“I’m not a victim. Please don’t call me loud.”
If you visit Rachel Finley’s Instagram, you might think he has what could be considered a perfect life by 2022 standards, and in some ways you wouldn’t be wrong. The statuesque blonde owns two successful clothing companies… Teenager And Hot wash — and he’s an OG internet celebrity since he got his start with his much-loved one bad advice Tumblr. She now adds “writer” to her resume as she continues her tradition of being unflinchingly open and honest in her debut memoir, “Nobody Ever Said Nothing To Me.”
Whether you met Steak online, as she is affectionately called after the Omaha steaks her family gave her as gifts, or you were lucky enough to meet her in real life, you are immediately struck by this desire to get up close and immerse yourself in all that has to say. With her doll-like features and eclectic style, everything about the Florida native exudes freshness. While her social circle may have a few famous faces scattered about, it’s the very fact that she shakes off the sticky grip of fame that adds to the It girl status she would never claim.
At 36, he had more jobs than fingers as he toured the United States a bit, managing and living with an all-male band. She was an MTV correspondent alongside Lizzo, had her own show on Vice and was a model fit to pay the bills back in the day. In an age where people just “don’t want to work hard anymore” and fame and success are being worryingly separated from talent, there is no one who has come more honestly or worked harder than Steak.
In so many ways, the entrepreneur and mother of two has carved out a blueprint for so many young women, just by opening her mailbox and being herself. Her 100,000 Instagram followers regularly flood her DMs with relationship questions or share personal tragedies, begging Rachel to make room for them.
That’s why it’s hard to believe she’s never been allowed to take up space. It hurts to know that your role model didn’t grow up with any of hers.
Rachel Finley was left home for a whole year at 11. A self-made woman in almost every sense of the word, Rachel was forced into early adulthood as her mother’s bipolar disorder and her father’s absence colored her childhood with her instability. Learning to forge her mother’s signature to pay the bills when she couldn’t or picking up the pieces of her after manic hallucinations, Rachel struggled to survive from the start. It’s as if Finley’s shocking resilience comes from her tumultuous environment that raised her. Florida’s chaotic swamp married to a childhood spent cleaning up other people’s messes has instilled in Steak an indomitable will to persevere.
Maybe it’s her enthusiasm raised in the swamp, but Rachel isn’t afraid to wade through the mud. After all, she started her Tumblr of hers while she was having chemotherapy as an outlet. Despite the fact that Rachel has made a career of opening up and exposing parts of herself to others, whether through a screen or through her own, “Nobody’s Ever Told Me Nothing” projects, she discovers truths she’s never shared. Her first book of Steaks dives deep into the gray and hidden areas of her life, offering the rulebook she didn’t have for her two daughters, revealing her heartbreaking yet relatable experiences of hers as cautionary tales.
Having survived cancer, eating disorders, and relationship scrutiny, Finley breaks the cycle by doing what we wish our parents had done for us: be honest. For hundreds and thousands of people, Steak is the “pretty mom” or big sister they never had, that she never had. “The results of self-navigating by necessity, as a response to a lack of real, pure, impactful guidance, can be devastating. If we don’t tell our children anything, we let the world tell them, mostly in the way harder, sometimes the easier way.”
Hypebae sits down with Rachel to discuss her debut memoir, ‘Nobody Ever Said Anything to Me.” Keep scrolling to find out more.
You talk about 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 staying true to yourself, while doing your job and maintaining an online presence?
I think there are parts of me that I love to share, even the messy stuff, but there are parts that need to remain sacred to me because it’s not personally safe for me to post everything. I’ve tested what my audience can handle and what makes me feel good if outsiders know and this varies from time to time. I like to keep pieces of myself for the people I eat with, I like to give them my all. It’s nothing against my followers, I just like the intimacy of a small group. It’s not that I’m two different people in these spaces – I just have a hard rule of not appointing people or places that have proven themselves “unsafe” to keep you safe, if that makes any sense.
At NETMA, you dive deep into your relationships with men and your female friendships throughout your journey. Can you talk about the importance of chosen family? Given your childhood experiences, do you think it’s easier or more appealing to make others a home, especially when it comes to romantic relationships?
Making a home with others is definitely something I have to fight hard against because it’s in my nature. I think we also need to dismantle fears of codependency. I think people throw that word around and demonize it without really understanding it. I like being with the people I choose. I also have to keep the hypothetical house I built just for myself, not just the one I built with them to make it sound. I am learning this as I grow older and older.
Often people feel guilty about having difficult relationships with their families, especially their mothers. Even if you personally have more than enough reason to have complicated feelings about your family, how did you overcome feelings of guilt and shame when you started telling your story?
I remember the day I realized my mom was having a bad hair day. She was super annoyed with the world and in a fit of rage at the way the traffic was moving and all the while she was ruffling her hair in the rear view mirror. I was in middle school when I was trying out some new looks like white eyeliner and it didn’t sit like I had seen it in the teen magazine and I got similarly irritated. It was at that moment that I realized she was not a god or a perfect being. She was a person just like me and she could be affected by something small and stupid like her ugly hair or smudged eyeliner. Seeing your family as scared, flawed humans helps you deal with the things that have happened because of those fears or flaws.
Were you afraid of becoming a mother because of your relationship with yours, as well as your family’s history of mental illness?
Absolutely, and I don’t think I’ve finished that piece yet. On some days where my anxiety gets the better of me and teeters on paranoia. I get nervous and check with my therapist and my friends. I think there will always be that looming thought that I might slip into a situation my mom had, so I fight that by stabilizing myself in ways she couldn’t — by having a support system in place and therapy, abs through sobriety, only then the chips aren’t against me like they were against her.
Throughout your life, you have had to shrink in some way, shape or form. How have you learned 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 like making clothes for them. It is a tribute to this community, a work of art and a business. Pieces that reflect me are taking those aggressive themes and images and making them hot pink or lavender — intentionally and loudly “feminine.” I really didn’t have clothes like these when I wanted them. They’re meant to take up space and are made to be worn in places where many “others” are told to shrink down.