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  • Writer's pictureEva DeVirgilis

"I'll admit, I'm a little bit Ne-vis"

This was the opener my husband wanted me to use as I prepared for my talk last week on the West Indies Island of Nevis. I mentioned to him how nervous I was to go to another country and speak to total strangers about my struggle with self-esteem, body image, and the often unbearable burden of 21st Century beauty standards.

“Come on, it’s good, right?,” Said my husband, through this lovably, self-satisfied smile. “I’m a little bit Nevis?? I like it.”

“Funny,” I said. “But no.”

Poor guy. He says being married to me is like being married to a comedy club owner.

“She’s heard it all folks,” he is fond of saying. “She’s a tough crowd. She’s heard it all.”

I’m at my parent’s home in Florida now, reflecting on the magical connections

I made in Nevis over the past week. Speaking to and laughing with 70 Nevisian women, visiting local families, and getting some one-on-one time with a handful of incredible ladies who sat In My Chair.

When I was first invited to visit Nevis for the #InMyChair research tour, commissioned by the generous support of Virginia Repertory Theatre, I immediately thought of the hit Broadway musical HAMILTON. You see, Alexander Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis.

I was very happy to learn the island has experienced a tourism boost since the success of the show, so I would ask the locals if they were familiar with the musical.

They would politely smile, nod and say wearily, “Yes, yes…”

Which is exactly the same way I react when I tell people that ‘I’m from Scranton’:

“Scranton?! They say, “No way! I love the show THE OFFICE!”

And I smile, nod, and say, wearily, “Yes, yes...”

One of the things I am having so much fun with on this research tour is something that I was initially afraid would be seen as too corny or overly simplistic or cheesy.

I have been asking every woman I encounter to pick a note out of the #PositivePostPal Bag.

(Duffle bag made from scratch by the Talented, Beautiful & Amazing Georgia Rogers Farmer!!!)

“It’s a positive message for YOU from a woman somewhere in the world,” I tell them.

Then I ask them to post a picture of the message on my Facebook wall or Instagram, and write a note to another woman and drop it in the bag.

And badda-bing! Just like that: Celebrities, airport security officers, ferry commuters, journalists, mothers, teenagers-- and tomorrow, even a 100 year-old woman-- are all giving, receiving, smiling, talking and connecting to each other all over the world through their powerful, positive messages.

Women speaking up and speaking to each other across racial, socioeconomic, political and geographic borders.

Who knew this could be a start…??!!!

I was reminded that even though an idea may seem overly cheesy or corny or uncool or simplistic, if the intention is connection and kindness and truth then it will work. And it will bring a little light into this world.

This became apparent to me when a woman I brought on stage in Nevis told me she was terrified of speaking in public. I thought I’d calm her and try to relate to her by saying:

“It’s okay. I’ll admit, I’m a little bit Nevis too...”

The audience burst into laughter.

It worked.

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