West Kelowna women get extreme makeovers
June Swenson used to hold her left hand in front of her mouth when she spoke to prevent people from seeing her teeth.
During her interview with Capital News, her hand habitually moves in front of her mouth from time to time. Almost instantly, she realizes what she's doing, drops her hand and smiles.
Swenson and Ginette Wheeler were recipients of a "Sensei-tional Makeover" earlier this year, and have spent about five months receiving various treatments and services provided by several local businesses.
Wheeler said she first read about the contest in her staff room at work.
"My roots are a small-town country girl…before (moving to West Kelowna), I used to be able to go to the cornerstone in my pyjamas," said Wheeler.
"I just felt like I was a good candidate—I had some things I could (use) help with."
After seeing the contest details on a message board, Swenson asked a friend whether or not she should enter.
"My friend said, 'You're the kindest, nicest person I've ever known. You're always doing things for everybody else and I've never seen you do anything for yourself. Yes you should enter.'," said Swenson.
"So I started my essay out with that, and I told about how I overcame mental abuse in my life…I didn't have the money to go to the gym…I didn't smile anymore because my teeth were so bad."
Swenson and Wheeler were selected out of 38 entries by a panel of five judges who were not associated with the businesses involved in the makeover.
"I got off the phone and I just started to cry," said Swenson.
"Then I jumped up and down with joy—I couldn't believe it."
The extreme makeovers included tens of thousands of dollars of services and products provided by: WestK Hair Salon and Spa, Bella Vita Boutique, Esteem Lingerie, Sensei Laser and Vein Rejuvenation, Ab-stract Fitness, Kwikfit, Okanagan Smiles Dentistry, Jigsaw Clothing, and Lorraine Richmond Leadership Coaching.
"It's been a full 360-degree makeover. It's not just outside, it's inside," said Swenson.
She explained leadership coaching has boosted her self-esteem, dentistry work has improved her oral health and she's now motivated to continue going to the gym on a regular basis.
"I never thought I would say this, but I'm actually going to start training for a run next year, as long as the doctor (permits it)."
Wheeler has similar sentiments about the process.
"My self-esteem wasn't bad to begin with, but it's so much better now," said Wheeler.
"I'm a mother; I'm a role model. I have 19- and 18-year-old daughters, so I need to have a positive outlook.
"When you don't feel god about yourself, I think, as a mother, you don't realize how that affects your children."
A grand reveal gala event was held at The Cove in West Kelowna last Saturday, where Swenson and Wheeler's before and after pictures were shown. Proceeds from the event went to the Kelowna Women's Shelter.
Although the makeover process is complete, Wheeler and Swenson said they both plan to keep going to the gym and continuing with the healthy habits the contest has instilled.
"I have no intentions of going back," said Swenson.