Decorated in soft pastel pinks, sunflowers and Audrey Hepburn memorabilia, I felt as though I had entered a haven for all things related to womanhood at the “Return of the Lady” tea party.
Carol Causieestko-McCollum, the evening’s host, embodied the definition of a lady in her long lace gown, white elbow-length gloves, pearls and tiara. She proudly introduces herself as “The Lady” and her daughter, L’Oreal McCollum, a sexuality educator, writer and media consultant, as “Lady 2.0.”
As tea was poured and delicately sipped, I put my pinky up and prepared myself for a lecture on proper etiquette and manners. However, there was nothing delicate about the topics discussed.
“The Lady” and “Lady 2.0” are a mother-daughter team committed to providing and promoting strong life skills through open discussions that assist in the healing and empowerment of all female relationships within socio-economic groups on a global scale. With an emphasis on education, particularly the education of young girls, the “Return of the Lady” campaign has touched hearts across the nation through tea party seminars and speeches.
S&V: What inspired the “Return of the Lady” campaign?
The Lady: I realized I couldn’t just be in the fashion business all my life, I couldn’t just be a makeup artist all my life, I wanted to do more. After seeing so many negative images of women in the media, such as the recent Chris Brown and Rhianna fiasco, I felt inspired to motivate young women to act in a self-respecting, positive way.
S&V: How do you define a “Lady?”
The Lady: I always say you must think like a woman, but act like a lady, and that’s what we’ve forgotten. The woman is hardened by society; she comes from everything we must deal with in everyday life. The lady knows when its time to walk away from a situation. The lady respects herself and because she respects herself, she expects others to do the same.
S&V: Why do you feel it is important to educate young women on these topics?
The Lady: Young girls and women are always watching us, most of the images they see teach them a negative perception of women. With my southern upbringing, I was raised looking up to women who always acted like ladies, I feel that it is my responsibility to give young girls a proper image to look up to.
S&V: Was it hard to give up your previous career to do this? How committed are you to the “Return of the Lady?”
The Lady: It is my birthday tomorrow, and on my birthday, all I wanted was to give back to others. I wanted to give the gift of healing and empowerment through education, which I feel is the best gift. My life is not my own, it belongs to those I help. I sleep, drink and eat this. Helping mould young women into ladies is my life mission.
S&V: What do you have planned for the “Return of the Lady” campaign for 2009?
The Lady: We are focusing on domestic violence issues, verbal/sexual abuse, and gender issues, among the other things we tackle.
S&V: How do you tackle such issues and what steps do you take to educate the public?