I used to know a lady who was a bit dishevelled. She wore comfortable shoes, no make-up and her dark hair was long.
Her skin was pale and she always looked annoyed about something. I say this with kindness, and permission, as this lady is my sister.
A kind-hearted woman, who I believed carried a bit of a chip on her shoulder. But don’t we all about something?
One day, my lovely sister made a plea on a women’s networking site for somebody to cut her hair. She was on a tight budget and the pupils at the school she worked as a teaching assistant at were teasing her about her grey hair.
When I saw her plea I immediately thought what a great makeover project this could become, and Project Yolanda was born.
Before we knew it, we had a hairdresser, make-up artist, lash technician, image consultant and photographer on board. Every woman’s dream of a real-life makeover was about to take place and we were all so excited, buzzing around getting organised, ferrying Yolanda from one post to the next. It culminated in a fun photo shoot at my skin therapy studio in Nottingham.
Cream cakes, Prosecco, clothes, make-up brushes and photography equipment were scattered all over the place, but all eyes were on Yolanda. This barely recognisable glamour puss was smiling and beaming away at the camera and enjoying the fuss being made of her.
We all looked on wishing WE were being made over…
After the fun and frolics were over asked the makeover team why they had offered to help Yolanda. Here’s what they had to say…
Monica Montavlo, make-up artist
The opportunity to work with the group of talented women to enhance the beauty in Yolanda and give her a fantastic experience at the same time was something I couldn’t refuse.
I love to use my make-up skills to bring out the best in people. I showed Yolanda that not only models can have great make-up if she uses what I taught her wisely.
Hannah Gardner, beautician and hair and beauty salon owner
My hairdresser Megan is brilliant with colour, and was excited to have free reign with Yolanda’s hair.
I used false lashes to freshen and enhance Yolanda’s eyes – a great tip as it takes very little effort. Feeling pretty doesn’t have to be a hard slog. It’s those little tweaks here and there that can make all the difference.
Hayley Eleanor Smith, image consultant
It’s not often that you get an opportunity to be involved in a makeover from start to finish in one day. Being able to join other experts and bring all our skills together was irresistible!
My advice? Don’t compare yourself to celebrities or images you see in the media, it’s unattainable day to day. We all have body hang ups, regardless of our age or size. We want a bigger bust or smaller bust, longer legs, fewer lines, the list seems endless!
Yolanda looks fab every day, and looked amazing during the shoot and in the images – but the amount of hours and expertise which went into producing the ‘perfect’ end result was massive. Embrace your natural attributes and work with them instead of hiding from them.
Ursula Kelly, photographer
I love the positive results this type of shoot can create, creating images that help women to them see themselves the way others do – the real them.
I really enjoyed seeing Yolanda looking and feeling glamorous and having some time out for just herself.
To all women out there – be brave and spend a little time on you. We don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and if you look good you feel great. Do it today, don’t wait until that milestone birthday or when you have lost a few pounds, as there are always reasons to put it off.
Without sounding cheesy – you are more beautiful than you let yourself believe.
Misia Smith, Skin therapist and salon owner
I wanted Yolanda to see how beautiful she was. She’s spent many years convincing herself she was unattractive and making excuses for her appearance or lack of interest in it. It was really lovely to watch her opening up to the prospect of feeling pretty and realising that she might just actually ‘be alright.’
I was blown away by the generosity of other women who came forward to help. It was really heart warming.
If you’re feeling frumpy and unattractive, start doing little things that make you feel nice. Buy yourself a lovely face cream because every morning and night that ritual of cleansing and moisturising can make you feel special. And once you feel special you’ll find that you become more adventurous.
Push your boundaries because only you can decide where those boundaries lie and you just don’t know where that new territory will take you…
So what was the result of Project Yolanda?
It’s safe to say that Yolanda entered new territory!
She says: “Before I felt like somebody from Steptoe and Son. But I can see now that I was sabotaging myself. I had convinced myself I wasn’t going to conform to the pressure of putting make-up on, dying my hair or dressing up. That was for vain people. I was behaving rebelliously but actually deep down, I felt terrible about myself. Combined with bouts of depression and tight budgets my appearance wasn’t a priority. I hadn’t linked my appearance with feeling good about myself.
“This makeover has done so much for me! My confidence has rocketed. I get loads of positive comments and now I worry less about what people think of me. I feel less inclined to ‘hide’ myself behind baggy clothing and now I have my lashes done regularly – I love them!
“The whole experience has given me the courage to step outside my comfort zone and be more adventurous. Before I didn’t want to accept that you needed to portray yourself in a positive way and emit a certain personality – my personality!”
Since the makeover, Yolanda’s transformation has influenced her working life too. Her confidence pushed her to start a new business and is now dressing to impress – not just clients, but herself.
If you’re feeling happy about yourself then you will always look great. But for Yolanda, she was deeply unhappy and this has given her a new confidence to shine as the person she really is.
(Photos by Ursula Kelly Photography)