Beauty Is: Women Who Inspire - Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

For awhile now, I've wanted to write about the remarkable women I meet, know and work with. I know so many, and each inspires me.

These are women who show us what and how we can be in the world and how dreams are made true. They are the essence of beauty – they do and create things of beauty, they show us what it means to be ourselves and what we someday hope to be. So in tribute, I thought why not start with someone near and dear to my heart - who also happens to be one of the most influential and powerful women in the world.

Recently I worked with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a Today Show segment that chronicles her life story. It starts with a poor but bright little Puerto Rican girl who one day dreams of doing great things. The odds are stacked against her. She lives in the Bronx, being raised in the projects by her single working mother (who is obviously also a remarkable woman). She is Latina and, at the time, has few powerful female role models she can identify with and she has to compete with others who started life with privileges she never knew. But she is more than determined and perseveres, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class. She is accepted to Princeton University and then to Yale Law School. After law school she works first as an attorney, is eventually appointed by President George H. W. Bush as a U.S. Judge for the Southern District of New York and later to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by President William Jefferson Clinton.

Then the day comes when she is chosen by President Barack Obama as one of the nine justices in the United States Supreme Court. She is the first Hispanic and only the 3rd female Justice. When I saw her on TV standing next to the president, I was so proud. And a little jealous that she was standing next to him and told her so. She said it was like being in a dream.

Today those projects she was raised in are named The Sonia Sotomayor Houses. She has been chosen as one ofTime Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and been featured in countless books, articles and magazines. Next week her personal memoir, My Beloved World, is being published. Reviewers have said that the book is surprisingly candid and personal. "Sotomayor tells her fascinating life story with the hope of providing 'comfort, perhaps even inspiration' to others, particularly children, who face hard times" writes The Boston Globe.

I believe that among the most important things in life are honesty, integrity and kindness. For many reasons, I can tell you that Sonia Sotomayor is these things. You can feel the strength of her character and she is kind and genuine (but don’t kid yourself, she is tough, too - she is, after all, a United States Supreme Court Justice).

Sonia Memoir
Sonia Memoir

Writing a book so personal takes courage and a certain level personal awareness rarely seen in a woman of her stature. How lucky are we that her life is one of obstacles overcome and the dream of making it all happen - and she wants to share it with us too?

Doing her makeup, I was trying to rush to get her out the door but she calmly told me we had time and went on ask me about my life, wanting to make sure I told Jeff to get more sleep and that I set up Lucy with a college fund. So in additional to everything else, she is, in fact, that kind of person.

For the  record, I used my trustedLorac Eye Shadow, Laura Mercier Undercover Pot Concealer, Laura Mercier Mascara and Clinique Blush. The Justice prefers to look natural so I kept it light but did encourage a bit more for camera. So get up and watch for her on NBC’s Today Show this Monday, January 14 at 7a.m. EST. And then tell me how fabulous she looks!

You can also see Justice Sotomayor interviewed on the following upcoming shows:

60 Minutes Sunday, January 13 on CBS at 7p.m. EST

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Monday, January 21 at 11p.m. EST

CNN with Soledad O’Brien The week of January 21 (check online for updates).

Oprah's Next Chapter in January or February (check online for updates).

Finally, if you’d like to meet her, she will be in the following cities for lectures and/or book signings over the next several months: New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, San Francisco, Houston, Austin, Los Angeles and San Diego. If you need help finding where, let me know. And if you do see her, tell her I sent you (via this site)!

We visit the New York Historical Society Children's Museum each week. Sonia Sotomayor is featured in a section called "American Dreamers" - and here is Lucy, dreaming right alongside her.

A Night With Journey - For Those We Love With Cancer

I have lost some of the dearest people in my life to cancer. I was with my cousin Linda as she struggled with the cancer we never thought would take her; spent days in the hospital with one of my best friends who had brain cancer. In 2009, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and four weeks later she was gone. And while my grief is deep and personal, I know I am not alone. There are also many who survive - but it is a hard and lonely struggle. That's why I appreciate and am grateful that there are people who care enough to do something about it – be it as personal as sharing their own story of struggle, supporting another who is suffering - as well as events that raise awareness and funds for a cause that supports all those with cancer. And I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of an upcoming event called “One Night One Show One Cause Benefit.” It will be held on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at the Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric in Baltimore, Maryland. There will be a live auction, a fashion show and a concert from Journey (Who isn't crazy about "Don't Stop Believin'?) – a band I listened to growing up and one whose songs are still heard around the world today.

Some press release details:

This is the flagship benefit concert of PRS Guitars. Since 2000, PRS Guitars has raised more than 2 million for the Living with Cancer Resource Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The Living with Cancer Resource Program offers supportive care programs and education to cancer patients and families at Johns Hopkins - free of charge.

The event features a concert by the iconic rock band Journey, as well as a “Journey Of Hope Fashion Show,” a show produced by fashion event producer Pamela DePalma of DePalma Enterprises, celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino, makeup artist Robyn Tamura and celebrity fashion expert Chamisa Lamm. New York–based DJ, Charles Browne, will be spinning throughout the pre-party and fashion show.

A live auction will feature signature PRS Guitars autographed and donated by music royalty such as Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, Mark Tremonti, Slash, Taylor Swift and more.

Seats begin at $75. VIP tickets at $250, $500, $1000 and includes premier seating and access to VIP Pre-party. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. All ages are welcome. For more information, visit the The Lyric's Web site. All proceeds to benefit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

JOURNEY is one of the most popular American rock bands of all time, creating some of the best-known songs in modern music. They continue to tour and record into the 21st century and have never stopped creating vital music. Since the group's formation in 1973, the band has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 Gold and Platinum albums; Greatest Hits is one of only a few Diamond-certified albums (15-times Platinum). In 2011, Journey received Billboard magazine’s “Legend of Live” Award and their seminal anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” is the most downloaded song of the 20th century. 

If need support or want to know how you can contribute to the program, please visit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center website.

The Present & Future You

I’ve been talking to friends about self-perception. If you’ve read earlier things I've written, you know I had a baby. And it wasn’t yesterday. It was 2 years ago, and, at this point, I'm feeling like the "you just had a baby" excuse is no longer such a good one. My body has changed - but I’ve just been waiting to get back to “normal". In my neighborhood, there's a lot of women pushing strollers looking as if they never had a baby and I always thought that would also be me. But now I'm starting to wonder if I need to accept a new normal and make peace with it. Maybe. I am actually going to try a little more before giving up my old clothes. And that's positive. The less positive part is that self-acceptance is just not that easy.

When I told a friend this, she said, “You know, when I was skinny I didn’t even think about it. I thought it was normal and I just found other things wrong with me.” I know so many women – smart, beautiful, interesting women – who talk about what they wish they had or didn’t have and what they’d like to change about themselves. I even hear it from models and actresses and women everyone would describe as nothing less than beautiful.

In the best of worlds we just wouldn't care – but we all know there is a certain standard of what's considered beautiful (and not). Still, it doesn’t mean we should let it define who we are or make us unable to love what we have. I think that sometimes when we're so busy looking at what we don't like we don't even realize what we do.

I mentioned this to another friend and she made me laugh because she said, “You know what? Sometimes I look at pictures and think about how bad I look. And then I realize that in 10 years I’ll look back and think I looked awesome!” This, I think, is amazing - because as we go through life it all becomes relative. And if the future you is going to look back and see how great you look and are, why not let the present you see it too?


Not Dreaming of Olympic Gold

I've been watching the Olympic gymnastics competitions all week. A gymnast would waver slightly off-balance after doing a full-twisting backflip on beam and you'd hear the commentators say something like, “Ah! Oh, that is going to cost her." If it was worse you might hear something like "this is catastrophic."

So when the reigning world champion didn't make it into the final all-around competition because her “tiniest mistakes added up” and she came in behind two of her teammates, the look on her face broke my heart.

Mistakes in gymnastics are so devastating at this level - you can work your entire life to that moment and if you’re not perfect, your Olympic dream can be gone in one misstep.

I was a gymnast for many years. Every year before a big competition, I'd be in tears because I’d think about how I worked so hard all these years and tomorrow I could fall and have to wait another year to have the opportunity to try again. By then you could have gotten injured, grown too much or any of the many things that can happen in between.I was in acro-gymnastics, which is much more forgiving than artistic gymnastics. You can make mistakes and it doesn’t guarantee a loss. And you can do the sport much longer than peaking at 16. But even then (although maybe I just wasn’t cut out for it because I don’t think everyone is crying before every big meet) there is just so much on the line in such a small space of time that equals years and years of dedication and very hard work. That, of course, is not unique to gymnastics and I don't think it's a bad thing. But I don’t think anyone should feel all is lost if they step out of bounds with the edge of their heel. Or that success is defined so narrowly (and subjectively) that anything less than perfect makes you a loser. Sometimes accepting our imperfections is a thing of beauty – life is, as they say, much of the time about the journey and not the destination.

Dreams are meant to be chased, whether we achieve them or not. I love gymnastics and there is a lot to be said for the discipline, toughness and dedication it instills. But to me, the negative outweighs the positive here when it shapes how a girl comes to define herself. I'm sure that's not true for everyone – I am sure some may only take away the good with them. But I think many do not.

That’s why I hope my daughter doesn't dream of one day making the Olympic gymnastics team. I realize it's not the worst thing that could happen. I want her to grow up chasing her dreams too, but I don't want it to ever be "catastrophic" if she steps on the line.

Looking Like an Idol

So it’s down to the finale. Maybe by the time you read this it will be over but it’s not about the winner, is it? It’s about who’s in it. I watched American Idol last night (of course) and because there were only two women featured, I think I can do this (as opposed to my last American Idol post when there were too many people to keep track of). Jennifer Lopez

I am pretty sure Jennifer Lopez’s makeup artist was off for the night. This was not the same makeup artist. I don’t like to be hypercritical of other artists’ work because I know how hard it can be, how much lightning can affect makeup, how the person wearing it affects the makeup, how brutal HD can be, and so on. And when you’re famous, everyone is too often looking at you and criticizing you, which is awful. Plus I love Jennifer Lopez. But since her makeup is usually flawless I have to say that it just didn't meet its usual high standard.

JLo almost always wears concealer under and around her eye area that brightens and draws attention to her eyes. This time it was too much - either too light or too thick and you could see the line between where her concealer started and stopped. It looked like she had a two-toned mask on, her nose looked uneven and she was shiny. Of course she is still gorgeous, but I’m talking about the makeup and what we can learn from it.


Unless you’re going for a specific look that requires it, don’t let makeup lines show on your face. That always says that you’re wearing makeup, not just looking glow-y and smooth. Make sure that everything is blended, blended, blended.


If you are on camera – particularly if you have a tan or darker skin tone - wear powder. Even if your skin is not oily, the flash or bright lighting can make your skin look shiny.

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez looked good, especially during the first song. Everything was just right – the dress was glamorous without looking too sexy for her age, the hair and makeup was soft and matched the dress. Throughout the season, Jessica’s makeup sometimes looked a little drag queeny. Part of it is that she already has naturally strong brows so when you add makeup it can quickly look like too much. But last night her eye shadow was soft with a touch of shimmer, she had lots of lashes, soft cheeks and lips with a little glossy light color. And the lips weren’t too defined so it looked good without being distracting.

However, by the 3rd song Jessica had too much blush on. This is what I’m talking about – let me be clear that she does not/did not look like a drag queen - but you venture into drag queen territory when you wear too much makeup all over.


Wear too much too much on all features. If you want to wear more makeup, concentrate on one feature, i.e., smoky eyes with lighter lips, dark lips with more nude eyes. This ensures you look sexy and glam without it being too much.


Try out a pinky nude lip! For the first song she wore a pinky brown lipstick with a beige/nude gloss on top. Not everyone can wear a completely matte-nude shade like you see on models in a magazine – but most people look good with the shade Jessica wore.

Here’s how:

  1. Find a pink-brown or pink lip pencil to line and fill in lips for a matte base (the color will stay on longer with a matte base).
  2. Follow with a pinkish brown or brownish pink lipstick.
  3. Apply a nude lip gloss on the inner part of lips (as opposed all on lips to the lip line) because the gloss will move out to the edges as you wear it.

And on a final note - of course, I do love my Phillip Philips, who always looks the same, which is boyishly gorgeous. He is kind of good-looking but if you really look at him it’s more of his expression, his eyes and that smile that make him good-looking. Which, after all, is the essence of beauty. After his first song I really thought he would lose. But when he pulled out that last song, I think he won. Only time will tell. And let’s see if JLo’s makeup artist is on the job tonight.