Meet Tara Rasmus + Get Real About Balance and Inner Beauty

September 12, 2019

I think Tara and I connected online for the first time over three years ago, met in person shortly after we returned to NYC after our travels (about a year and a half ago) and a friendship developed rather quickly. Tara is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things beauty (amongst other things) and I am so thrilled to be sharing her insight with you all. Her interview feels especially fitting for me as I approach a major transition both in life and with my body as we get ready to welcome June into the world (if I haven’t already). So let’s jump right in!

Tara! Beyond excited that we’re finally doing this. I’ve learned so much from you since we initially met online and then in person, but for those readers who haven’t had the pleasure, tell them a little bit about who you are and what you do! 

Hailey, I’m SO glad that we’re friends. So glad I forced you to become my real friend after girl-crushing on you for so long!

I’m a writer and a beauty expert! Most of my career was in editorial and media, as a beauty editor, writer, and on-air personality (for outlets like Refinery29, Lucky, Camille Styles, and SELF). I have also started/worked on multiple businesses in partnership with my husband, Neil (who is also a founding partner at BFA, a boutique photography agency), including our most recent venture: Regular Visitors, a general store and coffee shop in our neighborhood of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Currently, I manage marketing copy for fresh in our North America market: everything from e-mail newsletters to e-commerce, visual merchandising, advertising, PR, social media, events, Sephora & our retailers and more. Basically, anything related to fresh’s US site, our shops, or our North America retailers has been written or edited by me! It is super-challenging and SUPER fun to communicate to our customers across so many different platforms. I really love it, and I’m learning a ton.

If our text thread with each other had a theme I would say it’s balance, or maybe it’s more of a fuck balance theme – hah! Either way, I’d love for you to share how you attempt to balance motherhood, your career, marriage, self-care, friendships – you know everything.

Haha! I know NOTHING, but thank you, sweet friend. I am literally learning as I go, just like everyone else. I consume every article and podcast that features working moms talking about balance, because I am still very much figuring out how to feel not exhausted/overwhelmed all the time. 

As an example, just last night I was listening to a fantastic podcast episode on Upbringing featuring Taylor Sterling, one of my mom/work/life idols. She was talking about how she realized  the hard way (aka, after LOTS of struggle) that she had to prioritize self-care. That was her balance. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately after I had a bit of a breakdown right around the 4th of July. It was a crazy time when I was preparing to be out of office for almost two weeks straight, and trying to get all of the work done and also get my family across the country resulted in serious burnout and a return of the postpartum anxiety that I had thought was nicely under control. This is the thing about balance: We can say “oh, there’s no such thing as balance” all we want, but actually, everyone does need to find the balance that works for them, or we’ll all be exhausted, anxious, shells of ourselves. The reality is that life is hard, life is busy, whether we have kids or not. What I’m learning is that what “balance” is actually about is priorities. Determining your own priorities, and using your time accordingly. 

What IS bullshit about “balance” is the idea that if you just find the magic formula, that you can “have it all” and have it all be perfect. Like, “just figure out the balance, and you can be in perfect shape, be CEO, spend tons of quality time with your kids, have a gorgeous and spotless house, and a super-hot marriage!” THAT is false. As Taylor said in her interview, her finding her “balance” has resulted in her being happier, more energetic, and a more present parent, but her work output has suffered. I mean listen, to anyone else (including me), you would never say that Taylor Sterling is slacking as she runs like 3 businesses and looks amazing while being a great mom to her two adorable kids. But she honestly admits that she has not been able to have the same output in terms of work that she once had, because time and energy are limited when you have kids and a career. It just is. None of us are superhuman, none of us have an extra 12 hours in the day (which man, I sure wish I had!). If you want to pursue work, have a family, have friendships, have a healthy romantic relationship, be healthy, stay on top of adulting tasks—there are simply not enough hours in the day to keep on top of all of these things, every day. 

So, well shit, right? Where do we even start? Here’s what I’m trying to do: you know how they say that you shouldn’t stress too much about what your picky toddler eats over the course of a day, but focus more on the nutrients they’re getting over the course of the week? That’s how I’m approaching balance. I work full-time, and I need 8-9 hours of sleep if I’m being honest with myself (7 at minimum) to function well and not be a crabby person. That does not leave a ton of time for everything else. So, on any given day, I might not get a ton of quality time with my son, or a really great workout, or some restorative time alone, or time to work on my side hustles. But over the course of the week, I can make sure that I have at least some time set aside for all of these things. Maybe a couple of mornings where I get up extra-early to make sure I have some quiet time to myself, maybe a couple of quick jog+crunches+push-ups workouts, definitely some quality playtime with Jack. As a working parent, it’s just a reality that there’s very little time that’s your own, and you just don’t have full control over your “free” time outside of the office. So you have to know that most days won’t necessarily feel balanced, but as long as you can look back over your week and feel like you had moments of prioritizing the things that are important to you, I think that’s balance to me.

I remember being afraid to attempt to pursue motherhood and work at the same time. I hate feeling like I’m pulled in too many directions, and not able to do anything well. It just felt like an impossible equation. But then I started working in a job that I loved, and I realized: yes, I feel pulled in multiple directions. Yes, it’s super hard, and I never have enough time in the day and oh my gosh trying to get to the post office to return a piece of clothing LITERALLY takes me about six months to accomplish. BUT, is it worth it? Yes, one thousand percent. I’d rather have a full life that is challenging and engaging and yes, a little exhausting than live in fear and hold myself back because “OMG I won’t be able to do working motherhood perfectly.” There is no way to do life perfectly; it’s just about your own priorities, your own story, and making sure you use your time well. So whether you dial back work expectations a little bit like Taylor, or let your house be messy a lot of the time, or choose sleep or time with your kid over fitness like I do most daysfigure out what balance looks like for you, and stop feeling like you have to do and be everything, every day.

Your background is in beauty, and while you are absolutely a resource for me when it comes to skincare, I turn to you for beauty advice that runs so much deeper than what I apply to my face and I know I’m not the only one. With all the pressure we feel as women and mothers, where do you suggest starting when it comes to building a foundation of self-confidence?

Woof. This is a big topic, and very near to my heart (I discussed it on my blog). Self-confidence and a positive body image are things that I’m constantly working on. I think where it started for me was my miscarriage before I had Jack, honestly. That experience of losing a baby really put the whole “pregnancy weight gain” thing into perspective. I was so darn grateful to be pregnant (and also so sick for the first two trimesters!) that how I looked wasn’t my main focus. I ended up gaining a healthy 70 lbs (lol!), and had a nice big, healthy baby. So yeah, I didn’t have one of those pregnancies where you have the baby and are basically back where you started. I’m STILL not back where I startedmy body is completely different than it once was, from its size to its shape to the amount of stretch marks I have.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this concept of having a woman’s body. Tara as a woman and mother is not the same person as she was when she was a size 0 gangly teenager, and that is OKAY. Tara the woman and mother has wider hips, stretch marks, not-so-perky boobs. Tara the woman is a size 10/12. I mean yes, I’m always looking to nourish my body with healthy food and work towards building strengthbut am I looking to lose weight? No, I’m really, truly not. The truth is, I’ve always found curvy women to be beautiful, and now that I am one, I’m trying to shut out the noise about “diet diet diet” and “be as small as you can possibly be.” I love food: Cooking it, eating it, sharing it. I do actually like working out, but in this season of life, it’s unlikely that I’ll be fitting in 5-mile runs 5 days a week. So…a size 10/12. That’s me, right now, and I’m fully embracing it.

So, my advice? Shut out the noise and think about yourself. Think about what you appreciate about your unique beauty—how you look right now. If there are things about your appearance or your health journey that you want to work on, that’s perfectly fine, just make sure that whatever you’re doing is for YOU, and not to meet any external expectations.

Once that foundation is built, what would you say are the next essential five steps to honing in on your inner and outer beauty? 

Determine your priorities and make time for them. As I wrote above: We all have limited time and energy, right? Find out where your time and energy are going, and work toward making sure the majority of your time and energy are going toward things that are truly meaningful to you.

Care for your skin. Personally and professionally, I really believe in this! I’m grateful that my mom taught me to moisturize, wear sunscreen, and drink lots of water. It’s important for our health (skin cancer is largely preventable—we need to take sun protection seriously!), but I think knowing your skin looks and feels healthy can really contribute to feeling beautiful and confident.

Figure out what makes you feel strong. You do not need to join a gym. You do not need to try the latest diet. You don’t need to blow your budget on boutique fitness classes. You simply need to figure out what makes YOU feel your best. That might include eating gluten-free, keto, or vegetarian—or simply a good, old-fashioned, balanced diet that includes all of the food groups with a nice emphasis on fruits and veggies. That might include running, or swimming, or at-home yoga while your baby naps. Figure out what makes you feel healthy and strong, and make time for those things. (Confession: I am still TOTALLY working on this myself, but I’m getting there!)

Have fun with beauty/fashion, but enjoy taking breaks. Listen, I work in beauty, and I’ve really loved rediscovering the joy and fun of honing my personal style after all of that was truly put aside during pregnancy/postpartum/my first year of motherhood when I stayed at home with my son. BUT, as much as I love and enjoy having fun with my appearance, I also totally relish taking breaks from these things on the weekends when I literally throw on the same t-shirt and shorts to go play with my son and barely look in the mirror. #balance, right?

Follow people, online and IRL, that make you feel awesome about yourself the way you are. This is so key. Social networking is supposed to be SOCIAL for a reason. You should be engaging with and exposing yourself to people that you genuinely enjoy connecting with. You should feel uplifted and inspired by Instagram, not drained and less-than. For me, I try to follow brands that I really love, women with lots of different body types, and women who are at different stages of the work/motherhood game (women without kids, mothers who work full-time, mothers who work part-time, mothers who stay at home with their kids). I want to make sure that I’m reminded that there are lots of ways to do life, and lots of ways to be beautiful. 

What are ten beauty essentials you can’t live without? 

Ok, I had to ask Hailey if I could do two lists, because there’s no way to could do ONLY ten products! She agreed. I’ll keep it quick!

Makeup:

+ Bareminerals Barepro Foundation. Lightweight, lots of shades, natural coverage that still makes a big difference.

+ Bareminerals Serum Concealer. Same as above: Super lightweight, great coverage.

+ W3ll People Bio Baked Bronzer. The most natural-looking bronzer I’ve ever used, from a super-clean company that I’ve loved forever.

+ Tata Harper Volumizing Cheek Tint in Very Popular. I love gel/cream blushes; this one is so natural and lovely.

+ RMS Magic Mixer. The perfect rose/gold/peachy highlighter.

+ fresh Sugar Spice Tinted Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15. Obsessed with this peachy-pink tint that brightens up my whole face.

+ L’Oréal Lash Paradise Mascara. Ridiculously amazing. Doesn’t budge. Use it with the Lash Paradise primer for maximum impact!

+ Burt’s Bees Lip Crayons. In the fall/winter I love these in the darker/red shades.

+ Boy de Chanel Eyebrow Pencil in Light Brown. Just realized that this eyebrow pencil is for dudes (!). Oh well, it’s great.

+ Maybelline Brow Drama Brow Gel in Soft Brown. Really natural, really good.

 

Skincare + Hair

+ Bumble and bumble Surf Spray. I use this on damp hair. It’s a classic for a reason! The best.

+ Verb Sea Texture Spray. To give more body and texture to dry hair.

+ Trader Joe’s Shea Butter & Coconut Oil Hair Mask. Yes, Trader Joe’s!! This stuff is amazing.

+ fresh Soy Face Cleanser. The absolute best. I ran out of it briefly recently and thought I was going to have a heart attack.

+ fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Essence. This. Changed. My. Skin. Everyone at fresh is obsessed with it. It’s incredible. 

+ Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil. Everyone needs a good face oil. This one is awesome.

+Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Daily Shade Facial Lotion SPF 18. Yes, I should probably up my SPF number a bit, but I’ve used this everyday for forever and I just. Can’t. Quit it.

+ fresh masksall!. I’m sorry, but there’s just no way that I can pick just one mask!! I love and use them all. PS they come in mini sizes so you can sample! I especially love Umbrian Clay for purifying, Rose for hydration, and Vitamin Nectar for brightening + exfoliation with AHAs.

+ Farmacy Honeymoon Glow. A really nice, gentle alternative to retinol or glycolic acid, this natural but potent serum boasts 14% plant-based AHAs.

+ fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Moisturizer. I love this night cream. So nourishing, but not greasy or overly heavy. So, so good.

I’m always so impressed by everything you have your hands in creatively. What’s something you’re working on now that you are especially excited about? 

Oh man, thank you! Right now, I’m running our digital advertising campaigns while the manager that usually handles them is out on maternity leave. It is totally and completely new territory for me, but it’s a really exciting new project for me to get my hands dirty in. I’m out of my league, but I love a challenge—it’s been very cool, after just being focused on WHAT we’re saying as a copywriter, to think about the marketing/advertising side of WHY we’re saying things, WHO we’re saying them to, in what format, etc. It uses both the writer side of my brain and the side that’s interested in people (I was a psych major!)—I’m having to think about how people behave when they’re shopping, how we can best speak to both existing customers and new ones, etc. etc.

I’m also working on getting a weekly newsletter going for Regular Visitors—sign up for our list if you’d like to get them when we go live!

Are there any trends you’re really loving these days? (Topics that are being talked about more, fashion you’re particularly into, movements, etc.)

  1. Diversity!! Representation and expansion of sizing/shades. Love that it’s now so passé and lame if you only show skinny white women in your clothes/with your products. We need to keep pushing this! Also love that we’re embracing natural beauty: aka curly/naturally-textured hair, freckles, teeth gaps, body hair, pale skin, dark skin, etc. are all very, very cool! Remember when everyone just wanted to look like Jennifer Aniston? Ugh. No offense to Jen, but there are SO many different ways to be beautiful that don’t involve a perfect blonde blowout. 
  2. High-rise everything, forever. Amen, right?!
  3. Women (and especially women of color) rising to positions of leadership and power. Again, we need to keep pushing this!
  4. Emphasis on better skincare instead of more makeup. 
  5. Lower block heels instead of stilettos!
  6. On that note: Birkenstocks and sneakers as cool/trendy footwear!! Yassss. 
  7. Midi lengths. Finally, I feel like things are being made long enough for me (without having to buy Tall).
  8. Moms being more open and honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly of motherhood. We need more of this. AND would love to have fathers be talking about their experiences too!

If you could give women and mothers one piece of advice, what would it be? 

For women in general: be kind to yourself. Women are too damn mean to themselves, and this meanness overflows and turns into meanness towards other women. Women of the world: we have fought too damn hard for our place in society to spend our time judging ourselves or others for how our pants are fitting, whether we breastfed, whether we work outside the home. It is a WASTE of time. Let’s be kind.

For mothers: know that any phase in baby/early childhood, for better for worse, never lasts very long. The only constant is change. But also: do what you need to do to prioritize sleep, because it’s so necessary for everyone’s sanity. Stop stressing about milestones or homemade baby food or whatever; focus on SLEEP. How does one do this, you ask? Three words: The Baby Whisperer. I tell all my friends that this is the manual that they should send new parents home from the hospital with. Just sane, relatable, genuinely helpful advice for getting your baby (and therefore the whole family) onto a manageable, flexible routine.

If you could give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

My advice for myself is: be kind to yourself! But really, it’s so much easier to give advice than to practice it yourself. For me, being kind to myself is centered around two ideas from happiness guru Gretchen Rubin: “Be Gretchen,” and “push yourself, but accept yourself.” Now that I’m in my 30s, I had the radical realization that I’m an adult. Like yes, I’ll always be working on myself, but I am TARA right now. I’m not waiting to become a grown-up, waiting to become a mother, waiting to re-enter the workforce. I have the life that I’ve always wanted, so now I need to get real about who I am, what’s important to me, and how I want to spend my time. I’m sick of feeling “pulled in a million directions,” like a hot mess, like the current of life is just kind of pulling me along and I’m struggling to stay afloat. I want to OWN my life and my choices, and know that most hours of my life are being spent well. Big ideas, but you know…I’m working on it, haha. 

Anything else you want to share?! 

Make friends on the Internet—it worked for me and Hailey, haha! If Instagram is feeling like a negative place for you, turn it around by throwing out some positive feedback and support for people that you love following. I have so many genuine “insta-friends” now that the positive and genuine connections totally outweigh any negatives—I’m so grateful to live in a day and age where women can connect in this way!

It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to help us make social connections, not foster FOMO or make us feel even more alone. Don’t hate-follow; if there’s an account that makes you feel bad about yourself (even if you know it’s irrational; you’re allowed to feel how you feel!), unfollow or mute that account. Just like almost any tool, social media can help or harm us depending on how you use it—be aware of how you feel while you’re consuming it, and make sure this is a positive experience that’s making you feel connected.


Find Tara. Personal site. Regular Visitors. fresh.

Writing work: Camille Styles. Hey Mama. Mother Mag.

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