Nothing about life is static. From where you live to what you look like to what your style is to whom you surround yourself with, change is constant and can feel both welcome and daunting. To celebrate this continual evolution, Lea Michele partnered with T.J.Maxx's The Maxx You Project to champion the idea of authenticity through transformation. Now in its third year, The Maxx You Project was formed with the goal of helping women embrace their journeys of self-discovery by hosting interactive in-person experiences and fostering a supportive "shecosystem" of women. This year, Michele will serve as the keynote speaker at the main three-day panel event in New York City called The Changing Room, which is taking place from June 25 to June 27 and is free and open to the public. Additional events being held in eight other cities across the country will be announced throughout summer.
“Growing up, and even into our adult life, we’re told to always be ourselves and to celebrate who we are. When I really thought about it, I thought about how 'who I am' has actually changed a few times throughout my life. That’s exactly why T.J.Maxx’s Maxx You Project really resonated with me," Michele tells Elite Daily exclusively. "Six out of 10 women say who they are as an individual is always evolving, and the program is all about supporting women on their individual journeys as they explore, define, and re-define themselves. We’re all navigating our own paths, no matter who we are or what we are going through. I hope through this partnership and program that I can inspire others to pursue their own path and be true to who they are.”
When asked about what changes have transformed her, Michele cites moving from New York City to Los Angeles and from Broadway to television as big readjustments. "I am really close to my family and they had always been my biggest supporters so moving away from them was a huge transition, but it also forced me to go outside my comfort zone and really believe in myself," she explains. "Despite many people telling me I wouldn’t make it, I made the difficult decision to leave my comfort zone, and looking back now, I realize these changes helped me grow as an individual and I’m forever grateful.”
Like most women, Michele also went through periods where her perceptions of beauty were challenged. Getting older comes with being inundated with ideas of what beautiful looks like based on antiquated and unrealistic beauty standards perpetrated by brands and the media. As someone working in the entertainment industry, Michele was often pressured to conform to them.
At 15, her manager told her that she would have a difficult time finding work without getting a nose job, but ultimately, her parents wouldn't allow it. "They always told me that someday, I would find success by staying true to myself — and I did! I would have never been casted as Rachel Berry on Glee if I didn’t look like ‘me.' Through that experience, I learned that my individuality is what is beautiful and to embrace everything that makes me, me," she explains.
Michele recognizes that learning to love yourself and everything that makes you unique isn't always easy — most of us don't have affirmative Rachel Berry moments, after all. But when it comes to learning to see your own inner beauty, she recommends vocally affirming yourself every day, getting rid of the belief that your individuality is too different or hindering, and embracing your journey. "Too often, we don’t talk about the changes we’re going through, and we should. Whether it’s going from blonde to brunette, moving from a small town to a big city, or from losing it all to finding what’s really important in your life, it all shapes who we become.”
To learn more about The Maxx You Project and to see if The Changing Room might be coming to your city, visit the initiative's web page.