This is easily my favorite time of year (and it’s always over way too fast). Halloween is the freest day of them all when it comes to self-expression. You can be as spooky or as funny–or as genuinely yourself–as you like. No one is going to give you any weird looks; they just applaud you for getting into the spirit of the season. You can take your personal creativity to the next level, experimenting with anything you desire.
It’s just tops.
2020 has changed things for us, though; it can’t be denied, and this holiday won’t be any exception. A worldwide plague is going to mean there will be restrictions. No costume parties or haunted houses. No big fall festivals. And trick-or-treating…might be ill-advised. There’s just no room for all the usual social mingling this time. It’s dangerous. We can’t get around that.
Very much like I refused to be sad on my birthday, there’s no way I’m just going to let my favorite holiday pass me by. Literally nothing is stopping us from still going full-throttle in the costume department, and I say we go hard.
Maybe even harder than usual. Just for spite.
Like, do this and then just sit in your kitchen eating cookie dough. That’s the vibe I think we should go for. The perfect 2020 vibe.
If you’re stuck on costume ideas (I know I always am), I personally think TV is the direction to go this year. Basically all we’ve been doing for the last seven or eight months is watching Netflix anyway. And dressing up as your favorite character will always be relevant. Tiger King might be…a little too on the nose. But on the other hand, you’d definitely be recognizable.
The Office is a classic, a very well-known staple, and I daresay Dwight is the easiest one to make a costume out of. And you could give it a fun twist by going as Jim-dressed-like-Dwight.
Just look at him. Have you ever seen anything so Insta-worthy?
Schitt’s Creek is the new, up-and-coming classic, in my opinion.
Moira alone is #goals, honestly.
And I’d dress like David every day if I could.
The Good Place would be another fun choice, and I feel like the looks would be fairly easy to copy.
I admit, as popular as this one is, I myself am way behind. I only just got started, and I’m still in season one. But I can already tell that I love it.
If you haven’t watched any of The Great British Baking Show, you might wanna get on it, because it’s one of the most pleasant, most relaxing things in the world. Fantastic stress relief, and we could all use some of that.
I decided to go with what’s most popular at the moment because, let’s face it, Halloween will be mostly on social media this year. Our big costume party is going to be 99% in the form of posting selfies and then liking other people’s selfies. So if you can mimic the steely blue gaze of Paul Hollywood, all the more power to you.
Bonus if you pose with a delicious cake or something (before crying and eating it alone in your bathtub).
If you’d rather be more nostalgic than current, older favorites like Downton Abbey are always an option. The 1920’s glamour would only be too appropriate, since it is the 20s once again.
That’s what I did for New Year’s Eve, back before 2020 lit itself on fire.
Going back even further, Seinfeld is easily one of the most recognizable (and most quotable) shows of all time. Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial, but anything really iconic from the 90s in crazy nostalgic for me, and this show in particular has been a lifelong fave.
I think Elaine especially would make for an easy (and awesome) costume.
And these ideas don’t have to be restricted to TV alone. Movies are just as special to us all, if not more so. Within my generation, I feel like we all more or less grew up with the same classics. Home Alone was definitely one of them, and have you ever seen such a fantastic Marv costume?! Whoever that guy is, kudos to him.
And any one of the innumerable looks from The Devil Wears Prada would be an instant hit. Hell, even beyond Halloween, if you can dress like that, you should.
And as I’m thinking about it, you could achieve a similar level of chic by going as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. You can’t go wrong emulating a feminist legend.
Superheroes are, of course, a Halloween mainstay, and there are so many to choose from.
Special appreciation to all of you going as Black Panther this year. The loss of Chadwick Boseman was one of 2020’s hardest blows, and I wish his family my deepest condolences.
Now of course, it should go without saying that when it comes to Halloween costumes, there are certain things that one simply does not do. It should go without saying, but people, as we’ve learned, can be horrible, so, just in case, here’s a quick guideline:
No blackface! Jesus Christ, you should never ever do blackface under any circumstances! It was never okay to do, and it would be an unfathomable level of disgusting to do it now.
No tacky Native American costumes. You can still find these offensive scraps of bullshit at stores like Spirit Halloween, and I have no idea how that has been allowed to continue. Don’t dress up as a culture that isn’t yours! Especially a culture that has faced oppression and genocide.
Same deal with sugar skull makeup. People’s heritage and traditions are not yours to play with. It’s not aesthetic. It’s disrespectful.
No cops. Cops aren’t sexy anymore. If they ever were, those days are over.
If you still want to go in the public hero direction, consider actual heroes as an alternative, like firefighters or mail carriers.
And there you are! Easy peasy! I know all of you were going to approach Halloween with a spirit of good-natured fun, but if this has helped sort out the dos and the don’ts for anybody at all, I’ll be forever thankful.
Just picture this guy wearing a Batman costume. (In his kitchen, not a public bar). Would he still be drinking alone? Yes. Would he be happier? How should I know? But he’d be the perfect poster child for the Halloween 2020 vibe.
I don’t think we should force happiness if we’re not happy, but at the same time, I really don’t think we should let any potential fun pass us by. This year has put us all in a unique, and in many ways, a very difficult situation. The truth is, too many people are struggling, and even having the option of eating an entire bowl of Halloween candy by yourself while wearing a Pokemon onesie is a privilege.
And coming to understand our privilege is what 2020 has been all about. It’s the first step in working towards a better tomorrow. Not just for people we easily relate to, but for everyone.
Remember, Halloween is an all-encompassing and all-inclusive holiday, one of those rare occasions when you really can be anyone and still have fun. We should relish in it every year, but especially in 2020.
Have a beautiful week.
(Please take a few extra seconds to click this link. It will take you to a reference page where you can find several different resources for helping the Black Lives Matter movement. Also, if you live in my neck of the woods, early voting has begun, so don’t delay! Vote!)
If you get on the internet, you probably see something saying WEAR A MASK every single day. It’s impossible to miss. And really, it’s impossible to argue. Right now, during a pandemic that has been allowed to careen out of control in the U.S, the mask is practically all we have left to cling to.
It is for me, definitely.
I’d be having an anxiety attack every time I ran an errand if I couldn’t cover my nose and mouth, and I dread to think of the predicament my husband would be in (since he’s a pharmacist). But as little protection as a single scrap of cloth might feel like, it’s been proven to be very effective, and I really can’t urge you enough to wear one. It’s the responsible thing to do.
But as important as the health and safety benefits are, you don’t need to look at wearing a mask like it’s some annoying bit of clinical equipment. When it comes right down to it, a face mask is nothing more another piece of fabric, another accessory to wear, which means you can enjoy it as such.
Designer brands jumped on the mask train early on, even before things had escalated so badly. Lovely, high-end masks were being included in runway shows, being worn by celebrities, and generally becoming their own fashion mainstay overnight.
And that’s all well and good if you feel like dropping $250 on a face mask.
But don’t do that.
Frivolity and excess aren’t exactly in good taste right now. And besides, if you go too far down the rabbit hole of designer fashion, you could end up wearing something like this…
I don’t mean to knock down someone’s art, of course. It’s beautiful in its own way. It makes for a really extraordinary showpiece. But not even Lady Gaga could wear a mask like that in a practical sense.
Now if you really wanna talk optimal in terms of practicality, look no further than a full set of plague doctor regalia. Functioning ideally as both Halloween costume and typical daywear, this ensemble is a win-win, as you can easily see.
This was my generation’s favorite joke for about five minutes over the summer, but I’d wear it; I’m not kidding. I think things would be incredibly interesting if we were all walking around like that.
I can dare to dream.
But sticking with realism, you can buy a good mask on Etsy for less than five bucks. They’re machine washable, and there are no limits to color, design, or style.
The simple ones are my favorite. They’re kind of like the Little Black Dress of face masks, especially if you get a black one. Elegance is simplicity; that’s one of the cardinal rules of fashion.
Another rule? Black goes with everything.
I’ve also seen people wearing these faux bandana masks, which are definitely more of a statement piece. They’re not nearly as common, and that in itself can be appealing. People like to be different, to stand out from the crowd.
And I’ve noticed that these can be very convenient to wear if you happen to have a beard.
As long as it covers your nose and mouth, you can wear any style you fancy.
And Halloween is coming, don’t forget. It’s Spooky Season (which makes me so happy). Any cutesy or creepy mask that helps you get into the spirit is a great idea. I love this black cat design–very simple, but extremely on trend.
Also, as a little disclaimer: If you buy a Black Lives Matter mask, or any BLM related merch (and obviously you should), just make sure that you are buying from Black-owned business. Or at least from a fundraiser that’s giving money directly to the cause. Otherwise, your sentiment will sadly make zero difference.
Now, we all know there are people who, for various reasons, do not want to wear any masks at all, and it’s only fair to address that.
Although there are plenty of self-centered assholes who would be glad of any excuse to throw a tantrum, there are also plenty of people who are legitimately concerned that a mask could have a negative affect on them. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around, so let me put your mind at ease.
If wearing a mask makes you feel like you could be having trouble breathing, what you are actually experiencing is anxiety. And anxiety can have quite an array of unfortunate symptoms. This year has been a bad year for most of us; tensions are very high, and we naturally want to reject anything that makes us feel nervous. Even the little things. If you start to feel panicky when you’ve got your mask on, stop what you’re doing and take several long, deep breaths through your nose. You will be able to do this. The mask does not in any way limit the amount of oxygen that gets through to you.
I want you to remember, people have been wearing masks long before the pandemic. Cosplayers, for example, spend hours in them just for the fun of it.
Healthcare professionals wear them for hours every single day, not to mention every worker in every service industry right now. Everyone we depend on to provide us with what we need in our day-to-day lives has been putting on their mask every morning for the past seven months and doing their jobs. People with asthma wear them; people with mental health issues wear them. People have even been giving birth with masks on this year. So let me assure you, from the most solemn depths of my heart, that a mask won’t do you any harm.
But it really could save your life.
If you start to feel uneasy, just keep this in mind: if the members of Slipknot can perform on stage in their masks and still be okay, then you have absolutely nothing to fear.
Fashion as a whole is incredibly fluid and adaptable. We humans can make ourselves look stylish no matter what circumstances we’re dealing with.
And we’ve done this before. The above photo is from the Spanish Flu epidemic a hundred years ago. Covid-19 is our Spanish Flu, and wearing masks is how we are making the best of a bad situation.
Giving an example of my own mask fashion, I was really pleased with my ensemble the other day. I wore my pale pink t-shirt, and I happen to have this pair of shoes in the same color, which is very lucky. And combined with that mask, which is sort of a light red, it all complimented perfectly. I felt so nicely put together.
But I admit, my favorite of them all is the classic black. Black just goes with everything.
Stay safe, and have a beautiful week.
(Please take a few extra seconds to click this link. It will take you to a reference page where you can find several different resources for helping the Black Lives Matter movement. Also, make sure you are registered to vote. This site makes it very easy, and it’s well past time to vote out the officials who don’t have our best interests at heart.)
Autumn is my favorite season, and I’ve noticed that I have that in common with many people. It’s just so comfortable–the oppressive heat of summer finally calms down; you can start enjoying delicious soups and the classic pumpkin spice latte. You can wear a cute jacket. The leaves start to turn into their beautiful yellows and oranges and reds. No more sweating the moment you step outside. It’s the season when things get cozy.
And right now, we need cozy.
By the time you read this, I’ll have reached 200 days in quarantine. Back when I wrote a post addressing quarantine and how to get through it, it had only been 20 days. And I will say this, following my own advice has done me plenty of good (and I certainly hope it was helpful to you)… But let’s be honest, at 20 days, I was a little naive. This has gone on much much longer than I ever anticipated, and it’s only gotten worse. The numbers of Covid cases and deaths rise every day. They’ve skyrocketed since school has gone back into session, and it’s nothing short of a betrayal by our authorities. (They could not have made it clearer: they don’t care if we live or die. It’s just about the money).
Revisit my post about taking care of yourself in quarantine. We all need to amp up the self-love now more than ever. Not to mention cradling our mental health.
My advice now, at 200 days, is more about pragmatism. We have to be responsible. Restaurants and cinemas are open. Don’t go to them. Don’t travel. Don’t go to house parties or family reunions. Utilize contactless delivery services. And above all: WEAR A MASK. Anytime you go someplace where other people will be, it is your duty as an accountable member of society to wear your mask. Covering your mouth and nose has proven the most effective way to frustrate the spread of the disease.
We have no choice but to do our part here. We have to rely on ourselves and on each other.
In the meantime, Autumn has already proven a tremendous comfort, and I’m leaning into it hard. I’m cooking warm meals; I’m wearing fall colors. I light a pumpkin spice candle every evening. I’m watching movies like Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Anything to invoke those cozy, spooky feelings that I so desperately need.
As I type this, I am wearing some warm, fluffy socks.
I’m also listening to this video I found on YouTube called Cozy Fall Coffee Shop Ambience, and it’s exactly that. It’s literally just the noise of a quiet cafe on a rainy Autumn evening, with smooth jazz playing over it. I discovered it by accident, but it’s improved my mood considerably–it’s precisely what I’ve been missing since those long-ago days when I would type up my blog inside an actual coffee shop.
It’s the little things that get us through.
I can’t sugarcoat a pandemic, but I don’t see the harm in sugarcoating pretty much everything else. I’ve spent hours over the last week looking at aesthetic photos like the ones I’m showing you right now. Just the sight of Fall–the leaves, the coffee, the baked goods–just that visual has been enough to sustain me through my darker days.
We’ve all realized at this point that Facebook is a toxic dumpster fire, but Instagram (though not perfect) has a lot more options if you want to look at pleasant things. I’ve started following several accounts that are solely dedicated to the Autumn aesthetic.
Bonus points to the photos that include coffee. Especially if it has latte art, like the picture above.
Or if there’s a fire. Can’t get enough of a bright, crackling fire. The cold doesn’t matter if you’re sitting by one of those, sipping on a nice hot drink.
Some pages exclusively focus on the baked goods. They make the most gorgeous, autumnal-looking cakes and pies and cookies, and everything else you can imagine. Eating something delicious is one of life’s great pleasures, and it only enhances things when you’re eating something beautiful.
And though I love all the warm Fall colors, I also hold a special appreciation for the pictures with soft, cool lighting. I like to be reminded that it’s cold outside (or that it will be soon, at least). That first cool breeze after months of roasting in the sun, that’s what gets me. Those warm fuzzy feelings always come rushing back. That’s why this is my season. My spirits are always bolstered when there’s a chill in the air.
And of course, anything that reminds me Halloween is on the way is more than welcome. Spooky season really can’t come fast enough this year.
At the beginning of this year (back when I was doing silly things like making plans), I had a New Year’s resolution: to live for each moment. My head has always been either stuck in the past or the future, and I’d realized that living in the present was the only way I was going to get the most out of being alive.
Living in the moment, though it has been a struggle to do it, has been my saving grace in 2020. When the future suddenly looks so uncertain, I can’t tell you how much it helps to say, “The future doesn’t exist yet.” I could never have guessed what this year was going to be like, and the truth is, I have no way of guessing what next year will bring either. The point is, I just have to get there and see, one day, one hour, one moment at a time.
My friends, be safe, and be kind to yourselves. Keep in mind what’s really important. I’ve lost some sleep these 200 days, and I’ve gained 10 pounds, but that just simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m still alive. And that’s all I want for all of you. I just want us to make it.
Take pleasure in this gorgeous Autumn…
And have a beautiful week.
(Please take a few extra seconds to click this link. It will take you to a reference page where you can find several different resources for helping the Black Lives Matter movement. Also, make sure you are registered to vote. This site makes it sooo easy, and it’s well past time to vote out the officials who don’t have our best interests at heart.)
After my last post, which was over 3 months ago, my creative energy just sort of tanked. And I thought, okay fine, I’ll give myself a couple weeks off–that was only a few days before an entire global movement for civil rights happened, on top of the current pandemic, so between unlearning basically everything I was ever taught in American history class, figuring out what part I can play in making our world a better place, and salvaging my own mental health (which was very tenuous until recently), returning to my blog has been the last thing on my mind.
That being said, I wanted to come back. I’m a writer, and I’ve gone too long without writing.
And the topic I chose for today has actually been in the back of my mind since I first started this blog:
Though in my heart, it is already Autumn (because we deserve to stretch out Autumn this year as much as possible), the reality is that it’s still Summer in terms of hot weather. So discussing bathing suits won’t be remiss.
If you’ve read my stuff in the past, you have an idea of how I was envisioning the year 2020. I wanted a full-blown modern revival of 1920s fashion. I wanted the boldness, the feminism, the fun. And well, I don’t need to tell you how much this year did not go according to plan. It’s like we skipped the champagne and went directly to the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression.
But what are we supposed to do? Give up? No no, we can do this. We’ve gotten this far.
I like a bikini as much as anyone, but I myself have gotten a little bored of them. There’s something utterly charming to me about going in a more retro direction. And though a sporty one-piece is considered pretty modest nowadays, styles like the photo above were scandalously sultry a hundred years ago.
Even more so if you dared to wear one with cut-outs.
It’s easy for us to look back at old photos or watch The Great Gatsby and take for granted how bold they were being for their time. Remember, they were making a break from the overly restrictive Victorian and Edwardian ages. And it took some nerve. Do you think society in general somehow didn’t give them a hard time? Women are given a hard time about their “propriety” to this day.
But the youth of the 1920s was vivacious and high-spirited, and they made some very modern strides.
It’s not that different from what we still like in 2020.
And it took time as well as nerve. Change is always gradual. It took different women different levels of daring, over the course of several different years, to get us where we are now. (Which I hope you find as inspiring as I do. You don’t have to take this whole messy world onto your shoulders. You just have to do your own small part).
“Time to revive a custom” is right. I’m 100% in favor of bathing suit pizza parties. That sounds like just what we all need. We’ll have to shoot for Summer 2021, of course–we’re still fully in the middle of a plague right now. But hey, it can give us something to look forward to.
Think it will still annoy men? The possibility isn’t farfetched…
All the more reason to do it.
I think the lesson to be learned here is that when we stick together, we can accomplish whatever we want. And if there was ever a time to have our friends’ backs, it’s definitely 2020.
This is also a great year to practice gratitude for the things we have, and I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful for those brazen individuals back in the day. Where would we be without them?
It’s always been a fight. Every single stride for women’s autonomy has been hard won. And we ought to think of our predecessors when we feel insecure about wearing a bathing suit, no matter what style we choose. The point is, we have a choice. They paved the way, no doubt. They’re the reason you can wear a string bikini without getting arrested.
So wear it with pride.
And more importantly, have a good time.
If you’re like me, then swimming opportunities have been somewhat limited this year. It’s not like I’m going to any pool parties; that would be irresponsible. But whether you can go swimming this summer or not, I hope that you’ll still approach your own autonomy with confidence and joie de vivre. If there’s anything 2020 has taught me, it’s that life is too short, and it’s especially too short to worry about what other people think of your style.
As a side note, I’d like to apologize if this post doesn’t look correctly formatted, or if it seems rushed. During the time that I was gone, the site that I use for this blog was completely revamped, and I had to relearn how to use it, which was incredibly distracting (and annoying). I’ll also admit, though my mental health is very much on the mend, it’s not at full capacity yet, so if I end up posting less often, please understand. I may need to post every other week for awhile.
Until next time, stay safe, keep your chin up, and don’t lose that dazzling inner spark. I love you guys.
Have a beautiful week.
(Please take a few extra seconds to click this link. It will take you to a reference page where you can find several different resources for helping the Black Lives Matter movement.)
I’ve said many times that red is a power color, and that still holds true. But a long time ago, I started noticing a pattern. Whether it’s cinema or television, when it comes to strong women in film, they are in blue nearly every time.
And more specifically, these characters are usually not just strong. They’re heroes.
(This post will contain some spoilers).
I’ve written more than one post about Lagertha, my favorite character in Vikings. She’s arguably my favorite character ever, of all time, and she’s influenced my life in a major way.
She wears several different colors throughout the series, but blue is certainly primary, and moreover, her shield is blue. That shield design isn’t just for her; it designates her entire army. Carrying that shield meant you fought for Lagertha.
Wise and fierce. A protector of other women. Lagertha rose from farmer to queen. Who would not want to carry her shield?
Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games, is marked out at the very start. She’s just a teenager, barely keeping her small family fed, when she makes the brave choice to volunteer herself as a tribute to the Capitol–in her little sister’s place. Standing there in that moment, in her simple blue dress, she is already a hero.
She has only a fraction of a chance of surviving the Games she just volunteered for, but through sheer force of will…
Katniss not only survives, but becomes a key player in destroying the Capitol itself.
I don’t know if I could live through everything that she did, but as an older sister myself, I feel that I can understand her. She wouldn’t say that she made a “brave choice.”
She would say she made the only choice.
Brienne of Tarth is one of many inspiring female characters in Game of Thrones. She stands at 6’3″ and is one of the best fighters in the whole show. Considered her whole life to be ugly, and certainly not ladylike, she dedicated herself instead to the sword. And being the only woman in the land who fights like a knight means that she has to fight twice as hard.
Brienne is fearless, relentless, and she has a noble, golden heart. She believes in honor and virtue, fighting to defend the defenseless. She has the spirit of a true knight, in spite of a lifetime of being denied that title.
She’s only out of her armor like three times in the entire series, but guess what color her dress is.
There was no truer knight than she.
There’s a strangely common misconception that animated movies are “just kids’ movies,” and while it’s true that animation is usually aimed at children, the good ones often reach a level of quality that surpasses live action. One of Disney’s most underrated achievements is Atlantis: The Lost Empire. And one princess that deserves a lot more recognition is Kida.
Thousands of years old, she is curious, intelligent, open-minded, and capable of slaughtering you before you could blink. A true warrior princess who cares deeply for her people. Everything you could hope for in a role model.
Her whole design is fantastic, with a darker complexion and striking white hair; she wears all blue, and her tattoos are blue as well.
Captain Marvel was a super important movie. Not only is it one of Marvel’s best in terms of actual writing, it finally, finally shows us a stand-alone female superhero who is well-rounded, distinct, and not overtly sexualized.
Carol Danvers is strong, logical, and has a character arc that real women can relate to. Her costume isn’t entirely blue, but it still entirely counts–and it only seems appropriate that the blue is lined with red, which we know to be a serious power color itself.
Give me a dozen more movies like this, and maybe we’ll call it a start.
I know what you’re thinking, but for the moment, please put the last season of Game ofThrones out of your mind. Before the writers and directors so exquisitely botched this show, Daenerys Targaryen was nothing short of a messiah figure. Take a second to remember how brilliant and intricate the writing was for the first five or six seasons.
Remember when she wore almost nothing but blue? When she struck the chains off of slaves and gave mercy to the suffering? Daenerys was a hero. She was a survivor, and a great queen. And I’d rather remember her as what she really was.
Now let’s think of a show that didn’t let us down and was brilliant all the way through. Avatar: The Last Airbender. A series that, yes, was for children, yet still managed to address some very real subjects, like war and disability and death, all while still being fun to watch every single second.
Katara is easily one of the most powerful people in the ATLA universe, and she is also unwaveringly kind and compassionate. She’s only 14, and yet she has an inner strength that blows my mind.
She’s talented from the beginning, but just as her character grows and develops, so does her skill. Katara is a waterbender. Look at the comparison above: in Season 1 (left) making herself a little water umbrella to shield herself from the rain, and in Season 3 (right) full on stopping the rain.
I don’t care what age you are; you need to watch Avatar. It’s the show we deserve, with strong, consistent themes and dynamic, well-written characters. It just became available on Netflix, so start today!
Wonder Woman is more than just a hero. A very good case could be made that she is the most powerful individual in the DC universe. And her blue dress is easily one of the most iconic looks in cinema.
You remember. The stunning blue dress with the sword strapped down the back.
This captures Diana so especially well. She is elegant in every sense of the word, but made entirely of steel.
The movie was good, and I have high hopes for the upcoming sequel, but if you want to really see her fight, you should look into some of the animated movies–DC quietly puts out a lot of them. Diana is unbreakable, unstoppable, and I absolutely worship her.
As obvious of a pattern as this is, the truth is, I have no idea why blue is the color of choice for powerful women. Where did this trope come from? How did it become so ingrained in our storytelling? So widespread across so many fandoms? I bet somebody out there knows the history behind it.
I can only speculate.
Here’s the best theory I have: Mary.
It’s very likely, no matter what kind of background you have, that you’ve laid eyes on paintings or other depictions of the Virgin Mary, and you probably noticed that she’s in blue every time. There is a specific and ancient reason for this. Back in the day, blue pigment was the most expensive and rare, and so it was used only to paint especially holy figures. It became the defining color for Mary, the mother of Christ.
Considering that we live in a culture heavily saturated with Christian themes and archetypes, it makes sense to me that the color for Mary would ultimately become the color for heroic women. We associate blue so intrinsically with good that it’s only natural.
If I’m wrong, if you’re reading this and you know the answer to this question, feel free to leave a comment and tell me. I’d like to know. This pattern interests me very much. Strong women are everything to me.
I don’t know about you guys, but I really feel like I was on fire the last three weeks. My posts covered topics that meant a lot to me, and I hope you were able to take something meaningful away from them. I wish that I could put out content like that every single week, but the truth is that I barely generate ideas fast enough to keep up with my one-post-a-week schedule.
(If it wasn’t for this pandemic, I would probably be writing about the Met Gala right now. Just picture a single, dramatic tear rolling down my cheek).
So, while I continue to brainstorm, please enjoy this appreciation post for two very different, but very compatible colors.
Pink and black together make such a splendid contrast. I did a post (quite some time ago now) about the contrast of black and white, that eternal classic, and this is similar, but there’s definitely a different flavor going on.
Since our society at this current moment in history views pink as a naturally feminine color, I see its combination with black as a blending of feminine and masculine.
And it goes without saying that you can look stunning in this blend no matter where you fall on the gender spectrum.
It strikes a balance that, aesthetically speaking, looks like candy to me. My eyes tell my brain that pink and black together would be delicious. Like blackberries and cotton candy.
That delicious look was exactly what I was going for when I made my own cake for my 25th birthday. (It was easily one of the most beautiful baked goods I’ve ever created). The theme of my party was Quarter Life Crisis, and that was the centerpiece.
You can wear pink with an accent of black, black with an accent of pink, an even 50/50–literally all combos work in this case.
Take the picture above, for example; wearing an all-black outfit, and then a brightly colored statement coat, that’s a fail-proof choice. And I haven’t seen it done with a pink coat much at all (I don’t see many pink coats in general), so there’s an idea that’s still fresh and hasn’t been overdone, if you’re looking for a chic new thing to try.
If you saw my post on the Oscars a few months ago, you may remember this little Givenchy number that Gal Gadot wore. Any really great red carpet gown needs to have an element of the unusual; it needs to make you take a second glance. And there’s just something vaguely weird about this one–I think it’s because my eyes want the pink to be on top, black on the bottom. But it’s all lace, and that’s what got me. Pink and black, all in lace, it’s an aesthetic wonderland.
One of my favorite pink and black variants is the full goth look with pink hair. If dying my hair wasn’t so much trouble, I’m sure I would have done this myself at some point. If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you know I have a thing for pink hair.
Dior actually went in that direction in 2018, and it remains one of my favorite runway shows to this day.
Maisie Williams is one of my beloved fashion icons, and she walks around looking like a punk princess basically 24/7. I love this photo of her; she’s got the tiara and everything.
Ugh, she’s stunning.
Think of Persephone, the Greek goddess of Spring…and Queen of the Underworld. That’s just the sort of contrast I’m talking about. Florals and pinks and gentle pastels on top of bone and iron and darkness. It’s a vibe that I personally relate to very strongly.
You can like black leather jackets and delicate spring blossoms at the same time, and better yet, you can wear them simultaneously–I think that’s more or less the thesis statement of this post.
This brings BABYMETAL to my mind. They are a Japanese kawaii metal band, and in case you didn’t know, “kawaii” means cute. They rock very hard, and as you can see, they’re very metal, but they are also adorable. My favorite performance ever is their song “Gimme Chocolate,” which you can watch if you click the link. I highly recommend; it will change your life.
Black and white is, in its essence, yin and yang, light and dark. But pink and black is soft and dark. (Much like “edgy florals,” another Spark of Inspiration post from long ago). It’s tender and metal all at once.
If you’ve been with me long, you know I do these Spark of Inspiration posts every so often, and they’re all pretty random. I’ll just see something, some element of style, and then I write about it in the hopes that more people will adopt that element–so that I can see more of it.
And I’d always be happy to see more pink and black.
As I write this, I’m on Day 55 of my personal quarantine. I’m doing alright, and I hope all of you are safe and well, also. And for what it’s worth, I hope my blog is a pleasant little diversion while you’re waiting things out.
I watch most of what Vogue puts on YouTube, especially the “Diary of a Model” videos and makeup tutorials. There’s something just really pleasant and relaxing about them. But if you wanna talk fascinating, then you should watch their “Extreme Beauty” series (which is relatively new). It’s very similar to the usual beauty routine format, except that the focus is on people who pursue an extreme aesthetic.
(As an aside, I’d like to recommend to my readers that you take a good look at the pictures I’m about to show you. For some of you, this isn’t going to be shocking, but if you do find it startling, then take a second, steel yourself, and look again. These are all just people, and it would be silly to let yourself be afraid).
Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskaran are a couple from Montreal who met in design school. Together, they developed a brand called Fecal Matter, a title that they describe as “the perfect name…as it reflects how we feel about the fashion business and its constant contribution to the cycle of waste.” They also DJ, which is very cool.
In this video for Vogue, they take you through the 3-hour makeup process that they do on a daily basis, because yes, they look extreme all the time. That’s their art, and they’ve dedicated themselves to it fully.
Here’s their finished look.
They made a point of saying that, although presenting yourself like this seems attention-seeking, that’s not really what they want. They’ve gotten harassed and spit on; they’ve been accused of doing drugs and all kinds of other bullshit. “It would be way easier not to look like this,” says Steven, “but there’s…a satisfying feeling knowing that you’re not ashamed of who you are.”
Juno Birch (from Manchester, England) describes herself as an alien queen who crash-landed on Earth in 1962, and has been trying to (somewhat clumsily) dress like a lady every since.
Her first words in the video are “Hello, I’m Juno Birch, and I’m stunning.” (A level of confidence I heartily approve of).
She’s also a sculptor, and says that she likes an exaggerated sense of artificial beauty. Besides helping pay the rent, her art is often a way for her to design looks that she will then use on herself. This was also the sort of style that she would draw as a kid, so the over-the-top vibes have been with her from the very beginning.
“Her name is Linda,” Birch says, “and she goes shopping in the supermarket for human groceries. She’s stunning. She’s an alien. She’s a stunning alien.”
Jazmin Bean is an Indie musician from the London area, and their inspiration comes from both the dolls they grew up with and “creatures.” They say that with humans (I’m paraphrasing this), the features are very limited, whereas with animals, there’s so much variety, e.g. reptiles, fish, mammals, etc. Which is why one of the first things they do with their makeup is to sort of disguise the human nose. Looking more or less like a hybrid monster is definitely the idea.
“I feel like people see me as something really dangerous and evil. A lot of mothers will put their hands over their kids’ eyes so that they don’t have to look at me…when really I’m just a lil’ baddie wanting to go and just buy some food.”
A pleasant surprise in this video is that Jazmin’s grandmother takes them out to pizza at the end, and it’s so nice to see an extreme person being loved unconditionally by their family. That’s not often the case, unfortunately.
“I’ve never been interested in doing looks purely for the internet or…for a creative project. I’ve always loved just looking like this for my day-to-day life.”
Salvia, who happens to be a good friend of Jazmin’s, is an artist from Wales who also lives in the London area. She pursues an aesthetic that she describes as not quite alien, but more like a human that’s been heavily modified. She likes tubes, for example, which she uses as prosthetics on her face–she likes the medical look of them.
“Sometimes just living and going out and interacting with the world can be its own performance…because it can be so theatrical…I think everybody’s doing that. I don’t think that’s something that’s exclusive to me; I think everybody does that in their own way.”
That’s a sentiment I, myself, have expressed on this very blog. I certainly agree. We all paint on our own masks every single day; we all want to be seen in a particular light. Part of being human is the need for self-expression, and the variety that the human imagination can produce is astounding.
“I definitely get frustrated by how limiting physics can be, and biology can be. I don’t think there should really be any limits.”
By the way, the look you see above, which she does in the Vogue video, is what she wears for a bike ride around the village.
Bavarian artist Hungry, who lives and works in Berlin, does something they call “distorted drag.” Fascinated by symmetry, they have created an insect-inspired aesthetic.
The eye-catching prosthetic they wear in the picture above is specially made and fits in the nose, easily removable when needed. It’s the cherry on top of a very specific vibe, and it’s certainly one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen.
They describe themselves as the “local bug lady,” and in the video, they put together a look inspired by a “successful 80s businesswoman.” This ensemble is what they wear to, as they say, “take myself out to a nice dinner.”
“One of the first words that I learned the meaning of in Berlin was ‘relevance.’ A lot of the reactions I get are just not relevant to my life; they’re just not relevant to who I am, to what I am, and to my story.”
This statement obviously implicates the negative or hateful reactions, which are sadly a part of every extreme person’s life. I wish that didn’t have to be the case, but it’s very common all over the world for people to have little minds. I do hope, though, that, through the exposure that Vogue is giving them (and that I’m giving them in a much smaller way), these fascinating creatives will gain more appreciation.
I’ll tell you one thing, if you like to watch movies, you have no business acting hateful to extreme beauty artists. They are all amateurs who practiced and practiced, and ultimately reached the skill-level of professional movie makeup artists.
Shapeshifting is possible! All it takes is hours and hours of art.
The vastness of the Star Wars universe, and all fantasy worlds like it, would not exist without the kind of imagination capable of looking beyond the typical human form. And when we see it on the big screen, we eat it up. We’re obsessed with this kind of uniqueness. We all want to see new things, to look at figures that we would not have ever dreamed of ourselves.
To put it at its most basic, it stimulates the brain.
The truth is, we already have all of that vastness right here on Earth, amidst the human race. It would be in our best interest all around to embrace the limitless ways that we express ourselves. It’s just like music. We have everything from Classical to Death Metal, and it’s because there’s a different kind of music inside each of us. We should all have the freedom to let our souls sing. At whatever frequency comes naturally.
At the very least, doesn’t this make you feel a bit more relaxed about your own self-imposed imperfections? Doesn’t it help to know that different people find different things pleasing to the eye? If there are individuals out there who are in love with the macabre, or fascinated by the symmetry of insects, or find beauty in the monstrous, then don’t you imagine there are people in this world who would think you’re stunning exactly as you are?
“I have a very strong vision of what I want and what I consider to be beautiful…” says Salvia.
And I believe we all do. We all know what pleases us. But how many of us have the guts to pursue those things? To take what we really want out of this life? To be truly, fully authentic?
For all their variety, these extreme people do share similar experiences. For one, they are all dedicated enough to make major aesthetic choices, like shaving their eyebrows off, and they are perfectly willing to wear uncomfortable or painful accessories. Every one of them said it was worth it to achieve the fantasy in their head.
All of them were naturally drawn to their chosen aesthetic from a young age, which really isn’t a surprise. All people are more or less their own selves from the moment they’re born. I had my personal likes and dislikes when I was a kid, like anyone else. It just goes to show you that what comes naturally goes well beyond what we call “normal.”
Most of them faced bullying and other traumas as they were growing up, which they overcame. Not one of them bent to the petty will of others. They didn’t suppress themselves for the approval of their peers. They stubbornly live their lives as they wish. This is something I greatly admire, but I do find it sad that they have to endure the abuse and harassment that they consistently get.
Stupid people shouldn’t be a hazard, but they are, in fact, the worst hazard in the world.
And as I’ve said in the past, bullies and bigots are not welcome on my page. If you have been filled with hate and disgust by this post, exit my site immediately, and don’t ever click on my link again.
“People in general need to be exposed to this type of thing,” says Jazmin Bean, and I agree.
Speaking for myself, the older I’ve gotten, the more bored I’ve become with people who try to all look basically the same, who all just repeat the same ideas and sentiments over and over. One thing I noticed about these extreme artists is that none of them live in America, and that doesn’t surprise me. This is not an especially tolerant country. Where I live, you can get harassed for having a nose piercing–I’d be legitimately scared for the safety of someone who showed up to the grocery store looking like an alien.
But that being said, the more people are exposed to differences, the more normalized those differences gradually become. Imagine a world free of bigotry. Imagine how much more we would get to see. If we would only let people feel safe, we would never be bored again.
“I think in order to live life in a way that’s as fulfilling as possible, it’s important to address your fears and…push yourself as far as possible, and never really stop.” –Salvia
Last week was very female-positive, and well, generally, that’s what I do. I’m a woman; I fall way on the feminine side of the spectrum–I write what I know.
But last week’s topic is not something that only women face, and I felt like I needed to address that. Men struggle with body image, too. And my message of self-love is not exclusive to any one set of people.
This is going to be fun, because I’ve decided to use fictional examples as I discuss this. I’m a huge fangirl, and my interests don’t usually intersect, so buckle up!
(FYI: This post will contain spoilers).
First, and most crucially, a statement:
Toxic masculinity hurts men.
Volumes have already been filled about how much it hurts (and kills) women, but people don’t talk about how horribly it distorts men.
Zuko, from Avatar: The Last Airbender, goes through one of the most perfectly written character arcs ever, and it begins with him as a young teenager, angry and torn up inside from being discarded by his abusive father. He’s obsessed with “regaining his honor,” and it takes him down a path of self-loathing and violence.
He’s a villain, but what he really is, is a boy growing into a man, whose father didn’t think he was strong or ruthless enough. Who wasn’t naturally cruel or dominating. Whose bright, youthful smile was snuffed out.
No one could ever say that Zuko wasn’t a great warrior. He proved himself throughout the series to be not only physically strong and skilled, but incredibly clever. He grows from a villain into the thoughtful and brave young man that he was born to be.
It all culminates into the big moment when he finally sees his father again, when he calls him out for being the hateful, power-hungry abuser that he really is. Calls him out for being a terrible father. Zuko is the perfect example of someone harmed by toxic masculinity, as well as the incredible redemption of overcoming it.
And let’s not forget the man who never gave up on him. Uncle Iroh was a real father to Zuko. Gentle, forgiving, patient. A calm and loving presence in his nephew’s life. The epitome of non-toxic masculinity.
And also known as The Dragon of the West, for his legendary prowess in battle.
Gentle doesn’t mean weak. It never has.
And now that I’ve gone over that, let’s get back to the main focus, which is male body image.
It definitely seems to have changed over the course of the last few decades, and sadly not for the better. Heroes on the big screen have gone from pretty natural-looking…
I’m here to tell you that this image of the bulging, hyper-muscular male form is neither healthy nor natural. Hugh Jackman, bless him, was put through some pretty dangerous stuff to make him look like that. (Stuff like being so dehydrated that he was flirting with organ failure).
And it’s a problem, because boys obviously want to be like their heroes. Everyone does. And Wolverine is one of the best. He is so compelling, and I’ve been in love with him since I was about 12 years old.
But it’s easy to mistake having a six-pack for being strong.
A case could be made that these bulging muscles are a form of objectification for the sake of female viewers, but that’s pretty easily debunked. Just look at the covers of these two magazines.
The one on the left is tailored to male readers, with Hugh in fully-jacked Wolverine-mode and headlines that are basically “You, too, can look like this!”. The magazine on the right is meant for women, with a headline about romance and Hugh standing there with his shirt on, looking like a pretty normal dude.
So let’s not pretend. Making comic book heroes look like they’re on steroids isn’t to please the female eye. It’s a design that is 100% a male power fantasy. And it’s a toxic one. Try to make yourself look like that, and there’s a huge chance you’ll get hurt.
If you want to talk about real strength, I mean actual, raw power, this is what it looks like. This is the build. No abs, a little bit of a tummy…he could pick up and throw your average bodybuilder like a softball.
That’s Hafthor Bjornsson, aka the official World’s Strongest Man. He played Gregor Clegane (also called The Mountain) in Game of Thrones. Meet the scariest villain in the whole GoT universe. Not Tywin Lannister, not Joffrey, not even Ramsey Bolton. Gregor might have been a minor character, but he chilled me to the bone on a primal level. Standing at 6’9″, not only was he a straight up giant, he was a thoughtless and cruel individual. A real, true monster. And if he wanted to kill you, you’d have about the same chance of fighting off a freight train.
All I can say is, thank God he’s a cool guy in real life.
The grizzly bear is not a lean animal. It’s actually one of the most hulking creatures on this earth. And it is unstoppably strong.
My point is, seeing the outline of every muscle on the body is purely aesthetic. Highly unnecessary. You can be strong as hell (and also healthy), and have some fat on you. Just like what I was saying last week, different bodies have different needs, and feeling all this pressure to look a certain way is bullshit.
I don’t like knowing that some very good actors are forced into extremes just to look like this for a shirtless scene. They shouldn’t have to go through that. What does anyone gain by Thor looking this way, if it’s harmful to Chris Hemsworth?
You know what I actually found more appealing? It may shock you…
Fat Thor was more interesting, more real, and more relatable than Beefcake Thor.
It was sort of played for laughs, which isn’t really fair, but this was a character who was experiencing actual depression. He had “let himself go,” but here’s the thing: it wasn’t his body that he needed to work on; it was his mind. And when he picks himself back up and steps forward as a warrior once more…
Don’t act like he lost an ounce of his physical power.
Thor was stronger than he’d ever been in the final battle (and he didn’t “miraculously” show up all lean and trim either). And damned if I didn’t find him sexy in that moment. He even braided his beard.
The insane, overly intense bodybuilder culture we’ve been perpetuating is harmful. The idea that you have to be hyper-muscular (or hyper-masculine) to be a “real man” accomplishes little more than lowering the self-esteem of men worldwide.
The original Star Trek series (which is so worth watching) showed us a wonderful variety of characters, and had an enjoyable amount of shirtlessness itself. And something I noticed right away was that Captain Kirk (the guy always portrayed as the sexy one), never had a six pack. He had an athletic, but entirely normal body.
It led me to believe that beauty standards had yet to get so outlandishly unrealistic in the 60s.
Spock (the cerebral one) got a few shirtless scenes, too, and that’s what I was there for. (Give me the smart one). He was the intellect in the group, and he had less of a reason to look like he was in the gym a lot. You’ll notice in the picture above that he’s skinnier, and he even has natural body hair–I really don’t know why Hollywood feels like it has to wax every chest in sight.
(The funny thing is that Spock is the designated nerd, and he could still kick Kirk’s ass).
No less hot.
Lord of the Rings accomplished a rare thing. Taking place in a world of high fantasy, with magic and epic sword-fights and a lot of men doing a lot of heroic deeds, toxic masculinity is nowhere to be seen.
Look at the variety in the picture above. The Fellowship was made up of men from all across the realm. They all have different perspectives, different strengths, different struggles–and they are so damn caring and supportive of one another. They are, each in their own way, incredibly tender and genuinely good people.
They don’t want war. But they’re stepping up, facing peril at great personal cost, because they want to protect their world from darkness.
And their muscles are never a focus at any point. Because that would be stupid. Muscles don’t make the man–if they did, I wouldn’t have wanted to marry Samwise Gamgee when I was a young teenager watching these movies.
And this isn’t solely about strong vs. not-strong.
Looking for a role model who’s a leader? A real alpha-male type with nerves of steel? Look no further than Captain Jean-Luc Picard, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’d marry him in a heartbeat, and so would millions of other women.
Big muscles and an excess of machismo don’t mean a damn thing in terms of who’s appealing. Pro-tip: As a woman who’s attracted to men, I can tell you that we would choose a calm, reasonable man over a brash one nine times out of ten.
I can’t make many generalizations beyond that, of course. Every individual has a completely unique sense of taste when it comes to what they find sexy. And personal taste can go all over the map. I myself, for example, have had a thing for Darth Maul since Phantom Menace first came out.
All of this to say, it’s time to forget about what shape you are and focus on what kind of person you want to be. What you want to add to this world. It will come naturally to you, because we’re all different, and the world needs all of our differences.
We fantasize about living in these massive realms like the Star Wars universe or the Lord of the Rings universe, with all this fascinating variety–aliens, elves, hobbits–but who are we kidding? We bully each other to death just for being slightly different shapes and colors. If we even thought the Zabrak or Mandalorian races were real, we’d declare war immediately.
Humankind already has all the variety we could ever need, and we ought to learn to appreciate it.
Men come in all forms, and they’re all still men. Some are like Kristofer Hivju (left). Some are like Sean Chong-Umeda (right). And there are a million sorts in between. It’s just as well, too, because everybody likes something different. If you’re worried about whether or not you’re attractive, I want you to know, there are people out there who would find you sexy exactly the way you are right now.
The important thing is that you’re not an asshole.
Men have emotional needs, inner struggles, and poignant vulnerabilities. Toxic masculinity tries to squash that all down. “Anger is the only emotion you can feel.” “Real men don’t cry.” “Real men don’t ask for help.” “If you don’t like violence, you’re weak.”
“Women will only like you if you have big muscles.” (Whoever says that has never spoken to an actual woman before).
Way too many men live their lives trying to pull off this false sense of stoicism, never feeling “allowed” to explore their full range of human emotions or interests–for fear that their manhood will be snatched away somehow.
There are real consequences to that shit. We already know how dangerous it makes things for women, but here’s what else toxic masculinity does: there are no baby changing stations in men’s bathrooms (Screw single dads, right? Childcare is for women). There is pretty much zero access to care for male victims of domestic abuse (because only women can be abused, right?). Men suffer from eating disorders (and yet, people believe that’s only a female problem).
Boys get mocked for showing emotional sensitivity, so they tamp that down. Men often grow up never even getting hugged by their loved ones, so they walk through life touch-starved and unsure of how to express affection. We teach our sons, “be tough” and nothing else. Having biceps is the same thing as having a personality.
Men commit suicide at four times the rate of women.
The thesis of my entire blog is to encourage women to take their places in this world as queens. To embrace their personal power, put on their crowns, and sit comfortably on their thrones.
I am the queen of my life. That’s my mantra. My home is my kingdom, and I decide how I will walk through this existence.
But just as I was once a little princess, our boys ought to grow up as princes. I’m not talking about spoiled brats; I’m talking about kids who are raised to understand responsibility and benevolence. And if you weren’t raised like that, then it’s time to teach yourself. Because just as women should be the queens in their lives, men must be their own kings.
Good and just kings. Bringers of peace. Supporters of love.
I am going to look after myself, and I am going to look after the people I care about. And if I were a man, nothing about that would change. And it certainly wouldn’t be changed by something as petty as my body fat percentage.
Today, I feel like telling you about my personal journey with weight, self-image, and being a woman in a highly judgmental world.
It’s not a sad story. I’m not about to tell you that I battled an eating disorder, or that I hated myself when I was a teenager. None of that happened. But there’s a good chance something like that crossed your mind when I said “my personal journey,” and that just goes to show you how prevalent those problems are.
First of all, what is the Body Positivity Movement? Well, in its essence, it’s a bunch of people saying that they deserve decency and respect no matter what their bodies look like. I’ve put a picture of Lizzo above because I think of her as the face of this movement in a lot of ways. She has more than earned the fame and adoration that she’s recently gained, and she has been completely unapologetic about how she looks–and how much she loves herself. Her biggest hits, “Truth Hurts” and “Good as Hell” are incredibly uplifting songs, and of course I’m a big fan of anyone who spreads self-love like that.
So, back to me. How do I fit into the movement?
The answer is: not especially.
My non-tragic backstory is this… Starting at puberty, I spent my formative years being very skinny. I didn’t exercise or eat any particular way; I didn’t even think about it. That was just the natural form I took. In fact, when I was a senior in high school, I actually lost a little weight when I was taking P.E, and my parents gently confronted me about it. I was sort of befuddled at their concern, because my weight was never on my mind. I was healthy, and nothing had changed except for the light exercise. It was just that they knew what I didn’t at the time (I was pretty oblivious at that age), which was that young girls are extremely vulnerable to eating disorders.
But I was fine, and life went on, and I still didn’t give my weight any thought. But I did like being thin. That’s worth pointing out. Thinness is the standard for beauty in the western world, without a doubt. I was also coasting on a lot of privilege, being white, Christian, and upper middle class. I was 5’6″ and about 118 lbs. Life was pretty sweet, and I was just a little bit vain.
You know who’s the same age as me? Demi Lovato. And there was a girl who didn’t have a happy wave to ride through her adolescence. As it turns out, society treats not-skinny people, especially women, and especially celebrities, like absolute shit. I didn’t know a thing about this, because it wasn’t happening to me. Demi has struggled and overcome more than I can imagine, including surviving an overdose in 2018.
Recently, on an episode of Ellen, she opened up about how much she had been “managed” by her former team, who had gone so far as to remove the phones in her hotel rooms to prevent her from ordering room service, as well as not allowing her to have a birthday cake for several years. Listening to her talk about overcoming an eating disorder that had been encouraged by her own people, listening to the pure joy in her voice when she said her new manager got her a real cake for her 27th birthday… I mean, what can I say to that? She suffered so unnecessarily.
Her newest song, “I Love Me,” was a beautiful triumph over a struggle that way too many women face every single day.
Back to me again. It wasn’t until I was about 25–by then already happily married and settled–that something changed. Gradually, almost unnoticeably, I gained ten pounds. At the time, I was dealing with a bout of depression (that I did eventually work through), so I figured stress was to blame. That was when I got on anxiety meds, which improved my mental state, but also made me gain more weight as a side effect.
And this was the first time in my life that I felt weird about my body. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I had never been self-conscious before; I had never had a self-esteem issue, ever. (And I’ve come to realize how incredibly uncommon that is. Believe me, from what I’ve learned, low self-esteem is actually the norm).
(A norm I want to change).
So I found myself with a brand new strain of anxiety that my meds were actually worsening. An anxiety tied to my weight. Here’s how I handled it: I kept taking my medication.
As uncertain as I was, I understood that my mental health was the priority, and my depression had nothing to do with my self-image. You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, and the first elephant I needed to get through was getting my brain back on track. And being married to a pharmacist has its merits–the cardinal rule of taking any medication is youdon’t just stop.
Now, I did eventually make the decision to get off the medicine (about a year later), and it was the right choice for me, but I want you to understand, many people need to take meds for anxiety/depression indefinitely, and there is no shame in that. Everyone needs to do what’s best for themselves. It’s between you and your doctor.
But over the course of this whole experience–about two years from then to now–I gained approximately thirty pounds. You can see the difference in the pictures above, the left being from 2018, and the right being from a month ago. At my heaviest, I was about 150 lbs. I never changed the way I ate; I never changed anything, so I didn’t really understand why I was gaining. What it took me way too long to realize is that 150 is actually a completely normal weight for someone who’s 5’6″. But the way women are conditioned in this society, if the numbers on the scale are steadily rising, that means you are losing your beauty!
Supermodels are a good example. Some of them are so thin, it almost doesn’t look natural. (The industry is getting better about discouraging unhealthy/dangerous eating habits, but for a while there, it was pretty damn guilty of that sort of thing).
Now, one thing I love is to watch these videos that Vogue puts on Youtube about how models start their days and get ready for big runway shows. One thing that a lot of them have in common, I’ve noticed, is that they say they were often scouted at the age of 14-15 years old. That’s when they started their careers. So a lot of models you see on the runways are not grown women. They’re kids who are naturally thin, just like I was.
I’m not going to sit here and bash supermodels. They’re very hardworking and committed young men and women. But they are generally only that one body type, and it’s important to realize that.
I’ve adamantly practiced self-love my entire life, and the feeling that my sex appeal was somehow fading…that was a foreign and completely unwelcome feeling. It certainly didn’t feel like me. And I was constantly at war with myself for that reason. Was I out of control? I didn’t know. The cause was still an overall mystery, which was highly frustrating.
I made a mental pros and cons list of the changes I was experiencing–classic me. I do that with everything. And there were pros, mind you.
For one thing, I liked the way it filled out my face. I’d never realized it before, but looking back at pictures when I was super skinny, to me, I looked 13 years old. Which I can’t say I liked very much. I’m 27. I’d like to look grown. And I do now.
Another big pro was that I was healthy. Steadily healthy, all the way through. Even when I was walking around looking like a human stick-insect, I was never underfed, never sickly or malnourished. And nothing about that changed.
The cons were very mild, now that I have some perspective. I needed to go up a size or two in my jeans (not fitting into your jeans is such a shitty feeling). My boobs got bigger–you’d think that would be a silver lining, but I actually found it pretty annoying. I got stretch marks on my thighs (which bothered me a lot less than I might have expected; seriously, who cares? Who’s gonna stand there and judge my thighs?). The one I disliked most was having some squish on my once-flat tummy.
Charli Howard is a woman with a similar body type to mine. She was a model who ended up rebelling against the standards of the industry and instead embraced her natural curves. She empowered herself enough through it, in fact, that she started her own skincare line called Squish.
I belong in the Body Positivity Movement at about the same capacity as Charli. She’s not supermodel thin, but she’s not fat either. I mean, for all the 30 lbs I gained, I literally just transitioned from ‘small’ to ‘medium.’ And for all the inner turmoil I put myself through, I never had to face public disrespect or a restricted access to clothing, something legitimately fat people deal with all the time.
Note: I’m using the word ‘fat’ here, and it’s not by accident. It’s not a rude word. The fat community has made a point to reclaim the term. It is not synonymous with ‘ugly,’ and if you use it that way, it’s because fatphobia has been so ingrained into us as a culture.
(As you learn these things, it’s your job to unlearn the prejudices you’ve been trained to have).
Our world is very harsh to people who look more like Lizzo. It’s really downright abusive. Lizzo herself gets all kind of shit from people who say she’s “promoting obesity” and other such nonsense. It’s ridiculous. She’s literally an athlete–you basically have to be to go on tour, doing those physically demanding shows over and over. Lizzo is strong. Lizzo could kick your ass.
I admire her for being so confident and unbothered by the haters. (She posts pictures of herself eating junk food on Instagram just to anger them further, and good for her).
But Lizzo is sort of an outlier. The average person who classifies as obese gets dragged down more than they can handle, and for them, self-love and confidence are a genuine struggle. What’s more, although there are fat people who are perfectly healthy, there are plenty who are not–and they don’t owe anyone good health just to receive basic decency from others. Nothing about your physicality should dictate how people treat you. If someone’s sick, or mentally ill, or suffering from chronic illness, or anything at all, how is it acceptable to treat them badly? It shouldn’t be, but that’s where we’re at as a society.
Here are some fat positive Instagram accounts I recommend you follow:
I’ve learned a lot. A whole lot. We put people through too much. We act like they should jump through hoops to get our approval. Designers won’t make clothes in their sizes; healthcare professionals often don’t take them seriously; they walk through life dealing with people being assholes left and right. It’s bullying on a mass scale, and we just let it happen. It’s more than unkind. It’s cruel.
I don’t have a sad story. I’ve never been abused in any sense of the word. I grew up with a (rare) sense of self-esteem, and to this day, I live my life surrounded by people who love me unconditionally.
I still felt like shit when I was gaining weight.
And it really opened my eyes to how easily the self-image can be distorted. Suddenly, it made sense to me why many girls I knew–even girls who were thin, even girls who had beautiful features, even girls with incredible intelligence or big, loving hearts–found excuses to call themselves ugly. That used to confuse the hell out of me, but I get it now. Women and girls exist in a world that ties their beauty to their human worth.
And beauty, in this context, is a very narrow, exclusive construct.
You want to know why I gained weight?
It was because I had reached my mid-20s, and my metabolism naturally changed. I wasn’t a teenager anymore, and I had finally grown into my adult body.
I’m lucky that I made healthy choices as I went through this experience. Around last October, when I was about 150 lbs, I bought myself a planner, and I wrote down (in ink) which days I would go to the gym, which days I would do yoga, and which days I would do nothing at all. Next, I cut back on the Dr. Pepper (I didn’t cut it out; I didn’t cut anything out, because I’m not on this earth to live a life of deprivation). I also got rid of the scale in my house, and I haven’t weighed myself since–obsessing over numbers was only going to drive me towards insanity.
I had just wasted a whole lot of time feeling weird about myself, but geez, what if I had reacted drastically? What might I have done to myself if self-love wasn’t such a deeply rooted personal habit? Because women end up hurting themselves all the time for this exact reason.
I laid out this problem of mine, and I dissected it like I was performing an autopsy (because that’s how my anxiety works). I’m not afraid of research–you really have to do it if you want to learn anything practical. (Just like with sex ed. Our school system is basically worthless). It might have been useless to worry, but I don’t regret the knowledge I’ve gained.
For example, did you know that not only is cellulite normal, it’s kind of important? Women’s bodies store fat differently, which actually helps us survive shortages, or drains on the nutrients we take in, drains like, oh, a little thing known as pregnancy. I was floored when I learned that. And yet, we are desperate to get rid of it.
The general public doesn’t know jack shit about what makes a body healthy, and “normal” can be so drastically different for different people. There is no reason, no excuse for a person to look at another person and decide they don’t look “right.” And keep that in mind when you look in the mirror.
Self-talk is crucial. You’ve got to be as stubbornly kind and forgiving with yourself as you would be with anyone else. If someone, at any point, had walked up to me and said, “You looked better ten pounds ago,” I wouldn’t have hesitated to tell them to go fuck themselves.
So why on earth should I be allowed to talk to myself like that?
Here’s the end of my little story. In the midst of my anxiety, I examined those feelings of insecurity and doubt, and I said that’s not me. I chose self-love. And when it got hard, I chose self-love out of pure spite.
That’s who I am.
I’m 27 years old. I’m 5’6″, and I have reason to believe I weigh between 141-146 lbs. And I’m still just a little bit vain.
We are currently trying to get through a pandemic. I’m waiting it out in quarantine just like everybody else, and I haven’t been to the gym in a long time now. Whatever. It’ll be annoying to get back into an exercise routine when this is all over, but I will. ‘Til then, I’m grateful that I can stay safe at home, and that I can keep writing.
Give yourself permission to forget about weight during this difficult time. Drink coffee and wine. Eat carbs. Do things that you enjoy. We’ll deal with the future as it comes.
Quarantine or not, it’s still the 20s–calling it the Screaming 20s seems more appropriate now then ever, doesn’t it?–and since so many of us are already in our jammies at home, I figured there was no better time…
Let’s talk about nightwear.
This is definitely the vibe I’d personally like to achieve. A coordinated silk and lace ensemble, coffee cup in hand.
You can still buy sets like this, though I’ve usually found them to be sort of pricey. I may decide to treat myself someday, but I hesitate at the moment. The truth is, I have so many pajamas already (aka cute old t-shirts) that it always feels impractical to buy new ones.
And maybe I’m just fussy, but does it bother anyone else how easily wrinkled silk gets? Hardly anything is more gorgeous to me than these old pinup photos, but the prettier the lingerie, the more delicate and high-maintenance it seems to be. To me, that makes it a little less fun.
Then again, stuff like that is mostly meant to be taken off.
The good news is that you can still be cute and matchy-matchy. Just make a point to go in a more cotton/polyester direction when you do your shopping.
I chose to lump together pajamas and lingerie in this post because, in the end, there really is very little difference. And besides, anything can be lingerie if you’re in the right mood.
You can see in these illustrations that the same silhouettes were being used for pajamas as for day wear. Essentially a straight line down, with no emphasis on the waist.
I don’t know about you, but I think every one of those drawings looks, not only chic, but exceedingly comfortable (which should always be the bottom line when it comes to sleepwear).
The kimono is my favorite element in the 20s nightwear aesthetic, hands down. This is something I absolutely intend to give myself one day. Something that ties at the waist, and I want it to be at least knee-length. Like a robe, but extra.
Aren’t these pictures just divine?
Honestly, you could consider these 20s posts I do to be more like a mood board than anything else. Which one of these photos will inspire you? What will stick in your mind and influence your next purchase, or your next closet reorganization? The Screaming 20s will be different for everybody, but I like the idea that my blog could be an inspirational resource that we share in common.
Here’s my ultimate goal. What could be more stylish, more luxurious than this? A fully coordinating three-piece set. Soft pink with black lace trim. Entirely glamorous, yet designed simply for lounging. I can easily picture myself wearing this exact combo as I make breakfast, maybe do a little laundry, and play video games for an entire afternoon. It’s so me.
I like to keep things honest with you, my readers, and so I’ll tell you, if this post has seemed disjointed or maybe like it doesn’t have a real thesis, I agree. That’s how I see it anyway, reading it over now. The truth is, my desire to write is flickering in and out at the moment. Don’t misunderstand; I will continue putting something out every week. I refuse to stop. I just hope you’ll forgive the occasional slip in my focus. We’re living in strange times, and it affects us all in one way or another.
That being said, I have been inspired by the 20s aesthetic, not just this year, but for about six years. It’s a subject that has been brewing in the back of my mind all this time, and I waited. I waited until 2020 arrived. So that I could strike when the iron was hot.
2020 threw us a curveball that no one was expecting (though it certainly proves that history does repeat itself). When I said I wanted us to embrace the 20s vibe, I meant pearls and feminism, not plague and economic collapse. But here we are, and seeing as we are currently sitting in quarantine, here’s my thesis:
Pajamas, but make it fashion.
We could all be lying around the house like this for a few weeks. Who’s going to stop us?