For Jessica Hill, the fiery red color of her lipstick symbolizes her boldness in raising awareness of abuse.
Hill, a survivor of sexual assault and founder of Columbus-based lipstick company, Lipstk Goblin, will lead a discussion and Q-and-A session during Wednesday’s Women’s History Month event, “I Slay: A makeup workshop and open dialogue.” The workshop also will feature a live demonstration of makeup application by Rian Hamadnalla, the event organizer and a fourth-year in African-American and African studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies.
Hamadnalla said the event is the first of a series of workshops that will use a common interest in makeup to empower women to unite in confronting the issues they fight. She said women and men of all ethnicities and races are welcome to attend, but the experiences of women of color will be emphasized.
“I wanted to create an intimate setting where black women can get to know each other and, hopefully from that, black women on our campus will be able to manifest a trust and be a little more comfortable discussing things like sexual violence and rape culture, because if they’re not talking about it, we really can’t tackle the issue,” Hamadnalla said.
Hill said she will share her personal story as a victim of child molestation and rape in adulthood during the first half of the event. She said she hopes her vulnerability will create an understanding of the reality and commonality of sexual violence.
“I remember being a college girl and I remember thinking that wouldn’t happen to me because I could handle myself, and I remember thinking it was a specific type of girl that would normally be sexually assaulted, so I just want to bring more awareness of it,” Hill said.
Hill said makeup provided a vehicle to express herself following traumatic experiences when she was otherwise afraid to do so. She said wearing colorful lipsticks encouraged her to step outside of her comfort zone and embrace her individuality.
“We live in a world where we constantly feel like we’re being judged, but you have to hit a point in life where you have to say, ‘Forget everyone else and what everyone else is thinking and the limitations they’ve put on me’ and you have to learn to live for you,” Hill said.
Similarly, Hamadnalla referred to makeup as a type of therapy and said she believes wearing makeup empowers women from all walks of life to feel more confident and independent.
“We often shun makeup or men say, ‘Oh, you guys are wearing makeup, we don’t know what you look like underneath all that,’ and it’s like, ‘Who cares,’” Hamadnalla said. “We’re not wearing it for you, we’re wearing it because we enjoy it.”
While Hill said makeup served as her avenue to recovery, she said there are many paths to healing from sexual assault. She said she hopes her story provides hope for women who have faced similar circumstances and urges others to come together on their behalf.
“Yes, rape is real,” Hill said. “Yes, child molestation is real, but also, it is very possible for you to live a life afterwards. Is it hard? Most definitely, but there is life after.”
“I Slay: A makeup workshop and open dialogue” will take place on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Alonso Family Room of the Multicultural Center in the Ohio Union.