Local women bare faces for This is Me fundraiserWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | email@example.com
They are advocates, entrepreneurs, elected officials, media personalities, mothers, musicians, cancer survivors and more, and they are joining forces for a common purpose — to help women feel more confident and raise money for a local nonprofit that works with young girls.
An upcoming fundraiser, This is Me, will feature portraits of nine barefaced women to be sold by silent auction to benefit Girls on the Run (GOTR) of Northwest Ohio.
Those featured will be Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, Toledo City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb, WTOL-11 news anchor Chrys Peterson, 101.5 The River morning radio host Mary Beth Zolik, Project iAm founder Nicole Khoury, The Josh Project founder Wanda Butts, Hannah’s Socks founder Hannah Turner, two-time cancer survivor and Susan G. Komen for the Cure honoree Kelli Andres and Toledo Police Sgt. Anita Madison of the Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence.
Organizer Jeremy Baumhower, a Toledo Free Press columnist, said he wanted to feature women who are diverse in age, background, occupation and the ways they impact Northwest Ohio.
“Everyone has a story and their own reason for doing it,” Baumhower said. “The night will be a celebration.”
The “makeup optional” event is set for 7-11 p.m. Sept. 13 at The Blarney Event Center, 601 Monroe St. Light refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be available. A portion of profits from a signature drink, the This is Me-tini, will also be donated to GOTR of Northwest Ohio. Performing will be Kristi Marie, Carmen Miller and The Rivets. Tickets are available at thisismetoledo.com for $20 or at the door for $25.
Baumhower come up with the idea after seeing “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke and singer/actress Demi Lovato post photos of themselves without makeup to social media sites, encouraging others to do the same.
“I just woke up and saw in my head, ‘What if we did it locally with beautiful, powerful women?’” Baumhower said.
Girls on the Run
Soon after, he approached GOTR of Northwest Ohio, a 10-week program that combines running with an interactive curriculum to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in preteen girls. Topics discussed include bullying, peer pressure and healthy body image with a focus on positive physical, emotional, mental and social development.
The organization has chapters in more than 200 cities in the United States and Canada. Northwest Ohio’s chapter started in 2012 and hosted 13 teams of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at 11 sites during its spring season. More local sites will be added this fall.
“The message we’re teaching our girls is to be proud of yourself, respect yourself and you’re beautiful just the way you are, so to showcase some of the successes and awesome impacts adult women are having on the community that have nothing to do with their looks is great,” said Lindsay McKibben, council director of GOTR of Northwest Ohio. “We loved the idea and the message that he is trying to share.”
Baumhower said he was in awe of the strength each woman displayed while being photographed by local photographer Lee Bates.
“I was mesmerized how comfortable and confident [Peterson] was while getting her picture taken, even without makeup. Her TV station was there shooting it for a news story and she had zero fear. Her authenticity and genuineness really came out in her pictures,” Baumhower said. “[Andres’] energy and positivity is beyond infectious. She laughed almost the entire time she was being photographed. Even discussing her numerous battles with cancer —losing a leg at age 12 and a breast at the age of 45 — was done with a smile on her face. She glows when she talks about her sons and was transparent when she describes how scared she was battling her second bout of cancer, having two small boys.”
Bates said she finds it frustrating that society has a double standard for men and women.
“Men are so lucky,” Bates said. “A few wrinkles and a few gray hairs on a guy is just fine and charming. It’s just a different way society views the gray at the temples on a man — that’s distinguished, sophisticated, mature, wise. Women get the dye out at the first sign of gray.”
She said times have changed since she went to law school, but it’s still important for girls to develop the self-confidence to excel in whatever arena they choose.
“Men are different to women today in the workplace than they were when I first started. To our kids, it’s just accepted you can be anything. You can be a stay-at-home mom or you can be an astronaut,” Bates said. “For me, it was ‘You’re going to be a lawyer? That’s not really a place for women.’ I got that a lot. Then of course, it was like, ‘OK you can be a lawyer, but you’re going to be a prosecutor? Like try cases? Murder cases? What are you going to do when they say dirty words?’ So I think times have changed a great deal in that respect.”
Webb said she was drawn to This is Me because it reinforces the example she’s trying to set for her stepdaughters.
“I believe combating the message that you have to be what society deems as perfect is crucial to their self-
esteem and well-being,” Webb said in an email. “If women who are successful can demonstrate they are comfortable in their own skin without makeup, it may send the message to girls and other women that what really matters is how you feel about yourself. Your inner beauty and your other abilities are what matter most.”
“If you personally feel better in makeup, by all means wear it, but if you are doing it because you feel it’s expected, it may be time to rethink things because all of the time spent on worrying about superficial looks could be better spent on what truly makes you happy,” Webb said. “I’m beautiful in the eyes of my husband and my family, at the end of the day, that is really what matters most.”
Dozens of local women, including the University of Toledo women’s soccer team and members of the WTOL-11 and FOX Toledo newsrooms, have shared photos of themselves without makeup on social media sites using the hashtag #thisismetoledo.
Instagram user @Bethaknee22 captioned her photo: “In the past week, my skin has broken out worse than it ever has in my entire life. I’ve cringed looking in the mirror & bowed my head when talking to people so they wouldn’t look at me. I haven’t even wanted to leave the house. Then tonight, I looked in the mirror & my thoughts turned to my daughter. I’ve been given one of the most amazing blessings possible, and I’ve got a pretty serious job to do in return. Part of my responsibility is to raise a confident, loving, honest & strong woman that loves the skin she’s in & knows beauty is much deeper than the surface. So, I decided to post this picture (which of course was the best of 32 shots ) of me before bed. Four eyes, blemished skin with no makeup…this is me…the real me. I love you so much, baby girl”
Facebook user Jacqueline wrote: “I love your campaign for This is me! I have had 19 surgeries since 2001 and I have many scars all over my body! At first I was embarrassed of them and very insecure! I felt ugly very ugly I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror! I now have learned to love myself and to feel beautiful! I realized these scars made me who I am today and that’s a stronger woman!”
GOTR of Northwest Ohio Volunteer Director Renee Stack said the social media shares exemplify what This is Me is all about.
“We want everyone to feel good and beautiful in their natural state and let them showcase who they are without feeling the need to conceal,” Stack said. “I think makeup is beautiful and it’s definitely something I choose to wear, but I’m also feeling empowered to go bare as well.”
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of the event. For more information, visit thisismetoledo.com.
Tags: Anita Madison, Carmen Miller, Chrys Peterson, Demi Lovato, Emilia Clarke, Girls on the Run (GOTR) of Northwest Ohio, Hannah Turner, Hannah's Socks, Jeremy Baumhower, Josh Project, Julia Bates, Kelli Andres, Kristi Marie, Lindsay McKibben, Lindsay Webb, Mary Beth Zolik, Nicole Khoury, Project iAm, Renee Stack, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The Rivets, this is me, Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, Wanda Butts