'Oh ... pretty!'

Makeover winners treated to a confidence boost

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

WINDOW ROCK, Feb. 16,2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Hairstylist Jheri Silversmith works on Kimiko Laughlin's hair, from Gallup, Friday at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock.

BOTTOM: Pink lipstick is applied onto the lips of Ashleigh Clyde, 20, from Lukachukai, Friday in Window Rock.

Oh ... pretty!" exclaimed Kimiko Laughlin.

She was talking about her own reflection after her "Fabulous Glam Makeover."

Not bad for a young woman who, a few hours prior, had lamented her narrow eyes and button nose.


Some tips from a pro

Laughlin, 22, of Gallup, was one of the two winning contestants in the soon-to-be annual Fabulous Glam Makeover, the brainchild of fashion designer and makeup artist Tionne Tomae of Cornfields, Ariz.

Tomae, photographers Jacqueline Marie and Ryan Brown, and hair stylist Gerilyn Silversmith spent most of last Friday fussing over the girls and Lorena Yazzie, 24, who had traveled all the way from Glendale, Ariz., to watch the makeover and, the team decided, deserved a makeover of her own.

Laughlin and the other winner, Ashleigh Clyde, 20, of Lukachukai, Ariz., also took home about $1,000 worth of beauty products donated by area merchants and jewelry crafted by Chinle artist Marco Arviso.

Tomae and Marie said the team had chosen Laughlin and Clyde out of 30-odd contestants because of the essays they had submitted on why they wanted a makeover.

"Most of the others just wrote that they wanted a new look," Tomae said. "Ashleigh and Kimiko really wanted to boost their confidence, which is what the contest is all about."

As a constable for Apache County, Clyde needs to exude an air of authority, but finds it elusive.

"I do have confidence sometimes," she said. "Just not a lot."

Laughlin has spent the last few years trying to get over her shyness. She even auditioned for both the Women of the Navajo and Women of the Southwest calendars, but when she wasn't picked, her confidence went into a tailspin.

Marie, a head-turning former model, told the girls she didn't get the first few modeling gigs she applied for either, so she could relate to Laughlin's feelings.

"It was Tionne who gave me a chance, and that boosted my confidence to where I feel like I can do anything today," she said. "That's what we're going to do for you."

Tomae told her own heartbreaking story of losing her voice just when she was about to get a big break as a singer, when her manager talked her into muscling through a bad case of pneumonia to complete a recording contract.

She ended up permanently damaging her vocal cords, and today can't talk above a whisper. Her dream stolen from her, she spiraled into depression, overeating, and an abusive relationship that sapped what little self-esteem she had left.

Gradually, she clawed her way back, and with the help of current boyfriend and business partner Ray Linder, revived a childhood interest in fashion design to start her own label and modeling agency.

Since then, she said, she's made it her mission to inspire confidence in others, both with her flowing designs that flatter all figure types, and her modeling agency that has been known to hire less-than-perfect girls who nonetheless exude such a positive vibe that whatever clothes they're wearing are irresistible to buyers.

"It's hard for me to tolerate shyness," she confessed. "When I hear someone with a beautiful voice and they tell me they're too shy to go in front of an audience, it's frustrating for me. I think, 'If I only had my voice back, I'd take it all the way.'"

Tomae traces a variety of societal ills, even crime, back to insecurity.

"People do crimes because they feel insecure," she stated. "If you feel ugly inside, you do ugly things to other people."

The cherubic young women listening to the lecture certainly had no reason to feel ugly, but they were about to get slam-dunk gorgeous. Both Clyde and Laughlin said they never wear much makeup, and Yazzie said she usually puts some on before she leaves the house, but wanted to learn a more polished, professional look.

After the team was finished with them, they looked like supermodels flouncing around in Tomae's bright-colored creations.

"How do you feel?" Clyde was asked as she tried to stifle her bedimpled grin and look sultry for her complimentary photo shoot.

"Happy!" she said.

Tomae smiled benevolently, knowing, as she does, that happy is always the start of confident.

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