Emma Dean: Singer, Song writer, Musician and Brisbane Composer.
What is your favourite feature of your body and why?
My shoulders! They are strong and broad, having carried the ‘weight of the world’ through heartbreak and personal challenge. They let me know when I’m tense and need to switch off, and they tell me when I am in flow and at peace with the world. My shoulders frame my heart so I try to keep them open, allowing love to flow in and out.
What has helped you to gain confidence in your own body over the years?
Getting older! When I was younger I was very self-conscious, particularly about my weight. I began ballet at the age of two and by the time I was four my dance teacher had informed my mum that my bottom was too big to be a ballerina! Can you believe it? I was only four!
Dance was my passion back then, so instead of quitting, my family enrolled me in a dance school that was inclusive for girls and boys of all shapes and sizes. My new teacher – Ms Roma - really tapped into the JOY of dance as a creative expression which was a welcome change from the strict, regimented teaching methods that I had been used to! Still, the damage had been done, and I spent much of my teens and 20s thinking I was bigger than I should be.
In my early 30s, a psychologist that I was seeing told me that she suspected I had something called ‘Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ and it was then that many of my behavioural patterns began to make sense. Having this awareness – and a way to make sense of confusing thoughts and feelings - helped me to understand that sometimes my brain plays tricks on me and my inner-critic should rarely be trusted!
As I get older, I have begun to focus on health and fitness and less on what I look like. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bad days when the negative voice is at maximum volume. But generally speaking, I focus on what is on the inside.
I have led a plant-based lifestyle for eight years and I feel so positive about minimising the harm and suffering of our precious animal friends as well as contributing to a healthier planet. I eat more than most people I know (including my male partner!) and I enjoy every bite!
We are SO much more than the package we come in.
What routines do you have in place to help you achieve glowing skin?
As I sit here typing, I have a large breakout of acne on my chin! I’m 35 years old and I still get breakouts like a teenage girl! Last year I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and I realised that this has been a major contributor to my adult acne!
In saying all of this, I actually don’t think ‘glowing skin’ has everything to do with whether or not someone’s skin is perfectly clear or not. I like to think it radiates from the inside - out. Some of the women who I am drawn to have, what many people would describe as ‘imperfections’. In my opinion, it is many of those so-called ‘imperfections’ that often make them unique.
I am perfectly imperfect, just like every other woman. If I glow, it is because:
my heart is open
I am singing and making music regularly
I am connecting positively with my community
I am washing and moisturising my face with plant-based products
I am hugging people
I am finding time to visit the ocean
I am being sun safe
I am excited by learning something new
I am practicing gratitude
I am exercising
I am EATING MY VEGIES!
With your line of work, you are on stage and in the spot light a lot. Do you ever have self doubt and if so, how do you counteract these feelings and continue to be the boss babe that you are?
As we have established, my annoying inner-critic is a real b*tch! So YES I often battle with self-doubt. I have not met many performers who don’t.
Last year I sang at The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Despite the excitement and honour I felt to be chosen for such an event, it was an immensely stressful time for many reasons. I was incredibly sick and lost my voice a week before the performance. I did everything I could to get better, even resorting to taking steroids for the first time.
One option was for me to mime the song - John Farnham’s iconic hit, ‘You’re The Voice’ - an option that was very much a last resort! Due to the precarious situation, the plan was for me to inform the backstage crew if I would mime or sing live only moments (literally moments) before I walked out into the stadium.
To put this into perspective, this gig was in front of a live audience of 25000 and 1.5 billion people watching around the world on TV.
In that moment my inner-critic wanted to tell me, in her most gravelly tones, that I was an imposter and that I would ruin everything. Instead of listening, with minutes to spare, I decided to take the reins. That night, side of stage, I repeated the most powerful mantra I know: You are a f%*king unicorn. You are a f%*king unicorn. You are a f%*king unicorn!
I walked on trying to imagine I was a warrior going into battle. And… with the very live and very real voice that I had…I bloody sang.
You’re. The. Voice!
Side note about unicorns: To me, unicorns are very special creatures – creatives, weirdos, dreamers, critters of the night, non-conformists, revolutionaries, trend setters, inventors, ground breakers – who have often been shamed for their peculiarity. There comes a time in every unicorn’s life when they either choose to dull their light, or they decide to step into their own magic and own the beautiful and peculiar qualities that make them a true unicorn, even in the face of adversity. Despite an abundance of glitter and love hearts, unicorns don’t put up with bullshit; they love fiercely and loyally but they are full of grit and determination. Unicorns are brave and peaceful warriors who find the strength to stand up and share their uniqueness with the world.
You are a f*&king unicorn.
What would you tell your teenage self about your skin and body?
I would say: Emma Kate Dean! You are SO much more than your weight, your skin and your appearance. You are beautiful, exactly as you are. Instead of worrying so much about what other people think of you, focus on the things you love - making music, connecting with community, creating art, writing songs and learning new things.
PS: BOMBSHELL…you’re dyslexic. Sorry! But also, not sorry! You know how you think you’re stupid? Guess what? You’re not! You just see the world differently. Focus on the part of your brain that sees magic. Trust me!
PPS: I’m sorry to say, but that acne is only going to get worse, my love. Don’t worry, eventually it will become manageable. Make peace with it, dear girl, and know that you don’t need to be anyone but YOU.
PPPS: Put. The. Tweezers. Down. You. And. Your. Eyebrows. Will. Regret. This.
PPPPS: EAT YOUR BLOODY VEGIES!
When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
When I am standing in front of my community choir conducting and watching them shine as they sing!
You run a very successful business, how much of this do you feel is due to a happy and healthy mindset?
I am blessed to run two music businesses that I am incredibly passionate about.
The first is my solo music business which mostly revolves around me writing songs, releasing Eps/albums, creating and touring my shows.
The second is Cheep Trill Ltd which revolves around nurturing a creative community through running a choir (also called Cheep Trill), music and creativity workshops, and private music tuition. I run this company with my talented brother, Tony Dean and our fantabulous administration queen, Corinne Buzianczuk.
Both of these businesses have very clear values and out-of-the-box definitions of ‘success’. Becoming clear on my/our mission and goals has helped my mindset tremendously. For both of these businesses our happiness mostly revolves around our core values - whether or not we are connecting and engaging the community in a positive way; reaching as many people as we can to help spread the joy of music; creating artistic work that we are proud of and excited to share, helping people discover their own creative voice, professional development and growth, sustainability!
Who is the most beautiful person you know and what about them makes them so beautiful?
My mum. It’s not the fact that she is stunning on the outside (fun fact: she is a former Miss Brisbane woo woo), it is the glow she radiates from the inside. She is the most loving, kind, compassionate, kooky, caring, generous, creative, badass babe and the original unicorn KWEEN!