Melinda Alexander, What's Underneath
Melinda Alexander: An Abuse Survivor Let Go of Her "Cool" and Found Freedom
"I had to lose myself completely to find myself again"

“I had to lose myself completely to find myself again”, explains women’s work activist Melinda Alexander, adorned in a floral blazer and a pink chiffon robe, as she bravely details the abusive relationship that catapulted her to become her most full and liberated self.

In her mid-twenties, Melinda met and fell in love with a buzzy rapper, married and had a child with him. The relationship, however, compounded what had began at a young age for Melinda: a fixation on outside validation and fitting in based on her appearance. But Melinda’s ex-husband was also jealous and abusive, telling her what to wear, manipulating her through subtle threats and often getting violent with her.

Always resilient, a terrifying incident turned into an inflection point for Melinda in her life, a moment where she decided she was not going to continue to let others dim her light. She not only had her ex-husband jailed for domestic abuse, but also stopped wearing makeup, shaving her leg hair, and started going to the grocery store with her “saggy” side-boob on proud display, things she’d never would have dreamed of doing her previous, outer-directed incarnation.“You just realize,” Melinda said of her radically altered life approach, “that all rules are bullshit. There are no rules. It’s all your own conversation with yourself and I just needed to really see who I was when I didn’t have someone else there telling me who I was supposed to be.”

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