Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE 6 BLOGS I READ EVERYDAY

(Unbearable cuteness via here)

I'm working on a KILLER resource guide for you all that includes basically every body positive site and blog out there (well, maybe not every one, but a monumental sampling) but it's a huge undertaking. So while I'm doing that, I wanted to share with you my daily blog reads. Y'know- the ones that are amazing enough take up a tiny part of that sacred and overflowing space on your toolbar. These are the first 6 favicons on mine.

They're not all body related, but they all uplift or inspire, and that's good enough for me.


A Beautiful Mess. So here's my confession: when I started writing "real" blog posts back in the day (instead of my usual fluffy vintage kitchenware posts), my first article was straight up criticism about Elsie Larson because I thought was clever. I wasn't. But my point was solid and there: I was wanting an internet full of honesty and I was growing tired of "personal lifestyle" blogs that were nothing but shiny, perfect, false representations of life. And A Beautiful Mess was one of the biggest offenders, in my newby blogger mind.

I was an unguided asshole back then, but we all start somewhere humbling, right? RIGHT?

Right.

Since then, A Beautiful Mess has purposefully changed from a personal lifestyle blog to the Millennial's version of a Martha Stewart wet dream and holy fuck I love it so hard. It's still shiny and perfect, but it's not calling itself real life... it's called DIY inspiration and I respect that.

Here's what I love about Elsie and Emma: they're bad-ass boss bitches. They've worked their asses off and created a million dollar company from the ground up. They have e-courses, Photoshop packages, apps, two books, a stationary business, phone cases, and a dozen people working with them. It's seriously impressive. I also love that they have so many haters. It seems so hilarious that two people who make bracelets and pies for a living can attract such venom, but it only goes to show that angry people will be angry at whomever they can. I appreciate that Elsie and Emma keep on doing their shit anyways.

And beyond all that goodness, I just fucking love the cheerfulness that exudes from their blog every day. It's a carefully curated reminder that you can have sunshine in your house if you just make a no-sew white polka dotted curtain set. That, or you just open a window.

I don't know where I was going with this.

SUNSHINE. YAY.

Gala Darling. Another carefully curated and vibrant blog. Reasons why I love her: first of all, Gala calls herself Gala. Mad props for changing your name to reflect your vibe. Secondly, I just read a sentence on her blog that said "throw confetti on your soul" and THAT solidified my crush.

Gala will occasionally elude to the hard stuff in life, but more often than not she just poses for dazzling pictures, encourages women to take life by the ovaries, and shares a glittery representation of what's possible. I think that because my world is SO full of social justice, it comes with a lot of heavy, hard, and difficult situations. I'm pretty sure that this is why I'm so drawn to pages like Gala Darling's.. it's balances out the emotional kick to the gut and provides a reminder that there are adventures to have, money to make, and empowerment to feel.

I'm grateful for that reminder.



The Clueless Girl's Guide. Formerly Honeybee in the City, TCGG is run by Kaelah  and is a blog I've been reading since the beginning. I found her through lifestyle blogs when I first started following that sort of thing, and I instantly fell in love with her wigs. She's usually wig-less nowadays (brunette FTW) and always has a baby on her hip, but I still love her blog for the creativity, tattoos, and the occasional easily digestible real talk. I scroll through it every morning like a champ.



Brittany Herself. This bitch needs to be my best friend. And actually, I'm composing a sonnet for her in hopes to woo her into being just that. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not and she's just as excited about it as I am.

Honestly, Brittany is new to me in comparison to the others I often read. I remember seeing her interview on ModCloth, but I hadn't delved into her blog and archives until fairly recently. I'm so in hearts it's making my boyfriend jealous.

Not really, but it should.

I guess it's just because her blog is everything I think a blog should be. Hilarious. Honest. Hard to read. Easy to read. Truthful. Vulgar. Original. And Inspiring. I've been burnt out on blogging for so long my soul started to die, but after reading Brittany Herself, I'm ready and rearing to go. Now if I could only make it past this book deadline. I shouldn't be blogging right now, but I can't help but use it as an avoidance tactic. Don't tell anyone.

Short version: I FUCKING love her and you will too, if you don't already.


The Dainty Squid. Also a Kaylah, and also someone I've been following for years. This chick covered (like covered, covered) in tattoos and takes pictures of her cats. Therefore, I think she's pretty rad. Her blog is anything but controversial and opinionated, but I still love scrolling through her outfit posts, images of abandoned buildings, and displays of dental paraphernalia. 

And I'll use the Oxford comma as much as I want, thankyouverymuch.



The Bloggess. I really don't know if I have words to describe how much of an amazing human being Jenny Lawson is. I mean, she named her online shop "EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE" so your bill with be more interesting, for chrissakes. At least that what she says. And I want to believe her so bad.

She mostly blogs about daily living with the epic hilarity her army of fans know so well, and she also talks candidly about mental illness. Dear god we need more funny voices to do the same so we can get rid of the sucky stigma. Thanks Jenny, for being a brilliantly dark beacon of hope and light for those of us that need to chuckle at how weird life can be.

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Honestly, there are HUNDREDS of worthy blogs (and we're not even talking about webpages!) out there... all amazing (I'm especially thinking of some radical plus-size fashion blogs with women who kick so much ass) but these are just the ones that I click through every morning with my coffee. Light reading. Happy reading. Hilarious reading. The best kind of reading to start your day with.

What are your blogs that you read every day? I'd love to know, and maybe I can add them into my rotation!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

7 TIPS FOR TAKING YOUR FIRST EVER BOUDOIR PHOTOS


Fact: boudoir isn't just for brides-to-be's in hotel suites anymore. It's for everyone, including you and me, girl.

Another fact: I'm no stranger to baring skin in the name of body love.

From being pressed between a wall and a male model while topless for Abercrombie, to stripping for 100 women in Expose, to being fully nude in a window posing for Substantia Jones in NYC... I've done some really kick ass nude-y photo shoots, y'all.

But even after all that, boudoir photography has always been a titch scary to me (which always means, of course that I absolutely must do it. ) and I was never totally sure why. It could have been because of the overt sexiness required, or maybe it's the fact that it isn't often a fat acceptance practice and almost every article is about how to look "better" (read: skinnier) in the photos. But none of that matters much anymore... I've tried it! And I'm glad I did.

Not only was it a personal victory, but quite frankly a ferocious act in the name of body love. Obvious truth: the world needs more sexy and unapologetic fat girl photos and I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!

Because of my hesitancy (and success!) with all this, I want to share with you what I've learned, not only from previous nekkid shoots, but from this one as well. Taking this type of photo can be tricky for those who feel insecure with their bodies or sexuality, but I want to walk you through some real talk so this can be a victorious option for you too.

Now, I'm not going to give you tips on how to look "sexiest" or poses that make you look thinner. If you really want those, the internet has them aplenty. Instead, I want to give you the 8 things I learned along the way... and hopefully they make taking revealing (and therefore vulnerable) photos a super duper fucking amazing experience! Because GODDAMN IT, you're sexy and you deserve to feel it.


1.) Choose a safe location that speaks to you. Your bedroom. A hotel room. The back room of a Mexican restaurant.... Yes, these photos we're totally taken in the back room of a Mexican restaurant. I shit you not.

I put out a request to my friends for location suggestions and a pal internet yelled SIR VEZAS and I laughed. But I did some research and found out that their "Low Rider Room" was rentable and full of sparkly gold booths and painted car hoods. I was SOLD.

So be creative! Choose a place that feels safe (obviously my safe may be different than another persons) whether it be remote, private, somewhat public (we had a cloth curtain for a door)... you choose. Some of the sexiest boudoir photos I've ever seen were taken in a backyard pool. Some models in white t-shirts, and some in lingerie and heels. Yes, heels in a pool. FUCK, IT WAS HOT. That's all I have to say about that.

2.) Have your hair and makeup done professionally. I highly recommend this! Whether it's a professional in a salon, someone who does it from home, or a friend that's awesome with an eye shadow palate... have THEM do it. While I am absolutely capable of contouring and applying lashes, it feels like such a luxurious experience to have someone else doing the application. Almost like the ultimate form of photo self-care. Trust me on this one.



3.) Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. If you're wanting to try something new (maybe this is the perfect opportunity to wear that fetish outfit you've been dreaming about) go for it! If you find yourself worrying about what to wear, I'd recommend whatever feels comfortable and sexy to you, even if it's not "traditional boudoir lingerie." I really wanted to rock a casual tank top that showed a little bit of nipple and then a more feminine look with lace and ribbons. Both of these I've worn to bed in real life, and eradicating the nervousness of trying to figure out how to work with my clothing while shooting was wonderful. You do YOU, whatever that means

4.) Choose a photographer you trust. This can be a little tricky, because you also want someone who has skills so that the quality of the photography isn't a distraction. Look locally for someone that you know, friends recommend, or you like their work. If you've never met them and you'd like to make sure you can jive with them on this sort of shoot, ask if you can meet them beforehand. It never hurts to ask, and perhaps they'll be game! Connection with a photographer MATTERS.

I'd only met Rosie from No Regrets Photography in passing, but she's worked with every model I know in Tucson and beyond. She's not a straight sized lady either, and this along with the fact that she's famous for alternative photography helped me feel comfortable. I'm thrilled I chose her for these images; they're as fierce as I hoped.


5.) Be prepared that it might be a little hard. I was NOT expecting it to be difficult. I'm no stranger to compromising shoots, and I figured- I'm not even going to be nude, and there's going to lingerie... How hard can it be? The answer? Kinda hard.

I was having a rough day before hand which couldn't have helped, but during the shoot I found myself worried about the poses. More specifically, I was worried about my stomach. I wanted to minimize it (silly me) but I also wanted to push my boundaries and do poses that were outside my comfort zone... which meant tummy. What I ended up doing was stopping and saying "Ohmygod I'm having such a hard time with my stomach. Lemme breathe for a sec." That was all I needed. I sucked it up (not in) and shot the rest of the poses with confidence... real and perceived.

6.) HAVE FUN! Have so much fun. This is about you, and celebrating you. Call all the shots, be the boss and celebrate! (Also, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: at almost all of the nude shoots I've done, wine has been available. Don't get schwasty, but a glass certainly doesn't hurt.)


7.) Look for yourself  in the photos. This is perhaps the most important part. We do this terrible thing, where we look in the mirror or at pictures and we expect to see a thin model. THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN UNLESS YOU ARE A THIN MODEL. So stop that shit. The second you start looking for you is the second you will start to appreciate what you are. Stop looking for flaws. Stop looking for differences. There is not one definition of beauty. You are absolutely perfect just as you are. Try to find that.

8.) Show the images to someone else. (BONUS TIP! This is too critical to not share.) We sometimes have the urge to hide hard things from others. We only put our "best" pictures on FB and un-tag any image a friend adds that we hate. I'm going to ask you to do the opposite of that.

When you get your images back, sit with them (hopefully you'll love them!) and then show them to someone. Whether it be your lover, partner, a friend, your social media network... just show them.

I had a terrifying experience with the last Expose shoot, where in a moment of encouragement for others to do the same, I stripped down to nothing and struck a powerful pose. After I saw the image... well, I lost it. I hated it more than I've ever hated an image of myself before. It felt masculine and my short hair only seemed to exacerbate this. I saw the "flaws." I saw that belly.

I sat on the image for weeks, loathing my body until I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to know if it was as awful as my critical mind said it was. So with tears in my eyes, I sat down with my boyfriend and showed it to him. Guess what he saw? A goddamn sexy woman he was in that he was love with.

We certainly don't need to define our worth by what others think of us, but we also don't need to pretend that support cant be helpful. Our perception of ourselves is often skewed because of our lifetime of shame, and sometimes an outside perspective can be wonderful.

So share them! When I got my proofs from this shoot, I was at a karaoke bar in NYC and showed them to everyone. Friends and strangers alike. I then shared them on Facebook and no one was blinded, traumatized or offended. In fact, the pictures blew a few minds and probably caused a few boners.

Try it. I guarantee you won't die if you do.



I LOVED these photos; belly, thighs and all. (Note: I asked to not be Photoshopped, and though I see a teeny bit of softening on the skin, the shapes, rolls, and dimples are all there, thank god!) When I look at these images, I see a confident chick that gives so many less fucks than she ever has before. I see internal power. Sexiness. Happiness. All the good things.

Now, it's okay if you don't love yours when you first see them. It's okay if you cry a little bit; this is a really brave thing to do. If you happen to love them, I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU. You totally deserve some self-worship and "Jesus GOD, I'm hot!" thoughts. For those who have trouble with the end result, hopefully the shock of seeing your scantily clad selves will wear off  and you'll slowly start to love what you see.

My motto: Does it scare you? Then do it!
And share on my Facebook page so I can see it, duh.

Have you taken boudoir photos? Any tips? Leave 'em below so we all can benefit!

// Red shelf bra and cage panties (in white) from Hips and CurvesBlack shoes from JustFab, tank from Target, and ruffled undies from Hips and Curves.  Hair and MUA done by Arkane Studio. All photography by No Regrets Photography //

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I WEAR WHAT I WANT: BRIGHT ASS CLOTHING IN NYC


The only thing better than spending the holidays in NYC is spending the holidays in NYC for free while wearing a hot dog dress.

Y'fuckingknowwhatimean?
I honestly hope you do, because holy jesus it's amazing.

A friend who was headed home for Christmas was looking for someone to dog-sit and stay at her apartment in Harlem while she was gone. Because I happen to work wherever there is wifi, I raised my hand real high and she picked me (!!!) and took care of the accommodations.

God damn it, what an amazing time.



I managed to master the art of blending in on the day I wore a bright ass orange coat with a dress covered in ice cream, cake, hamburger, hot dogs, and candy. In a place where everyone ignores everyone else, this dress had strangers in the subway stopping to compliment it. THAT's how much I blended in.

But honestly, I wore bright colors every day I was there (I'll never learn.) This was my favorite.



The first half of the time there was spent on my own, starting every day with a dog walk and ending each day with the same. There is something about coming "home" to furry roommates  that just beats a hotel stay every time. Also, Harlem was the friendliest experience I've ever had while in NYC, and I fell in love with the area while there. You should try it sometime. A little while in, my boy came to join me and we spent New Year's Eve watching the ball drop on television at a kick-ass pinball arcade that was everything but crowded. The perfect way to watch the ball drop in NYC if you ask me.

I've done the ball drop in Time Square before, but I value my personal space and ability to breathe too much to ever try it again.

My handsome guy hadn't been to Manhattan since he was a young 'un, so we spent some time visiting the tourist traps (we enjoyed walking around Toys R' Us way more than we should have- though next time I'm definitely riding the indoor Ferris wheel) and the rest of the time with local friends who showed us the hidden gems.

This combination of famous + unknown comes highly recommended.





A podcast with Legs Malone called "Lunch with Legs" was an AMAZING way to start a day off in Brooklyn. We talked body love, mental health, self care, and why autonomy will save the world. It will be listed here soon.

What isn't pictured (because we were all too excited to be together) was meeting with Amanda Trusty and Isabel Foxen Duke. Both are women that work towards sharing body love and both are also magnificent humans. It was so wonderful to have a chance to finally meet them both. We had some great conversations that will definitely end up in my book.





This may seem like a weird thing, but while there I also fell head over heels in love... with my glasses (these ones specifically). I swear to god. It saved us walking half a block in any direction to see where we were supposed to be going before having to turn around and walk the other way. This normally happens about 1,987,362 times when I visit NYC; Google Maps only does so much. THANK YOU WARBY PARKER for letting me see both the 88th st and 89th st signs while standing in one place. It's the little things.

The little (letters on a far away sign kinda) things.



Traveling with your person is a TOTALLY different experience... especially for me as the perpetual solo traveler that I am. I wont lie though, sharing the hangries, museum moments, nap times and crowded subway rides really makes for some great memories.

Have you been to NYC? Are you from NYC? I'll be going back soon for work I'm sure, so tell me: what DON'T I want to miss next time? Whats the best experience you've had there?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

THIS YEAR, #LOVETHEMIRROR

(All images by Jade Beall Photography)

I'm sure you've made your resolutions by now, and feel as though you've gotten them all. And while this could be true, I have a feeling you might have forgotten the most important one. The Body Love Conference team would like to offer you a suggestion to add to your list. A suggestion that could change everything: this year, we propose that we all resolve to love the mirror.

#LoveTheMirror.
Love your body and what you see... just as you are now. 
Not later. Not "after". 
Now.

People might ask why we would choose something so superficial. Something, almost narcissistic. To which we reply: the reality of our world is that we are more likely to be told that we are "good people" than anything else. Funny, creative, intelligent, communicative, generous, maybe even extraordinary. What we are NOT told is that our bodies are perfect just the way they are. We are taught that our body is flawed, and not only is it flawed, but that the majority of our worth lies within our physical appearance. Which, of course is never “perfect enough” by societies standards. This affects our lives on a monumental level, as our bodies are the vessel we move throughout the world in.

Our bodies are installation art that we curate publicly. Our bodies are our personal bookmarks in the world. Our bodies are magnificent houses for everything else that we are.  Our bodies are a part of us, just like our kindness, talents, and passion. Yes, we are so much more than our outer shell, but our outer shell is an integral part of our being too. This is why loving the mirror is critical for complete and total self acceptance. 

To showcase what loving the mirror could look like, we invited 29 models into the photography studio of the magnificent Jade Beall. We asked the participants to come wearing whatever made them feel most confident... and the variety within these choices was beautiful. Some brought roller skates, some their violin. Some came in their dance clothing, some in their underwear. Some took off their shirts and some wore seven layers of clothing. And then one donned nothing but a gorgeous pink furry coat. 

After each person modeled, I asked them a few questions in the back room before they left. The most pivotal question being: why is loving the mirror important? The answers varied extensively and listening to all of them left me teary by the end of the night. The wisdom and stories shared were overwhelmingly profound and they reminded me that we (all sizes, shapes, shades, sexes, genders, and ages) are indeed in this together. And with our togetherness, we are strong.

I love everything about these photos. The smudged, imperfect mirrors. The flawless, completely perfect bodies. The potent personalities. The variations of confidence. And the superimposed wisdom shared by each of these beautiful people.

Wondering why loving the mirror is so important? Here are 29 reasons, given by people from all walks of life, along their own body love journey:

Rick was able to sussinctly encapsulate our entire message in one statement: it's only the person in the mirror that gets to decide if they are worthy. And that means that the person who holds the life changing power is... you.This year, decide that you are worthy of self-love, just as you are. And while you are most definitely free make all the changes you'd like, just know that if you didn't change a thing you'd be more than okay. In fact, you'd be perfect.It might take more than a year. I think I'll be learning to love the mirror for the rest of my life... but this year is the perfect year to start the journey. Because now is when it's needed.Want to join in on this resolutionary (see what we did there? Resolution + revolutionary? Clever, no?) campaign? We'd love to have you. How to join: 1.) Decide to love the mirror this year, and share your picture (mirror in the background is a bonus but not necessary) with us on our Facebook page or tweet at us on Twitter!
2.) Use the text "This year, I will love the mirror."
3.) Be sure to use the hashtag #LoveTheMirror so we can find you... we'd like to share some of you on our pages!
If you also wanted to share your quote on why you think body love or loving the mirror is important... we'd love to hear.Will you join us this year and love the mirror?
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