Beauty: Redefining Unreachable Standards

Lola Magazine Felecia Williams, Health and Beauty, Lola Shreveport

Whether it is through advertisements or social media, women are increasingly exposed to photoshopped pictures, air-brushed faces, and injected bodies. Society has always had unrealistic expectations concerning beauty, but now beauty has been redefined with unreachable standards.

I still ask myself daily how or why God put me here? I know He created us all with gifts, a purpose and a calling, but Lord sometimes, I feel one of us isn’t listening or just refuses to answer. Many people think My Spa My Way stems from me wanting things my way. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Growing up, beauty wasn’t even a word that crossed my mind. When looking in a mirror, all I could conceive of beauty was thin, light-complexioned, long hair and a soft-spoken voice – none of which described me.  All those things described one person: my sister. Everyone called her beautiful, smart and poised. I wanted so badly just to be seen, just to be called anything besides De’Edra’s little sister or Frank Williams’ other daughter.

Having a tall, thin and beautiful mother who was smart, educated and looked like a model didn’t make the journey any easier. I would say thank you for my half-bald, round-bellied, well-dressed father, but hell even he is good-looking…again beautiful just not a word to describe me.

My first introduction to the beauty industry was applying for a job in the shoe department at the Maison Blanche Department Store in Baton Rouge during college.  I applied for what I knew. My mother had a shoe boutique growing up and that’s what I knew how to sell. I received a call after my interview asking if I had ever considered working in the cosmetics department. My first thought was they called the wrong applicant. They must be looking for holiday stock help for the makeup department. It never crossed my mind they wanted me to wear one of those uniforms, stand behind a makeup counter and sell beauty products. How could they? I didn’t even know how to apply makeup, nevertheless, talk about it with women who were just as lost as I was.

Clinique Cosmetics was introducing its line of new products for women of color. They were interviewing women of color because let’s be honest, when you walked through a makeup department then, I never saw anyone who looked like me. I was terrified to even interview, and never thought I would or could be hired. After working many years in the business and so desperately struggling to be seen, or simply viewed as an equal, I began to evolve. Learning that so many women struggled with the same ailment, the same disappointment and hurt, that pain fueled my awakening. They strived to achieve the same goal, just running a different race. The prize at the end was to feel beautiful, to feel accepted, and the gold medal was to feel loved. Regardless of size, shape, color or net worth, we all were running the same race.

Fast forward several years I was introduced into the spa world after wanting to grow in my industry. I had become comfortable with size and my body. I decided to plan a romantic getaway with my now ex-husband. I chose one of the nicest spas in Dallas. As we entered the beautiful facility and approached the reception desk we were greeted with a shocking look and a partial smile.  The young lady asked how she could help us while looking confused. We stated that we had a couples massage scheduled. She quickly asked if we had massages before and if we were comfortable changing into robes. Immediately I realized that no one else had been asked either question. Once taken back to the locker rooms I overheard an employee comment that she hoped we brought our own robes. Holding my breath, I hoped the other guest hadn’t heard the comment. Once in the room they had one portable table that had to be added to the room so we could both be in the same room. The table didn’t look too sturdy but I dare not say a word for fear of  bringing more attention to the situation. Only a few minutes into the service, I felt my table wobbling. Before I could ask, down I went. I fell right underneath my date’s massage table. He opened his eyes and there I lay humiliated and embarrassed.  The therapist said very clearly I must have not locked the table correctly. Not an apology or concern for me. My date asked both therapists to leave the room. He wiped the tears from my eyes and reassured me I was just as beautiful on the floor as lying next to him on the table with a smile.

At that moment, I promised myself I would never let anyone treat me like I didn’t matter simply because of my size or body type again. I didn’t look or fit the industry standard and that would no longer affect my self worth. This experience began my dream for My Spa My Way. I would create a place that is loving and considerate to everyone. We all deserve to feel beautiful. Plus size is not a trend or fade it’s my LIFE.

After many years in the beauty business, I have learned it’s so much more than a business, it’s a feeling. A feeling of one’s self, inside and out. Media would have you believe beauty is from the outside in. This message has conditioned women to believe the core inside holds no value to one’s mere outer shell. This is the constantly delivered message from beauty and media executives to all women. Ladies, stop listening and start redefining the industry instead of allowing it to define you.

This realization began the birth of My Spa My Way. Once I decided I was not my weight, not my diagnosis of ADD or my depression my beauty began to be realized. Yes, I was loud. Yes, I was direct and straightforward. And yes, I struggled to focus mentally, but I was still the definition of my beauty. 

My beauty shops at stores for double-digit-sized women. My beauty has fat rolls in places that shouldn’t roll. My beauty takes Prozac and my beauty thanks God that He reminds me every day that my beauty matters. I wanted all women to have that safe place, that sanctuary where they can come to acknowledge and remember themselves and affirm that their beauty matters to the world, but most of all, it matters to yourself. My Spa My Way has massage beds, tables, chairs, nail stations and anything else, custom-made for all sizes. It’s about letting everyone set the standard, not just a few. This standard requires the beauty industry and other places to welcome and accept the many different aspects of beauty.

Just like realizing that ultimately, your beauty is defined by you and you alone. The choice of who helps to safeguard and nurture that beauty can be made by no one else. My journey, which began years ago, led me to create My Spa My Way as a testament to true beauty. I hope that your path will lead you to My Spa My Way and you allow us the privilege to serve you in your lasting beauty because it’s the beauty you created because you deserve it.

Stop settling for subpar acceptance. Going to places where the spa robes don’t fit. These places where it feels like you’re squeezed into the chair or where you are treated like your dollar isn’t valued. My Spa My Way isn’t a place, it’s a mindset. Set your mind to believe you deserve life your way, and that’s the My Spa My Way meaning.