Hi.

I’m coming to the conclusion that I stopped blogging because I stopped believing my opinions were valid. I’m still not entirely convinced, but I think I’ve been silencing myself for too long now that I feel it’s necessary to at least attempt to write again. I haven’t stopped altogether. In fact, my entire career is based on my ability to write. But simply writing, for me, is something I have struggled to continue with for a long time.

Maybe there’s a reason for that. We get more than enough of people’s opinions on social media today. I don’t believe it’s a fear of being drowned out, but rather, a fear of not being able to relate in a way that truly gets through to you. What about me and whatever ends up on this blog makes it legitimately worth your time?

I’m aware that my perspective is another symptom of (what I’m sure a lot of you know all too well) depression. If I’m being honest, I think this particular period of depression has lasted a year now. Prior to this past year, I genuinely did not know it could go on so continuously for such an extended period of time. I’m not foolish enough to think that depression literally cannot last a long f*cking time. I know this. But when it comes to my own experiences with this illness, it used to reappear at my mind’s doorstep in waves. A few months of darkness, then more months in a row of light.

But this time was different. And for a long time it became hard to remember the light at all. Every morning when I woke up, it felt as if this lead blanked was draped over me and I didn’t have the strength to take it off. The weight was excruciating. And speaking of weight. My body now features a lovely showcase of stretch marks that never used to exist. Battle wounds from periods of emotional eating, followed by periods where I didn’t feel like eating much of anything at all.

Let me make something very clear. I am terrified of annoying you. I don’t write any of this seeking pity. I just feel a need to convey my emotions more so than others, I suppose. I’m pretty sure everyone who knows me would say that I have a constant tendency to wear my emotions on my sleeve. While this leads to a passion for communicating on my end, I’m also aware that it has many, many negative side effects.

I become more aware of the side effects of who I am every single day through my relationships. I realize that things impact me differently than most people. I do not wish to be affected by all these things; I would give anything for a different result… but this is part of who I am.

To risk sounding completely selfish (another great fear of mine), I’m not writing this for you or anyone else. I’m writing this for myself and maybe another person who happens to read this and feels slightly less alone in the world. I think that people who feel things so excruciatingly much have a tendency to be viewed as self-centered. Only children, like myself, also have a tendency to be viewed the same as well. But if there is one thing I do know about who I am as a person, it’s that that just isn’t true.

I think about the all-inclusive you constantly.

Maybe I’m failing to make my point and you feel as if I’m literally publishing an example of my selfishness with this post. I really, really hope that is not the case. I know you can’t please everyone, but oh my god, would I like to have that ability. In conclusion, I’m sorry for how many times I’ve said “I” in this post and I hope if you have too many feelings like me, you’ll want to join my conversation about them here.

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Akron, Ohio: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

I’m not sure that there’s ever been a time in my life where I’ve missed living in Ohio more than this. Because on Friday April 26th, you guys have the opportunity to hang out and walk for an excellent cause with cool people like this:

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BAD. ASS.

The 8th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is for everybody- men, women, teenagers and children from Summit County and the surrounding communities (MEDINA! Represent). Walk through downtown Akron to protest rape, sexual assault and gender violence- causes that can never have even light shed on them.

My favorite part?

Men are encouraged (but not required) to walk in women’s shoes.

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Proceeds from this event will benefit the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. The walk is scheduled to begin at 6 PM with registration starting at 5 PM in Downtown Akron (Lock 3).

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“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes provides an opportunity for the community to stand together against sexual assault and to raise awareness about this violent crime. Even though the original idea emphasizes men’s involvement, their partners, sisters, mothers and friends often join in too” said Dave Rich, WAMIHS planning committee member. Started in 2001 by Frank Baird Walk a Mile in Her Shoes has grown to become an internationally recognized event. Dave states that “men wobbling in heels or fuzzy pink slippers on downtown Akron sidewalks can be pretty amusing but the cause they are marching for is quite serious. While sexual assault has traditionally been viewed as a women’s issue the reality is that sexually violent crimes have no boundaries and affect us all. Statistics show us that approximately 1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males will be affected by sexual violence in their lifetime.” Akron’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is in its 8th year and is quickly becoming a unique tradition in the Akron community.

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Start a fundraising team today and help to fight gender violence one step at a time!

Help the Rape Crisis Center raise money by donating here.

To start your own team, click here.

Contact Dana Zedak at 330-777-4723 or DanaZ@scmcbws.org with any questions if you prefer not to register online. 

Body Image, Rock & Roll and You

It takes a lot to “move me” these days or to keep my attention long enough to get through what you’re trying to convey. But today, on three separate accounts, it happened.

I’m in bed listening to my really epic “Pop Punk” playlist on Spotify (you should follow me, I’m great) and I’ve just read these articles and it made me feel like a person. People don’t keep it real enough these days.

The first one was about Against Me!’s Tom Gabel and his (now her) first year as a woman by Cosmo. Incredible. Tom is now Laura. Laura is awesome and Joan Jett tucked Laura’s daughter into bed, which is probably cooler than anything that will ever happen to you. So punk rock. But for real- read this story.

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Tom left, Laura right.

Next came a story about how selling your stuff on Craiglist can change your life, in which the author explains how doing so restored some of her own faith in humanity, but that is really unrelated to what I’m trying to say, so moving on.

Then this happened. Lily, thank you. This is one of the most genuine accounts of how women deal with body image I’ve ever encountered.

Accept it, fix it? Accept it, fix it? This is a question that I have been grappling with my whole life. When it comes to the shape of my body, I have constantly and perpetually struggled to decipher whether my physique is inherently wrong in some way (something to work on fixing) or whether it is beautiful and perfect as it is (something that I need to work on accepting). Do I need to try to become a slimmer version of myself in order to feel amazing in my clothes, sex appeal, and general swagger, or do I need to unlearn a fabricated societal notion that beautiful and slender are synonymous, while having curves implies that something is broken?

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Lily, the queen.

First off, the fact that we as women feel like this- this amount of pressure, sense of inadequacy, dissatisfaction and so on, is so insanely fucked up. I’ve struggled with body image since I was probably 12 or so. I was gawky and awkward and actually quite skinny looking back, but at the time I was certain that my thighs were fat. I had an obsession with my thighs being “too big” for years.

Let me put this into perspective for you, I don’t even think I was a size two at this point. I think in 7th grade I hit 100 pounds and that number scared me. 100 POUNDS. Are you kidding me?

I was 5 foot 4 and I got big boobs in high school and teetered between a size two and four for its entirely. Not fat. At all. And yet, I thought I was.

Then I moved to Chicago for college and instead of gaining the “freshman 15,” I lost maybe 10. I was 105 pounds that year and I loved my body at that weight, but that wasn’t normal for me and I probably wasn’t being very healthy. I wasn’t happy. I was lost and I didn’t even know who I was or who I was trying to be.

I gained weight that summer. Went up a jean size. Got my boobs back. I probably looked better, but instead a guy I used to see commented to my co-workers about how I had “put on weight.” Which lead to a whole new phase of obsession and self-loathing.

Now I’m 22. I do the whole full-time job thing, I’ve got the Bachelor’s degree, I blog and eats lots of fruits and veggies. I’m in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man. But most importantly, I’ve sort of got the whole “me” thing down. I like myself. But I still don’t like my body. And that’s bullshit.

I’m 115 pounds and I pick myself apart in the mirror every single day. Why do I do this?

It’s probably obvious at this point, but I’m sort of a big fan of fashion. And I love models. No, I don’t want to emulate them. Not only is that unrealistic, but I like having boobs and a booty and all of that. Despite this, I poke at my thighs and tummy and arms and think “not content.” It’s not about trying to be something that’s literally impossible. It’s not about blaming fashion or the models who display it. It’s about the way I feel when my own clothing doesn’t hang the same way because I’m a C-cup and a size four instead of a zero. It doesn’t look the same on me or fit as effortlessly, etc.

The problem isn’t the fashion industry and the girls who walk the runways. Fashion is an art and the models are human portraits. That’s not real life. That’s not the rest of the population. And why would any woman want to have the body of a 14-year-old boy?

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Freja Beha Erichsen

The problem is the fact that we view this as a standard of what a beautiful, sexy woman should look like. The type of women who are placed in advertisements to try and make us long after material goods are not a reflection of who we are. Why don’t they look like us? But as someone who loves fashion and devours countless Tumblrs looking for inspiration via models’ impeccable street style, is it even possible to draw a line between that sort of “art” and life?

I’m sure my personal interests lead you to believe that I’m setting myself up for disaster when it comes to my own body image. But I would never categorize myself as an insecure person. I wear miniskirts and daisy dukes and little dresses and I am capable of feeling very sexy and comfortable in my own skin. I know I’m not fat.

But how can we teach ourselves, our future daughters, our friends to embrace our own unique shapes? Especially when one of my favorite hobbies is fashion blogging. Is this impossible? Am I a hypocrite?

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I can say that today’s models need to gain some weight. 100% on board with this needing to happen ASAP. I’m thinking curvy 90s supermodels before heroin chic happened. Those women didn’t look sick. They were slim and fit and healthy looking. Nowadays we see a whole lot of skeleton action, which needs to stop. Some regulations have been passed here and there, but it’s not working. Yet at least. But enough about that. Let’s talk about you.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that if you see these pictures of women and the supermodels and the fashion shows and the style blogs- you see the size zero jeans at the store and you see your own body in the mirror and wonder why that’s not you, take a step back. Skinny, curvy, whatever. The cool thing about being you is that there isn’t anyone else like you in the world. You probably have really wonderful qualities that people envy you over and I’m sure sometimes you’re less than admirable. THANK GOODNESS. You’re real!

The best part about being a person are all the things you’re capable of feeling. Joy, bliss, love, jealously, rage. All of that makes a life meaningful. You’ll accomplish things and you’ll fail and most of that- most of life- has nothing to do with your weight.

It was becoming increasingly clear that I was actually attempting to fight nature. Around that same time, I was beginning to delve deep into my work with StyleLikeU. Inspired by the confident women I was exposed to — no matter their shape or size — I realized for the first time that it was truly possible for women to tailor their style to their bodies rather than tailor their bodies to trends. This revelation, while it seems obvious in retrospect, was perhaps one of the most liberating moments in my journey with my body.

Liking fashion or looking beautiful or being sexy shouldn’t coincide with being skinny. If we’re lucky, we’ll also achieve a similar revelation of sorts as Lily. But if you take nothing else away from this post, hear me out on this.

Embrace your weirdness. You know the things you hate about yourself the most? Learn to accept that these so-called flaws are what make you a person. And that no one is ever content with themselves and that’s fine. Instead, let’s take all of that self-criticism and attempt to use it to our advantage. Be hard on yourself when it comes to your work and be hard on yourself when you haven’t treated people as nicely as you should have.

Don’t be hard on yourself about your body. Your body is hot and you’re probably a total babe and I want you to know that if you read this blog that I want you to look at the fashion posts as art and as inspiration for cute outfits and nothing more.

Hashtag self love.

Badass Girly Girl: Theyskens’ Theory Spring 2012

The combination of tough and feminine. The perfect balance of simplicity and detail. This collection by Theyskens may be old news, but I want to wear everything right now.

According to Style.com:

He’s fully osmosed how cool downtown girls dress here, and, in a preview of his Theyskens’ Theory collection, he said it was his intention to re-create that on the runway.

PS: Check out the shoes. Perfection.

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