This Is... Winter 2020 Edition
And other women on what beauty means to them
FAILURE The Beauty Industry Failed Us
HEALTHY Healthy Skin Starts Within
Read about beautiful places, raising beautiful daughters, beauty and business, beauty faux pas, how the beauty economy is wasting our time, beautiful home decor & more!
Letter from the Editor
A Love Letter to my Dearest Batwings, Stretch Marks and Thighs
On Raising Beautiful Daughters
Real Women Share Makeup-Free Photos and What Beauty Means to Them
The Beauty Industry Failed Us
Healthy Skin Starts Within
Get Polished Makeup in Five Minutes
The Beauty Economy is Wasting Our Time
Beauty & Business Event
Ideas for Creating a Beautiful Home
Learning to Love Myself
Beauty Faux Pas
[VULNERABLE] Balmy Night
Give Back with Beauty
Beauty on a Budget
A letter from the editor.
Hi Friends! Beauty is a weird thing for me. To put it simply, some days I feel beautiful and some days I don’t. Sometimes, it changes from moment to moment. But oddly enough, even when I don’t feel beautiful, I’m not afraid to go without makeup. And to be honest, I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because I prefer sleeping to getting up earlier to do my makeup. Maybe it’s because I really don’t know how to do my makeup and sometimes feel like an imposter when I do it. Or, maybe, it’s because deep down I recognize that I’m beautiful because I’m me, the only me that exists, and there’s beauty in that. And even though I may have to remind myself often that beauty comes from within, maybe that’s the reason I’m good wtih baring my makeup-free face to the world. Regardless of this revelation I’m having as I write this, I still find that I compare myself to everyone else daily. No, hourly. I find myself asking internal questions when I see these seemingly perfect women like, How are her legs so smooth when mine are so lumpy? or How is her complexion so clear? or How can I smile like her so my cheeks don’t look so big? And I’m not going to sit her and tell you that I’ve found the secret to ending the comparison game, because I haven’t. What I am here to tell you is that this issue is here to serve as your reminder that you’re beautiful as you are because you are. And, I’m here to tell you, that I’m vowing to let this issue serve as my reminder, too, so that every time I find myself asking questions like the above, I’ll let this issue pop into my head and I’ll remember that just because my legs are lumpy, my complexion isn’t clear, and my cheeks are big, I’m still beautiful because I’m the only me - I’m just a different kind of beautiful than the her I’m comparing myself to in that moment, and that is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay because if we were all the same - where the hell would the beauty be in that?! So here’s to being beautiful, in whatever way you are, and This Is... The Beautiful Issue. Happy reading!
Real women share makeup-free photos and what beauty means to them. 4
This Is... When my daughter, Tatum, asked me to be on the cover of her Beautiful Issue of her magazine, I was beyond touched and, to be honest, very surprised. Then, she announced that I had to be makeup free! Ummm...it wasn’t until the picture came out and I was so disgusted that I begged her not to use it. She then showed me all of the pictures taken without makeup and asked me to choose the one I preferred. Well, I hated them all. I was literally in tears. Tatum then said to me, “Mom, how many people have to tell you how beautiful you are until you finally get it?” It was at that moment that I realized I don’t have to have blonde hair and blue eyes, have flawless skin, be wrinkle free at 51 and be in perfect shape. I just have to be beautiful from the inside to everyone I love and who loves me back. So here I am - raw , no makeup with all my superficial flaws. This experience has taught me that now that I’m in my fifties I’m not going to be that taut skinned young looking girl anymore. Instead, I can be as beautiful to everyone around me as much as possible. I hope my beauty can shine from the inside out rather than the opposite. I now realize that’s much more important. Thank you Tatum for opening my eyes. Your magazine clearly does that for many! Additionally, thank you Tatum for making me love myself for who I am and not what I look like. I truly now know what your magazine stands for and I could not be more proud of you! My amazing daughter taught me a lot in just one picture! Xo!
Beauty? It’s falling down hard, then getting back up. Showing life the big middle finger and continuing to push forward. That’s how I bloomed. The girl on the left and right is me. But on the left, I was broken, depressed, healing by using what was left of myself to keep going. Through a journey of regaining self-love, compassion for others and facing hard truths, the blooming happened. Now, I’m the girl on the right. Beauty is earned and always a work in progress. But, the key to it is to never give up. That’s my beauty, something I carry proudly in all my humility.
I see other people or things, like a nice home or a park, and see beauty all of the time - physical appearances. But, when it comes to me, I need to feel it to see it. My husband may tell me I look beautiful but if I look in the mirror and don’t feel it or feel my best, then it’s hard to see what he or others see. So it’s deeper than an image when it comes to “my beauty.” It’s like a feeling of perfection, which is totally unrealistic.
Beauty, to me, is feeling confident within and with who you are as a person. It’s how you treat people, how you interact with people, and most importantly how you feel about yourself! What’s on the outside will someday fade and become less of what it once was. But what’s on the inside can only grow and blossom into something even more beautiful as time goes on.
To me, beauty means having confidence in the makeup-free, sweatpants version of yourself. Being grateful for the skin you’re in and having the confidence to show your flaws because we all have them.
I feel like there could be so many answers given to this simple question, but if I’m simplifying that question for myself then I would say beauty to me is when I see people being authentic. They’re being who they truly are to the core and not changing their morals, personality or even looks just because someone either asked, told or even pressured them to change.
To me, beauty means a self-love so deep that it permeates everything you do. It’s loving yourself when the world tells you you shouldn’t. It’s being an unapologetic version of who you are and beauty is more than looking one way or another. It’s in how you act and who you are. It’s realizing that we are all different and that different can be beautiful.
If you asked me what beauty meant 10 years ago I’d have a completely different definition. I’ve learned, as cheesy as it sounds, beauty is whatever you think it is as long as it makes you happy and keeps you healthy. Want fake boobs? Go for it, but do your research so you’re doing the best for your body. Want to wear contoured makeup every hour of everyday? Have at it. Want to be bare-faced and never put an ounce of makeup on your skin? Also beautiful. But don’t ever do anything for anyone else but yourself. Beauty is decided by you and for you.
BEAUTIFUL PLACES By: Krista Bridges
Close your eyes and think of a time when your surroundings took your breath away. That knock-your-socks-off kind of “wow” factor when you are hit with the absolute gorgeousness of where you are standing. Take it in. Breathe it in. Where are you? Perhaps you were by the water, walking along a beach with waves crashing at your feet. Maybe you can smell the suntan lotion. Or maybe you only smell the ocean mist. Perhaps you are sitting on top of a rock, shivering a little bit, and tired, after you had gotten up at 4am and hiked up a mountain to see the sun just popping up over the horizon. You’re chilly, and can see your breath as you exhale, taking in the smell of woodlands and fresh mountain
air, but the feeling of accomplishment, the vista of the gorge, mountains and river below as the sun climbs over the hilltops is unmatchable. These incredible moments, in beautiful places, carve a memory into our hearts and are the ones we hang onto. For me, this place was Dingle, Ireland, which captured a piece of my soul and left an imprint on my heart. The Dingle Peninsula, or Corca Dhuibhne in Gaelic, is on the south-west coast of Ireland in Co. Kerry. Steep sea-cliffs, beaches and fishing villages stretch down the coastline. The fishing village of Dingle/ Daingean Uí Chúis is steeped in rich Irish
This Is... culture, tradition, language and music. It’s one of the preserved villages in Ireland where Irish is spoken as the norm. You’ll likely be greeted with the warm Irish welcome, “Dia dhuit!” which means “hi” or roughly translates “God to you.” Aside from seafood, boat tours and Hollywood filming locations, a resident dolphin of the area, Fungie, draws in thousands of tourists and locals annually. You’ll most likely find a bit of craic in the local pubs, bursting with music. However, if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, go during the off-season when you’ll find the village much quieter and peaceful - having a chance to really immerse yourself with less hustle and bustle. I believe part of what makes a place beautiful are the people and the experiences you create there. During one of my visits, in December 2011, I was with a tour group and Dingle was a day stop. We had been traveling for several hours earlier that morning and everyone was pretty hungry. There were a few pubs and restaurants, yet 85% of our group coincidentally ended up in the same pub. The owner behind the bar and staff (of which there might have only been two in the kitchen) seemed to go into panic mode. It was unusual to have such a large group walk in all at once. Normally I’m not so bold, but I felt terrible for the guy, and having spent many summers as a waitress in high turnover restaurants, I quickly asked if he wanted help and I jumped behind the bar to give him a hand. He and the staff were so grateful, my mom (who I was traveling with) and I were given our meals complimentary and I was told if I ever came back (more permanently) I’d have a job. Too bad I didn’t take him up on that. Apart from the boat-filled harbor, quaint and colorful painted shops, local ice creameries, hospitable B&Bs and cobbled streets, you can take a leisurely drive around the Slea Head loop along the peninsula for spectacular views. Stopping at Slea Head beach is a must. There are sea-cliffs and rocky paths that lead down to the intimately tucked away coves and sandy beaches. This is where I first saw the Atlantic Ocean from the other side. Legend has it, if you dip your feet in or go for a swim, Dingle claims part of your heart & soul. Legend or not, I was knee deep in that freezing cold water. Think Maine. In December. Brrrrrr… that will wake you up! The salty-air breeze whips around the jagged rocks that seem to protect you from the rest of the world. Waves thrash against the stone violently, yet there is something so calming about this for me. Ireland isn’t known for it’s sunshine but if you’re lucky - as we were on two occasions - a little sliver of sun might try to poke its way through the clouds and dance across the water, making the sea sparkle. It’s in this moment, surrounded by captivating natural landscapes, that I fell in love with this beautiful place. Dingle is a special part of Ireland that with each visit brings unique and magical experiences. I hope you are able to find your own adventure here too.
Photos By: Chelsea Prestin Photography
The Beauty Industry Failed Us By: Taylor Ames
id you know it’s been over 81 years since there has been a major update to the personal care product industry? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that oversees the cosmetic industry last passed a major overhaul back in 1938 when Roosevelt was president. Think of how much has changed since then! A gallon of gas only cost 10 cents. Today, the FDA has virtually no power to regulate our more than 80-billion-dollar (and growing) cosmetic industry with the mere 1.5 pages of regulation in place. So if the FDA isn’t protecting us, who is? I suffer from hormonal imbalances after years of unknowingly abusing my body with environmental toxins. After spending years cleaning up my diet and lifestyle, it finally dawned on me that I should probably look into the products I was slathering on my body every day after I finally got pregnant. I had been buying products that were free of anything harmful, they were adorned with beautiful green leaves, had catchy phrases like “all-natural ingredients” and “dermatologist recommended” so of course they had to be safe, right? I was wrong. Turns out, the little regulation the FDA does have doesn’t include labeling. Companies can put whatever they want on the front of their products and no one is out there to regulate these claims. It wasn’t until I started doing my own research on the ingredients that I realized these so-called “safer” products I had been buying were all just really good at greenwashing. They made me believe I was protecting myself by supporting these brands when in reality they contained ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and more. These big companies with fancy marketing departments had really pissed me off. How was anyone supposed to know this? I thought. Was I the only one who didn’t realize how toxic products on the shelves could be? The more I learned, the more I felt compelled to share. Because who am I if I let my family and friends walk around slathering themselves with the same environmental toxins that wreaked havoc on my body and cause cancer in so many? Turns out, I wasn’t the only one. Millions of people have been using these products every day and have no idea how toxic they can be. There are more than 85,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, and thousands more hitting the market every year. The amount of ingredients banned in the US? 30. Meanwhile, the EU has banned upwards of 1,400. Thousands
of harmful chemicals are roaming the markets and the FDA has virtually no power to regulate them. During a recent hearing on cosmetics reform held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Heath in Washington DC, we learned that the FDA cannot require manufacturers to not use toxic ingredients (for example, formaldehyde - a known carcinogen) in baby lotion. Manufacturers are not required to register with the FDA before selling their lotion nor can the FDA require safety information about said baby lotion. Even more, if the baby lotion caused a bad reaction, the manufacturer is not required to report the reaction to the FDA nor can the FDA force a recall. We saw this recently when big name retailer Claire’s denied the FDA’s request for a recall after their makeup palettes targeted to teens tested positive for asbestos. This small example is one of many that proves we have a long way to go in the industry. If ingredients like formaldehyde, parabens, PEG’s, and Fragrance are even lurking in baby products, how do we protect ourselves and our most vulnerable? Stay informed. It’s not enough to read the front of your product labels. Turn the products around and read the ingredients. Do your research on what those ingredients are and use resources like EWG’s Skin Deep Database if you need assistance. EWG is a nonprofit organization that specializes in third party research and advocacy. Their online database contains thousands of products and rates them based on their safety levels. If your product doesn’t show up, search each ingredient separately to ensure its safety. Looking for somewhere to start? Avoid the word fragrance on your products at all costs. According to the EWG, that single term can house over 3,000 different chemicals and often times contains phthalates, a class of plasticizing chemicals linked to endocrine disruption, lowered sperm count, birth defects and more. Shop with companies you know you can trust and always do your research first. The clean beauty industry is growing but is still woefully under regulated so it’s important to read the ingredients first. Does this anger you like it did me? Get involved! Text BETTERBEAUTY to 52886 and ask your representatives to support more health protective laws. And lastly, follow along. For more information on the state of the industry, how to protect yourself from harmful ingredients and where to shop safer, you can follow along at my Instagram page, @mrstayames! Because at the end of the day, beauty should be good for you.
[Healthy] Healthy Skin Starts Within
By: Dr. Allison Apfelbaum, ND, LMP
t is January 2020 now, this is a perfect time of year for creating new healthy habits. One of the most common health goals my patients have is to achieve clear, healthy, glowing, and radiant looking skin. From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, the health of your skin starts from inside of your body. Use some of these tips and tools to make your New Year Healthy Skin resolutions come to life!
A woman on average puts over 500 chemicals on her body everyday, many of these seeping into the skin, respiratory tract or even orally (lipstick for example). Go to EWG.org the Environmental Working Group for more information. Nailpolish is pretty, but non-organic forms contain things like formaldehyde (an embalming fluid), or flame retardants. These chemicals are highly toxic and some of them are known carcinogens.
Did you know that skin is our largest organ? Whatever is going on inside of the body, can show up on the outside of our skin. Topical products will not treat the real cause of why the skin is breaking out. Glowing skin is happy skin. Detoxification can help keep skin looking radiant. You can do this by sweating, through intense exercise or even sauna. The liver is the main detoxification organ. Support the liver by decreasing alcohol, and prescription drugs that pass through the liver like NSAID’s (like Ibuprofen, tylenol for example). Liver supportive foods include kale, cauliflower, artichoke, cabbage, milk thistle, ginger, turmeric, beets, and cilantro for example. I like to add these to a morning smoothie or crock pot recipe. Think about eliminating toxic things in your environment which includes packaged foods, alcohol, high sugar containing foods, chemicals of any kind (i.e. inorganic household products, cosmetics), and exposure to pesticides from inorganic produce.
Inflammation can also show itself through the skin. Atopic dermatitis also called “eczema” is usually a sign of allergy or inflammation. Other signs of an inflammatory condition are red flushed skin like rosacea, or bright red cystic-like papules filled with fluid. When your skin is inflamed, it usually shows up on the face, scalp or various other parts of the body, and looks dry and red. I like to run allergy and food intolerance testing to find out which foods are inflaming the body. The digestive tract can be linked to inflammation of the skin. Common signs of an inflamed gut include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or reflux. Some of the more common inflammatory foods include dairy, sugar, wheat, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, yeast, or eggs. An imbalance in male/female hormones or stress hormones can also lead to skin changes. I usually see a correlation between jawline/neck acne and hormones. Good quality probiotics can help balance the gut bacteria, along with removing inflammatory foods.
Skin is made up of mostly elastic collagen which needs Vitamin C. This vitamin is responsible for keeping the skin tight and youthful in appearance. When your elasticity of the skin starts to decline, wrinkles, fine lines, and saggy skin start to appear. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant which combats “oxidation” or aging of the skin. It is water soluble and can’t be stored, so you have to take it daily to get the benefits. Oxidation is accelerated by sun damage, stress, chemicals, pesticides, processed foods, toxins like cigarettes or alcohol, and a high sugar diet. The thing is, the habits you are creating now are effecting you whether you can see it or not. Aging is happening, but you can help slow down the process. Increase Vitamin C through diet by eating colorful foods. For example, carrots, citrus, bell peppers, broccoli and fruit have a lot of Vitamin C. Green tea and Turmeric are very powerful antioxidants. I always encourage patients to use organic skincare and household products, even sunscreen.
Let’s talk about fat! Majority of Americans have spent the last 100 years learning to avoid fat. Despite this however, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases have increased. Instead of fat, Americans choose high carbohydrate foods that break down into sugar. Sugar is inflammatory for the body, as well as the skin. The skin has a lipid layer, which supports cell hydration. To keep the skin hydrated, drinking water is important as well as eating healthy fat. Healthy fats are unsaturated, non-hydrogenated, usually plant-based. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory such as walnuts, chia seeds, wild fish, or algae. Omega-9 fats lke avocado, olive oil also support skin health. Animal fats like meat and dairy or fried foods are saturated fats which contribute to skin inflammation (as well as whole body inflammation). Other harmful oils include common vegetable oil, soybean, corn oil, canola, and high-heated oils as these are inflammatory. 1-2 servings of healthy fat per meal should be
This Is... enough to support the healthy lipid layer for the skin. Put chia, avocado and walnuts in your morning smoothie, olive oil and almonds on your lunch salad, and wild salmon at dinner. Having sufficient fat in the cells, reduces oily sebum production which clogs pores. It sounds counterintuitive but by replenishing oil into the cells, oily and dry skin is reduced, creating balance. Consider using an organic cloth to wipe away dirt and makeup, just wash it periodically. A good quality organic moisturizer with SPF works great during the day and at night use something anti-inflammatory like Argan oil, which is high in Omegas to keep skin soft. Make it a part of your skin routine to eat plenty of antioxidants, avoid inflammatory foods, and exfoliate dead skin cells often with an organic scrub cleanser. For an extra boost, you can use topical salt scrub exfoliants, or skin masks for even more hydration. Topical oils can be used as cleansing agents or for moisture, such as hempseed, rosehip, carrotseed, argan oil, olive, or coconut oil. I hope all of these tips help you connect your inside body to your external skin. You are what you eat, and you can be beautiful from the inside out!
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic Primary Care doctor at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine clinic in Woodinville, WA. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com or call 425-408-0040 to schedule. Follow her on Facebook @doctorapfelbaum and Instagram @doctorapfelbaum, and visit her food blog www. FoodLoveBlog.com.
Get Polished Makeup in Five Minutes
By: Tiffany Penton
Photo By: Sara Mark Photography
[How - To]
ver walk away from a makeup counter and wonder how you are going to recreate the same look tomorrow morning? Don’t worry, we all do, and this article is going to give you the best tips and tricks on how to polish up your look in five short minutes! Check out these quick steps and practice, practice, practice. Makeup is done in thin layers, not a lot of product applied all at once. It’s easier and saves time to add another layer but can be tricky to take away. First things first, prep your skin so your makeup will last longer! •
Moisturize, then use a separate sun SPF. The combination moisturizer/ SPFs do not typically have enough daily protection we all need so use two separate products. Skin primer is up next. My favorite is Smashbox Photo Finish. Apply a dime size all over. One of the most important steps I see skipped is eye primer! This should be a separate product specifically for eyes. Foundation and concealers won’t keep eye makeup in place. If you take anything away from this article, purchase a separate eye primer for your eyes. My favorite is MAC Paint Pots. Apply it with a small flat eyeshadow brush, NOT your finger. The oils from your hands will break up the primer so it will not last.
Next up is eye makeup! Yes, I know, you typically do your skin next. We all do - or did! Eyes first because if you have any shadow fallout, you simply wipe it off verses redoing your skin makeup! Genius, right? After we add our eye primer, we have about five minutes until the primer dries and no longer holds the shadow in place. I divide the eyes in three horizontal parts (highlight, crease, and eyelid) working from the top down, which blends perfectly! •
Starting with the brow highlight: We pay so much attention to our brows because they frame our face so highlighting them only makes sense! A highlight color about three shades lighter than your natural skin color. Use a flat brush to apply this on the brow bone. We use a flat brush so more eye shadow color can be dispersed.
This Is... •
Crease: This is the part right above your eyeball but under your brow bone. Use a color about three shades darker than your natural skin tone and is matte. Use a fluffy eyeshadow brush in a windshield wiper motion from the inner corner to your outer corner. If you have a flatter eye shape, you can add this color on the outer corner in tiny circular motions leaving the middle and inner corner free of color. Lid: This is where you can go plain jane or have fun with some unexpected color! Go back to using your flat brush and press gently the desire color on your eyelid. If you want to go with a natural look, use your same highlight color on your eyelid. Liner is next, girlfriend: Don’t skip out on this! My favorite tip for liner is to use a darker eyeshadow like a dark purple, blue, brown, or charcoal and an angle brush. Tilt your head back when applying liner so it flattens out your eye verses stretching your outer corner of your eye out for a straight line. Keep that to a minimum so we don’t add anymore smile lines than we need! Use the same liner technique on the bottom outer corner and use your ring finger to move the slightest bit of shadow all the way into the inner corner.
The hardest part is over! What do you think of your masterpiece? Eye makeup, like anything, gets better with practice so be patient with yourself on this. Don’t worry, I have not forgotten mascara. I apply that at the end to ensure lashes are as dark as possible without any makeup falling on them. Skin is next up! Skin is a very individualized step so this will be different for everyone. I’m a big believer in only covering what needs to be covered up. Every square inch on your face from forehead to chin, ear to ear does not need coverage unless you like the look. The majority of the time, most women DO NOT need daily foundation. •
Start with concealer and a second fluffy eyeshadow brush. Sponges and beauty blenders suck up too much product even if you wet them first. Sponges and hands hold bacteria so I’m a big fan of using clean brushes for makeup application. The small shadow brush will help you apply concealer in specific areas. Typically, we all need some extra love under our eyes, around our nose, and if we have a blemish(es). Once you get the desired coverage, move to setting or sheer coverage powder with a big fluffy brush in a patting motion, skipping foundation altogether. Patting the powder grabs ahold of the concealer to set properly. If you feel like you need a light foundation, use a fluffy foundation brush so it disperses evenly throughout your face after applying concealer. This will blend foundation properly and add a tiny bit of coverage. Contouring is a makeup trend we cannot forget - just try not to get crazy with it. Keep it simple by using an angle blush brush (I love MAC #2 brush) and a powder two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone. Although it may be fun, most of us do not need a contour palette. Use the E 3 method starting by adding a thin layer of contour powder on the side of your forehead moving to below your cheek bones and finish right on your jawline. This should look like your E!
This Is... •
Repeat on the other side of your face for the 3! Don’t forget to do this step in thin layers! Blush is a step I feel 99% of people need. Coral is always safe to add a little pop of happy color. Use a blush brush and add a thin layer to the top of your cheeks. If you feel like there is too much at any time, take your powder brush without any additional product on it and blend it to mute the color.
Photos By: Studio B Portraits
Lashes! Lashes are a huge trend right now. Everyone wants long thick lashes and they are getting them a ton of different ways. We have growth serums, lash extensions, strip lashes, and lash lifts! If you need a bump in the lash department, first try a growth serum and see if that is enough for you. If that is not enough, try a lash lift or extensions. They not only save you time in the morning makeup routine, but these services boost your confidence
by 150%. If you are applying mascara, there are so many different options. Although waterproof mascaras are great to avoid black under eye smudges, they are hard on the health of lashes. Keep waterproof mascara to special occasions only. For a thickening mascara, I love Mabelline Volume Express Falsies! For a great lengthening option, try L’Oreal Telescopic! Layering applies to mascara as well. Add a layer, let it dry for about 30 seconds, then apply another layer. Last, but not least, are Lips! Whether you elect for a vibrant color or a nude, keep your lips hydrated with a lip balm like Lip Whip from Kari Gran! Always keep in mind makeup is fun! It is not rocket science and there are no rules. Find your own version of what makes you feel beautiful and let me know what works! XOXO
BY: MANDY REILLY 18
Photos By: Amanda Vick Creative
A LOVE LETTER TO MY DEAREST BATWINGS, STRETCH MARKS AND THIGHS
owe you all so many apologies. You’ve always been present in my life, but I’ve forsaken you time and time again. For years, I refused to wear anything that would show my body. I wore baggy clothes that matched the baggage I was carrying around inside. Of all the things I inherited from my nana, I got you, Batwings. Tank tops and swimsuits worn by themselves were a childhood dream after that little boy poked and prodded at you, breaking my spirit. I doubt that boy realizes what he did but I will never forget. It was the day I believed I was less than. But these arms? They give the greatest hugs. They can lift my small human and cuddle pets. They do pushups and lift weights and can box pretty well. They hold the hands that create some incredible things. They can do anything thin arms can and they are just a beautiful part of my beautiful body. Oh Stretch Marks. For the longest time I was in denial that you existed on my body. And when I realized that you and I were an inevitable pair, I loathed you something fierce. You were a constant reminder of how I was different than the other girls. That was before I realized that different could be beautiful, too. But these tiger stripes are my mementos of a life well lived. They’re the roadmap of my roads traveled and my greatest adventures. I now wear each of you like badges of honor because you have brought me some of my biggest joys. Without you, I wouldn’t know how to live in the happy times because you’ve seen me through my darkest. My thighs are thunderous, and it’s taken me until my adult years to realize that’s not an insult. When I walk into a room, my thighs help me command attention. My thighs are pillars of my strength, as they’ve held me up when I thought I could no longer continue. My curves wouldn’t be complete without these luscious legs of mine. And these legs have carried me high to the tallest building in my state, along miles I didn’t think I could complete and to memories I’ll hold forever dear to my heart. You never have given up on me, and I promise to treasure your dimples and folds to make up for lost time. My trio of trouble spots, I spent so long being ashamed of you, and for that I’m sorry. You are not the problem at all. I was. Just because you aren’t the “normal” standard of beauty doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful. You are all more beautiful than I gave you credit for. No part of me should be hidden. I should not be hidden. I wish it would have not taken me so long to realize this and I’m sure there will be days that I’m not this confident. But I will live the rest of my life avenging how others have treated you, including how I’ve treated you. I will no longer be ashamed. I will embrace you and show you off because you deserve to be. You are not less than anything. You are more than body parts that I’ve put targets on. You are more than the sum of all of the hatred I’ve thrown your way. You are more than the ways I’ve tried to hide you. You, my precious body, are more than enough. Love, Your Owner
The Beauty Economy Is Wasting Our Time By: Allie W. 20
Photo By: Albertine
uckled into a luxury SUV and driving down a tree-lined parkway on the way to Ulta, a beta version of Sephora popular in suburbs, a friend and I took turns rattling off the names of products we regularly restocked in pursuit of looking presentable. First came daily consumables: Living Proof shampoo and conditioner, weightless, oil-free foundation, a good brow pencil and clump-proof mascara, pigmented eye shadow, a moisturizing lip color that wasn’t too sheer and wasn’t too bold – just right for the office. Each product we named reminded us of others in our rotations: Sunday Riley skincare suites, Peter Thomas Roth serums, thoughtfully engineered hairdryers seen in Vogue. Hell, once we were reminded of the effort we put into protection and prevention, why not list our other physical self-improvement commitments, too? Our list ballooned to include Pilates classes, gel manicures, blowouts, peels, and facials. What had started out as a humorously indignant exercise of commiseration over the price of beauty maintenance felt heavier by the quarter-mile. By the time we walked through Ulta’s glass doors and into its fluorescent maze of prescriptive display copies (“GRAB YOUR MUST-HAVES,” “REFRESH YOUR LOOK”), our girls’ shopping jaunt felt far less fun. After all, there are only so many times you can be told you need to punch up your “glow” before you feel the urge to chuck a tray of glimmering $50 vials through a window at Coty corporate with a screech of “GLOW THIS, assholes!” I’ve changed my personal habits since then, but at peak monetary and emotional investment, my annualized beauty-related expenses were over $4,000, split between makeup,skincare, hair products and treatments, manicures, pedicures, eyelash extensions, activewear, food-tracking apps, and miscellany like teeth whitening and fake tanning. That staggering $4,000 is a significant sum that would represent a good-sized principal if I put it in an investment account. Alternatively, that $4,000 could be two months of rent for a nice apartment, a solid down payment for a car, or a couple of brand-new Apple MacBooks. Instead, I spent that $4,000 to look merely ordinary-good, not supermodel-ready-forParis good. And I know several women who spend far more than that.
When I share the frustrating details of my beauty routines and expenses with men, they’re generally quick to eschew the commiseration aspect of sympathetic conversation that I get from girlfriends (“ugh, same”) and launch straight into suggestions and rejections such as, “I’m sure nothing would change if you stopped doing all of this,” and, most commonly, “Have you tried just not buying makeup?” The reality, however, is that buying into the beauty economy is practically required of a woman trying to exist in our culture and workforce. If a woman doesn’t pay up, the research says the social and economic opportunity cost is high. Olga Khazan of The Atlantic calls this gendered expectation placed on women the “makeup tax,” and sums it up as: women are rated “more competent, likeable, and attractive,” generally get paid more, and tend to be considered for more “prestigious jobs” if they wear makeup. And while “good-looking men and good-looking women both get ahead…men aren’t expected to wear makeup in order to look good.” Marie Claire even cites a number to put that “tax” into perspective: “Women pay $151 billion in extra fees and markups that men don’t have to pay,” largely on beauty products and treatments. There are race and class ramifications of the “makeup tax,” too. Savanna Swain-Wilson at The Financial Diet argues that low-income women – without the disposable income to invest heavily in the beauty economy – risk facing rejection by biased employers. Additionally, women of color may be disproportionately punished if perceived as deviating from American beauty norms and practices that predominantly privilege white looks. Add onto all of this the more mundane, below-theradar impacts, like the day-to-day psychological effect that our cultural makeup and beauty expectation has on women who feel pressured to comply. Khazan writes that though some women “contend they only wear makeup ‘to boost their confidence’… the reason they feel less confident when they don’t wear it is that there’s an expectation they will.” It’s not so much that wearing makeup wins women bonus points from society, but that our culture will find ways to dock points from us if we don’t wear it. Have you ever felt embarrassed to run into an ex while
This Is... barefaced at the store? Apologized to a colleague for your appearance while running late in the morning? Felt simultaneously exposed and invisible in a highstakes social situation where you were the only woman who didn’t get the highlight-and-contour memo? If you even remotely related to any of these, the makeup tax is warping your concept of normalcy and costing you valuable brain time – as it does me. I think back to a trip I took with a friend during a spring holiday season. An unfortunate set of circumstances – including a poorly timed bag check, a flight cancellation and a next-day rebooking – resulted in my friend’s separation from her makeup bag. Her daily essentials sat at the wrong airport before being delivered, days late, to our hotel room. She described the experience as one during which she felt alternately invisible and like an object of judgment: she was thrown strange looks, snapped at, and overlooked when she needed to get someone’s attention in a place of business. What was also striking to me was how going makeup-free for a few busy days changed her very comportment. Until she could put her face back on, it was like she had gotten shorter, quieter, somehow less sparkly, and more avoidant of eye contact. It’s the same way I tend to feel when out in the world without being made-up. I realize that the beauty compulsion is so deeply a part of my own psychology that, one day three years ago, while lying wracked with a mysterious stomach pain in an urgent care center, my chief worry was not about my medical issues but about how I looked to my caregivers. I’d barely had time to finish my morning routine when I collapsed and had to be poured into a car by a friend, so while a nurse showed me a pain scale chart, I was mentally far way, preoccupied with my appearance. Were my eyebrows under control? Could I sneak away to even out my foundation with shaky fingertips? Does some of this map onto your experiences, too? Are you exhausted? Angry? You should be. Our self-esteem is being trampled and our brain time is being hijacked so that we’ll empty our wallets and willpower to the detriment of our health, time, and economic livelihood. There are multiple industries banking on our insecurity and perfectionism when it comes to physical beauty: literally getting paid to wear us down and waste our time. At this point, companies hardly have to work at marketing their wares to us, because the idea
that women in particular need to spend, spend, spend on products and procedures disguised as self-care is so deeply tangled up with our idea of what a successful, healthy, competent and self-possessed modern woman looks like. Beauty retailers need us to think we are one long-wear foundation away from fashion model flawlessness, or one plumping/hydrating lip lacquer away from having our shit together. A woman aggressively made to be insecure by beauty prescriptions is a woman who is easily sold on things and on the implicit messages tied to them. The way “an ordinary woman evolves into an ideal,” after all, is by being dedicated to “reproducing the lessons of the marketplace” . Not only does the pursuit of beauty drain our bank accounts, it costs us something even more precious: our time. Even just an hour spent grooming every morning comes out to over two weeks of time a year, and assuming we begin our primping routines at age sixteen and carry on until retirement, that comes out to 735 full days of beautification. That’s a staggering two years. And that’s not inclusive of all the other time we might spend sweating on an elliptical, agonizing over a serving of carbs we had for lunch, or scrolling through Instagram feeling on the verge of tears looking at influencers’ flattering photos. What complicates all of this – maddeningly – is that I can’t shake the conviction that I still enjoy the stubborn pursuit of beauty and all it entails. I take expensive megaformer classes. I get stars in my eyes seeing all the glittering, bottled things at Sephora. I trade nail color recommendations with friends and fantasize about Botox and fillers. But as commentator Jia Tolentino points out in her essay collection Trick Mirror, “it’s hard to say how much you can genuinely, independently like what amounts to a mandate.” Over the years, like any compliant member of our culture, I’ve done so many things in the name of beauty that I’ve both enjoyed and resented, unable to tell where my own tastes end and societal pressures begin. Dollars per year, hours per lifetime, stress endured, pain tolerated – however you measure it, what the makeup tax represents to me is a tragic drain on the energies and talents of modern women. But I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe it’s to vote with our dollars, so to speak. Writer Courtney E. Martin sug-
This Is... gests that “your money is your mouth…support companies and causes that make the effort, even if based on the bottom line, to support your healthy body image.” Maybe we can reset our idea of normal by exposing ourselves mainly to media showing realistic female images. Maybe it starts with doing the math on what we could have built for ourselves by now if we weren’t buying into the beauty economy with escalating investment, and battling the associated stress and anxiety. What, for instance, could I have done instead with all the cash I converted into lashes and highlights? What could I do with the hours per week I’d gain back if I didn’t feel compelled to face each morning with perfect makeup and a cute outfit, or to spend my evenings sweating in Pilates classes? And how much more would I enjoy my life if I didn’t turn a self-critical eye upon every meal consumed? As long as there remains a critical mass of us still actively performing and conforming to consumerist ideals of beauty, the pressures we feel will keep being produced and reproduced among us. So regardless of the details, I’m with Martin when she pictures norms relaxing and pressures lessening only once a few brave women choose to step through the “looking glass,” reject pageantry, and inspire others to follow.
Sou rc e s Fister, Suzannah and Smith, Gregory - “Media Effects on Expectancies: Exposure to Realistic Female Images as a Protective Factor” Khazan, Olga- “The Makeup Tax” Mazzone, Dianna - “Money Spent On Beauty Products Women Versus Men” Swain-Wilson, Savanna - “Why I Think Beauty Spending Is A Necessity, Not A Luxury” Tolentino, Jia - Trick Mirror: Reflections on SelfDelusion
[ Pa rt y T i m e ]
Beauty & Business Event
This Is... Question: What do you get when you mix four female-entrepreneur speakers, a complimentary lip and brow bar, boutique shopping, a leadership consulting company as the host and badass boss babes in the crowd? Answer: The ultimate Beauty & Business Event. Thanks to the hosting genius of Nobility Leadership, the gorgeous venue at Alair Seattle, the beauty and brains of Sweet P Beauty, the donated energy drinks and greek yogurt dessert from Drink Allin and Ellenos Yogurt, the photography skills of Sam of Lost Found Design, the beautiful backdrop created by the artistic talent from Lauren of Good Sheila Co, the donated Leading Ladies sign by Claire of Scrolling Calligraphy, and the massive group of amazing women who attended, this was the women in business networking event of the year. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s purpose? To create a space where we could genuinely connect with like-minded women who are passionate about personal career growth. Unlike a traditional networking event, this event had no awkward elevator pitches or exchanging of business cards that ended up at the bottom of our purses. Instead, we heard from an incredible panel of four inspring women in business - Crystal of Nobility Leadership, Shandon of Alair, Tiffany of Sweet P Beauty and Tatum of This Is... Magazine - as they talked through struggles they have faced as women in business and how they are overcoming them. Instead of being talked at we had a conversation with each other and talked all things women in business. After all, the only rule was no boys allowed. And, as we got to know each other, we discovered the different ways we think beauty and business relate. From making ourselves feel beautiful to put our best foot forward so we can boost our confidence as we head into that business meeting to our business accomplishments making us feel our beauty from the inside out, the thoughts were endless but one thing was certain: our beauty and our business are ours and no one elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to own, control or dictate.
Universal Standard 26
This Is... By: Tatum Garino
ure, you can find them at Nordstrom, but why not experience one of Universal Standard’s 1:1 spaces in New York, Houston, Chicago, Portland, or, the one I visited, Seattle? Self-described as “A space for all of us. As we are,” Universal Standard’s 1:1 spaces serve as a space where you can shop in a unique way, hang out or even host - all with the goal of connection, intimacy, and experience. I had the honor of attending the Seattle space’s opening celebration where co-founder Alexandra Waldman made an appearance for an open, honest and inspiring interview regarding Universal Standard. And, for a brand focused on “Fashion Freedom,” I found myself in the audience feeling trapped by my own ignorance as Alex spoke about the inspiration behind the brand and the clothes they make. As I sat there listening to Alex talk about how she struggled to find a t-shirt that didn’t have a puppy or a kitten on it that was in her size because she found herself being either infantilized or hyper-sexualized or “middle-grounded” where you look like you’re going to a baby shower in the suburbs by the clothes offered in her size and struggling with the fact that none of those tropes were her, I realized I had never considered
that perspective because I had never dealt with that experience. But the beauty of Universal Standard is that as I sat in the audience, feeling ignorant beyond belief, I didn’t feel like an outcast or judged because that’s not what the brand is about - it’s not about size. According to Alex, it’s about access - it’s about giving women access to great clothes and Universal Standard is here to create great clothes for all women. Their goal? To show the fashion industry it can be done well so that the rest of the industry joins them. And Universal Standard is doing it well. With the “See it in your size” option on their website, you get to select your size and only see real, not computer-generated, women in all the clothes on the site. Why? Because Universal Standard is in the business of creating the new normal and because “when you see jeans everywhere in the world and there are none that take you into consideration, you feel othered.” So instead, Universal Standard offers their jeans, and all other clothing pieces, in sizes from 00 to 40. And, with their “elevated essentials,” you’re able to build a fantastic wardrobe upon which you can build your own style because, as Alex put it, “the clothes that we wear are the armor we wear out into the real world.”
This Is... [ Yours]
Ideas f or Creating a Beauti ful Home
On Raising Beautiful Daughters:
Just Tell Her Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Smart and Feed Her Pepperoni Pizza
This Is... By: JL Rosa
I have worn black eyeliner every day since 6th grade. At first, I would wake up early so my sister could do my makeup before she left for school. I eventually learned to do it myself and proceeded to line my eyes with the same Avon black liner every single day until I discovered nude eyeliner and made the switch at 28. My rooted love for black eyeliner still makes its appearance, just no longer every day. I am now 31 and I can count the times on one hand I’ve gone to school, work, or a social activity without being made up. Three times. One instance was the day after my 13-week-old puppy was hit by a car and passed. The remaining two times were during my second pregnancy, on days when work was stressful to the point of tears and I spent the night prior not sleeping. So every other day of my life, I follow a very similar morning routine. I didn’t grow up watching my mother perfect her face every day, she literally wears nothing on her face, except for when attending parties, and for those occasions I’m generally the one doing her make up for her. So, I assume that I came to the conclusion at thirteen that the image of beauty was black eyeliner and straightened hair because of the media and my peers. My hair straightening skills are purely self-taught and took quite some time to master. I started with my brick-sized, CVS-bought Revlon iron and today I’m satisfied with my Chi. I am a naturally curly haired brunette, but I’ve been a redhead, blonde, and even had purple hair! I’ve also had many hairstyles: my natural curls, iron curls (which I usually have to pay for), of course straightened hair and my relaxed style, a messy bun. I’ve taken Accutane to cure my horrible teenage acne and if you’re not familiar with the medicine, it carries some hefty side effects and risks, and requires testing and monitoring during usage. I’ve even searched for creams and remedies to lighten the freckles left on my face from sun exposure. I’ve said it before, I’ve been fat, I’ve been skinny, and I’ve been average weight. I’ve struggled with body image my whole life; even at my lowest weight I thought I was still overweight. I’ve worn trendy clothes which I swore I never would (i.e. Uggs and skinny jeans). But the one thing I have always been is true to myself, and with that comes being a strong, opinionated woman. I am this way because even though I didn’t watch my mother do her makeup everyday, I watched her work multiple jobs to help support our family, come home every night to
cook us a home-cooked meal, and still show up to every school function. Don’t get me wrong, my dad was great too, but this is my mom’s time to shine! In high school, I took a class about race, class, gender and ethnicity taught by an amazing teacher who felt very passionately about the subject. Among many other topics, he would preach about not allowing his daughters to play with Barbie Dolls as they promote an unrealistic body image to young girls. We’d dissect Disney movies to point out the racism and ultimately wash them down to every princess betraying her family for a man, whom she usually needs to save her. Unsurprisingly, his daughters weren’t allowed to watch these either. At the time, I remember thinking these are great points, which is why I’m going to parent my children in a similar manner. But as it’s said, you are the best parents until you have kids. I had it all planned out before having my first daughter. She'd only eat a serving size of snacks. She'd drink a cup of water before being served a cup of juice. She was going to eat whatever we cooked for the family, no kid meals. We would not force gender stereotypes on her her nursery had minimum pink and I swore princess was never a word we'd use to describe her. The first year after she was born, I followed many of these rules. She was a great eater, loved fruits and veggies. I'd buy her clothes with dinosaurs and planets in addition to the over the top girly things other people bought. When she was old enough to grasp it, I'd ask people to not tell her she was getting big, because it's just as easy to say, "You've grown so much!" and to not tell her that her pretend makeup made her pretty. But, fast forward to my three and a half year old who lives on snacks, chicken nuggets, pasta, and apple juice, twirling around the living room in her Disney princess dress (this month she’s obsessed with Rapunzel, but that could change any second) with matching shoes and crown, covered in "mommy's makeup" and admiring herself, which I know because the look on her face tells me she feels beautiful.
When writing this article, I turned to my Instagram followers to find some mothers of girls who could help me understand their parenting style as it relates to beauty. Because you know, it takes a village. And I was pleasantly surprised to get replies!
This Is... Meet the Moms…
Michelle was one of the first Mom friends I made after having my daughter! She was a student of mine when I taught “mommy and me” fitness classes. Her daughter is four years old, just about eleven months older than my daughter. She also has twin boys! Anneliese is a childhood neighbor and a very close family friend. Her daughter is three. She also has an older son. Indicka is a friend from middle school. Her daughter is a teenager. I thought it was totally cool to see her perspective from a different age group! She has a younger son as well. Brianna is a friend from high school. Her daughter is eleven, so again, a completely new perspective to me! Currently, her daughter is her only child. So, what is my definition of beauty? I want to tell you I think it’s more than a surface word that describes appearances, but I’m having a hard time disassociating society’s definition of the word. The Moms were way better at answering this! Michelle: Qualities that make us unique and special in our own ways. Anneliese: I think there are multiple forms of beauty. The aesthetically pleasing generic form of beauty and then there is a deeper form that is personal to each person. Indicka: Beauty to me is fully embracing your Godgiven features and being comfortable enough with yourself to overcome other people's standards of "what you should be." Beauty is natural and unique. Beauty is a pure representation of you, whether it be your physical appearance or your inner light shining from within. Beauty cannot be limited to how well other people perceive your physical appearance. The characteristics from which your personality is built, also define, if not highlight, the best and most attractive parts of the self. Brianna: I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty doesn’t have to come from appearance. I believe your heart, soul, personality and confidence play major roles in the beauty of a person. During our conversation, Anneliese made a valid point, one I never really thought of. She said, “I try not
to teach her beauty, as I try not to sway her opinion on what is beautiful. I try to let her determine what is beautiful.” It seems Michelle agreed, for she said, “I allow her to make choices for herself that make her feel good and build self-esteem and confidence.” Lesson learned, I have to let some of it go. For starters, I’m going to have to embrace the hot mess hair. From an older daughter perspective, Indicka mentioned that she tries to compliment her daughter the most while in her natural state and reminds her that there is no need to alter this state. When it came to Brianna’s method, she ended up being more of my “inner mom goals” and said, “I have been teaching her that it’s always what’s on the inside that counts. I encourage her and tell her daily that she is smart so that she knows looks aren’t everything and that she has more to offer besides beauty.” We all agreed that it seems to be first nature to give compliments based on appearances, so people tend to tell our girls how beautiful they are versus how smart they are. But overall, society is shifting to focus on strong women and unique beauty instead of the historical idea of one look every girl conforms to - i.e. my black eyeliner and straightened hair. In today’s society, we are seeing inclusivity, all body shapes, ethnicities, and gender preferences in the media. Anneliese pointed out, “I think that having strong independent women to look up to, like Elsa and Moana, will help her find her own path. I am a successful professional and she is surrounded by successful women, and I can only hope that through us she learns that beauty comes in many forms and to look far beyond the generic.” However, as mothers, there is a strong fear that social media is pressuring and possibly ridiculing our girls as they grow up. This can be seen most with Indicka’s teenage daughter. She says, “Her understanding of beauty used to be quite vain. She valued herself based on the opinions of her peers. She acquired the things they wanted, and she used those objects to gain their admiration. That admiration led to an incredible case of ‘big-headedness,’ which she submerged herself in, happily I might add. It wasn't until she decided to make changes to herself, which weren't always held in highregards by her classmates, that she started to devalue their opinions and embrace her own ‘self-growth.’” Indicka has already seen her daughter go through many beauty trends like artificial nail treatments, eyebrow defining, and temporary hair extensions. I often find myself trying to explain disappointment to A. For example, not everyone is going to want to be your best
This Is... friend and some people won’t like your favorite shoes. I do this with hope that when she encounters those bullies, whether in person or on social media, she’ll still feel confident in her choices and will not allow their opinions to validate her own. As for gender stereotyped toys, the Moms again agreed that they allow their daughters to play with things that encourage them to express their individuality and creativity. Barbie dolls and makeup are allowed, with exceptions - sorry old high school teacher. At some point as a child, I decided I wouldn’t play with a Barbie Doll that didn’t look like me. At that time, Barbie’s brown haired friend, Theresa, wasn’t very popular. Brianna once also questioned her daughter’s doll preferences, “I remember when she was younger she would gravitate to a blonde long haired doll and I asked her, ‘Why don’t you like the dolls that look like you?’ and she said, ‘No reason, I like all of them.’ She is very diverse in her play without my guidance and I love that.” I do find myself buying more dolls that resemble A’s appearance, but I have to remember that is my influence. In fact, I’m told her imaginary friend Stella has yellow hair and blue eyes, so sometimes she’ll ask for dolls that resemble Stella. Now-a-days, Barbie comes in a variety of sizes and ethnicities and Barbie has any career you can imagine, a business woman, dentist, pilot, scientist, construction worker, athlete, rock star.
The Conclusion It's crazy how observant children are. I never introduced makeup to my daughter, but she watched me do my makeup every day before work and following in my footsteps she now likes to do her pretend makeup before school too and asks to wear makeup to parties. The same goes for the scale, as she'll now stand on it and ask how tall she is. She's not making the full connection to the scale but my momma heart loves it, and what makes me even happier is hearing my husband say, "Wow, you weigh 32 pounds, good job!" instead of associating negativity to it. I recently told her that she’d be getting all dressed up for an event at school and she reminded me that I’d have to blow her hair out. I’m telling you, it starts so young and I feel like part of that is my fault.
mess” enough times that she now thinks it’s a hair style on the day’s menu of options. Elsa braid, Anna braids, bun, ponytail, Belle hair, and hot mess (i.e just left down in her face). Sometimes I’ll ask if daddy did her hair before school when it looks, ya know, like a hot mess, and she’ll tell me, “Yea, it looks fabulous.” I guess if she’s confident, I should let her rock it. I know every generation says it, but it really is a different time to be raising a daughter. Sometimes it can be scary actually; there are so many struggles we’re still facing and the world can be an ugly place. But, I try to remind myself to look past the hate and see the beauty in the world. With that, we can continue to point out this beauty that is not physical or skin deep and focus on teaching these things to our daughters. While I find it very endearing when my daughter plays with my hair after I’ve straightened it and tells me she thinks I look beautiful, my heart is so full when I see her being kind to another child or being brave when the same courtesy is not given to her. I’ve learned a lot from talking to my fellow moms with their experiences with their daughters. Mostly I’ve learned how much my daughter teaches me instead of me teaching her. These mamas really made me think about letting her lead the way. When she tells me she doesn’t like an outfit, I will try to respect her opinion, because this girl knows what she wants, and as a strong woman I should embrace that quality in her. Amongst the Barbie and American Girl doll items on this year’s Christmas list, A also wanted a PJ Mask truck with action figures. And when I told her she could wear her favorite outfit to school for “Favorite Fashion Day,” instead of picking a fancy dress like I assumed she would, she chose to be a superhero. As the Moms pointed out to me, maybe it’s all about balance. I will continue to tell her she’s beautiful, because I think it’s important for her to hear, but I will also continue to tell her she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s brave, and most importantly how proud I am of her. Someday, my hope is that she’ll be able to disassociate beauty from appearance and body image in a way I haven’t been able. I’m learning this is her journey and I’m just here to provide as much direction as I can.
I have found it hard not to pass my own insecurities off on her. If I’m being honest, I have a huge fear that her poor diet, which I’m technically teaching her, will lead to obesity at some age and she’ll hate me. I’ve said things like, “We need to do your hair because it’s a hot
By: Samantha Witt
Learning to Love Myself
’ve hated myself since I was about 6 years old. This is not an understatement. I started despising my body around the time I started being told by people in my life that it wasn’t perfect. Growing up in a small town with small town ideals and values in addition to being sort of a “chubby” kid is likely what contributed to this the most. I may have been a little bigger than the other little girls my age by society’s standards at that time. I remember getting dropped off at the city pool in my cute new two piece bathing suit and overhearing an adult tell another adult that my mother should have never let a girl “her size” put on a two piece. I was so embarrassed that I never put on that cute new swim suit again. My dear family told me it was just my genes and that I was big-boned while feeding me Cheerios with 2 tablespoons of added sugar because it made them taste better. What the hell does “big-boned” even mean?! I lived on this premise for legitimately 25 years thinking that there was no way I’d ever be small enough to be considered beautiful because of an uncontrollable thing such as the size of my bones. Nonetheless, as a 6-year-old being told such a thing by family members, who I valued, I believed every word they said. I told myself that the other girls were luckier than me and that I would just have to live with this unfairness my whole life and I’d never be considered pretty by anyone. I grew up in a semi-religious family as well - my dad would take my sister and I to church on his Sundays and make me take notes so that I would stay awake. This helped me to develop a healthy fear of the unknown and death, and I felt that God somehow must have hated me and made me fat on purpose. I remember I would pray at night and cry and beg for God to change my body overnight so I could wake up skinny. I believed from the time I was six that I was unlovable because of my size. When I started public school it got worse - much worse. I was tortured for my weight. Boys would spit on me and call me awful names like “marshmallow fingers.” They would poke me in my stomach in the lunch line and call me the “Pillsbury Dough Girl.” Mind you, I was not a fat kid, chubby maybe, but not fat. However, for the duration of my school
life and into adulthood I told people I was the fat girl in school. When I finally started therapy in my 30s, and referred to myself as such, my therapist asked me to bring in a photo album for us to look at together. She wanted to see my size in comparison to other girls my age. Reality check - I was probably 2-3 pant sizes bigger than my friends, but because I lived in a small town I was one of maybe two other girls who were slightly larger than the rest. I was not fat. I was also not unlovable because of my weight, but I fully believed I was. The adults didn’t make this easy on me either. In PE, there were activities we were required to participate in that, as a heavy set kid, set me up for failure and then subsequently were publicly humiliating. Rope climbing? First of all, a couple of small mats at the bottom of a 20-foot rope are not going to prevent a bone from breaking for kids that could actually climb that damn rope, Mr. PE coach. I couldn’t climb the rope, not even one stupid foot, while the entire class stood circled around the mats watching and laughing at me while I tried. PE was literal hell for me. I was told I wasn’t trying hard enough and that if I didn’t eat donuts I’d be able to do these ridiculous activities. I am not trying to say that PE is not a beneficial activity in schools. Children need activity and exercise - my complaint is the public humiliation and unrealistic expectations that all children should be able to compete on the same level. At home things weren’t much better. My mother was heavy and would rollercoaster diet constantly. When my mom would diet, we would have to as well because it wasn’t fair if she was the only one who was having to eat healthy in the house. I think I was about 10 when I was on my first diet. She was also married to a physically and mentally abusive man who I lived in fear of for many years. Once, she was talking about how fun it would be if we ever got to go to Hawaii. We were not financially able to go on vacations so Hawaii was sort of a pipe dream anyway, but regardless of the unlikelihood that we would ever afford to go, he laughed at her and said, “You can’t go to Hawaii. Hawaii is only for skinny people.” When I actually did get to go to Hawaii many many years later, there were a plethora of overweight people there and I remember thinking back to that conversation and how ridiculous of a thing that was to say to someone and yet I still held
This Is... onto that frame of reference most of my life. In middle school, I liked this boy a lot. He was nice to me - not like the other ones who were so terrible. He never made fun of me to my face, so I was under the delusion that maybe I could fit in with my friends and have a boyfriend, too. Due to all of the public ridicule I endured I was terrified to attempt to ask him out to his face. Instead, I asked one of my “friends” to tell him I liked him and ask if he might like me back. By the next passing period, I had a hallway of kids pointing and laughing at me, joking that the fat girl liked said boy. He was mortified that I liked him, I was mortified for what happened and we didn’t speak again for two years. Welcome: Fear of Rejection. I became “one of the guys” after that. The girl who was so non-girly it wasn’t even funny. I hung out with the boys, but it was very specifically obvious that I was to never have a crush on any of them. Sometime after high school, I worked at a ski resort and ended up working with the mother of one of the guys I secretly had a crush on in high school. She loved me - the moms always loved me, just not the guys. She actually told me she had had a conversation with her son about how she wished he would date me, and then felt the need to inform me that he had told her he didn’t even consider me a girl, that I was just one of the guys, and that would be so weird. Gee, thanks. I think I started emotionally eating when I was around 15. It was almost like a self fulfilling prophecy. I ate because I couldn’t control how I was treated and since no one was ever going to love me anyway the food became a comfort in a world where I felt so invisible. By the time I graduated I weighed over 200 pounds. I hated how I looked but I didn’t know how to love myself or learn how to treat my body the way it so desperately deserved to be treated. I couldn’t wait to get out of that small town so I moved to the farthest away college in the state that I possibly could. During this carefree time when I was “supposed to” experiment and date and be reckless I was so reserved and painfully shy that even when I did like someone who I thought actually liked me back, I couldn’t do anything about it because I was paralyzed by the fear that if I made a move I would be publicly humiliated for it. Because of this, I just stopped trying and settled into a pretty depressed state where I ate, felt sorry for myself for eating and felt completely invisible to all men. All of my friends dated and had plenty of boyfriends and irresponsible sex. At this point, the only kiss I ever had was in drama class in 11th grade where I was forced to
kiss someone for a class grade. My first fucking kiss was robbed and the boy who had to kiss me was made fun of for it. I did start trying to take care of myself when I was about 19. I didn’t have a job so I walked miles upon miles when I wasn’t studying and drank gallons of water every day to try and lose weight. I went to Europe for three months and lost quite a bit because the food is better quality there and I walked around 13 miles per day. Even with this, I still was never small enough to be considered thin. When I came home I had a different mentality and was getting ready to go to school again for a commercial photography program. I had discovered a passion and wanted to pursue that passion but I was also incredibly lonely. I had many friends but I had never felt seen, really seen, by anyone. Then he showed up. I worked for his family during the summers and had always sort of had a crush on him because he seemed like he really had his shit together, which was very unlike the other guys I had crushes on in the past. He was the first guy to pay attention to me in the way I desperately wanted. I didn’t even know we were on a date the first time we went out and thought it was so weird that he wanted to pay for my movie. He kissed me and I remember thinking on my way home that this was it. This is the person I waited so long for and even though I wasn’t even sure if I was really attracted to him this might be the only chance I was ever going to get for love. I should also mention that I failed out of my first attempt at college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. When I went to photography school, I had straight A’s. I wanted to work for Rolling Stone and be the next Annie Lebovitz. I was pretty good at it too, and actually had plans to move to California to attend a well renowned photography school to complete their commercial program. But, I was torn because I finally had a taste of what I had wanted all those years - someone who saw me and held my hand and said nice things to me. The problem was he didnt want to move to California. Right before we were supposed to leave on a trip to check out places to live, he decided to test my love for him. We were joking around one night and all of a sudden he shut down, told me I didn’t love him enough, stopped talking to me and then left me sitting alone in my apartment, shocked, totally confused and crying only to come back 20 minutes later to say he was joking all along. That was the day I gave him all of my power. I backed out of moving to California and instead relocated to Seattle where he lived. We got married - in Hawaii, of all places - and had two children.
This Is... In between my daughter and my son I was the heaviest I had ever been and felt sickened by the sight of myself. Even now I look back on photos of me at that time and realize just how sad I really was and how desperately I needed to show love for myself and my body. I didn’t want to instill the hatred I had for myself in my daughter. I would try to diet but would fail after only losing a few pounds and at that time I was a stay-at-home mom sitting on the couch most of the day, editing family portraits from the small business I was building and running a resale shop online with little to no physical activity at all. I was on the internet a lot and found some information one day about the Lap-Band. It seemed like the quick fix, a relatively inexpensive trend that was actually working for people and I was hooked. I went to Mexico and let a doctor sew a device into my body to help me stop eating. I will repeat that: I left my baby at home with my mother, went to Tijuana, Mexico to let a doctor I had never met operate on my body because I hated myself so much that I didn’t care if I lived or died as long as it meant I would be thin and beautiful. I didn’t lose the weight. Of course I didn’t. I was still depressed and hated myself on top of having babies to take care of and a husband who subsequently also didn’t love himself. After my son was born I was having a lot of problems with the band, though I wasn’t shocked. I went to see a U.S. surgeon to have the device removed because I hadn’t lost weight and was in constant pain from it. I ended up qualifying for a gastric bypass surgery because by insurance standards, my band was a failure. So now I could add weight loss surgery failure to my list of reasons to hate myself. It's hard for me to even type this out because many people do not know this aspect of my life. I went through the motions, had the life changing surgery and spent the next year and a half losing over 100 pounds. This shocked my body into losing the weight and it felt great to actually be able to shop at stores and find things that fit me. I was embarrassed that I had the surgery. I’m actually still working through this part of my story because I feel that there is a stigma attached to people who have gastric bypass surgery. Honestly though, having it done saved my health and my life and I’d do it again if I had the choice. It forced me to re-learn how I approached my relationship with food because I was not physically able to overeat. It did not, however, teach me to love myself. And even though I was finally thin, the body dysmorphia was still terrible - I still saw a heavy girl in the mirror.
The next eight years are a blur of life gone by. I was thin but still hated my body. I was thin but was in a psychologically abusive marriage and didn’t believe I deserved better because I still hated myself. I was thin but I was going through the trauma of losing several people very close to me and my dog to cancer. Grief is an intense barrier to clear vision. I was thin but I wanted to die. I didn’t have a big wake up call. There were a series of events that led to me finally making the decision to walk away from my 12 year marriage and that’s a story for another time. When I did leave, I was truly alone in my thoughts for the first time in many years. My family wasn’t necessarily supportive of my decision at first. I was trying my hardest to shield my children from my pain as they were dealing with their own and this is when I started to really decide to try and change my mentality. I realized at some point along the way that I was a fraction of the girl I was when I was 19. I look back at that time and realize I was pretty happy and fun. I hated my body but I loved music and dancing. I loved going out in the woods, taking long drives and being with friends. I loved traveling and riding my bike in the summer with my grandpa. I realized that my children had never seen that version of me. The only mom they had ever known was one who was sad, unhealthy and constantly side stepping conflict in order to keep everyone else happy. Over the past year I have made good and bad decisions in the process of learning to love myself. About six months after I left I decided it was time to try and date. This decision was not made because I wanted a relationship again. It was mostly just out of curiosity of what else was out there because I didn’t have that crazy 20s phase and I had never been single and thin. I recklessly dated a few guys for about five months before I realized that I was not setting boundaries with my heart and my body. These guys were not there to see me, they were there for sex, and while sex is fun, it very quickly gets exhausting to deal with men who are very obviously not putting your needs or interests at heart. After a particularly bad first date, I deleted all of the apps I was on, sat in front of my mirror and made an actual verbal agreement with myself that I was going to hyper focus on learning to love and find contentment in myself. I hung positive affirmations on my mirror in my bathroom and started reading them every time I saw them. I get completely ready in front of a mirror naked every day and tell myself the parts of my body that I love.
I started listening to podcasts about positive mindset and playing music instead of watching TV. I eat healthy foods, take vitamins, and meditate. I take myself on dates and buy myself flowers. On the anniversary of the day I left my husband I got a tattoo of a poem that helped to save me. It was placed in an incredibly painful location to have a tattoo and its forever marked on my body to remind me that I am alive and I have a voice and I am enough just as I am. I post pictures of myself and my body on Instagram, which was a huge step out of my comfort zone of usually just sharing home decor and nature photography. I also hung pictures of myself as a little girl when I was between the ages of six and 16 years old. Those were the times when I really needed to develop a love for myself so I talk to that little girl and tell her things I needed to hear back then. I do visualizations back to those times when I felt humiliated and I change the story in my head. Instead of being laughed at, I hold out my hand to her, hug her and whisper to her that she tried and that even if she couldn’t climb the stupid rope she was worthy of being loved and applauded for trying. I’m not worried about validation or for a man to come along and save me. I saved myself. I’m rebuilding my career and my kids are finally seeing a version of their mom that loves herself, is seeking true joy and loving living life. I’m not in a hurry. If love finds me somewhere down the road, that’s great. But I’m not talking about any love. The only love I want anymore is true connection - the kind that complements my life with someone who also loves themselves the way I do. I don’t need to be taken care of because I can take care of myself. Now, instead of telling myself that I’m worthy of being seen, I tell myself out loud, “I see you. You are enough, you are worthy, you are beautiful and I love you.” For the first time ever, I really mean it.
This Is... Okay so here’s the deal I’ve been getting waxed for years! Like I was the pioneer of my group of friends to have someone in the bat cave waxing it. Well, on this one occasion I was laying down minding my own business trying not to totally kick the crap out of this poor lady who pulled the unlucky draw to be down there. Well she went in laid down the wax (yikes that was hot) squeegeed on the paper and rip like literal R.I.P. to my princess’s lip. But, I was still trying hard to ignore what was going on and thought nothing of it. Until she said, “Oh you must have had a scab or something. You’re bleeding a little.” I shrugged and said, “Oh weird. Okay” and went back to ignoring the pain. Once the torture had ended, I paid, and went on my way home. Well, that’s when I realized how much my vag was hurting! I couldn’t figure it out. I figured eh, maybe it’s just swollen. So I went to take a shower. That’s when the actual pain kicked it! It burned, it itched, it burned! Well of course what does a normal 18-year-old do? They call their mom! I said, “Mom! Come here! I need you to look at this! What’s happening?!” She took one look and gasped. I said, “What?!” She handed me a mirror. The lady had ripped off my skin! A full small bandaid size of skin! RIGHT ON MY LIP! Who does that?! My mom ended up calling the place and ripping them a new one for destroying my lovely lady bits! Let’s just say I’ve never been back there and I don’t do hot wax any more. All praise sugaring! Sincerely, Lipless
I bought some really cute $12 plaid pants online, then wore them to work the day after they arrived. My office door was locked, so I bent down to put my cup of hot water and water bottle down as I searched my bag for keys. As I bent, I heard a tiny rip, and put my jacket around my waist. The entire seam from my crotch to mid butt ripped and my jacket wasn’t even covering the whole rip it was that big. Sincerely, You Get What You Pay For
In high school, I had a headache so I took some Aleve because that’s all my friend’s parents had at the cabin we were at. A little bit later, all the kids and adults were eating spicy chicken shish kebabs. I turned to my friend asking if my lips looked weird because they were tingling. She said no, but it felt weird so I went and asked my parents. I tapped my mom on the shoulder and she turned around yelling, “Whoa!” My friend’s mom was worried and told me to go to the ER because they were worried it’d reach my tongue if I didn’t. Well, my parents were too intoxicated to drive, so my friend drove me and my dad passed out and was snoring in the ER waiting for the doctor to see me. I just kept laughing because my lips literally jiggled. People pay lots of money for those lips, I just need a pill of Aleve. Sincerely, Jiggle Lips In the early stages of my esthetics career my good friend and fellow esthetician moved away. She had been waxing my Brazilian area for a couple years so I’d decided after she left that I was skilled enough to try and do my own. I mean how hard could it be doing your own when you’re a licensed esthetician? I’ve been waxing everyone else’s with pure ease. That’s where my cocky ass went wrong - thinking it would be easy! What I thought would be a dream quickly became a living nightmare. In the beginning it was going smoothly and quickly, but once I hit the dreaded “horse shoe” area I ended up having sticks of wax stuck to my vagina and I was convinced that I would die that way. I’ve never felt such horrible pain. Here we go, the rest of my life I’ll be wearing skirts- and super super loose sweat pants. There was no way anyone was going to help me, there wasn’t enough wax remover in the world to help me out. I was sitting there intermittently tearing up from pure panic that this was what I was going to be from now on, and then also trying to get enough courage to rip the wax off. After about an hour and a half and my entire body being a puddle of sweat I had finally finished my own Brazilian, while also humbling myself. Sincerely, #BeautyFail
I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where we each got our hair and makeup done by “professionals.” I told the hair stylist my hair doesn't hold a curl well so to combat this, I think she used an entire bottle of hairpsray on my head and pinned each curl to my head after she curled it to let them cool. So, when she took them out they were fucking crunchy ringlets. Then, just to make matters worse, the makeup artist lined the water lines around my eyes with pitch black eyeliner like I was Avril Lavigne in 2002 and, I already have dark features. So I paid almost $200 to look like an emo Shirley Temple with dark hair. Sincerely, Emo Shirley Temple
[ V u l n e r a b l e ] Balmy Night By: JoAnne Silver Jones
e decide to go to the French Bistro, a short walk from our apartment. It’s one of those balmy, New England summer nights that bring people outside to walk, get an ice cream cone or find a restaurant with outdoor seating. At the restaurant, the first thing I do is look around at the location of the tables. Which are closest to the door? Which have no site view of the door? How safe are the outdoor tables? I’ve become hypervigilant since the hammer attack that keeps me in a constant state of alert. Ten years ago, I was attacked suddenly, brutally, without warning, by a stranger. It just happened. When the news about the shooting at Virginia Beach broke, I saw the blank face of a survivor, his clothing covered in blood. He’s telling his story in a monotone voice, and he seems to have no idea that he’s in blood-soaked clothing or that the blood is even his. I remember feeling the same way. When I hear that there’s been a shooting in Las Vegas, I’m drawn to the unfolding event on TV, and watch the story as it repeats over and over again. I intently observe the terror and confusion on the faces of people running from the shooter. They don’t know where to go or what to do. They are in the midst of chaos, and I feel it too. I remember the shame I felt as would-be pundits gave me advice about what I should have done to protect myself or how I should have reacted. “Don’t fight back.” “Take boxing lessons.” “You should have been carrying a gun.” “You shouldn’t have gone to Washington D.C.” “You shouldn’t go to that neighborhood.” I had, at most, a second of awareness that something terrible was happening to me before my body was taken over by all-consuming fear and the will to stay alive. Now, years later, I know that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this attack or to defend myself more adequately. When an act of violence becomes a public spectacle, pundits of all kinds offer solutions. More training on how to react to shooters; psychological screening to purchase a gun; more guns in schools and public places; prayers and petitions. Really? Is this the best we can do to address the reality of a society engorged with violence?
Pundits, of all kinds, questions masquerade as remedies. There is a woeful lack of curiosity and determination to understand more, and to probe more deeply, into what we don’t comprehend. Who are the bystanders in this national siege of violence? How is racial animus intertwined in everyday and mass violence? Why are so many victim’s women and perpetrators, men? What does safety mean at an individual and system level? What toll does violence exact on each of us? What does violence mean? Are there different kinds? Has violence touched your life? What are your questions? Can you take time for the answers? When the images from a mass shooting are shown on TV, I feel as though I am at that scene, filled with terror and confusion. I have found ways to lessen my PTSD responses, but it’s like having asthma and breathing bad air, only the symptom’s get attention. There is emphasis on medications and devices to address the discomfort of asthma, and there is passionate debate about causes and who and what is responsible. Contaminated air continues to blow. In my world, there is no safe place. I’ve watched attacks in movie theaters, concerts, businesses, schools, shopping malls and public buildings. I know where I sit in a restaurant won’t protect me from sudden, random violence. But I like to know what’s behind me, and I want to be able to see a door. It has been long enough since my assault that after my initial apprehension of where to sit, after I get settled and can see around me, after I stop thinking about what did happen to me, I can focus on the menu and enjoy the balmy night air. ### JoAnne Jones is Professor Emeritus at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she worked for twenty-five years. While at Springfield College, Dr. Jones served as Associate Dean of the School of Human Services and Acting Dean of the School of Social Work. Her teaching and research focused primarily on social justice issues. In addition to teaching, she has consulted with public and private organizations in relation to diversity, inclusiveness, and excellence. She is a cofounder of the firm Diversityworks Consulting. She has also written a timely memoir about surviving a random act of violence, called Headstrong. Joannejonesauthor.com
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