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”, 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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