“Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing breakage as a part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise.”
At the tender age of 17, a young girl gets into a car with her boyfriend. What they did not know was that a rapist was waiting in the car. Once inside, there is a struggle. Her boyfriend is shot. Not knowing if he is dead or alive, she is taken away and raped. Somehow, they both survive this violent tragedy. The young couple marries. A few years later, they have a daughter. This is their daughter's story.
This is Xierra’s Kintsugi Story
Raised by a Christian Latina mother and a Middle Easter Muslim father, Xierra lived with the unspoken consequences of that fateful night. Xierra did not know that her mother had been raped. Unable to understand why her mother was extremely protective, she was not allowed to dress a certain way, go to certain places or interact with certain people. Her mother's obsession with keeping her safe suffocated Xierra’s healthy sexual growth. She could not understand why there was no trust in their relationship. Her mother later said, “The only way I knew how to protect you, was to cover you.”
The Generational Consequences of Rape
Her very body became a source of pain and shame. "Even changing clothing in front of other girls during PE made me very uncomfortable." Xierra’s body image was completely affected. She felt that body was a bad thing in every way. This impacted her relationships and made her teenage years extremely confusing and painful.
The relationship with her mother became progressively worse. At the age of 18, Xierra moved away from her home. Putting herself through college, she lived alone and far away from her family. It was not until her father shed some light on her very confusing upbringing that she began to understand. At the time divorced from her mother, her father told her briefly what happened the night her mother was raped. He gave her just enough details to understand where the oppression was coming from and why.
The trajectory to fix and mend the relationship has been difficult. After time, the many ups and downs began to blossom into a friendship. Today, mother and daughter are close and best of friends. After not seeking professional help, Xierra's mother now helps other rape victims. This has given her a much-needed path to healing.
Xierra’s way to heal her relationship with her body and sexuality was through art. Today, Xierra is an art teacher who is devoted to her students, fully allowing them to express themselves through their artistic talents. In an interesting turn of events, the method that has helped Xierra heal the most has been through the art of body painting. She finds it healing not only for herself but for her subjects as well. Together they come up with a theme; they research and develop the concept. Xierra does the body painting, and they capture the moments through photography. This mixing of two mediums has created the perfect way to give closure to Xierra.
Xierra explains, "There is a really cool transformation that happens when you feel comfortable in your own skin. When I paint their bodies, I am part of this transformation, when they say, 'Oh my gosh, I look gorgeous' or 'I feel so confident,' that in turn helps me heal my own insecurities."
At first, Xierra’s mom could not understand or accept the body paint as art as it was against every direction she had given Xierra. In time, she learned to appreciate it and the healing powers it had. The most amazing part was that through Xierra's choice of healing and much conversation, her mom was able to find her own healing direction.
Today, Xierra is a strong young woman. She understands and appreciates her mother’s story and how it impacted both their lives. Her past was hard, traumatic at an age when a young girl needs her mother the most. Alone, Xierra found her path. Looking back, one can see how her passion for art would not have grown had it not been for her past. Most importantly, the sincere love, appreciation and connection that she has with her mother is deeper and more meaningful than most young women her age. With understanding and maturity came an appreciation and acceptance of their difficult journey towards trust and healing.
As Xierra says, "No one wishes for bad and difficult things to happen, but today I understand that I could only have achieved what I achieved by going through the difficulties and challenges in my life."
Mikah's Kintsugi Storytelling
We believe that your scars are a precious part of your story. Ascribing to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, we see the beauty in brokenness and healing. Like a shattered vase repaired using precious metals that celebrate the damage rather than hide it, we believe you can heal in the same way.
We hope that Xierra's story will inspire you to appreciate and accept the hardships of your own journey. Together, we can find the faith that there is a reason for everything. You are stronger than you believe. We all have a story of rising above our pasts and pain. Today, we believe that you can find the light in the darkest of places. Don't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. Be someone else's light by telling your story.
At Mikah, we find our inspiration by giving a voice to women who otherwise may not be heard. Let's celebrate our stories! Together, we can find the beauty in healing from our pasts.
Where is She Now?
When we found Xierra’s work on Instagram, we knew we wanted her on the team! Personally, I feel I could not have found someone better for this collaboration! Her sincerity, commitment to the cause, and amazing artistic ability simply shines. Her work speaks for itself.
Follow Xierra’s work on Instagram @x_bodyart to discover more!
You can also visit her website at: http://xierrai.com
Images below are from our collaboration. Body paint by Xierra
Model: Jamie Lombardo and Alma Delgado
Please watch our video on the home page or on youtube at: http://bit.ly/wearekintsugi
You can see Xierra's work which has been instrumental to our brand story telling. We are eternally grateful to Xierra!
Model: Jamie Lombardo
Body Paint By Xierra Itayem
Model: Alma Delgado
Body Paint By Xierra Itayem
Beautiful young lady and very touching story from a horrific experience
March 23, 2019
Wow. There is so much pain yet so much beauty in this story. Xierra’s art is breathtaking! Thank you for sharing her story!
March 23, 2019
Wow! How you managed to find your healing through body art is ironic yet fascinating. Such a strong expression, it’s beautiful. Thank you For sharing your story with us.
March 23, 2019
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