told by Arielle Weller
Meet Laverne Delgado-Small, a 29-year-old Latina born in New Mexico, but raised in the slick streets of Las Vegas. She leads Freedom and Fashion, a non-profit that uses fashion and beauty to empower youth dealing with adversities like trafficking and homelessness.
We sat down with her to briefly discuss Vegas, image and her own perception of self and beauty.
AW: Tell me about your time growing up in Vegas…
LDS: I was in Vegas from when I was 5 to 17. I don’t really go back. I don’t really enjoy Vegas like other people do. I had a lot of fun there, but I also got in so much trouble.
AW: How did Vegas shape your idea of beauty?
LDS: I always hung out with dudes. My house was the hangout house for my brothers so I was always with guys and I heard what they like [about women].
I was in the “locker room”. No one cared that I was a girl... I was treated like one of the guys.
I didn’t have many women telling me what was beautiful. I just heard what guys found acceptable and built my opinions at youth on that. This took a long time to undo.
AW: What does beauty mean to you?
LDS: Can I just say, red lips and winged eyeliner? [laughs] There’s so much beauty in authenticity. The ability to be truthful, that’s such a beautiful space to be in.
AW: What has been your biggest beauty struggle?
LDS: Currently? Fully accepting the stage I’m in. Physically, emotionally, all of it. Eliminating the shame in not being at the gym all the time. Not asking myself, “Do I fit the stereotype of ‘letting myself go after marriage?’ Simply not judging myself so harshly.
AW: What has been your biggest beauty win?
LDS: The win is the honesty of it all—it’s more detrimental to be oblivious. I’m self-aware and willing to dig deep to understand myself, regardless of how scary it may be.
AW: What advice would you give to your younger self?
LDS: Don’t worry about what he thinks. My whole world was surrounded by what men think and if a boyfriend didn’t like me, I didn’t like me. I was so insecure. I wish I would have focused on my relationship with Jesus and self love more.
Also, get the hell off social media!
AW: What do you think your older self would say to you today?
LDS: My older self would say, “adventure more” ! I wonder when I get older if I’ll look back and wish I had done more.
Adventure to me means the little things like trips, novelties. The Spa! Some people grow up going to a spa but I never did that so that’s quite the adventure to me!
AW: Last words on beauty?
LDS: I just want to hone in on authenticity more. It’s so important and many of us are so afraid to be it. What is beauty anyway? If it's just pretty without truth?
I wish saying “just love the skin you’re in” really worked but it’s not for so many. Sometimes I don’t “just love the skin I’m in” and it’s my responsibility to explore that. I have to ask myself, where is the truth in that?!
Working with the women we serve really helped shape my reality - it taught me what’s actually real.
Slogans, pep talks, motivational speeches don’t really have a lasting impact most of the time... sometimes the truth is ugly and vulnerability and authentically exploring that ..that’s where true beauty lies.
Laverne wearing our lipstain in shade poros