“My face isn’t beat to the gods.” She says with a shrug, adding, “Yes, I love makeup, but right now, some days, enough is enough—I’m tired.”
At this, I let out a sigh of relief. I couldn’t agree more: I’m barefaced as I FaceTime with Eden Hansom this evening. Eden is a writer and content creator wunderkind but she’s also known for her review of Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Foundationthat garnered so much attention earlier this year it was reprinted byElle, Allure, Teen Vogueand Glamour—just to name a few.
Yes, she likes makeup. And yes, she still glows without it—even as she shares with me about the death of her mother, a mere two weeks before. This immeasurable and deeply intimate loss is just one of the many personal subjects about which Eden is refreshingly open about in her work and writing.
Her renowned Fenty review, entitled “I’M SO FLAWLESS,” celebrates her envy-inspiring skin and traffic-stopping allure. However, Eden explains that it took
“a lot of work to get to that place” of confidence—“it came from a lot of being hella-bullied” as a little girl in Fayetteville, NC.
She didn’t know what to do as a child: “I empathize with children that commit suicide because they don’t know that they’ll come out on the other side.”
Fortunately, Eden did. Her saving grace came with her family’s relocation to Hawaii—both of her parents served in the Army: “I claim Honolulu, HI as my hometown because that’s where I came into my own.”
While living in Hawaii, she had the realization that “can’t nobody really tell myself about me.” Simple, yet profound, it’s something that rings true for all of us—we alone are the keepers of our own esteem, but only if we dare to be brutally honest. And honesty isn’t for the faint of heart. Eden’s candor—in talking about her experience with depression, practicing (and enjoying) safe sex, grieving her late mother, and calling out “fuckboys”—is what drew me to her.
Her voice pleasantly contradicts our modern time—one that’s about “what you look like, as opposed to what is happening behind the scenes to get what you look like.” In this world of confusing perceptions and projections, Eden chooses openness:
“I decided back in 2010, that I was going to be upfront with people,” because “it’s healing for me.”
Because openness invites vulnerability, it’s healing for others, as well.
“It’s called the ‘huh’ effect”—she exhales sharply—“and other women always respond back which I’m very happy about.” (Well, I certainly did.) Another still-taboo subject she broaches is being in therapy—an endeavor she tried on for size in her early twenties, but has recently built into her routine.
Being upfront about mental health as a woman of color is especially important to her because, as she says: “we don’t really have access to that,”—a tragic reality supported by countless statistics.
Eden elaborates on the problem: “it’s the stigma—it needs to be kept behind closed doors,” or alternatively, it can be “cured if you just believe in God and pray. And that’s not enough.”
She’s speaking out against those cultural taboos on Instagram, she’s something of an accessible mental-health advocate. “Our egos are so big that you can’t even say: ‘I need help’.” It took years—about a decade—before she was ready to ask for help.
Time is a wild, unpredictable thing…
Back in Fall 2017, Eden had waited two months to receive that Fenty foundation—her shade, #440, was sold out. Then she promptly wrote a review and went on about her own business. Three months later, a Rihanna super-fan found it, re-tweeted it and set off a social media frenzy. Mind you, this moment came as she was decompressing in the desert of New Mexico after near-burnout—grueling news station work and dead-end freelance jobs will do that to you. In fact, she was about to completely give up on writing. That time-lapse, albeit painful, taught her patience: “you might want it right now, but it’s not your time.”
Now is her time.
I ask her about restoring balance, especially in our culture of ‘curated content.’ She says sagely: “I pray with questions and I meditate for the answers.” She integrates aromatherapy—our sense of smell is known to be largely tied to emotions, after all. And, she lets herself cry when she needs to cry “because holding stuff in, it isn’t healthy.” And then there’s that next-level self-love. “Even though I’m careful with my words, I still put me first,” she emphasizes, “um, definitely have to put myself first.”
She also finds genuine support via social media—that’s the other side of the modern-world coin: broader connectivity. While she struggled with sharing her mother’s illness awhile back, Eden admits that “it helps, it really does.” She exhales and says, “I don’t know if I could be as strong as I have been, had I not put myself out there.”
Wading through the deep waters that come with losing a loved one, especially a parent, especially a mother, her voice sounds strong.
She’s proud of her writing, and while she loves her audience, and she creates for herself: “it’s literally my medicine, and it’s literally what’s keeping me sane.” Creating is part of a deeper growth and it is constant work: “it’s about breaking that generational, habitual behavior that’s not conducive to how we want to live.”
Like I said, advanced-level self-love.
Find Eden here