“I am not a victim. Please do not call me strong.”
If you visit Rachel Finlay Instagram, you might think that she has what would be considered a perfect life by 2022 standards and in some ways, you wouldn’t be wrong. The acting blonde owns it Steak Worldwhich is home to her successful clothing line Hot lava And 11 more brands—and she’s the OG internet celebrity where she got her start with her much loved ones Bad advice tumblr. Now, she’s adding “writer” to her resume as she continues her tradition of being relentlessly open and honest with her debut memoir, Nobody Told Me Anything.
Whether you meet Steak online, as she’s affectionately called because of the Omaha steaks her family would gift her, or have the chance to meet her in real life, she’ll immediately be amazed at her willingness to lean in more and enjoy all she has to say. With her doll-like features and eclectic style, everything about the Florida native exudes cool. While her social circle may contain a few famous faces sprinkled here and there, it’s the fact that she’s letting go of the grip of fame that adds to her girl-who-never-say-it status.
At 36, she had more jobs than her fingers while touring a bit in the States, managing and live with an all-male band. At her side was the MTV correspondent lizo, has her own show on Vice and was a decent bill-paying model back in the day. In a day and age where people “don’t want to work hard anymore” and fame and success separate from talent, there’s no one who honestly brought it up or worked more than Steak.
In many ways, the entrepreneur and mother of two laid the blueprint for many young women, just by opening her inbox and being herself. Her 100,000 Instagram followers routinely DM her with relationship questions or they’ll share personal tragedies, asking Rachel to make room for them.
That’s why it’s hard to believe she was never allowed to take up space. It hurts to know that your role model didn’t really grow up with any of her role models.
Rachel Finley was left at home for an entire year at the age of 11. A self-made woman in almost every sense of the word, Rachel was forced to become an adult at a young age because his mother’s bipolar disorder and her father’s absence stained her childhood with instability. Learning how to forge her mother’s signature to pay the bills when she can’t or pick up the pieces after manic hallucinations, Rachel has been struggling to survive from the start. It is as if Finley’s shocking resilience comes from the turbulent environment she raised. A messy Florida swamp who married and had a childhood cleaning up other people’s messes instilled in Stick an indomitable will to persevere.
Perhaps this is due to her sojourn in the swamps, but Rachel isn’t afraid to wade through the mud. After all, she started her Tumblr while undergoing chemotherapy as an outlet. Despite the fact that Rachel has made her career open up and reveal parts of herself to others, whether through the screen or through her designs, “Nobody Told Me Anything,” she reveals truths she never shared. Styx’s first book delves into the hidden gray areas of her life, introduces the rulebook she never had for her two daughters, and reveals her harrowing, yet debatable experiences as cautionary tales.
Having survived cancer, eating disorders, and controlling relationships, Finley broke the cycle by doing what we wish our parents would do for us—be honest. For hundreds and thousands of people, Stick is the “cool mommy” or older sister they never had, who never did. “The results of self-navigation out of necessity, from responding to a lack of true, pure, poignant guidance, can be devastating. If we don’t tell our kids anything, we leave it up to the world to tell them, mostly the hard way, sometimes the easy way.”
Hebe sits down with Rachel to discuss her first diary, “Nobody told me anything. “ Keep scrolling for more.
You discuss your marriage to Blake Anderson and your shared and separate views on fame. As someone who has been on the internet for years, how do you navigate being true to yourself, while doing your work and maintaining your online presence?
I think there are parts of me that I love to share, even the messy stuff, but there are pieces that have to remain sacred to me because it’s not personally safe for me to post all that. I’ve experienced what my audience can handle and what makes me feel good when strangers know and this fluctuates from time to time. I like to save parts of me for the people I eat with – I like to give them my all. Nothing against my followers, I just love the intimacy of a small group. Not that I’m two different people in these places – I have a hard rule not to assign people or places that have proven “unsafe” to keep you safe, if that makes sense.
At NETMA, delve into your relationships with men as well as your female friendships throughout your journey. Can you talk about the importance of the chosen family? Given your childhood experiences, do you think it is easier or more tempting to create a home with others, especially when it comes to romantic relationships?
Making a home out of others is definitely something I have to fight hard against because it is in my nature. I think we also need to dismantle the fears of interdependence. I think people throw this word around and demonize it without really understanding it. I like to be with the people I choose. I also have to maintain the virtual home I built for myself, not just the one I built with them in order to make it healthy. I learn that as I get older.
Oftentimes, people feel guilty because of their difficult relationships with their families, especially with their mothers. While you personally have more than enough reasons to have complex feelings about your family, how did you move through feelings of guilt and shame as you set out to tell your story?
I remember the day I realized my mom was having a bad hair day. She was so angry at the world and in a fit of rage about the way traffic was moving and the whole time she was crying her hair out in the rearview mirror. I was in middle school when I was trying out some new looks like white eyeliner and it wasn’t like I saw it in a teen magazine and I got pissed a lot the same way. At that moment I realized that she was not a deity or a perfect being. She was a person just like me and could be affected by something as small and stupid as her bad hair or smudged eyeliner. Seeing your family as flawed and fearful people helps you deal with the things that happened because of those fears or flaws.
Were you afraid of becoming a mother because of your relationship, as well as because of your family history of mental illness?
Absolutely, and I don’t think I’m over that piece yet. Some days when I get anxious and swing into paranoia. I get nervous and reach out to my therapist and friends. I think there will always be this looming thought that I could slip into a situation my mom was in, so I fight it by stabilizing myself in ways she couldn’t — by having a support system and therapy, abs through sobriety, just so the chips aren’t stacked against me as If it were her.
Throughout your life, you’ve had to make yourself smaller in some way, shape, or form. How did you learn to take up space over the years? Is Hot Lava an Extension of Your Healing Process?
Hot Lava is for my follower base – they’ve spent a decade telling me what they like. I love making clothes for them. It is a tribute to this community, a piece of art and a work. The pieces that reflect me take those aggressive themes and images and make them floral or lavender—”feminine” on purpose and loud. I didn’t really have clothes like this when I wanted them. They are meant to take up space and be worn where many other “others” are required to downsize.