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There is so much to say on the topic of beauty. We see beauty in the setting sun, the laughter of a new baby, and the colors of Picasso. But we also see beauty in people, right? Melissa Sievers sure does. She is one of the three masterminds behind The Beauty Clause, a book project dedicated to discovering, understanding, and celebrating beauty in cultures around the world. When I read Melissa’s piece in The Huffington Post last month, I was inspired. Then, when I learned she was from Clovis, I was intrigued.
Here’s a peek into a little Q&A I had with Miss Sievers:
Q: Give us a quick rundown of The Beauty Clause, and how it got started. Ready, GO!
A: The Beauty Clause started from a simple conversation between friends – like a lot of great ideas often do. A friend and I were discussing Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign (if you haven’t seen it – please do, it’s great) and how powerful the message was. It led us into a discussion about how women so often struggle with feeling beautiful and worthy and how that struggle is a commonality amongst women around the entire world. We started to question how a person’s culture, upbringing, personal relationships and belief systems play into their views and opinions about beauty and their personal experiences with beauty and were curious what kind of positive impact sharing those unique views with women (and men) everywhere would have on how women feel about themselves, and feel about others. We had the idea to compile stories from women around the world into a coffee-table style book and launch a social media campaign to go alongside it.
Q: Why is beauty important to understand?
A: Beauty, and people’s varied definition of it, effects absolutely everything in this world. People often say that money makes the world go ‘round and while I think it would be hard to argue against the obvious comfort money brings, I think that the way people feel about themselves and those around them is a more powerful influencer on the world. Are we rewarding ourselves or those around us with positive interaction because we noticed within them, or within ourselves, a value or trait that we define as ‘beautiful’? Are we condemning ourselves or someone else because we/they exhibited a trait or behaved in a way that doesn’t fit into the box of things we find beautiful or worthy? The first step is to acknowledge that everyone defines beauty in a particular way, and respecting that there are reasons behind each of those definitions.
Q: Tell us about the places you will travel to on this expedition.
A: Currently, our plan is to visit a minimum of 10 countries throughout Europe and Asia. Specifically, we’re targeting Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Turkey, India and Thailand. Our goal is to learn about and interact with as many different diverse communities as possible. Financially we’re a bit restricted, which is why we’ve targeted 10 counties that are close enough in proximity that we could easily travel between each. We’re working now to identify organizations, groups, charities, and individuals in different countries that we can reach out to and partner with during our travels.
Q: Melissa, we hear you’re a Clovis native – tell us about your experience growing up in the valley, and attending Fresno State.
A: The first question I get asked by people in Oklahoma (where I currently reside), is why would I ever leave California, especially for Oklahoma. My answer is always the same – Clovis is such a beautiful place to raise a family. It was safe and charming and I always loved that I had reasonable access to both the mountains and the beach. After graduating from Fresno State, which was a wonderful place with the one-on-one learning environment that I think is important, I knew I needed to get out of my hometown and find a place that was big enough for me to get a little lost, and small enough for me to feel like I was home. Oklahoma, surprisingly, has that perfect balance for me. But I am not an Oklahoman – and I do not say “y’all.”
Q: We hear there’s a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to further the message behind The Beauty Clause. How can we get connected?
A: Our Kickstarter campaign was such a monumental undertaking for our little group. The 30-day campaign ended on October 10th with 93 backers pledging more than $11,000 towards the total $25,000 project cost– it was just enough to cover all travel expenses for the three of us which is incredible. We received such a positive response and outpouring of support it was all kind of overwhelming, in fact. We get messages daily from private investors who love the project and want to invest despite the Kickstarter being over – which, we think, is evidence that the idea has staying powerful and a lot of potential.
Q: Tell us…where do you find beauty?
A: In the women we interview. Truly. Getting to meet and come to know such inspiring women has been the most incredible experience. Every time a reader sends us a message to tell us that a recent story we posted inspired them, motivated them, made them feel beautiful or helped them understand beauty in a different way, we are humbled and overjoyed. People are beautiful and they have so much to offer.
Q: Ok last one…describe the beauty of your hometown of Clovis, CA in 3 words.
A: Clean, mountain skyline.