In its bid to engrave in the minds of women who have suffered various domestic and sexual abuse that irrespective of what they have gone through, it does not define their future nor nullify the validity of the dreams that they had before falling a victims to domestic violence and most especially assure them that that they are beautiful despite whatever negative things anyone must have told them about their physical appearance, Hegai & Esther Makeup Solutions, a makeup accessories and tools company, recently collaborated with a women’s rights organisatioon, Project Alert on Violence Against Women in Nigeria (Project Alert), on a seminar tagged ‘I am Esther’.
The programme was aimed at getting women who have suffered one form of abuse or the other to speak out and regain their self-esteem through makeup and looking good. Using beauty as a tool, the women, are believed, will rediscover themselves again, believe in themselves and fall in love with themselves and also embrace who they are. The event afforded opportunity where these abused women were made up by professional beauty makeover after which they were taught how to use makeup to enhance their looks. They were also given motivational talks and also free makeup products.
Speaking during the event, the Managing Director of Hegai & Esther Make-up Tools, Mrs. Gbemisola Adebayo, said, “We are basically using this as a toll to preach our message. Beauty is a powerful tool and when a woman knows that she is beautiful, half of her problems are solved. When she knows that, she gets confidence. We are insured by the story of Esther in the Bible. Esther’s beauty changed her life and made her a queen. So beauty is a door opener. That is our message. It is a message of hope, victory ad that you could be all that you want to be in life. So we are preaching this message using beauty as a tool. It is a message of ‘get on your feet again and pick the pieces of your life and be a woman and enjoy your womanhood.”
Adebayo, who said it does not end there, noted further that, although these women are empowered physically to know that they are beautiful but that does not put food on their table. She said therefore that they need what would put food on their table. She revealed further that Hegai and Esther Makeup Tool, will continue with the training in another level where they would be empowered by training them on how to make people beautiful for money.
Speaking on how the idea came, Adebayo noted, “We are a make-up company and we started out by selling brand of make-ups so as the business evolved, we noticed a deficit in the makeup industry. We also noticed the issue of price and that a certain group of people does not have access to beauty because they cannot afford it. So we decided to fill that niche, which is making make-ups accessible to women that may not be able to afford it at certain prices. And to extend our make-up line, we decided to do it in a unique way. We didn’t want to do it the usual way like hosting a party and inviting the models and all of that but we wanted to give back to people while extending our line of products to the Nigerian women, especially the average Nigerian women who are low income earners. So we deiced to look for this group of people who are our target market and then beautify them and at the same time let them realize that they are beautiful irrespective of what their stories are. And so we said let us look for women who are victim of abused. As such we had to partner with Project Alert. So Project Alert gave us the women, whom we are teaching how to do their makeups today, using our products and some other products.”
Executive Director, Project Alert, Mrs. Josephine Effah–Chukwuma, explained that her NGO partnered Hegai & Esther Makeup Tools on the project which is basically a campaign on beauty, not just to enlighten the women on physical beauty but on also about bringing out the internal beauty in them.
“We are today with some of our women who have had challenges and have come to Project Alert. These are women, who have gone through different forms of violence like rap, domestic violence and all that and today we are telling them that they don’t need to lose their self esteem but rather, they need to define themselves. It is about these women saying to themselves that “I am beautiful, I am uniquely created by God. I won’t allow the circumstances that I have found myself to define who I am as a person. So today is about celebrating thee survival, reminding them about the story of Hegai and Esther in the Bible, and how their situations are nothing far from the stories of these women. So we are celebrating female survival of different forms of violence, telling them, you are who you are, uniquely created by God and you can be whosoever you want to be as long as you set your mind to it,” he said.
On how this training would enhance the inner beauty of the women, she said, “For me, this programme has two aims, one, it is not just about painting their faces, it is about getting them to believe in themselves because most of these women have lost their self-esteem, so number one is to bring out that inner beauty in them and secondly, from there, a skill could emerge.”
Speaking further the project alert boss noted, “One of the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships is because of economic dependency. So you never can say; from here, skills could develop, so that you end up not just making up yourself but you also makeup other people and make a living.”
Describing the training as a kind of therapeutic thing for the women and also a kind of economic empowerment for them, Effah–Chukwuma advised to the women, as always, was, “Don’t keep quiet about it. You can’t pray violence away. Even the Bible says that faith without action is dead. Yes, you have faith and believe that this must come to an end but you must take action to end it. The simplest analysis I can make with this is that if a child says by the grace of God I am going to pass this exam but tell me if he/she does not study her books, how then can they pass the exams? So I am telling these women today to speak out and take action. These women here today have already taken action and that was why they came to Project Alert and that is why they are here today. They are not sitting down folding their hands and believing it will just go away. No, it won’t just go away, you must take action. And we all as Nigerians should not condone domestic violence, we should speak out in one voice and condemn all sorts of violence against women.”