bobbi brown writes a letter to her younger self
To celebrate 25 years of BE WHO YOU ARE, i-D is collaborating with Bobbi Brown to bring you six women's letters of advice to their younger selves. Here, Bobbi herself reflects on the supermodel era and working with Bruce Weber.
You don't know this right now, but one day, your name will be synonymous with natural beauty and women's empowerment. You will give women the confidence they need to feel like the best versions of themselves by celebrating and enhancing the features they love with makeup. Yes, makeup. You'll discover your passion for makeup later in life after realizing that the traditional educational path just wasn't quite the right path for you. However, in order to understand where you'll end up, you need to understand how it all began.
As a girl, you'll spend hours upon hours watching your glamorous mother apply her makeup. You'll think she is the most beautiful woman in the world, and you'll never quite feel half as pretty as she is. You'll aspire to look like all the blond models you see in the fashion magazines and on TV, and even your girlfriends in high school. Then one day, you'll see a movie called Love Story, starring Ali McGraw, and it will change everything. You'll find Ali's dark hair, thick brows, and barely visible makeup stunning. Through her, you'll finally be able to appreciate your own beauty.
In time, you'll also stop beating yourself up for not being good at subjects like math and science. School will be a struggle for you and you will get down on yourself, but you'll see things differently than your peers and will always be looking for a better way to do things.You'll come to find that this is called being an entrepreneur.
So you'll graduate high school, go to a "traditional" four-year college, and be completely miserable. You won't be able to shake the feeling that something is not right and that you made a mistake by even going to college. You'll go home to visit your mom and tell her you want to drop out. She'll ask you, "If you could do anything you wanted, what you would do?" And you'll respond, "I'd go to Marshall Fields and play with makeup at the cosmetics counter." That's when your mom will suggest you become a makeup artist—the "aha!" moment in your life that will change everything.
You'll find a school where you can thrive, design your own major, and be yourself. You'll feel like you fit in—like you've finally found your people. You'll realize that you can be an extremely successful student once you have figured out that everyone retains information differently, and although you didn't like working with numbers, you were still very intelligent.
You'll never look back, but instead will set your sights on becoming the best makeup artist you can be. You will move to New York in your twenties and start working in the fashion industry. In these years you'll be smart enough to let models fix their faces if they don't like it: you'll watch and learn as Jerry Hall and Kim Alexis do their make-up. You may not always feel like you know what you are doing, but working with different photographers and editors and magazines will keep you learning and growing. As a young makeup artist you'll do Anna Wintour's make-up in her office. A few years later you will get to work with Bruce Weber after studying and idolizing him for years.
The rest won't be easy, but as you grow older, know that you will gain more confidence and evolve as a person. For years, you'll stress about what to wear and you'll make a lot of mistakes but when you figure it out, you'll see that it comes down to comfort.
You will learn to love yourself, and that newfound self-respect will enable you to do great things. You will launch what many will call a makeup empire, not because you set out to, but because your approach will resonate with so many women on an emotional and very personal level. You'll constantly tap into those feelings of insecurity from your childhood to help ensure that the women you work with only ever feel pretty and confident. Your message will be simple, but it will stand the test of time for more than 25 years: The secret to beauty is simple, be who you are.
Staying true to yourself will give you the confidence you need to succeed in life. When things don't go right and get really tough, find a way to power through. Find a window if a door closes, make up your own rules and follow your gut. Finally, don't lose your naiveté. It's the trait that will make you most successful.
Young Bobbi, you are pretty powerful, and you are going to inspire millions of women around the globe to believe that they are too.
This content was created by Bobbi Brown and VICE creative services, independently from the i-D editorial staff.
Text Bobbi Brown
Images courtesy Bobbi Brown