Friday, March 18, 2016

On Body Image

I have been debating this particular post since the day I created this blog almost two years ago. This is a sensitive subject for me. I want to preface this post by stating I am not writing about it for attention, for sympathy, or for any sort of recognition. This is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I am not proud of some of the things I've done, but I do not want to be ashamed anymore. I am writing this to hopefully bring comfort to anyone struggling with it. With that said, I'll begin discussing my battle with body image.

The lowest point in my life was also when I was at my lowest weight. Moving away from home at 18 was supposed to be exciting, but for me it caused a great deal of anxiety that eventually spun into the darkest thoughts I've ever had. I felt out of control of everything around me. I was insecure, timid, and frankly, lost. The one thing I knew I could control was what went into my body.

It began with the decision to become a vegetarian***. I was proud of myself for restricting my diet. The more restrictions I placed on myself, the more control I felt over my life. This pattern led to me barely eating, except maybe one thing a day. And if I did get something to eat, I would eat half of it and throw the rest away. I slept all of the time. I felt like shit. I have always been thin, but this weight loss was out of hand.

What kills me about reflecting on this point in my life is that I truly believed I didn't deserve to take up space. I literally shrunk myself down. I bought into what other people believed I should look like. I often received compliments on my long, slender frame. I don't blame anyone else for the problem I had. We do, after all, tend to value thinness. What makes me mad is that I didn't believe I was worth more than the way my body appeared to others.

As a kid, I remember looking down at my stomach and being repulsed by it. I liked my arms and my legs because they were thin, but my stomach? No, it was disgusting to me. How dare I have fleshy bits? Why couldn't my stomach be flat? I berated myself daily about it.

This vicious and poisonous cycle led to my disorderly eating, or lack of eating. This began about 8 years ago, and I feel I have made some huge strides since then. I will admit to not having a totally great relationship with food. I do not deprive myself of things, which is good. I still battle with negative thoughts and the whole "I've got to cover my stomach because it's horrible" thing.

What sparked my urge to write this post was a boudoir inspired photo shoot I did recently. The pictures are something I will always cherish, mostly because this particular shoot focused on the body I have grown into as a woman. I'm not as thin as I was at 18. I have put on a little weight over the last few years. Let me make it clear that it is not lost on me that I am still thin. I am aware that I have a long and slender frame. What's more important is that I have a healthy, functioning body. The weight I have gained reminds me that I am getting a little older, a little curvier. And that's what happens sometimes. We all have different bodies and there is no such thing as one being better than another.

There are still some days when I beat myself up about how I look, but then I remember all of the things I like about my body and I calm down a little. I hope that someday I can look in a mirror and be completely satisfied. It gets better and better every year, but I am working on making sure the toxic thoughts diminish completely.

I think that as young women, we are conditioned to tie our physical presence with our self worth. We are objectified regularly and relentlessly, which leads us to self-objectify. I am telling you about my struggles with my body image because I know for a fact that someone, somewhere reading this is going through a rough time with their own body image. And that is simply unacceptable to me. This constant battle is exhausting. I'm exhausted. I want to wrap my arms around any woman struggling with this right now. It doesn't really matter if other people call you beautiful if you don't believe it. The most beautiful women in the world still struggle with insecurities. This is so much more systematically complicated.

The media we give into is what influences our thought process. There is no such thing as a perfect body type. This "perfect body" concept is literally something our society creates. The good news is that since it's created, that also means it can be changed. So, I'll continue to work on my own body image. It's been a long and difficult process, but I'll never stop trying. I'm doing it for me and I'm doing it for every woman I know.  I'll be damned if my future daughter ever hates her body. She will always be told that her body is strong and capable. She will also always be told that she is worth more than what her body looks like. I will not allow her to be confined by the concept of being a "pretty girl". I will tell her that she is intelligent, she is thoughtful, she is hilarious, she is captivating, and she is the entire universe. Everything about her is perfectly enough.

I look at it like this: How would I talk to my five year old self? There's a quote that goes, "Be who you needed when you were younger." Would I body shame her? Of course not. So why should we be doing it now? I don't have all of the answers, but I know I'll never stop learning to accept and love myself exactly as I am. I hope the same for you.

Until next time,

***I do not blame vegetarian/vegan diets for my body image issues. I actually admire anyone with these lifestyles. Save the animals. :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Lookin' Good, 2016!


Not to be terribly cliche, but I have to write about how excited I am for this upcoming year. I felt an overwhelming amount of positivity yesterday and it's still here today as I write this down.

This is not to say that 2015 wasn't a great year. It truly was. On January 1st, 2015 I was in Florida, wondering where my life was heading. I was only daydreaming about what the year would look like.

So many of those daydreams became a reality. I'm back in the city I have called home for a long time. I'm pursuing my academic goals. I'm making it on my own the way I have been wanting to.

2015 consisted of making new friends, visiting new places, moving, conversations, heartache, anxiety, laughter, new family members, independence, and so many other wonderful and awful things. Some days, good and bad, are ingrained in my mind forever. Some people came into my life while others left. I am letting go of any sense of control I think I might have.

I have accepted that happiness is not a reasonable goal. Instead, I strive for wholeness. That means I welcome the challenges and the bad times along with every moment of happiness that occurs. I think it's important to allow yourself to feel everything that happens to you.

I am lucky enough to have people in my life who remind me what I'm capable of when I often forget. My mom wrote a letter to me not too long ago, reminding me of how proud she is of me, my passion, and my determination. It's moments like this that keep me going when I feel run down and discouraged. I am feeling inspired and more driven than ever.

With 2016 finally here, I cannot wait to see what else I can learn. Happy new year, my friends. It's gonna be a good one.

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

15 Things I Learned in 2015

I know everyone always says this, but how has another year passed us so quickly? It's safe to say that everything in my life is completely different than it was this time last year. I still vividly remember last New Year's Eve and thinking to myself, "This year will be a good year." Well, I have had some downs along with my ups, but all in all, I've learned a lot. And with 2016 approaching in only a few weeks, I thought I would reflect and write to myself about all of these lessons. In no particular order:

1. You are more than capable of going after the things you want. Even on your saddest nights, you still have a fire inside of you encouraging you to pursue your dreams. You often doubt yourself, but something is still pushing you. Just keep going. Keep surprising yourself.

2. Speaking of surprises, allow others to surprise you. Do not hold expectations and let things unfold as they should. Appreciate the moments you have with the people you encounter. You never know what you might learn.

3. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give, especially to yourself.

4. You are not obligated to spend time with people who drain your energy or make you feel bad about yourself. It is possible to care about them from a distance.

5. There are no limitations to femininity. You can be both strong and soft. You can enjoy being outdoors and buying makeup. You can like The Godfather and The Notebook. Never, ever let a guy define nor limit your femininity. You are a badass goddess and don't you forget it.

6. True love is still a huge question mark in your brain...and that's okay. You know what it used to feel like. The goal is to wait for what it can feel like now. (Hint: It shouldn't break your heart.)

7. Being kind will always be more important than being right.

8. You can think you know exactly what you want, but what you want can change. This is normal. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just be honest about your feelings and things will shake out.

9. Taking long walks while listening to music is the best therapy of all time.

10. Not everyone is going to hurt you. Don't be afraid to seek solace in others. Keep opening up and letting people in. Deep down you know it will be worth it.

11. Submitting your writing to be published was a huge accomplishment. Not only because it was actually published, but because you were brave enough to submit it in the first place. Be proud of yourself for sharing your words.

12. Whatever you do, whether it results in laughter or tears, that makes you feel alive... keep doing it.

13. Never say never. You did karaoke this year. Whatever next?

14. You may be a work in progress, but you are also a damn masterpiece in your own right. Do not be ashamed of the mistakes you have or will make. You are still worthy of love and acceptance.

15. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fashion & Psychology

It seems that the most opportune time for me to return to this blog is when I should technically not have much time to do so. It's Dead Week here at my university and it's called Dead Week because a small piece of you dies on the inside around this time each semester. As you may or may not know, I decided to become an undergraduate (again) to pursue a degree in Psychology. Being out of school for a few years and in the "real" world allowed me to forget the absolute torture of finals. So, like any average student, I've been procrastinating this afternoon with naps and the internet.

As I have been busy with lectures and final assignments, I thought it might be nice to write about something other than Psychology. I do love it, but my brain can only take so much research and statistical analysis. Earlier this evening, I stumbled across this gem of a documentary by Alexa Chung for British Vogue.


Clearly, I have a never-ending love for anything Alexa does. She has been in the industry in one way or another for over 15 years. Her inquisitiveness and passion for the industry are evident in this documentary. It reminded me of how I felt as an 18 year old sitting in my apparel lecture halls. We were presented with a video of a runway show on the first day of one of my first apparel lectures. I still remember how my heart rate quickened at the sight of couture pieces gliding toward me on an overhead screen. I particularly love this documentary because Alexa explores the complexity and attainability of the fashion industry. Once a party for the elite, fashion week now features swarms of famous bloggers and celebrities. Though this has admittedly irritated me in the past ("Who do they think they are?"), I did eventually realize that fashion is for everyone. It is not some sort of secret club that can exclude others from being special. 

As I mentioned, fashion is for the people. Fashion and society will be forever intertwined. Apparel History was, and forever will be, one of the best classes I have ever taken. You can trace economical and social changes from how our way of dressing has changed over the years. This documentary sheds light on different job opportunities. Yes, fashion can provide "real" jobs to people. Most importantly to me, this documentary sheds light on how this industry is not as frivolous and shallow as people are led to believe. As an apparel major, I often felt I had to justify my area of study to people. I was told that I seemed too smart to be a fashion major. Whatever that means. Little did my peers realize, my apparel program was connected closely with a minor in business. I did learn a lot about design and textiles, but I also learned about brand management and marketing. To further justify because I can't help myself, the particular program I was a part of encouraged an incredibly well-rounded education of apparel and treated it as a business. Business may seem a more practical route, but that does not mean fashion design is any less credible. Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason, no? 

I became exhausted with the justifications and admittedly became a bit pessimistic about finding a job I would like in the industry. I lost a large amount of the passion I once had four years prior. Granted, I still love clothes. I still walk into stores and analyze the way they have merchandised their products. And documentaries, such as this one, stir up the love I have for fashion. My choice in dress has been an outlet for me my entire life. It is connected with my identity, my creative freedom. Sometimes I think, "What will I wear once I work in an office setting?" and then go about buying cute sweaters like I'm already there. Fashion has been a comfort to me my whole life. Knowing that I get to decide how I wish to be perceived is a powerful feeling. On a more collective scale, fashion produces revolutions. Remember the mini skirt? And I do love a good revolution. 

My absolute favorite part of this documentary (other than staring at Alexa and her clothes) is her interview with Carolyn Mair, who teaches psychology in the context of fashion. As a current student of psychology, these two industries obviously (!!!) go hand in hand. I love observing and analyzing human behavior. It is human behavior to decide what you will wear. This seems so obvious, but it is seldom discussed. I don't think I should have to explain how great it feels to realize there is some sort of cyclical pattern in my interests and studies. Once again, fashion has awakened and inspired something in me. That is why I will always love it.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On New Beginnings

Happy September, my friends.

It is finally the cusp of my favorite time of year. September through November fill me with more joy than I could ever attempt to verbalize. I have always been an Autumnal person. I am naturally drawn to warmer shades, thicker textures. I am usually made fun of for trying to wear sweaters in June.

I love the Fall because she teaches me. Around this time every year, I feel a shift inside of me. I feel things changing within me in unison with the colors changing on the leaves.

You see, changes have always been difficult for me. I value planning and knowing what to expect. A sensitive person, especially someone as sensitive as I am, desperately needs to have some sort of solid ground to stand on. I have mentioned before how big life changes trigger my anxiety and panic attacks.

I crave new experiences, yet I am left with the growing pains as a result. This, I've realized, is a good thing. I watch the leaves bloom into their various shades of red, and they bravely face their fate to fall to the ground. They die, and eventually are reborn. That is the lesson I must learn over and over again when it comes to facing my own fears. I have actively chosen to pursue my dreams, and it has scared the hell out of me.

I hope I continue to push myself. I hope I continue to surprise myself. I hope that with each step of my life, I bloom a little brighter, only to be faced with another fear to work through. I never want to become complacent or too comfortable. I only wish to grow, even with the pains, so that I can continue to share what I am learning.

If you have any blog post topic requests, don't be shy and please let me know.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 13, 2015

NEW SERIES | The Contents Of: My Medicine Cabinet

It's been two and a half months since I've been on this blog. I have to admit I did not realize it has been so long. It is simply unacceptable. So many life changes have occurred in that amount of time. To give you a brief overview, I have moved, changed jobs, and enrolled back into university. I have been greatly looking forward to these changes, and though it has been stressful while they unfold, I have to say I am pleased to be where I am right now. Classes begin in less than two weeks and I am thrilled to begin again.

Some of you may be wondering why I am going back to school. I did graduate with a Bachelor's in Apparel Merchandising back in 2012, but it's taken a little while since then to figure out what I really want to do in my life. I have worked some wonderful jobs between then and now, and they have all led me to where I am currently. You see, I love people. I have always worked with the public in one way or another, and I have decided to go back to school to pursue what I'm really passionate about, which is people. I am enrolled to get a second Bachelor's in Psychology before applying to a graduate program for Counseling. So, I hope this all makes sense as to why I've been all over the place, literally and figuratively.

As I stated, I have recently moved! Moving is always exciting for me because I love arranging and decorating my spaces to feel cozy and calming. I also thought I could share a bit of my new abode on this blog. Which led to the idea of a series called "The Contents Of", where I share sneak peeks into random things I own. What do you think? Today I am going to share the contents of my medicine cabinet, as I love having one and I think we can all agree that it's fun to be nosy.

With that said, I present to you my medicine cabinet.

Top Shelf: Advil because I get headaches often, various allergy medicines because hay fever has decided to ruin my life, kitty cat tweezers (I don't wax my brows anymore and these help with maintenance), e.l.f. lip exfoliator, and three of my favorite essential oils: jasmine, lavender, and eucalyptus.

Middle Shelf: cotton buds and pads, contact lens case, face moisturizers.

Bottom Shelf: face wipes, micellar water, deodorant, and a body lotion. I have used this scent from Bath and Body Works since, like, 2005. I love it.

I just love having a medicine cabinet. It's so old school and also helps with storage. What do you think of this series idea? Let me know! It's good to be back on here. I promise to not keep you all waiting too long for another post.

Until next time,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Thoughts On When Things Don't Work Out

It feels like it's been about a million years since I've been on here to share what I have been thinking about. There are many things that are about to change in my life and I can honestly say that I am anxious, excited, and scared like hell. I have been working toward a specific goal for a couple of years now and things are finally beginning to unfold the way I have wanted them to. Although big life changes can trigger my anxiety and panic attacks, I am more than ready for this next step in my life. I am looking forward to what the next few years have in store for me. Mostly, I feel like I am doing the right thing for me and it feels great.

Ever since I graduated from college a few years ago, I have felt like my life path has led me all over the place. I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting on what these years and paths have taught me about myself and the world around me. I can't help but wonder where I would be if certain dreams of mine had come true. I wonder what my life would be like if I had never moved to Chicago. I wonder what my life would be like if I had stayed in certain relationships. I wonder what my life would be like if I had never left my hometown. I have left so many places and people, but I know that at the end of the day I have to do what's best for me. Sounds selfish, right? Maybe it is. However, at this moment in time I can say that I am proud of myself. I have made several mistakes and made some messes along the way, but I have continued to follow my intuition and learned to speak my mind. I am continuing to grow into who I am becoming and I like who she is.

So maybe some of my dreams didn't come true. I thought I knew what I wanted, but it obviously wasn't meant for me. I am at peace with the fact that what is meant to be in my life will be and whatever isn't meant for me will find it's way out of my life. As far as a situation, all I can do is try my hardest and the rest will fall into place. Hard work does pay off. As for people, all I can do is meet someone half way. If someone wants to stay, they will find a way to stay. Otherwise, it is not meant to happen. I have been completely heartbroken over situations that didn't happen for me, but now I am able to see why they didn't. Dreams don't always come true, but I have always found another dream.

I guess what I want you to take away from this is if you're going through a tough time right now, I promise you it's going to teach you a lot about who you are. You will be thrown into situations that will ultimately make you a stronger and better person. It has taken me a long time to understand this. I have been lost in a fog more than once and I did a lot of stupid things to escape that feeling. I advise anyone reading this to not repeat my mistakes. I have always enjoyed being alone, but I have felt lonely many times. I challenge you to embrace your solitude. It turns out that spending a lot of time on your own can remind you of what it is you truly want to do with your life. There are a lot of dreams living inside of you. Find a dream and chase it.

I hope this helps you feel a little better.

Until next time...