a story for another post) wedding reception. I quickly flashed back to every no holds barred and often wildly inappropriate gargantuan laugh thats been shared between my best friend, Laura, and I, and realized, She lives on the Upper West Side for fuck’s sake – why aren’t I taking more proactive measures to see her as much as I did in college? Has the fear of a failed career and the need for an extra ninety minutes of sleep come to outweigh the importance of making memories that will eventually come to define the entirety of our lives?

Joyce Meyer encourages me to push past emotions (this woman delivers such powerful sermons that I often feel that she intends to communicate DIRECTLY WITH ME as I press play on YouTube and commence my morning listening/makeup routine); she insists that they’re unreliable, subject to frequent change, and therefore – fundamentally untrustworthy. In the same way, I’m learning to forego procrastination in favor of something substantially more gratifying –- the purposeful cultivation of my closest relationships. In sum, Joyce suggests (although never in these exact words) that we push past the bullshit. It’s a well-known fact that long-term happiness can’t be synonymous with complacency, so hello Isabel Marant walking boots, let’s get going in perfect Parisian street chic style.

On my wedding day, I don’t want to be surrounded by a room full of friends that I created memories with in “the good old days,”– you know, the many times we shared together long before entering the realm of adulthood, if adulthood were a thinly veiled reference for work, shower, cry, Zoloft, sleep, repeat. Instead, I want to make a decision to show up to my life, keeping my scheduled coffee, wine and dinner dates and relishing the act of basking in the presence of those who I love the most.

Why wouldn’t I want to reap the rewards of a life well lived?