Culture + Community

Letter from the Guest Editor | Katey Denno

by | Jun 18, 2018

I started my young adult life volunteering, and later working to uphold the right for women and children to be safe. Before becoming a makeup artist, I worked as a sexual assault counselor, a domestic violence counselor and court advocate, a street outreach volunteer serving sex workers, a counselor at Planned Parenthood, a women’s health care social worker in inner city DC and NYC hospitals, and finally, as a social worker working with families infected and/or affected by HIV and AIDS. I’ve always known I’m drawn to helping women and girls feel and do their best. I love my past work and volunteer experiences, and I love that I still get to help women and girls feel good and do their best, but in a different role: this time as a makeup artist, focusing on sharing info about the world of non-toxic beauty products.

I learned early on that what I have to offer as an individual – whether in the role of friend, daughter, social worker, makeup artist, teacher, etc. – is ever evolving, powerful, and genuinely unique, and that it was up to me to figure out what ‘it’ is, and to make it spectacular, while still feeling good about myself when it wasn’t so spectacular.  I learned that I had to actually like myself, really like myself, or it would be tough for others to like me, and let me in. Finding that sweet spot within where I feel super connected to myself, am open to experiencing myself,  accept what’s inside, and to recognize the ways in which I’m truly one of a kind. . .  that’s the real magic.

I also learned early on, probably beginning with my first volunteer position working with survivors of domestic violence, that if I could really like myself, as well, then I was powerfully part of the pack. The pack of people working to help someone get out of a violent relationship; the pack of advocates and attorneys working to keep a woman and her children safe; a pack of hospital health care workers meeting to discuss the status of a young woman recently diagnosed with HIV – those packs, and the many others I’ve been a part of since then are extremely important to me. Day in and day out, I’ve seen that very little happens in a vacuum, and it’s usually when people come together and pool their education, skill, talent, and hearts – that’s when major shifts happen and real change occurs. I love the shared energy of a pack, in a much more light-hearted sense, too: whether it’s coming together to enjoy an afternoon of laughing with girlfriends at a dinner party, or as part of a ‘glam’ team, excitedly putting together an amazing red carpet look for a client.

Finally, one basic tenant that’s always guided my life is this: every best friend was once a stranger. It’s so simple, but so freakin’ powerful. I try my best to keep that at the forefront of my mind on the daily – whether I’m sitting on the couch by myself all day answering emails, or outside somewhere, running with a pack.