Image 2

Image 5

Image 4

Image

Image 3

Image 1
Skirt: Lublu {Sold out, but love this dress option}/ Tank: Marshalls for $10 {love this Nordstrom option}/ Shoes: SJP Collection/ Handbag: Tom Ford/ Sunnies: Burberry/ Hair: DryBar on Oaklawn/ Lipgloss: NARS {Risky Business and Gold Digger}/ Nails: FormulaX {Intensity}/ Photography: Greg Daniels

It was a winter Sunday afternoon, when Eneida, the store manager for Lublu Dallas, messaged me to come play dress up. To those privileged enough to know her, you know this is a luxury indeed, topped with both a glass of champagne and perrier {lime included}. Eneida has this special way of knowing when a little self care and TLC are needed. Mid glass of bubbles and a deep breath later, she asked me to try on this skirt. The cascades of silk were heavy on the hanger, my eyes bugged at the pleating details, and my brain escaped to some Carrie Bradshaw meets Kate Middleton Paradise. I have never felt more feminine, more classy, more striking in a piece of clothing ever in my life. I had been saving for a beautiful piece and this was, no doubt, THE one. Enieda packaged it carefully and this piece of art, has hung in a special place in my closet waiting patiently to be styled.

When SJP came to Dallas, I wasn’t planning on battling the crowd to see her. At the last minute, I decided I would regret it later. I finished my last ten minutes on the treadmill, and jetted over to Northpark, strutting my sweaty gym attire. That experience Is one of my favorite moments of favor to date. I had been eyeing the Bobby in mint from the moment her collection was announced. By the time I arrived, everything was picked over and SJP was about to head out. I settled on the Bobby in blue, opened the box to try them on, and with much surprise, the mint had been put in the wrong box! {Inset major excitement, and lots of eeeks} SJ signed my shoes, she signed the box, and she treated me like a friend she had known her whole life. I knew in that moment I would be loyal as loyal to her brand, as she was to her customers. Fast forward to Spring of this year. I had been wanting to get my hands on a bold purple pump for some time. I had seen the SJP Lady pump in black and red, but I hadn’t seen it in purple. There on the bottom shelf of a local Nordstrom Rack, this pretty purple pump called my name. I think I wore my purple ladies for two weeks straight. They are the most comfortable pump I own, and even tested their level of comfort by walking 30 NYC blocks a few months back. They passed!

A few weeks ago I traveled to Vegas for the first time without work attached. I planned on, simply, window shopping the designer stores, because in my mind, Vegas was not the place I wanted associated with any designer purchase. Vegas is cool, but it isn’t really me if you know what I’m saying. NYC has my heart. What can I say. I had been saving for a designer handbag for quite some time, and I was determined the experience was going to be epic, and that was not in Vegas.
I walked into the Tom Ford store strutting high tops and a ball cap. The head-to-toe stare from the security guard was far from epic, but in an effort to remain unaffected, I slowly, {well quickly actually}, made my way to the back of the store. I was warmly greeted by a beautiful, middle-aged woman named Suzanne. Her smile grabbed me, and her welcome kept me. She didn’t ask how she could help me. She asked me what brought me into Tom Ford. All the sudden I forgot about the judging security officer, and reflected on the luxury of Tom’s beautiful design mind. I’m pretty sure I said I could only look, but I dreamed of having a Tom Ford handbag one day. Suzanne explained there were a few on sale. About that time my eyes fixated on the blush Alix bag. Blush is my absolute favorite color, and the TF lock is my favorite accessory to his collections. I teared up chatting with her about the significance of this bag, and how much I had overcome in the last five years. I knew I wanted a piece that I saved for, worked hard for, that represented me, was exclusive, and something I could pass down to my daughter, God-willing. In high-tops, and a ball cap, in the heart of the Vegas strip, I purchased that bag for less than I had saved for.
To bring the ootd together, I paired all these branded pieces with a major budget find. This little ivory ruffled blouse was purchased at Marshalls for $10!! Brand plus budget really are the best styled outfits in my opinion.

As I reflect on the months it took for this outfit to come together I cannot help but reflect on the time it has taken for my internal outfit to do the same. Coming together isn’t something that happens over night, it happens piece by piece. It happens little by little; one step at a time. After this shoot, Greg and I sat down at Company Cafe with Nosh as cocktails, per our norm. We both agreed these were some of the best photos we had created. Something in my face was different. Something was softer. I knew what it was. I had finally let the piece by piece, the little by little progress of self discovery reveal her work.
Like a perfectly put together outfit, you too, must remember the most beautiful things are put together piece by piece, self confidence included.
I’m Chelsie Birks and this is My Glossy Life.

19
Jun

DSC_5761

DSC_5789

DSC_5781

DSC_5839

DSC_5825

DSC_5812
Dress: Target/ Shoes: Cynthia Rowley for Target {NLA, loving this brand and budget option}/ Bag: Marc Jacobs {NLA, love these brand and budget finds}/ Hat: Target: {NLA, spotted this Nordstrom replica}/ Bracelets: Meadow Lane Style/ Necklace: The Giving Keys/ Polish: FormulaX {shade: Intensity}/ Makeup: Makeup free {Lashes inquires here}/ Photography: Eric Garcia Photography

I had eleven dollars plus change in my powder pink velcro wallet. After narrowing my window shopping finds down, decided the Origins lip gloss was the perfect fix for my frail confidence and insecurity needs. At the ripe age of fifteen, the guava toned lip gloss had its work cut out for itself. I literally used to look in the mirror and hate the reflection I saw. I would pick apart every single flaw until shame met the hate. It would be nearly two decades later, before the tangible fixes encountered a life experience where they no longer worked, even temporarily. While crawling to the other side of a shattered dream, false confidence, and secret hatred was failing me. Dark shades became my comfort, and blank walls were the masterpieces in which my eyes admired.
One bright, Spring morning in 2014, a little lip service far more therapeutic than gloss application, uttered healing words.
At the end of myself, my Heavenly Father came in, scooped me up, pulled me into his chest, and spoke, “I see you Chelsie, and you are mine.” When I tell you, I broke and sobbed. I mean I crumbled and snot cried. All I ever really wanted was to belong. I wanted to feel completely accepted by someone, flaws and strengths alike. The rescue of the Lord from betrayal was something I have experienced since I was a young girl. I knew God was present, and I knew He would bring me to the other side. What I didn’t know, was my Father’s plan to actually heal me completely of the disease of insecurity. {Let me pause to say, complete healing doesn’t mean the absence of insecurity. It means to recognize its presence, take it to our Creator, and press on while praying through it.}
God didn’t come in that morning and meet me as LORD, He came in and rocked me, His daughter, as Daddy. I am yours, and you are Mine was whispered in my ear until I literally had strength enough to stand. When I got upright, it was as if God walked me right in front of the mirror to stare at myself. I had been at this place as well, several years earlier to find things about myself that I liked. Once again, therapeutic lip service spoke, “Look and listen, its my turn to talk.”
Feature by feature, my Creator began sharing why He crafted and curated me the way He did. Features that I had hated for years, He began to explain why He gave them to me. Day-by-day I began to feel well. Something deep in me was healing from the inside out. People started asking me what I had done to myself, what had happened to me. Strangers approached me from across the bar, because “there was just something about me.”
I didn’t need eleven dollars plus change to feel better about myself. I needed the free love and affirmation my Heavenly Daddy and Creator had been aching to give. There is no OOTD, beauty lotion, potion, or drug that has the capacity to secure our confidence of self. The fact that our Creator molded us and called it so very good {Genesis 1:26-27 & 31}, is the beginning to our wellness. In honor of finally being able to experience the exhale that comes from knowing and experiencing what “It is well…” is all about. I updated my phone case as a reminder.

DSC_5884
I discovered this case over at Scarlet and Gold a few months back, and knew it had to be my new accessory. My favorite part is when people ask me what my case is about? Well let me tell you…
As I prepared for this shoot, I reflected on where the Lord has brought me, the true healing I have experienced, and the joy I feel in simply being me. I shopped my closet, except for the little $16 Target dress find. I braided my dirty hair, embraced my pale skin, smiled at the camera, gloss-free, and it was well, so very well with my soul.
For a bit more candid conversation check out this podcast with author, Jenn Sprinkle, where I talk about writing the prayer on identity for her book, and to purchase the book we discuss, check out my link here.
Might each of you know that you are His, and He is yours. Might you give your Creator time to share with you what He loves most about you. It just might be the very thing you dislike. Might it be well deep within you.
I’m Chelsie Birks and this is My Glossy Life.

DreamerGiveaway

Pop the bubbly my dears!!!
I absolutely love giving gifts. Love, love, love giving gifts. In honor of my podcast for 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer + Doer that goes live today over at The {Well} Studio, I thought a Giveaway would be so fun!!
This giveaway is Dreamer+Identity+Beauty themed, duh!! Who do you girls think I am?

This giveaway is valued over $300.00 and includes the following:
PJ Salvage- Dream tank
ColorScience- calming face primer {An InStyle 2014 Best Beauty Award}, and lip polish
The Giving Keys- Custom curated by yours truly “I’m His” classic necklace
Scarlet and Gold- A Redeemed Girl “Knows Her Identity” scripture print {Framed} (Not available for individual sell)
Ebba World- Miss Pilar 100ml roll on perfume oil {The most gorgeous scent, ever}

Thank you so much to each of you for making this giveaway possible!! I appreciate you so much!!

The Rules to this giveaway are as follows:

1.) Check out my new landing page and sign up for updates here.
2.) Tag 3 friends in this giveaway pic on my instagram.
3.) Follow @thewellstudio, @colorscience, @thegivingkeys, @scarletandgold, and @pjsalvage on instagram.

You must complete ALL three steps to be included in the random drawing. Partially completed entries will not be entered in the drawing.
This giveaway is open until 11:59 CST, June 10th, 2015.
There will be one winner selected randomly and announced on June 11 th, 2015.
Happy entering my dears!!

XOX,

Chelsie

dreamer4

Dreamer1
Tank: PJ Salvage/ Necklace: The Giving Keys {custom curated}/ Book: 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer + Doer

Today over at The {Well} Studio, I chat with Jenn Sprinkle, {Well} Creator and author of 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer + Doer, about the process of writing the prayer on Identity. Later this week, I’ll share the story I wasn’t ready to share on that interview, and how God has used this prayer to unveil His heart about identity issues. For more information on the interviews behind #prayersforthedreamer click here.

Stay Tuned…

I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life!

Image
Dress: Nasty Gal {sold out, but loving this option}/ Jacket: Madewell/ Boots: Sam Edelman {limited availability here & here on MEGA sale}/ Clutch: Gigi New York/ Watch: Michael Kors/ Bracelets: Meadow Lane/ Nail Polish: OPI {Sweet Heart}/ Lip Gloss: Bite Beauty {Currant}/ Makeup: Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics
Photography: Greg Daniels

When I was a little girl I used to dream of New York. I can’t quite recall when or where I discovered the city of hustle, but by the time I was ten years old, I was certain New York was always a good idea. For high school graduation I was given the opportunity to travel with the junior high kids on their summer trip to D.C. and NYC as a chaperone, all expenses paid. Somewhere between The Lion King, the Plaza, and window shopping designers, I couldn’t yet pronounce, I fell in love.

Image 2

At eighteen I don’t think I quite knew what I had fallen in love with. All I knew is my soul felt a call, felt a yearning, truly felt something it had never felt. Nearly eighteen years later, and well into triple digit trips to NYC for work and pleasure, I now know I had fallen in love with a city that calls me to an invitation of making impossible dreams possible. New York toughens you. It grows you, and it teaches you, really quickly, to get over yourself. From subway schedules to eight million busy people, Manhattan has a way of showing just how powerful she is. You really do allow her to strip you and strengthen you, or you go home.

Image 3

Everyday around 11:20am, to be exact, the lunch bell would ring. After constantly being made fun of for my huge glasses, my frizzy perm, my wardrobe, or lack there of, I started going home for lunch. The summer before sixth grade, we moved right across the street from the high school so my dad could be closer to work as the new varsity basketball coach. Due to zoning this meant I was going to have to attend the “rich kid” school. The girls at this school had at least 5 pair of Keds in assorted colors, every color of scrunch socks, name brand jeans like Guess and Girbaud, and the whole line of Debbie Gibson, Electric Youth. Growing up as the oldest of four, these type of items were on the Christmas list, not everyday happenings. According to the girls of West Elementary, my hand-me-down rompers, made from left-over curtain fabric, were well under par. I was tired of being under par, so I went home. I was weak and I went home. It would be years before I learned the crippling effect of running home, but just before a meeting that had me at my most vulnerable, right in the heart of mid-town, I threw on curtains and ran toward opportunity. Sometimes our strength is found in choosing to hold fast, and to stay right in the middle of it all, including the opportunity for rejection. Learning to stay has far more value that chatting about boys over bologna sandwiches in a school cafeteria, or branding meetings over bubbly at the Bowery Hotel. To stay is to get strong, and maybe, just maybe learn how to style a pair of curtains, something the girls of West Elementary would have said was darn near impossible.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

Image 1

Image 6

Image 5

CP4

CP2

CP3

CP1

Image 2
Jacket: Madewell/ Shirt: Levi Strauss {NLA but loving these Polyvore finds}/ Leggings: Target/ Boots: Nordstrom {Hinge}/ Scarf: NLA {other options here & here}/ Hat: Target {Sold out, similar find here / Clutch: Gigi New York/ Glasses and Sunnies: Bonlook Rx/ Polish: OPI {Sweet Heart}/ Face: Makeup Free
Photography: Greg Daniels

This week begins the countdown to my 35th birthday on January 18th. In typical me fashion, I want to be with the people that matter most to me, eating yummy food, and diving into rich conversation. I leave to celebrate in NYC at the end of the week, and promise to give a full recap. I have a few firsts, and a few lasts on the agenda. As I approach my 35th, I can tell you, I honestly have never been more secure in who I am, and excited about life. Life, up to now hasn’t been an easy road, and last year was one of my toughest years to date. It has been no easy walk in the park. Yet, as I reflect back I’m thankful for the road and the journey that has lead me to here. Through brokenness, I have learned wholeness. Through hurt, I have learned healing. Through insecurity, I have learned confidence. Through feeling lost, I have found purpose. I have come to a place of really knowing, not only who I am, but whose I am. I have found true identity, and I have never felt more eager to live. In order for me to truly live I have had to let go of a few things that confidence and a secured self refused to let me keep.

1.) I have let go of people pleasing. As awesome as it sounds to be pleasing to others, it’s impossible to please everyone. In all honestly, it’s the perfect setup to displease and loose yourself. I am now focused on pleasing God’s call and vision for my life, and hope others are inspired in the process.

2.) I have let go of a performance driven, over-achiever mentality. It sounds awesome to be an over-achiever, and is note worthy to the resume accolades. It is important to achieve goals, and master tasks. Yet in the process of performance I forgot “purpose”, and the “why” I was doing something. I have traded in performance based goals, for purposeful goals, and a few silly things in between.

3.) I have let go of the idea of having tons of friends. Again, it sounds awesome to says, “I have tons of friends,” but are they all really true friends? Over the years, I have stretched myself so thin trying to be a friend, and master the “friend” duties to every person programed in my phone. I have traded in the idea of tons of friends for the reality of nurturing my most cherished relationships well.

The aroma of sweet citrus from my oil diffuser {currently diffusing Citrus Bliss from doTerra} and Jonathan Adler candle are flooding my desk area. As I inhale the tangy essence, and conclude this post, I’m reminded of just how sweet and renewing life is. I wouldn’t have planned it this way, but the outcome has created a more fragrant aroma than I imagined possible.
Life isn’t always a walk in the park, but when you seek to find yourself on the journey, you just might discover the juicy, sweet fruit of a lighter life lived on purpose.

I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

woods1

woods2

woods9

woods3

woods6
Jacket: Necessary Clothing NLA {love this on sale option at Macy’s} / Dress: Marshalls {Here is a very similar $10 option} / Boots: Hinge / Hat: Target / Lips: Lip Tar {Hoochie} / Nails: Essie {Romper Room} /

Christmas Day this past year brought a numbers of firsts for me, one of which consisted of going to the movies. The clan of five included my roomie, Alli, my sister Lindsey, and her littles, soooo anything Oscar worthy was out of the question. For the kid’s sake we settled for Into The Woods. Although the movie wasn’t my fave, there are a few things of note:

1.) Dear Meryl, you truly are the best actress alive. You even play a witch with Oscar worthy passion.
2.) Anna Kendrick, you voice!!! Enough said.
3.) These lyrics to the theme song stuck with me long after the credit reel.

Into the woods,
It’s time to go,
I hate to leave,
I have to, though.
Into the woods-
It’s time, and so
I must begin my journey.

The way is clear,
The light is good,
I have no fear.

Into the woods
And down the dell,
The path is straight,
I know it well.
Into the woods,
And who can tell
What’s waiting on the journey?

I sat in my seat, well into my bag of gummy bears, with my heart pounding so hard, it felt as if it was going to burst out of my chest. A dance of notes, and profound words created the perfect serenade for my comfort zone.

It’s time to go. I hate to leave, I have to though…
It’s time, I must begin my journey!!!

If you are like me, your comfort zone is one that is warm, welcoming, and the coziest of places to keep me stuck. The Linus blanket of fear, insecurity, doubt, and mental defeat that holds me in a place called, Never. The perfect mirage of prudent, safe living. For many of us our comfort zones house deep wounds, harmful paralyzing words, shattered dreams, and rooms of other people with whom you bond in the same black hope of never. For some of us, we are most comfortable in pain, and so we settle for it, calling it happiness. We cope in our settled happiness, and create memories there, so hating to leave couldn’t be truer than true. Yet, we have to though…
The perfect mirage of prudent, safe living, isn’t living at all. Comfort zones, are choosing to live lifelessly dying on life support.
We don’t want to die friends, we want to live!! This is what Jesus came for.
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows).” John 10:10 {AMP}

If you feel robbed from, destroyed, and as if you are dying, might I assure you, it IS NOT God! It is the enemy who comes in like a false comforter to attempt to justify all your fears, insecurities, hopelessness, and kill you and your influence.
A few days ago, I was working through some mental detox. I was writing down lies I have believed about myself, and how they have effected my life.
For example: I was told by a number of people in my growing up years to get my head out of the clouds, and to stop being a dreamer. As a result I have believed that those that dream are bad and ultimately hindering their future. As I processed through this, I felt prompted to go to my “old memories” Rubbermaid in the garage.

ITW

Right on top was the volume of Texas Magazine, in which I made the cover with a fellow dreamer, my first published article, a recording of my heart for ministry for my marketing kit, my vision for helping other dreamers make it, and my interview for the magazine on my career goals. I sat with these memories and I wept. In the midst of fighting my inner dreamer, I gave up on ever really being who the spirit inside told me I would be. This 4.0 student traded in her passion for a “C” stands for complete, keeping me .25 points shy of graduating with honors {another dream of mine}. I developed a career far away from being a dreamer. I found my acceptance in performance, titles, responsibility, and awards. To cope, I helped others accomplish their dreams. I got married {I settled}. I allowed myself to cope in abuse. I got divorced {This story unfolds here}. I lost everything {A primary fear}. I started over. I built and even stronger career. I fell in love again, I experienced heartbreak again. I healed again. I launched a company because that sounds awesome and overly successful, and I made better money last year than I ever have before.
I also drowned my soul, and the very purpose I was put on this planet. I have let years of believing lies, striving, accolades, and status quo’s run my life, and parts of it have felt really awesome. That is what makes it so hard to leave.
But God…
But God placed a calling in my heart on July 29, 1997, and as I looked down at my “old memories” I heard the Lord say, “I’m still there Chels, I didn’t abandon the call. You did, but I’m still here.” Never have I been more thankful for the promise found in this scripture.

“And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 {NLT}

I don’t know what you have sacrificed to make more money, to look successful, to appear happy, but might I encourage you to examine the authenticity of its comfort and genuine fulfillment and satisfaction? Will you join me in saying,

“Into the woods,
It’s time to go,
I hate to leave,
I have to, though.
Into the woods-
It’s time, and so
I must begin my journey.”

As hard as it is, as tears stream down my cheeks, today, lets just say “no” to false comfort zones, and a loud “yes” to the woods of our futures. I have a feeling that in the same way God parted seas, and held the sun still, and defeated giants before, we will experience the same miracles in simple saying…

Into the woods,
And who can tell
What’s waiting on the journey?

I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

leaving1
Photography: Sarah Halferty Jacket: Theory

Tough Man never beat me as many experience. One push, grip, or hit from “The Hulk” was effective enough. I never had bruises in noticeable places. On one occasion a “simple punch” to my side enabled me from the ability to squat to pee for a week. The unknown of how he would respond to my leaving was my biggest fear, yet I desperately needed to rest up for the day of beauty exhortation.
I pulled out my Blackberry, stared at the number, and hit call…

“E” had been a VIP client at Saks Fifth Avenue, primarily at the Laura Mercier counter. I had been introduced to her a few times, but never really got to know her until her favorite artist was out during VIP event, and we were “forced” to connect. She held keys to a Lexus and was a stay at home wife, recovering post miscarriage and In Vitro. I was the primary source of income, grad student recovering post “misunderstanding”. The two of us were worlds apart except for our opinion on the current news headline following the Terri Schiavo case. We have since laughed at the fact, that this is truly the story that brought us together, the place where we initially found our commonality. Fifteen minutes into our convo, covering topics from Schiavo to our Savior, to satin lip stain, we were fast friends. It wasn’t too long after that first conversation that E came in to replenish necessary beauty essentials for her up and coming mission trip to Austria. She had wrestled back and forth about going on the trip because going would mean three weeks without daily calls, status updates, and check ins. I’m referring to the “daily’s” that came from her fertility team. This roller coaster ride had been several years long with lots of shattered hopes, and frail faith. E really felt lead to trust God and go. I will never forget holding her hands, staring her straight in the eyes, both with quivering lip dead center of the beauty department of Saks, and declaring, you ARE pregnant. E did go on that trip, she believed God, and she was pregnant. When you stand in the gap with someone who believes God to be who He says He is, and to do what He says he can do, you get close and personal pretty quickly. I hadn’t truly opened up to E about the abuse, but the clues were written in red all around me. She never pushed for details, but she always let me know that she was there.
With a near six month old, and fresh responsibilities, ‘being there” was about to be tested. Something deep within me prompted me to call E. I sat in the 7 Eleven parking lot, shaking equally in fear and embarrassment, as I pulled out the Blackberry and dialed E. She answered with a jubilant “hey”, and I shamefully asked if I could come over? E didn’t ask why. She didn’t ask if I was ok. She didn’t ask any questions. With complete compassion she embraced the requested, and affirmed, “you are always welcome.”
I walked through the door of E’s home to all the details that make you feel warm and welcome. From worship music playing in the background, to the smell of freshly baked cookies, to candles burning, to a bedroom prepped just for me, I felt the evidence of her words. I was welcome and I felt seen. E didn’t press for answers, but evidence of the weekender was enough for her to know I would be staying the night. She walked me to my room, where I would find a candle burning on the side table and a card on the bed. She assured me the guest bathroom was mine, with fresh towels, and luxury toiletries for a bubble bath. As I type my eyes flood with tears, reflecting on her lack of questioning. E was sensitive enough to see I couldn’t handle the questioning, so she demonstrated the essence of the gospel instead, and loved me in my mess.
After a thirty minute tub soak, I walked back to fragrant room, crawled under the covers, and opened my card. “WE LOVE YOU!” There was no fluff, no Christianese, no advice. There was a term of endearment that had been paired with sacrificial action. I placed the card close to my heart and sobbed myself to sleep. Only this time the tears were not rooted in pain, but in feeling deeply loved by another. I had taken the scary step to reach out to another and love responded. For the first time in years, I didn’t cry over the absence of Tough Man’s love, but the presence of newfound love. I closed my eyes and I drifted.
To Be Continued…

I’m Chelsie Birks, and I LOVE YOU! You matter, you are valued, and you ARE worth it. Darkness falls, but joy cometh my precious friends.

22
Sep

Image 3

Image 4

Image 1

Image 8

Image 5

Image 7

Image 2

Image

Image 6
Dress: Billabong/ Sandals: old {similar here}/ Sunnies: Bonlook Rx/ Bag: Marc Jacobs Watch: Michael Kors

Photo Notes: Going bare-faced is something that has taken lots of therapy and self talk with the mirror for me as a recovering reject. I am, now, to a place that I’m so secure in who I am, I’ll dare-to-bare over brunch in the likes of uptown Dallas or the Rooftop of NYC’s finest any day. Yet I still get insecure. Letting you look at me, and actually see me, can be daunting. Perhaps a small dose of what these victims feel on an hourly basis. The purity of white was a must. This was my favorite dress of the summer. Oh might she find purity, emotionally, and mentally in a way never thought possible. Might she learn to let true love, not lust, in. Might our efforts evoke a movement that rescues her.

When I was nominated by my friends, Kendall and Andrea to post a makeup-free picture of myself for Rescue Her, to bring awareness and support for human trafficking, I was happy to oblige. I’m not unfamiliar or disconnected to the issue. With involvement in organization such as Not For Sale, A21 Campaign, and now Rescue Her, I have a deep conviction to, not only, give voice to this horrific crime, but to continue to take action.
A few things to know about human sex trafficking:

* The United Nations estimate that over 30 million people worldwide are trafficked for forced labor, sexual exploitation or organ harvesting.
* $32 billion is made every year off the bodies of women and young girls in sex trafficking.
* 80% of victims are female and 50% are children, the large majority forced into the commercial sex trade.
* The average victim trapped in the sex trade is forced to have sex 20 times a day.
* More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer additional abuse at the hands of their traffickers.
* Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life.
* An estimated 2.5 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multi-billion dollar commercial sex industry.
* In America, victims of pimp- controlled sex trafficking are commonly forced to meet quotas of $500 to $1,000 a night! * Victims working a truck stop typically earn $5 – $100 per sex act. All earnings are confiscated by the pimp.

I had just sat down with one of Dallas’ most eligible for the best filet mignon and choice pinot. On paper he has it all, as a philanthropist, humbly giving, and as a friend, loyal and true. The conversation was certain to be as rich as the food. In the middle of starters and pallet cleaning, he asked me about charity work. He was curious about issues that were heavy on my heart. If you follow my writing, you know that domestic violence research was a front runner, closely followed by human sex trafficking. It was the later that caused the Dallas dream to grab the black cloth napkin, mid oyster indulgence, and beg my pardon.
He was shocked I would have such a passion for people willingly choosing to sell their bodies for money. Tragically this is the view of many, and their primary reason for not wanting to support research efforts for this devastating crime. It is my response to the poorly educated, I would like to share.
In my fifteen years as a makeup artist, I have been approached by two, willing, strippers for makeup help and consultation. In the last year I have been approached by five different human trafficking organization to help their rescued victims learn the need for personal hygiene, skin care, and basic beauty upkeep. Many of these victims avoid personal hygiene because it was what lead to the next occurrence of shear rape, if you want my honest opinion. Many of them have never experienced non sexual touch, and are completely unaware of how to respond to it. In my most devastating experience, I was asked to work with a very specific group of girls between the ages of 18-24. Each of these girls had been trafficked in their toddler years. None of them knew their birthday, or the name given to them at birth. There were 20 girls in the room. Their stories, their experiences, were haunting, and deserving of much more than an assumption of willingness over gourmet delicacies.
Round two and a dish of oysters later, I asked what lead to the success? Here was a man that had put real action behind his vision, and it was paying off. Unfortunately, McDreamy knows me all to well to know the question was far more than casual questioning from a blonde twirling her locks, and sipping grapes. The question was totally loaded, and strategically asked to bring the tapas topics all too close for comfort. He explained he always knew he wanted to be a leader. He always wanted to create possibility in the impossible. He was thankful for parents that helped make that possible, and for determination to secure proper education. While twirling a fresh strand of hair, I leaned in close, in response. I was just wandering how many of these girls had dreams of being a leader? How many of them wanted to see possibility in the midst of the impossible? How many of them are hoping that we see her? That we are that possible in the midst of the impossible.
Regardless of your feelings of gourmet on the half shell, might the facts of the above cause us to grab our napkin mid enjoyment, and utter a bit more than I beg your pardon. Might you be lead to share, talk, donate, and shout from the bar to STOP. Stop looking at her, and please see her. Stop ignoring her, stop and please willingly rescue her.
I’m Chelsie Birks and this is My Glossy Life. She is _________ and we are her chance at a Glossy Life.

XoX,
Chelsie

leaving1
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity/ Jacket: Theory/ Tank: Helmut Lang/ Shoes: Enzo Angiolini/ Jewelry: Forever21/ Lipgloss: NARS {Babe}
Photography: Sarah Halferty

Notes: When I visioned this shoot, I saw myself back at the very apartment where I walked away for the final time. I wanted my wardrobe to speak to being lost in him, trapped so to speak. I saw boyfriend jeans, boyfriend jacket, the shoes I wore to our vow renewal. He called me baby, so NARS lipgloss in Babe, a wet, sheer, orange, was a must. I wanted to wear anything that created the feeling of “wearing him”,a prison, all finished with the symbolism found in a shredded, heart necklace. I saw the set with open door and lots of light. I wanted exposure. Although the journey was just beginning, someone else finally knew. The abuse had been exposed.
Not only had it been exposed, I had left on my own for the first time. This image captures perfectly the feeling of hearing the deadbolt click, and bid me farewell.

Part 1
Part 2

Tough Man was of masculine stature. I would need more than two hands to count the number of times he was stopped and asked for his autograph. By “his” I mean that of Vin Diesel. Same bald head, same features, same full lips, and yes, Tough Man was stacked. The two looked very much alike. His nickname by many was “The Hulk.”
Yes, “The Hulk” arranged his view, with puffed veins and clinched jaw, and we locked eyes. I froze in the doorway just staring in trembling fear of his unknown move. He cleared his throat with a dry cough, sniffed, puffed his lips out as if kissing the air, and refocused on Pre Game stats. All the normal signs and evidence letting me know I was in for days of ignorance therapy. I was in the clear. I closed the door behind me, and before I could even make it to the stairs, I was bid farewell by the locking of the double deadbolt.
Looking back now, the evidence to the truth of Tough Man’s final words to me, were apparent all along. It would just take me awhile, and unfortunately, a lot more pain before I built enough courage to truly leave.
I tossed the luxury weekender in the backseat of my 2000 VW Passat, and I drove, and I drove, and I drove. Noon turned to two, two turned to four, and four turned to six. Six hours and an empty gas tank later, I pulled into the 7Eleven not five minutes from the house. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be gone this many hours, but this was the first time I left without being told to get the hell out. He hadn’t called, he hadn’t checked in, and I knew it probably wouldn’t be good to go home. The unknown consequences scared me more. I had to make a decision, and checking into a motel wasn’t an option. Those were the days shortly after my first year of grad school. Tough Man was inspired by my drive to advance my education, and decided to do the same. Money was tighter than tight, and I was already going to hear about the unnecessary gas expense. I had isolated myself from most of my friendships to keep the abuse hidden, so there wasn’t exactly a laundry list of people to call. I wasn’t really prepared to sleep in my car that night, as I normally would. My favorite spot, the place I felt the most safe and hidden, was discovered by Grapevine Police Department the last time I was kicked out. The officer was kind, but firm, and promised me a ticket the next time I was found at 3:00AM in a secure zone.
Daylight was fading fast, I had a PA (Public Appearance) the next day from one of the top makeup brands. Driving four hours to my parents wasn’t really an option, and I wasn’t even close to ready to share with them, or anyone, of the fear, pain, and shame found in what had become my routine lifestyle. I needed a shower, a real one. The kind of shower where I get to use a fluffy, home washed, Downey smelling towel, and take as long as I need. Not the type of shower where I paid by the quarter hour, locker room style. I had become pretty close to Jennie and Randy that had a crappy little stop off HWY 10. I had discovered them two years earlier, when I was welcomed home one night after work to my belongings in the front yard of the apartment. To this day, I still don’t know what I did. Anyhow, whatever I did, awarded me four days of motel Passat, bathroom not included. By day two of long work days, I needed a shower. I felt prompted in my spirit to take a different drive to my “safe place.” That’s where I saw the sign for “hot showers and daily stay rates.” I pulled into the parking lot, and mustered up every ounce of dignity I had to walk through the office door and ask the mousey brown-haired woman about purchasing a shower. My eyes were full of tears, and my lip was quivering, not out of fear, but out of total embarrassment. I was humiliated.
My professional makeup, elegant side sweep, and tailored business suit created mystery to my question, but my red face, glassy eyes, and quivering lip caused the middle-aged woman to refrain from questioning. I had a $5 bill, and asked if that would work? The rates were for rooms including a hot shower, so I needed a bit more. With excitement she explained they took debit/credit cards.
A little side note to those unfamiliar with abuse. purchases are one of the easiest ways to track a location, so the last thing I wanted to do was give Tough Man a traceable transaction to my whereabouts. I looked her dead in the face, and I lied, explaining the $5 cash was all I had. To this day I appreciate her reading between the lines. She looked at me with compassion and a smile, knowing there was more to the story. She walked around the counter, and handed me a key to room 113. She handed me a travel size of Perell shampoo and a bar of Irish Spring. She said her name was Jennie, and that her and her son, Randy ran the place. My imagination never allowed me to sleep a night on one of their beds. I did, however, appreciate the numerous showers and cheap toiletries, gifted at no charge. There was never a time, I didn’t, randomly and inconveniently, walk through their door with glassy eyes, and quivering lip, to a warm smile and humble acts of service. They didn’t know why I randomly appeared in a tailored business suit, and the need for a shower away from home, nor did they ever ask. All they knew was that something wasn’t alright, and they wanted to be a part of creating a little stability for the mystery girl. The new routine for the unpredictable had become their shower for hygiene, and the Passat for sleep. My location wasn’t traceable, and the PD hadn’t discovered me in a secure zone.
The gas pump jolted, signaling the tank was full. I hung up the pump, pulled the Passat out of the way, and for the first time all day, broke into hysterical tears in the 7 Eleven parking lot on Glade and 121. I had escaped into mental numbness, and in giving the day’s earlier events an ounce of thought, brought forth full emotion to feeling less loved than a stray dog. Tomorrow’s event couldn’t handle such feelings. I needed to be on and confident, with freshly-applied, trend-setting makeup, and a pocket full of feel-good tricks. As reliable as the back seat leathers were, they were no match for the rest I needed for an “A-game ready” arrival. It was now 6:11PM and the sun was quickly fading. Evening was turning into night and I was running out of options.
I wrestled between calling Tough Man, and playing off the events, by asking if he wanted his favorite dipped cone. In the moment it seemed easier to suck it up, find a way back in, so that I could take my best shot at gaining my beauty sleep. The fact that I had walked out without being kicked out kept running through my mind. Was He going to be more mad? Was he going to rage when I got home? Would I be hurt or bruised in a way that would keep me from being able to show up to the most important work event of the year? Tough Man never beat me as many experience. One push, grip, or hit from “The Hulk” was effective enough. I never had bruises in noticeable places. On one occasion a “simple punch” to my side enabled me from the ability to squat to pee for a week. The unknown of how he would respond to my leaving was my biggest fear, yet I desperately needed to rest up for the day of beauty exhortation.
I pulled out my Blackberry, stared at the number, and hit call…
To be continued…
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.