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Pretty Foundation Strong Women Series: Merissa Forsyth

Merissa started her career as a marketer in the corporate sphere. After a few years of marketing flooring and power tools, she had an ‘aha’ moment in life and quit her job to start the Makeup Free Me movement – a body image campaign. After a couple of years of running that campaign, she saw a gaping hole in the body image sphere – early childhood education.  With all the research pointing to the body image foundations being laid in early childhood and with the lack of programs in this area, Merissa went on to start Pretty Foundation.

In one sentence, explain to us your career title and what your day to day looks like?

I’m the Founder and CEO of Pretty Foundation and my day to day looks like being an accountant, an events manager, a saleswoman, a marketer, a human resource manager, I think you’re getting the point. In a start up charity, you have to wear many hats!


How important was your childhood in shaping who you are today?

My parents played a significant role in my childhood in shaping who I am today. They were an example of hard work and self-sacrifice and they always sought to put their needs secondary to mine. I honestly believe that’s a key reason as to why I’m really driven in my career as well as why I enjoy working in the charity sphere.


How do you manage self doubt, and/or negative words from others? 

I’ve been on a journey in the last few years realising who I truly am and my true value. So when harsh words are said against me, I need to come back to the fact that my value does not lie in the opinions of others. It’s easier said than done but I try to take hold of a negative thought and replace it with the truth of who I am. It’s a very conscious action and I tend to verbalise it to really allow it to sink in.


How do you deal with being in the public eye? Do you feel more pressure to look or act a certain way?

To be honest, I don’t love being in the public eye, however I will do what is required to help put Pretty Foundation out there. I do indeed feel pressured to look a certain way, it’s the society we live in. The funny thing is though, the pressure I feel is probably slightly different to others. As I’m heading up Pretty Foundation, I feel pressured to look good but not too good as people have made comments in the past that saying I’m a hypocrite for focusing on my appearance. I then I take that negative thought out of my head, tell myself I’m awesome and wear whatever I want to (insert wink emoji).


What do you think the biggest influence on girls body image is that needs to change?

It’s hard to say that there’s one big influence on a girl’s body image so let me mention three key influencers. Parents, peers and the media play a significant role in impacting the way a girl thinks and feels about her body. Our aim is to get all three of these influencers to be positive ones that build up a girl and allow her to develop a positive body image.


What would you tell your younger self?

I’d tell myself to ask the question, “what would you tell Ruth” (my younger sister)? Often the best advice is what we’d say if we were emotionally removed from a situation.


If you could give one word of advice to your female friends and/or other females in general, what would it be?

Character far outweighs the number on the scales