Meet Nicole Cohen–a human we're proud to know, and an interviewee like no other. We sent her these questions and she blew us away with her vulnerability, her strength, and most of all, her kindness. We're honored to share how she gets vulnerable, with you.
HOW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN A WORD, A REFERENCE, A QUOTE, A MOVIE, OR WHATEVER FEELS RIGHT.
Constantly striving to serve Sloane Peterson from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ energy.
GETTING BARE, TO US, MEANS GETTING VULNERABLE. HOW DO YOU APPROACH VULNERABILITY IN YOUR OWN LIFE?
A lot of therapy. No, really. Vulnerability to me, has required me to practice a lot of patience and empathy with myself. A large part of that has required unpacking that and talking about it first in a setting (i.e. Zoom sessions with my therapist) where I could really allow myself to be vulnerable before I could do so with others in a meaningful way. We found that the root of that inability was centered around my fear of rejection, admonishment or dismissal based on past experiences wherein I’d tried expressing some form of vulnerability. Through this process I’d looked up the term “vulnerability” and a synonym of it is “powerlessness” and I don’t necessarily agree with that in this context -- you aren’t truly relinquishing power by being vulnerable with someone that you trust.
Culturally, I think that we’re encouraged to keep moving while we’re processing or going through something i.e. keep working, hanging out with friends, don’t really talk about it and essentially behave like everything’s fine -- even if it isn’t, because otherwise you might be looked at as weak, or unable to cope. But I think if we can get to this point wherein we can accept that it’s ok to not be ok and that “not being ok” looks different for everyone. It doesn’t mean that the person asking for help is powerless, because their power is evading them or helpless because they need help. It takes an immense amount of strength to feel safe enough to express that. I’ve had to learn to extend a lot of this same empathy to myself in the same way I extend it to others unflinching, and spent a long time denying my feelings and thinking that that's what makes you strong, or powerful. When in actuality, acknowledging, holding, making space for and dealing with those truly uncomfortable feelings by asking for help and realizing that I don’t have to fix everything on my own is where I’ve felt the most empowered.
WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BODY HAIR, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND APPROACH?
I love, love, LOVE that we’re getting to this point where the acknowledgement and messaging surrounding body hair is no longer taboo or something to be ashamed of. Especially that what you want to do (or not do) with it, is up to you entirely.
Growing up in South Florida, where you’re in a bathing suit more than you’re in pants for most of your childhood and adolescence, the messaging was almost exclusively, “NO HAIR ANYWHERE, NO MATTER WHEN OR WHAT... also, be White (: .” Growing up as the child of two hairy individuals themselves (my mom is Brazilian and both of my parents are of Italian descent) genetics dictated that I had no option other than a unibrow and thick, dark hair everywhere else but I thought something was wrong with me for being so hairy.
Being from a predominantly white area, I was teased quite a bit for my appearance which made me withdraw from social activities like pool parties or beach days because I didn’t want someone to call me Frida or Chewy -- like Frida Kahlo and Chewbacha from Star Wars -- for having a unibrow or dark hair on my arms or legs, or not even yet knowing what to do with underarm or pubic hair. OOF, puberty! Wanting the teasing to stop and fast, I tried everything: shaving, waxing, bleaching, Nair, laser, sugaring ,etc. I found that shaving was the quickest, most painless and affordable option so I just shaved everything, yes, even my eyebrows -- which I am still paying for especially now that the fads have been kicked back toward fuller, more “natural” eyebrows -- and 12-year-old me is having a Full. Blown. Fit. Disposable pink Bic razor clutched in hand.
No doubt, I now realize I’ve been blessed by all of this hair and how I take care of all of it has shifted so drastically in that I’m actually taking care of it versus trying to hide or erase it entirely. Whether it’s taking supplements, using hair oils and conditioning treatments from head to toe, or not sweating it if I missed a spot when I shave my legs. I have hair, there’s no denying that, so I finally feel less pressure to look like this perfect, pre-pubescent specimen as a 25-year-old woman. Despite how our messaging continues to evolve, I’m sure that kids are still being kids, but I hope that the messaging is giving othered young girls and boys the confidence to not feel ashamed of something so natural and ultimately, one of the most unique forms of exterior self-expression we have which is our body hair.
WHEN IT COMES TO BODY CARE, WHAT'S THE PRODUCT OR RITUAL THAT MAKES YOU FEEL MOST CONFIDENT?
SPF! Which is not necessarily marketed as the sexiest product, but to me, especially as someone who has lived in “The Sunshine State” for most of her life has neglected the sunscreen and paid for it both figuratively and literally, which is far less sexy than a nose coat. *This is your friendly reminder to get your moles checked (: * It’s something that makes me feel great because I know by using it everyday I’m taking care of myself today and tomorrow. Not to mention, I live for my dermatologists approval and she knows if I haven’t been using my sun protection rigorously.
My favorite SPF products right now are by Aesop for my face and body, they smell amazing and apply to the skin so nicely, I never feel like I’m wearing sunscreen, nor do I break out, which is a large part of why I think I neglected it for so long. I also really love Supergoop’s line of products, especially their sunless tanner which also contains SPF, it dries quickly, doesn’t stain my clothes or linens and provides the perfect amount of color *without streaking* which keeps me from spending extended periods of time in the sun baking like a lil baguette. 15/10 recommend all the clean sunscreen products forever!
THE PART OF YOUR BODY YOU LOVE THE MOST–GO!
If this is a cop out answer, I’m sorry! But, having spent the majority of my adolescence and young adulthood resenting or even feeling ashamed of so many different parts of my body that I’ve finally embraced as my own, I don’t think I can pick just one. I finally love the whole damn thing! And if you’re not there yet, this is *not* me telling anyone that it’s as simple as just loving yourself because after years of trying to force that “logic” onto myself -- which, in my experience, only made me feel more resentful of my body because it didn’t work -- I found that practicing body neutrality and beginning to accept my body for all of the amazing things it can/does do versus what I wish it looked like helped me realign my perspective away from superficiality to functionality. Because everyone has their own self-love journey and it, like our bodies themselves, are not as simple as a one-size-fits-all or even, one-size-fits-most mantra, you have to find what works for you. 🙄