For the past few years, MUD graduate and New York store employee Christie Lee has been working with a non-profit organization,The Blind Project, helping victims of sex trafficking in Southeast Asia. She uses her talent as a make-up artist to give the women and young girls makeovers and boost their self-esteem. MUD has also donated products to assist her in these efforts. Below is her account of how she got started working with The Blind Project:
Two years ago, I went with The Blind Project to Thailand for two months. The Blind Project first started out as an awareness campaign for sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, at a time when the issue was barely in the public notice. Four years later, it is now a collective of professional volunteers leveraging their skills to make change through two objectives – to bring about economic sustainability through our Biographe initiative and to restore the true beauty to these women’s lives through our restorative initiatives.
These two objectives evolved after a group of us traveled to Thailand two years ago to connect with local organizations already doing groundwork and to see how we can lend a hand with our skills. I brought along my make-up kit without any planned agendas except for possible opportunities of doing some makeovers. We traveled from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai to Burma and down to Cambodia, visiting different shelters of young girls and women who have either been rescued or are at risk of being sex trafficked. At these shelters, we ended up giving eye exams as well as doing makeovers.
I remembered a time when our group went up to the Northern border of Burma to a small town called Mesai. We stayed at a shelter that housed about 14 girls from the ages of 10 to 18 for two days. The first day there we planned a make-over event for the girls and then took portraits of them afterwards. There was one girl whom, after finishing her make-up, I changed the way she parted her hair because I felt it suited her better. The next day I noticed she wore her hair the same way and there was a change in the way she carried herself, she walked around with more confidence than when I first met her.
Throughout all the makeover opportunities I had, I learned there was something powerful in something as simple as the act of putting on make-up for someone or doing their hair: it can bring about healing and restoration of one’s value and dignity. There is something intimate that takes place; there is an exchange of humanity. And because of this truth, it has changed the way I view and do make-up now, whether it is on a fashion shoot or in a shelter halfway across the world. To me, make-up not only beautifies the face, it also edifies the soul.
Christie will be returning to Thailand this week for a follow-up visit and will be bringing more donated MUD products with her. Upon her return she will be writing another story with updates on The Blind Project’s progress.
Christie Lee is a Make-Up Designory graduate and a hair and make-up artist who has in print, film, and television. She has worked with prestigious clients including Coca Cola, Spiegel, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Bust, MTV, and Fuse. While she calls New York City her home base, she regularly travels across the country for projects on both coasts and including regular photo shoots in Paris.
Ms. Lee’s journey to NYC and introduction to the fashion world as an artist began in Orange County. She graduated from UCLA with a background in Social Development and Human Rights Advocacy. Ms. Lee then traveled and worked across Southeast Asia before serving with AmeriCorps for a year. Afterwards, she moved to a small ski town in Mammoth Lakes, and it was there, while surrounded by intense natural beauty, that her love for make-up ignited.
Since moving to NYC, Ms. Lee has honed her skills and nurtured her talents as a professional hair and make-up artist. She loves the challenge of turning a palette of colors and textures into a medium with endless possibilities in her work, and is inspired by the power of make-up in uplifting women and reminding them of the beauty and dignity that they have within themselves.