Sunday, March 27, 2016

March Favorites

Hey y'all! I thought it would fun since I have some more time on my hands these days to try out my monthly favorites in a video format! There's beauty, food, and crafty favorites - something for everyone!

Until Next Time,
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Friday, March 25, 2016

#thisbody has a mind of its' own

Lane Bryant once again is all over my Facebook feed thanks to a recently banned from TV advertisement. The #thisbody commercial features models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, Tara Lynn, Denise Bidot, and Georgia Pratt. The models are shown in a variety of activities, most of them involving little to no clothes, but ranging from kickboxing to breastfeeding.

Just like their prior #imnoangel campaign for Cacique and their #plusisequal campaign, the #thisbody campaign encourages a social media takeover. Lane Bryant once again created merchandise specific to their campaign and a website along with the hashtag. They have their “manifesto” posted on the website which starts “This is my body. I live in it. Love in it. Work it all the way. This body is all me. Every curve, every roll, every inch. This body is with me every day.”

The brand’s CEO and president, Linda Heasley has said, “Our goal is shift the perception from Lane Bryant as a store for plus-size clothing, to Lane Bryant as an inspiring brand for empowered, beautiful, and confident women.”

As a plus size woman, I don’t need a store to help my empowerment. I don’t need a store to make me feel beautiful. I don’t need a store to tell me it’s okay to be confident even though I’m fat.

I need a store where I feel confident shopping. I need a store where I can find affordable well made comfortable clothes. I need a store that will provide the opportunity for me to spend less than $35 for a t-shirt. I need a store that knows what the typical office employee handbook allows you to wear to work and doesn’t just design shirts that need a cardigan over them. I need a store that caters to young women who can’t afford $50 shorts, but are too big for the “teen” plus size lines at Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe. I need a store that wants to be a store for plus-size clothing because there’s just not that many options out there.

This Body is just another brand campaign. This is a multimillion dollar company jumping on the body positivity train to make themselves seem more relatable. I am not against normalizing plus size bodies. I am a huge supporter of the body positivity movement, but for a brand to take on this battle cry as their own is something different. For a brand as large as Lane Bryant to take on this movement as an “important” part of their company, they should be doing more. 

All five models featured in the banned commercial are between 5’9” and 5’11” and wear sizes 14-16. The models on their website show the same size trends as well as the models featured in their previous hashtag campaigns. However, when shopping at Lane Bryant, you can find sizes from 14 (0X) to 36 (5X). So, just like every other clothing brand out there Lane Bryant is putting their slimmest foot forward. For a brand promoting body positivity, why would you not want to make all of your shoppers feel represented?

Lane Bryant is just doing what all advertising has ever done: make people feel like their worth is dependent on a product. They’re not making their clothes any more affordable or accessible; they’re hijacking our bopo message to bring a feeling of community and brand loyalty. Looking toward a clothing company to help empower us is not the way to self love; it never has been and it never will be. Lane Bryant doesn’t need to help plus sized women be normalized for straight sized bodies. Lane Bryant has always been a plus sized company. Their loyalty should be to us – to making plus sized women feel comfortable in their store and in their clothes, not in making everyone else think we’re allowed to exist.

Until Next Time,
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Keeping It Positive

Some days you wake up and you just feel shit about your body. You feel like you're shaped weird and no one likes you and you're worthless. That voice telling you how fierce you are is buried deep behind the mountains of self doubt you built up. You gotta shake it up, get yourself out of that head space. Here's some things that help me counteract those negative Nancy's in my head in the moment AND things you plan ahead for.

  1. Surround yourself with positivity.
    1. Hang out with friends or loved ones that make you laugh. If you're in a situation without people you love, you can go to local animal shelter and volunteer for the day! The animals there are always full of unconditional love.
  2. Get rid of any real life Nancy's in your life.
    1. Clean out your social media of all the people you follow just to compare yourself to. Delete any one who's promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, mentally/physically/emotionally. Throw away magazines or movies or books that make you feel bad about yourself. If someone in your life is influencing in an unhealthy way, explain to them that you need some time off to recenter yourself.
  3. Create a self care kit.
    1. This will be different for everyone. It could include a playlist, a funny movie, an inspiring poem, bath bombs, a soft blanket, sneakers to take yourself on a walk, your favorite snack, a giftcard for your favorite coffee, anything.
  4. Catch yourself before you wreck yourself.
    1. When you start negative self talk, acknowledge it. Put a big roadblock in that train of thought's way and steer it to brighter pastures. Make a list of 5 things you like about yourself that don't include physical aspects. Do this every time you think or say something negative about yourself, whether it's about your body or not.
  5. Drink some water.
    1. Also make sure you've been getting enough sleep, are eating enough, taking your meds, and just in general treating yourself right. Your physical well being can affect your mood.
What helps you break down the walls of negative self talk/thought? I'd love to know any tips for survival that I left out.

Until Next Time,
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Giving Advice: Listen before you talk

How therapy helped me learn how to help others.

At 26, I've been spending some time reflecting on my past. I often find myself laughing at the smallness of my problems and how unimportant the issues seem to me now. I listen to songs that were my favorite when I was 15 and think "what did I have to be so unhappy about?" As an adult, reflecting on my life, this offers me clarity to remember that things that seem insurmountable will seem so small in the future. I believe this helps us process our past and our mistakes so we can learn and move forward; however, something that can arise from this is when we're talking to people that are younger than us or not as far along on the same path - we can belittle their problems. We expect them to just take our words and advice at face value. They should learn from our mistakes, as the saying goes.

When you're 15 and the world seems huge and unmanageable and you have a 26 year old telling you that it will get better, just keep waiting, it's hard to imagine that they even know what you feel. They have no solid evidence to give that they're right. "You're 10, 20, 40 years older than me - how could you possibly understand?" they think.

And when you're 26, 40, 70 and you look back on middle school or college with fondness - now you have distance, you miss the simplicity of it before bills and "real" responsibility - sometimes we can find ourselves dismissing the younger parties problems. They'll grow out of it or get over it just like you did, with time.

I don't like to dwell on the past. I know how far I've come in my life. But something that I am trying to hold on to is the memory of the absolute pain I felt at 15, 16, 19, 21. Getting my heart broken by the boy I loved over and over. How misunderstood I felt, how alone. How everyone kept saying that school was the most important thing, but I also needed to decide on a life plan so I could go to college. How I didn't want to have sex, but no one understood why because it wasn't for religious reasons. Not understanding dynamics of the adult world and reading a lot of situations wrong. Constantly feeling like I needed to all at once understand everything or at least pretend I did. I try to remember this pain so when I talk to people younger than me or people who are not as far along on their journey, I remember how massive all that felt at the time.

It's so important that we don't diminish people when we're trying to help them. Just because you think or you know that you're right - that it will be better, that's not what's important. Most people want to believe that, but I think you always have doubt until you're on the other side of the problem.

The biggest gift I ever got in my life was parents that put me in therapy when I needed it. And more importantly, didn't make feel broken or stupid or less than for needing someone professional to talk to. They made me feel it was okay. My friends did the same for me. Since my first therapist appointment at 15, I have been able to be open about my feelings and my progress if I wanted to be.

The biggest gift you can give someone is understanding. People value advice, people can trust that you want what's best for them, but most people just want you to be there. You might not understand what they're going through. Maybe it's something you just can't relate to. Most people just want you to show up for them. They want an open platform to talk and not feel judged.

If you're an action seeker, ask them what they need. Don't assume you know what's best for them. Telling someone to call a counselor is a lot easier said than done. Offer to call for them, if they've expressed interest. Listen to what they're saying before you take any action. Just be present when you're with and try not to take all of your life experience and assume it will work for them the same.

Until Next Time,
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Unlikely Role Model: Amber Rose

I knew Amber Rose and Kanye West had dated. I had seen pictures of them at events, but even though I loved Kanye’s music, I never got super invested in his personal life. The first time I ever really noticed Amber Rose was a little over a year ago when "Kanye's ex took some slutty pictures on a balcony." I was shown pictures of her by some coworkers from her Insta
gram in a black string bikini. As a lover of selfies and self love, I felt I was missing a problem that everyone else one saw. When I looked at her Instagram, I just saw a woman feeling herself. I've kept tabs on Amber Rose since that day.

Amber Rose hasn't always been the anti-slut shaming feminist that we know her to be today.

“I was always about girl power, but I didn’t quite get it because I did always feel like I had to be completely submissive to a man. I was always very unhappy doing that,” she explains. “I think I needed time to grow up. You get to a certain point in your life where you really find out who you are, and sometimes that happens when you’re 25, but for me, it was 31. I didn’t quite know that before. I guess social media did help create the feminist monster that I’ve become.”

She was born in South Philadelphia in 1983. She grew up with dreams of being a model in Hollywood. Everyone she knew, her best friends included, told her over and over that she would never get out of Philly.  In her book, How To Be a Bad Bitch, she talks about wanting more than having kids young and staying in her hometown. She also acknowledges that if that is your life path, to embrace it and live your best life. She’s careful not to shame other people or their choices in life. She encourages people to “create your ideal self” and not be discouraged if your risk doesn’t work out. “There’s no way every attempt will turn out perfect,” you just have to make a plan and follow it to the best of your ability.