Imagine that moment when society no longer requires us to wear a mask, not the dress up kind, but rather the false image we often times feel forced to portray to satisfy and be accepted by others. National Beauty Expert and SHERO Michelle Phillips understands the true definition of authenticity and “bare face beauty,” but the road wasn’t always easy. Today she is on a mission to help women live with unstoppable confidence as she unveils her healing journey to greatness.
Me: What was life like growing up?
Michelle: I grew up in Northern Virginia and I was raised by my Step Father and my Mother; my father left when I was around 5 years old. I had a dream at a very young age; I was about 9 years old and I decided that I wanted to be a makeup artist. That was in the 70s; my Mom was very supportive of my dream and she enrolled me in school to be an estetician so I became licensed at the age of 16. I was working in Bloomingdales for a cosmetic company and by the time I turned 18 I was a platform makeup artist for Chanel out of NYC. I went to the University of London for an internship in Fashion and I studied under Lady Diana’s designer. I then got the bug to work in the television industry, I had no idea how I was going to get started but once I returned from London, my Mom had moved to Florida because she was divorcing my step-father. So, I went to visit my Mother, fell in love with Florida, and I landed a job with CBS in Tampa. I have worked with some of the biggest names in television, magazine, fashion, and more. It has been an exciting career journey.
Me: Did you grow up with any trauma as a child?
Michelle: I think back to the thought of, “I’m not good enough or loveable” that came from when I was a really young girl. My Dad left my Mom and every time I went to visit him he would criticize me. He would make a comment about my weight, or put me down for my dreams when I expressed them. Even when I got older he said things like, “Who do you think you are, to be thinking you can work in television? How are you going to do that?” I realized that my whole life I had been striving to get approval from my Father. He wasn’t trying to be mean, he was just trying to protect me from making mistakes. I’ve determined that he got his critical nature from his mother and so it’s a generational cycle. Unfortunately that trauma stuck with me over the years and affected my choice in men and other life events.
Me: When was your first traumatic experience with a man?
Michelle: It was my first marriage. There were so many signs in the beginning of his outbursts and anger. On one of our first dates we went to a wedding together and he left me. It’s the cycle of him treating me poorly then apologizing and me saying, “It’s ok he just had too much to drink.” I should have immediately left him but I looked for love and acceptance outside of myself. We were together for 1.5 years before getting married and within 6 months to 1 year of being married everything started to escalate.
He constantly put me down and I remember one night he took my cat drove off, left him in the woods and I never saw my cat again. There was a lot of mental trauma.
The more I stood up for myself and said, “This is not acceptable,” he pushed even harder. But by this time we had a business and children together so you tell yourself, “If only I try harder he will change and love me more.” At this point I was working for CBS and they asked me to be a beauty reporter; the more I interviewed women and what they went through and how they rose up and gave back to others, it inspired me. I then met a life coach who really opened my eyes to the truth of the state of my life. From the outside looking in everything looked perfect; I had 3 gorgeous children, the big house, nice cars, a boat, and the glamorous job but on the inside I was fearful of what I was going to walk into every night; will my husband be in a rage?
Me: When did you decide to make your escape from the toxic marriage?
Michelle: When I reached out to the Life Coach she said, “Congratulations you have finally decided to take the first step in breaking the cycle.” This comment made me fall apart, I cried uncontrollably. I wasn’t in a healthy place; I knew I needed to change. I moved out with my kids, got a little house and 3 weeks later the head of the station came and said, “Unfortunately we don’t have a budget for a makeup artist any more and times are changing. The only thing we have for you is a new morning talk show that is starting in a couple of months and we want you to host it. I thought, “Oh great I can support my family because people on TV make money.” They offered me the job and it ended up being less money then I could have made at a fast food restaurant. But at the time Make Up Artist jobs were scarce. I took the position because I had nothing else. I lived off credit cards until they ran out and then I applied for Food Stamps; I was so close to living in my car, I had no idea what to do. So here I was on television, looking perfect, like I had it all together; I would go home crawl under the covers and think, “What have I done to my life, maybe it would have been better if I stayed in the abusive relationship, because at least I had a roof over my head and I knew I could take care of my kids.”
Me: Is that when you completely transformed your life?
Michelle: No, I didn’t do the work and then I walked right back into it again. I met husband #2 at the TV station, he was my co-host; he was extremely controlling and manipulative. He always pretended that it was to help me. I was traumatized, fearful, and I had no money. I would sit on the set, interviewing a celebrity via satellite but inside I was having a panic attack, not because I was afraid of interviewing the person but because my world was crumbling and I was locked in fear.
He always came in as my rescuer; bringing me coffee and my TV script, he preyed on my weakness. After 2 years he said, “Marry me and you won’t have to worry anymore.” I didn’t love him but it was my way out. Within 6 weeks after marrying him I found myself in a motel room scared out of my mind because he would go off like a wacko, it was very scary. He made my ex-husband look like a dreamboat. I got so afraid that I couldn’t make it on my own and he became so nice; it was the same cycle all over again. Out of 5 years together I only spent 2 years with him; I would keep him at a distance. In the final year he became physical with me; I had to pretend everything was ok so I could save money and get out. I never told anyone at the time because I was filled with shame; knowing I had done it again, the same cycle had been played. The relationship really messed me up.
It was during this time my best friend was diagnosed with cancer and only given 6 months to live. That’s when I realized, I just need to shut up and stop the drama. What did I have to worry about in comparison to her;if I was given 6 months to live would any of this matter, the answer is no. I was acting like a victim and I knew it was time to rise up. I wasn’t seeing the beauty in myself yet I was seeing the beauty in everyone who sat in my chair every day; I made them look great and listened to their issues, they rose up now it was time for me. Time to not just show up and read the books or attend the therapy sessions but literally do the work. Once I made the necessary changes, I started attracting greatness into my life; I segued out of the belief system that I wasn’t good enough to finding the greatness within me and began teaching my process and changing women’s lives around the world through national TV appearances, speaking engagements and through my bestselling book with Hay House, The Beauty Blueprint.
Me: Would you say you were healed and transformed after doing the work?
Michelle: Yes I was determined to never live the cycle again, my Dad stepped up and lived therapy with me. He said, “No more let me be the man in your life.” Here I was, going to therapy due to criticism and abandonment issues with my Dad and he shifted, he became my number one fan. It was the most beautiful moment of change. Several years after that I met the most amazing man who I went on to wed and we are super happy today! I no longer accept people in my life that disrespect me because I love myself so deeply that there is no room for negative and toxic behaviors. My husband and I put ourselves first because we know that if we love, honor and cherish ourselves then it will continue to strengthen our relationship.
Me: What specific steps did you take to heal yourself?
Michelle: I decided to treat myself like I treated my children. I talked to myself the way I allowed my children to talk, positive instead of negative. I had to look at what was right with me during dark times. I decided that I am pretty damn amazing; I’m kind, supportive, and full of love, hope and empathy. I got rid of anything toxic that was dragging me down and I worked on reprogramming my internal dialogue. I made myself a promise to wake up every morning and ask myself, “What do I need today?” It may have been in baby step form but it was making a decision to put myself first. I exercised, cleared a few things from my schedule, ate healthy, journaled, meditated, spent time with friends; I took bubble baths and I bought flowers.
To this day I buy flowers every week.
In fact my husband to this day on any special occasion will buy me red roses from FTD floral. It’s a reminder of how much he loves me; it makes me feel special and appreciated.
Me: There are so many hurting women around the world today, what advice would you give them?
Michelle: Work on getting the old belief system out; that you don’t deserve to be loved. Traumatic times will show up in life but it’s an opportunity to hit the reset button. An opportunity to do things that you love that bring joy into your life, because this is what will make you start to feel better and then you will take better care of yourself overall; it’s a cycle.
Buy yourself some flowers, have them sent from FTD and experience the feeling you want, not only will it help you attract greatness into your life, but it will also program your internal dialogue that you are the most important person and you deserve to be loved. The beauty around you will help you to feel good about yourself. Flowers are one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your mood; it’s all about giving yourself permission to be loved and the best relationship you can have is the one with yourself. It’s your moment to feel special!
Michelle Phillips is being recognized as the International Beauty Expert for the #SHEROproject. She supplies empowerment and inspiration to women through her weekly beauty segments on TV, specialized coaching program, and her best-selling book, The Beauty Blue Print. Michelle offers over 20 years of experience and is recognized as one of the most influential makeup artists in the entertainment industry. Michelle is working on her second book and she is passionate about self-esteem boosts and positive transformation; helping women around the world to look and feel amazing and she is “redifining” beauty.
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Each SHERO featured will receive a relaxing mix of Nectar Bath Treats’ most popular bath and body treats. Nectar Bath Treats is a cruelty free bath & body company that creates bakery inspired treats for deliciously smooth skin. Their delightful handmade treats range from adorable cupcake soaps and milkshake inspired coconut milk bath soaks to stress blasting bath bombs, all natural sugar body scrubs, ice cream shaped bubble bath scoops and so much more. If you need to relax after a long day or give yourself smoother more kissable skin, Nectar Bath Treats has you covered head to toe. Each treat is handmade with love by their team of professional soap artisans and skin care specialists for skin so soft and smooth you’ll swear you just left a luxury spa treatment.
The SHEROs will also receive a candle by Sugarboo and Co…Dealers in Whimsy, reminding them that they are a light in the world. Sugarboo believes in putting good out into the world whenever possible. Their hope is that each Sugarboo piece sent out into the world will add a little good! Rebecca Puig’s (artist and owner) inspirations are family, nature, animals, old things, children’s art and folk art. She loves juxtaposing old and new, light and dark, serious subject matter with fluff and anything with a message! Sugarboo’s Motto is “Put Good Things into the World”