Behind the Ink: Realize Your Beauty.
Stacey Lorin Merkl, Founder & Executive Director of Realize Your Beauty, reached out to Conscious Ink for her nonprofit’s New York City event when she realized that her own mission and that of Conscious Ink were perfectly aligned. “Realize Your Beauty is all about youth empowerment and Conscious Ink is all about empowering people with their tattoos. The messages of positivity, working to empower others, and helping them to believe in themselves - though we do this work in very different ways, at the end of the day, we have that strong commonality.” The event was a wonderful success and as the pictures poured in, we knew we had to feature Stacey, her organization, this event and her mission. This is her story of outreach and impact.
At a young age, I fell in love with theatre arts, and I knew that in some capacity they would be a part of my professional life. When I was about 14 yrs old, I had a mentor who used theater/music as a means to help those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. When I was 15, I began performing with his organization, helping with the fundraisers, and so on. It was this experience that taught me I could use what skills I had in theater arts as a means to help others. For me, that realization changed everything.
After years of struggling with my own serious body image and eating disorder issues, it became clear to me that I wanted to spend my life empowering young people to feel good about themselves, to see their value and truly to understand their worth. With my background and skill set, using theatre as a means for social change was the natural path for me. For all these reasons, in 2010, I founded the non-profit organization, Realize Your Beauty, with the mission of promoting positive body image and eating disorder awareness to children and adolescents through theatre arts.
Conscious Ink so generously sponsored our annual event, Realize Your Beauty Day, which is an International celebration of inner-beauty, kindness and self-esteem: a day to celebrate what makes you uniquely beautiful. Conscious Ink sponsored our NYC Celebration, which was the main event for the organization. The event was so much more than what we could have hoped for! We had people of all ages in attendance: high school groups, parents and grandparents with young children, Girl Scout Troops - everyone was smiling and enjoying the activities! We had jewelry making, face-painting, a juggler, live music, live theatre performances, crafts, activities, and even a ‘Tattoo Parlor’ (sponsored by Conscious Ink!). All of the activities had a common theme: inner-beauty and kindness. The space was very generously sponsored by BALANCE Eating Disorder Treatment Center, and we were so lucky to have Denise Bidot (Plus Sized Model, Activist and Founder of No Wrong Way Movement) as our Guest Speaker. Everyone was so supportive and engaged with the presentation, and Denise Bidot gave a wonderful speech. It really helped the whole day come together, and reinforced the message behind the day: a day to celebrate what makes you uniquely you!
If I could tell the world one thing, it would be that we are the most beautiful when we are the most ourselves. Be yourself, let yourself just…be you. You bring something to this world that nobody else can, because there is nobody in this world just like you. That seems so overly simple and maybe even trite- but it’s the truth. We all have different life experiences, along with our natural personalities and strengths, that combine to make us unique individuals. And we all have something positive we can share and contribute to this world – and the word desperately needs more positive contributions! The beautiful thing is that the more you’re able to love and embrace who you are, the more you’re able to love and embrace others.
Conscious Ink was honored to contribute to the Realize Your Beauty event. When Frank Gjata founded Conscious Ink, he wanted the simplicity of a Manifestation Tattoo to have lasting impact by using the power of words as a regular reminder of our power. Stacey shared her own thoughts on the power of words and they perfectly reflect the heart of Conscious Ink: “I think many people underestimate the power of their words. Words inspire us, they influence us, they help to shape the way we think. A positive mantra can have a very powerful effect on our day to day lives, by helping and teaching our brains to think of things in a positive way. Words have power, and the way we speak to ourselves on a day to day basis has a very strong impact on how we feel about ourselves. It’s time to learn to speak to ourselves with words of love, respect and kindness, and a positive mantra is a great place to start.”