It’s taken be quite a while to get comfortable being photographed in a bikini. Growing up super flat chested was quite the ordeal. I HATED IT. But then once I got a little bit more curves, I would want to hide them. It’s very hard for us women to find some middle ground when it comes to our relationships with our bodies. It really is a sad thing if you really think about it. All the years of pressure and standards we imposed on ourselves because of glossy pages in magazines that actually sold us a lie about what we should be looking like. I remember being 10 years old and thinking my hips were too wide. A 10 year old should never have such thoughts in her mind. After years of not loving my body in the package it was born in, I have finally gotten over that hump. I’ve grown to love my barely there chest, and my sort of straight down waist that is not perfectly symmetrical because of my scoliosis, my broad, athletic shoulders, my booty that is actually just the right size for me and the scar that runs down my spine. I love all 5’11” of myself. The lankiness that I once hated is now the closest it will ever get to that of a woman’s and I am proud of it, and because of that I take care of it. I love the way my body feels after a sweat just as much as I love how my body feels after a nice cold IPA beer. I love the muscles that I have now that I maybe didn’t have a year ago. I can’t NOT love them because they are all mine. They are no one else’s. How can one not love something so unique. So delightfully one-of-a-kind? I’m never going to look like a Sports Illustrated model on the beach, but you know what, I am totally and absolutely okay with that. I still struggle in my high intensity workout classes, but that’s totally fine because each time I’m getting better and better. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been right now, and I feel great. Not just physically, but mentally. I don’t beat myself up anymore. I don’t feel the need. I am perfectly happy finding balance with my body and my mind, and the things I put into them. You won’t find my running along the shore slow motion style in a red bikini in front of strangers, but you know what . . . I won’t be afraid to just be myself in one doing whatever else I want to be doing in it. Others can take it or leave it. But YOU . . . you take it and forever cherish it because it is all yours. Treat it with love dears. Now bust out your bikinis and just do you. Because what else is there to do.
Learning to love one’s own body unconditionally might be the hardest task of all, especially as a woman in today’s digital age, where we are force fed images of perfection on a daily basis. It’s a hard routine to escape. I do work both in social media and in fashion, so it’s inevitable that it’s imprint leaves a mark on me. A mark that I used to have to fight with all my might on the daily to keep from overcoming my confidence and self worth. The fight is now unconscious now, and it took the training of my brain to realize and understand that there is more beauty in me than other aspects than just the way my body looks. I’m more interested nowadays in the way my body feels. And when it starts to feel good, I realize that it looks good, too. There really is truth in the saying that beauty comes from within.
I want this post to correlate with Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which kicked off yesterday. Yesterday was also the kick off of a project I was a part of with PROJECT HEAL‘s #WhatMakesMeBeautiful campaign that celebrates body diversity and a healthy and positive body outlook. It’s a campaign that I strongly believe in because it’s working to promote an ideology that I have spent years trying to fully embrace, and I support any project that acts as a platform for women with the same struggles to share their stories with each other. I experienced a very low amount of self confidence with my body as a teenager, as a result from dipping into modeling at the age of 15 in Los Angeles. I went to NYC to meet with agencies, only to face rejection after rejection . . . “you’re too young looking” . . . “you’re too flat chested” . . . “you’re too Asian” . . . “you’re not Asian looking enough” . . . “you’re too thin” . . . “you’re actually not skinny enough”. I heard more than a 15 year old girl could take at the time and none were positive. Over time, it led to an eating disorder that took over much more than just my eating habits. It’s affected my relationships with my family and friends, my school work and my overall attitude towards life. I was hungry all the time, but I thrived off the feeling. It was like a goal to complete by the end of the day. I was perpetually exhausted and dehydrated . . . everything seemed harder to complete, but I kept at it because I didn’t know how to stop. My social life went down the drain because going out and hanging with friends meant not sticking to my routine. I lost my true self throughout it all. I was perpetually striving for a sort of perfection that just was not healthy nor attainable in a way that could ever truly make me happy.
It took a good year for my mind, and my body, to realize the abuse it was receiving. But my body wasn’t the only one taking the toll. I was also affecting the ones I loved around me. I realized that their pain was taking its toll on me the most, and it hurt me to watch them watch me go through something that they and myself felt was completely and totally out of control. It just hit me one day, and I dedicated my time to getting better and focusing on other things that I were passionate about. Slowly things got better. I decided to focus on school and writing more. I made a shift on my daily outlook in regards to food until it didn’t seem scary anymore. Once I started getting back to a healthy weight, I fell in love with the subtle curves my body created. I felt like a woman and it felt amazing. I experienced my first young love with my first real relationship, and even though it didn’t last too long, it kick started a whole new outlook on life. I also strived to get healthy to get my body ready for a major back surgery for my scoliosis (you can see the scar on my spine . . . my symbol of strength). My body needed it’s strength back, and that was when I understood how important that is. My body was capable of so many better things when it felt healthy. There were so many beautiful and exciting things to experience. There was no need and there was no time to keep obsessing about my body. It just took a major hump for me to experience to come to this realization. The hump was worth it, because there will be no going back for me. No regrets because I know that the same mistake will never be made again.
I wanted to share my little story and spread the meaning behind the #WhatMakesMeBeautiful campaign because I think it is so important. It’s easy for us women to forget that we were all born beautiful and strong and independent. If we keep believing this, it will continue to blossom and grow even grander. Our bodies are the mechanical foundations of the endless amount of amazing things we are capable of conjuring up and creating. Treating our bodies and minds with love is the most beautiful thing we can do for ourselves. This post is for all the women out there with negative body images and low self confidence. There is a way to recovery and it starts with talking to someone about it who understands and will support the process. Check out PROJECT HEAL and become a part of it 🙂
How different moments are experienced today due to social media and our newfound obsession with a little (or actually quite big) thing called an iPhone.There’s always that question about what’s next for the direction that social media will be going in the near future. What’s the new Facebook? What’s the new Twitter? What’s the new Instagram? What can we do next to make it feel like we can be there in actual time? At the rate it seems to be going, an app that allows us to time travel might as well be the next thing! Already changes are being made that seem to be on the way to changing the entire course of how social media effects our personal “brands” and the ways that we go about communicating with each other not only digitally, but in real life as well. This MR Round Table article posted on Man Repeller a little bit ago in particularly stood out to me. And especially so this quote from it:
“The biggest change I see is that our phones are making us become idealized versions of ourselves. It kind of betrays the human condition, which is that we’re all many-faced and imperfect. You know? You’re not that.” – Man Repeller
How about some other questions, like: Why do we feel the deep need to know so much about people who in reality are complete strangers to us? And why do we feel a deep need to prove a life that is “digitally perfect” to those who are strangers to us? Would we as digital users still be able to showcase the same sort of confidence we have online in real life if we were to strip ourselves of our devices and apps and live streams? Would social media still be as popular if users weren’t so curated and so heavily reliant on the comments and critiques of those who follow them? Today, what is more important? The influencers approval of their own content, or the approval of their content by others? Think about it, would the majority of people be sharing their lives and stories with each other if they didn’t garner a like or a heart or whatever they will start calling it a year, 5 years, 10 years from now? When did we start to feel the need to feed our digital egos with so much affirmation? So many questions.
Don’t get me wrong, I owe a lot of my career to social media and I for sure wouldn’t be where I was if I didn’t have the platforms to get my work out in the world for eyes that truly appreciate to see it. And not gonna lie, I do love that in today’s day and age, I have so much content to dig through that nearly anything is at my fingertips. It’s just so easy and convenient. But at the same time I sometimes feel very overwhelmed and over-bombarded (is that even a word??!?). It’s almost like I wish a white wall would come down and we could have a blank slate once again and start over.
I know the social media world (and blogging) will never be like how it was 6, 5, even 4 years ago, but still hopefully aspects of how it was can still be kept alive today in the digital realm. For me personally, it was always mostly about getting my words and photos in front of the eyes of those who appreciated my work for the ideas and creative processes behind them. To start a conversation. To inspire someone else to create unique stories and pictures of their own. And now as I am older, I find myself being most proud of my work that I am behind-the-scenes on. I appreciate those who pay attention to what I decide to share even if it doesn’t have my face slapped on it.
This line I got from Man Repeller exactly explains my feelings: “They’ve made our lives easier, but have they made our lives better?”
Maybe its time for us to quit getting ahead of ourselves and slow down a little. Absorb less in quantity, but more in quality. There’s only so much we can take in at once. And really what do we get from a quick swipe down an Instagram feed? A flash of colors and shapes and beautiful faces that we may or may not remember a few seconds after said swipe. Thankfully, there are many influencers out there who I admire, and some who I can actually call friends, who change the game by keeping things real, keeping quality high and keeping things more personal than just another generic, perfectly lighted selfie (which I am guilty of posting every now and then). I want more peeks into real lives and inspirations of those willing to share and that have the potential to make a difference socially and creatively.
Maybe these thoughts will inspire you to extract a few more hours away from your phone each day and create some stories of your own that you are proud of, no matter who is listening, watching or reading. In today’s age, where all eyes are now perpetually on you in some shape or form, it might be the biggest challenge to take a few steps back in the shadows and create without an audience. But it might just be the best challenge to overcome. Because there is no better or more flattering form of approval than the one you can give yourself. It starts from there.
My sister and I have been told many times over that we have a bond that’s very rare. And I actually do believe this to be true. My sister Natalie is my best friend. My mind reader. The beginning and end to my laughs. My third arm basically. So many of my life experiences have been alongside her, and before I tell anyone anything it usually goes through her first. With Natalie, I always feel endless love and camaraderie. This quote sums it all up:
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. – Aristotle
Usually there aren’t many people in your life that you can say you’ve been through every single up
and down with and still love them unconditionally throughout and after it all. A person you are alongside every single step of the way, no matter how hard, how aggravating, how worrisome it is. It’s a special kind of sister bond, that’s what it is.
Not all sisters call each other their best friend, but Natalie and I slowly worked towards something that is exactly that. We work together because we love it and we bounce the best ideas between each other. We have the same friend group because we appreciate the same sort if personalities in others. We laugh about everything because we grew up surrounded by the same senses of humor and have taken them to make our own. But at the end of the day, we each are still are our own person separate from each other and we are able to appreciate each other for that. We have our own separate experiences that we have experienced outside of each other, but have always shared with each other. Because of that, we are complementary in the most perfect sort of way.
But like every sort of sibling, it’s not always easy being around someone who knows you so well for such a long period of time. There have been endless times (and endless times to come) where we have told each other to shut the f**k up, aggravated each other to the bone, and just flat out felt like we wanted to kill the other. Moments like this are fleeting because we can resolve issues with just a few words of reason that make sense to us both after calming down. And these are the moments that help us grow up the most. By having our faults, fixing and working on them, and being better people not just when we are together but around others.
On top of just having a best friend from birth, having a sister comes along with a whole lot of perks. Like a shared closet. Always someone to be your plus 1 if that guy doesn’t happen to cancel. A shoulder to always cry on at any time of the day or night when that guy happens to break your heart. Someone to get all your inside jokes. Someone who just totally gets it when mom and dad start to get really annoying. Someone to tell you how your butt really looks like in those new jeans. Someone you can be your complete and total self around with no judgment involved. Natalie and I have have revealed all our imperfections and all of our best parts to each other. The freedom to be yourself when around a sister is the ultimate perk. No matter all the fights. No matter all the laughs. No matter all the cries. It’s the most real.
I love you so much Natalie. It’s been so exciting and amazing to watch you grow, and to look forward to all the adventures to come with you! Love you my little funky, funny babe 🙂 Proud to be your big sister! xo