BEAUTYfull™: Jaclynn Brennan, Unleashed Beauty
Guys!!!! This post is so special for me because I got to team up with my great friend and beauty GURU Lauren Cosenza from @Divalicious, alongside master photographer Stephania Stanley. I was their 10th BEAUTYfull subject, and we had such a fab time creating this.
“I have known Jaclynn for years and she consistently inspires with her creative and unique approach to beauty and style, her dedication and hard work in building an aspirational career and her genuine warmth and supportive nature when it comes to friendships. Jaclynn aims to empower, and she succeeds. With a twinkle in her eye and abstract nail art on her fingertips.” - Lauren Cosenza
BEHIND THE CONCEPT: What is BEAUTYfull™
Spread beauty. It’s our mission. And our goal in spreading beauty is that it reaches everyone. It is inclusive, not exclusive. We believe beauty comes in all ages, races, genders, features, abilities, sizes, shapes, body types… in all the unique elements that form each of our unique whole. There is a FULL spectrum of BEAUTY and we all exist in it. With our own personal experiences, stories and voices. And with that, originated the concept of BEAUTYfull™.
For our celebratory 10th post, we present you with the total-package beauty unleashed by Jaclynn Brennan.
Special note: All photography by Stephania Stanley. Concept, makeup and interview by Lauren Cosenza. Shot in Brooklyn.
THE 10th SUBJECT: Jaclynn Brennan
Now living in NYC, Jaclynn grew up in a small town called Bayonne, New Jersey about 20 minutes outside of Manhattan. Bayonne is a town where everyone knows each other’s name, everyone is somehow related to each other or 2nd/3rd cousins, and there is a nail salon and pizza place on every single block. Jaclynn felt lucky to be so close to NYC and would go to the city every chance she got. A true lover of personal style, she loved the energy of New York City. “I could wear whatever I wanted without people judging me or looking at me funny, dye my hair every color under the sun and be whoever I wanted to be. The city gave me so much inspiration and the ability to dream big.”
Jaclynn’s family encouraged her to follow her dreams of working in fashion and so she hustled to open doors. After networking and meeting as many people as she could she “decided to become a brand myself, because how could anyone hire or believe in me if I didn’t believe in myself?”
Jaclynn’s career started when she was 16 years old and highlights include assisting at Clear Channel (now iheart Media), producing freelance runway shows, styling, graphic designing, handling PR… she’s truly been a “Jaclynn of all trades.” In her second year of college, at only 18, she started her own PR agency in Florida and founded Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week, securing global designers. After graduating early, Jaclynn moved back to NJ and, as many recent grads do, struggled a bit to find her way. “I fell on my face so many times, worked my ass off, did about 5 unpaid internships, got rejected on a daily basis… but I never gave up.”
Jaclynn got hired by a Canadian handbag and footwear company that was transiting into the US Market and in 2013, started her fashion & lifestyle blog Blazers & Bellinis. She then worked for a fashion jewelry line that expended into eyewear and leather goods. Jaclynn is currently the Vice President and Creative Director for Diamonds Unleashed by Kara Ross, which is a social impact brand that inspires women’s self worth through educational and microfinance opportunities for women and girls globally.
“I love my job, I wake up excited every single day. I’ve never worked harder in my life, but it’s also never felt as rewarding. I truly believe we are going to make a big mark in this world, and help women have a voice and confidence through our beautiful symbol of women’s empowerment.”
When asked why she wanted to participate in the BEAUTYfull project, Jaclynn shared, “#1 because I truly believe every woman regardless of size/age/shape/income is BEAUTIFUL and needs to be confident and help empower and inspire other women to feel the same. #2 because I am a big fan of beauty guru Lauren Cosenza and anything she touches I know is magic.”
THE INTERVIEW: Jaclynn on body positivity, the use of photoshop in the fashion industry and why tearing down and judging other women is un-beautiful.
Where do you think you, or all women, get their cues about how they “should” look?
I unfortunately know that women get their beauty cues from today’s society including all media, which is SO FREAKING SKEWED! Photoshop is a part of our industry, but it really hurts people’s self esteem and makes them think they are less because they do not look like the models in the pages of Vogue. I also edit my photos, I do because it’s part of the industry to make photography look flawless, but at the end of the day I know I am beautiful and it’s just part of the game. I think it’s very important for girls, starting at a young age, to know their self-worth and have confidence in their own skin. I am literally dedicating my work and career right not to this exact notion. To ENCOURAGE, empower and inspire young women to believe in themselves no matter what.
Can you describe the idealized standard of beauty as you see it today. What does the perfect woman, as defined by Hollywood, entertainment and social media look like?
In society’s mind the perfect idea of beauty is big overdone eyes, huge fake lips, a large chest, size 2 waist and an unbalanced big butt with slim legs. That is not real life. Every woman was created differently, we are not MEANT to look like one another, we are meant to look like ourselves. I also believe that if you want to enhance or change something on your body to FEEL good about yourself, then go for it girl, but make sure it’s for you, not for society.
How do you think most women compare to this standard, or feel about it? How do you personally?
As women, at some point or another we all fall into victims of insecurity. No one is perfect, especially in a world that is photoshopped with a big ribbon around it. I think a lot of women feel bad about themselves, judge other women and this is an awful negative cycle that needs to be stopped. The best possible thing we can do is love and embrace ourselves, along with our imperfections. I am not perfect. I have my days where I feel great like I’m ready to be on the cover of Vogue, and I have days where I want to hide under a rock. I am not a size 2, and I never will be. I am a size 12, and I love myself and my body. I have things I wish to improve on, and am trying to be healthier on my own basis. I am a body activist, and try to spread the message that it doesn’t matter what size you are, beauty has no limits. The average size of a woman in the United States is a size 14, so why does society constantly praise stick figures?! I don’t understand that and never will.
When you were younger, was it important to see women in Hollywood or advertising or in music or the modeling world who looked like you?
Girl, I waited for over 15 years to finally see women who looked like me on the covers of top fashion glossy US magazines and walk down the runway for New York Fashion Week. It is SLOWLY changing, and I will make sure it does.
Is it important to you now?
Yes, it is. Because my follow rockstars Ashley Graham, Curvy Fashionista, Gabbi Fresh and many others are working their tush off to make it happen. I support them, their collections, their message and I think it’s great. I think fashion and beauty should be celebrated in all shapes and sizes TOGETHER and not SEPARATED. I think we still have a long what to go, but we will get there.
How do you think social media plays in with both impossible — and in many instances, retouched to perfection — beauty standards on the one side and the democratization of diversification of beauty standards on the other? How does social media affect your views of beauty?
Social media is playing a huge role right now in our generation and life in general. Instagram and Facebook quickly took over the industry, people stopped reading fashion magazines and started looking at real people for the first time. Style and fashion became immediate and more accessible. Of course photoshop and perfection apps will always play a role in our industry, I think it is an OK to an extent. To be completely upfront, I used to photoshop the shit out of my pictures, as a graphic designer would, because I was not confident and wanted to make myself look “thinner” or “flawless”. I still DO tweak my pictures to enhance the image, but I remind myself don’t go crazy because you look great curves and all.
I think the game changer came along with SNAPCHAT and now IG STORIES. For a period of time you were not able to add in your own photo and it had to be a picture of you on the SPOT, unedited or just a basic filter. You can’t hide anything on that, and honestly I like it because it’s authentic. I use every social media platform, and I snapchat a lot of pictures with no filter unedited no makeup because its REAL.
Who were your first beauty icons? Who do you see as a beauty icon now?
I always idolized “old school hollywood glamour”. Marylin Monroe was a size 14, she was curvy and confident and she has always been my beauty idol. I think curves are sexy, and I think over the years our media got lost along the way. Growing up, I looked more towards European fashion because they understood that models were not meant to look like hangers. There are so many wonderful role models and beauty icons today, I give my personal trophy to Ashley Graham, I think she is a great role model.
What do you love about yourself physically? Why?
I love my curves and my pear shape. A few years ago having a big butt and big chest with a smaller waist was NOT in style. I love my skin, my eyes, my nose, my face. I love that I can get up out of bed in the morning and NOT wear makeup sometimes and still feel beautiful. I love that I have overcome a lot of my personal insecurities and can feel good in my own skin.
What have you felt pressure to change or alter, have you otherwise struggled with or felt insecure about?
My weight has always fluctuated throughout my life. I struggled with feeling insecure and being unhealthy. I made the decision to change that, I also continue to work hard at it. I am not perfect, I am not an average “model” but I do feel good in my own skin.
When do you feel most beautiful? What makes you feel beautiful?
I FEEL most beautiful when I know that I am a good person, working hard, having a great time and having a positive impact in people’s lives. Sometimes I walk down the street of NYC and listen to my music on my headphones and smile, and when I can make someone else smile and have that small effect that can change their whole day, it makes me feel beautiful.
I feel most beautiful with a sun-kissed natural tan, a blow out, mascara, a little lip gloss and a killer dress that shows my curves. I feel beautiful when someone also tells me “you’re beautiful” or “you look great.” Those little words have a wonderful reassuring effect. I try to compliment at least one person a day, and it be an AUTHENTIC compliment.
When don’t you feel beautiful? What makes you feel not beautiful?
I really dislike when women judge each other or say nasty things to bring someone down, that makes me feel un-beautiful. If I am truly stressed out, and I break out on my face I feel un-beautiful. If I don’t have a chance to really pick out my outfit and accessories (because I am completely OCD) then I feel un-beautiful.
What is your beauty regimen? Has it changed over the years?
I start by drinking 2 glasses of water before anything. Next, I wash my face with regular bar soap and water and then use Kiehl’s moisturizer with sunscreen. I never used to do this, but I have been taking good care of my skin and paying attention to this regimen for the past 3 years. I get facials on a monthly basis, always try to wear minimal face makeup and remove it at night. I am even getting fancy with my night creams. Laura Mercier is amazing, and once in a while I will use GLAM GLOW Mud Mask to tighten and exfoliate. I also do a beauty kitchen hydrating mask whenever I travel before or after a flight.
Any beauty advice you’ve been give that you particularly appreciate?
Water is everything, for your skin. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, without your health and mind you have nothing.
Who is beautiful to you?
I truly do believe that every woman in the world is beautiful in their own right. A beautiful woman is someone who does not give a damn about what anyone thinks of her, she is confident and loves herself, imperfections and all.
What is beautiful to you?
Beauty is a term that is so subjective in our world and our society. Beauty for me goes way beyond physical appearance. I believe beauty is something that’s in your soul, in your heart.
A very special thank you to Lauren for letting me share my story on her platform. I hope this interview inspired you, I am so lucky to have amazing industry friends that support me.
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