“How many of you are here because you have to be?” a woman in a tan and blue striped dress and a blue blazer asked a room full of college students.
No one raised their hand.
The approximately 50 attendees weren’t gathered in a classroom tucked away in the back of McWhorter to fulfill a convocation obligation on March 2. The poser of the question, Brittany Mullins, founder of nonprofit Beneath the Skin, came with a message they wanted– and some needed– to hear.
Mullins, invited to speak on campus by Belmont’s campus chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms, shared a message of self worth and personal value in a world focus on devaluing individuals.
To give students a tangible reminder of their own value, Mullins tossed shiny copper-colored pennies to each attendee, elaborating on the value of the lowliest currency, the cent, usually not worth effort to pick it up in the parking lot.
While the students turned their pennies over in their hand, studying the coins with new eyes, Mullins admitted the difficulty of focusing on self worth, and provided her audience with three ways to find value in themselves: by accepting what Christ did on the cross, by loving ourselves before others, and by loving others well.
While Mullins’ discussion did not focus specifically on mental health, her message of love and hope aligned with the goals of TWLOHA regardless, and she got breakfast and offered inspiration to TWLOHA president Kaitlyn Parmenter, who found herself uplifted by Mullins.
“She’s a total sweetheart,” Parmenter said.
Mullins, while a confident and dynamic speaker, expressed her hesitation at speaking on a college campus, as she never earned a college degree herself. Her personal journey and work with the nonprofit Beneath the Skin, however, makes her more than qualified, and offers hope the the direction of mental health education.
“What she has done with Beneath the Skin is a testament to the progress that our society is making, one day at a time, to improve the way we deal with stigmatized topics such as mental health,” TWLOHA vice president Alexa Yatauro said.
Working in the cosmetics industry, Mullins felt called to do more with her talents and treasures but unable to find a constructive outlet. Only after the death of her father, as she reeled in grief and uncertainty, did Mullins feel called to start Beneath the Skin.
“In times of vulnerability and pain, we may be at our clearest minded,” Mullins said.
As the wife of Matty Mullins, a member of metalcore band Memphis May Fire, she noticed the hopelessness and despair of not only the metal music scene but of the people searching for respite in the downtrodden lyrics. Concerned for those searching for catharsis in music, Mullins started the nonprofit to offer mentoring relationships between fans of the music scene, in order to “support, equip, and guide them on a path of self-love.”
After sharing her personal story and the mission of Beneath the Skin, Mullins spoke to members of TWLOHA personally, taking pictures and connecting with people the same way her organization does, leaving TWLOHA officers feeling uplifted about the convocation and the response.
“Everyone walked out of that presentation encouraged to love themselves in every way and everyday because they are worth it,” Yatauro said. “They are more than deserving of a love for themselves comparable to the love that God has for each of them.”
This article was written by Jessica King.