When I interview the amazing women in the LowCountry, one thing I always ask is what they played when they were little girls. I ask this because I’ve found that who we are at 25, 35, or 95, is at the root, who we were actually at 5. With some women I have to dig deeply…take them out of the stilettos, out of the false eyelashes, or out of the board rooms. However, with Landon Clements, that little girl was just there, staring me in the face, eyes sparkling, freckles shining, hair perfectly wild…and I think that’s exactly what reality t.v. watchers everywhere have grown to love about her.
I’ve been a fan of Bravo’s Southern Charm since it’s debut FOUR SEASONS ago. Though I’ve always been a fan of the outspoken firecracker, Cameron, I felt a breath of fresh air when Landon rolled in, soaking wet, with the afternoon tide one day. I immediately wanted to grab a surf board and dash to The Washout, hanging onto the golden coat-tail of dawn, to catch a wave with her (though I hope she knows CPR, because I’ve never surfed before.) Her very presence evoked a feeling in me that made me crave adventure, and good old-fashioned fun. I wanted to throw on a swimsuit, or dig in the dirt, or just take off running Phoebe-from-Friends-style. I wanted to be the girl I am when I’m not required by adulthood to be someone else more mature or in less comfortable undergarments. I found myself identifying with the free spirit, who I’ve come to learn, is just a girl who grew up playing outside, bossing horses around, and watching Blue Crush on the couch with her sisters. I wanted to know the girl who grew up in a tourist-driven town, and still wants to be a hotelier and travel guru someday. I wanted to know the girl who gave the women in a Lily Pulitzer-clad town permission to leave with wet hair and skinned-up shins. Sometimes we all need that greenlight to let go, and Landon unknowingly became our advocate for doing so. For that, I thank her…because damn, those Spanx get a little tight, and the heels get a little high sometimes.
However, she has not lived her seemingly carefree lifestyle without her fair share of criticism. Not all of her scrapes and bruises have come from surfboards. The girl who wears her heart on her sleeve went through a painful divorce before undergoing extreme criticism after her Southern Charm debut. Like many women, she was compelled to hide her battle scars, and just put on a happy face. Yet, it was when she stopped covering the wounds that her smile started to shine brightest, and she felt at home in her own skin more than ever before.
I got the pleasure of meeting Landon for the first time at a Taxidermy (google that) pop-up shop back in November where her artwork was also on display. I was immediately stirred by the flowy action in her paintings. Her work conveyed the most peaceful kind of chaos to me, and was like looking at a whirlpool in Caribbean waters. I didn’t know whether to lie back and float, or ride out the euphoria. She somehow awakened both feelings in one piece. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because the two are in cahoots somewhere inside of her, and chose all on their own how to spill onto the canvas. Landon says, “I paint the way I see the world…a swirl of color and movement.” However, one disgruntled blogger immediately slammed Landon’s art in every way possible with phrases I need not repeat now. The same kind of negativity has incited Twitter hate, and even accusations on Landon’s personal life. It was so bad that Landon thought she wouldn’t be able to handle it all in her early stages on the show. However, she eventually realized that the hatred means relevance, and that even the naysayers are emotionally invested in your successes. Then she reminded herself that her mother told her in her teen years, “honey, the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.” And don’t we all need to hear that from time to time?
I recently had my own run-in with someone I considered a friend, spreading negativity about me in the writing world. At first I was terribly hurt, but then I thought…this must mean I’m becoming somebody. In that moment I found solace, and decided to just keep pushing as hard as ever to be my best, and that’s what Landon is teaching us right now, and is doing so under a microscope most of us will never have to sit under. She keeps painting, keeps striving to make people feel alive, and keeps being Landon. She might have to dress up for dinner once in a while, or fight off the occasional shark in the water, but she gets back to center, back to the Landon she’s been all along. Just as the tide ebbs and flows everyday, regardless of hurricanes or sunny skies, Landon rides in and out on the surf, steadily, never abandoning her place in the world.
by Lorna Hollifield
Tune in to the reality show Landon credits for getting her “back to her roots” on Bravo this April!
Check out Landon’s website,
http://trovareco.com (More on Charleston coming in April)