Stop Complaining About Your Life, Our Little Sisters Need Us

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The system is fucked. I’m not going to dance around this subject or take too much of your time painting some kind of abstract picture to make this easier to read. This is it. The system is fucked. In fact, many, many systems all around the world are fucked. Let us just focus on this one for now. You have a busy life, I have a busy life (not really); everyone wants to care about an issue as long as it involves no real effort or time. If this article is a reasonable length, my message will be heard. If this article is a paragraph or two too long, half the people will stop reading it before the end. Therefore in order to keep your attention, again, I’m getting right to the point which is, we – and the system we have created – are fucked.

Growing up I wasn’t the pretty girl, my older sister was. She got better grades than me, she was thinner than me, she had better hair and she was better at sports. She was the golden child and I was the ugly duckling, always feeling left behind and as if no one had a good reason to care about me, when they could care about her. In high school a boy I grew up with said to me, “Your sister is so hot, what happened to you?” Once, my older brother’s friends called, when I picked up they asked me if I was “The hot sister.” It sucked, for many, obvious reasons. Though I can’t hold it against her, she just got the better genes. It happens. I am happy to report in the past ten years I have been able to get over the fact that she is perfect, and I had to take a longer, harder road than her, but as I sit here writing this, I am a beautiful woman. I figured some stuff out, went on a few adventures and I’m looking pretty good these days. I actually am a smart lady and I’m happy for that longer, harder road because it turned me into a strong, interesting person who has their shit (for the most part) together.

Though this road that I went down had some pretty traitorous times. When I was 15, I thought things would never get better. I hated myself. I hated my life. My social anxiety was so bad that for my sweet 16 I was prescribed Valium just so I could have a conversation without a panic attack. I, on many occasions, had thoughts of suicide and felt completely alone. Sure, those boys in high school might have said some mean things, but I was my own worst enemy. It didn’t help that I had a challenging home situation, one that not many kids face. Having to cook for myself because my Mom was in the hospital, recovering from cancer just after my Dad decided he no longer wanted to live with us. As well, I was attending an unusual amount of funerals. This, along with my self-confidence so non-existent I had to be medicated in order to fake it for the public, it’s easy to see, my teen years sucked.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine lost a young girl she considered to be a sister. This girl was only 15 when she decided to take her own life. She didn’t leave a note, only a video saying sorry to her family. Afterwards my friend went through her diary and found entry after entry explaining her hatred for her body, how ugly she was and hated that she was “chubby.”

When my friend was in her weakened state was able to tell me this story, she opened up to notify me of something she never divulged to me before. My friend explained that she knows a few girls (including the one she just lost), who hated themselves because they thought a few extra pounds were so disgusting that no one would ever find them to be beautiful. When these girls would share their pain with my friend, she would show them my Facebook page. She would go through all my photos with them. Since I’m a size 10 and only 5’4”, I’m not an ideal thin girl either, this is why she used me as an example. She would show them my photos, with my style and love for life and asked them if they thought I was pretty even though I’m not a size two.  When they replied “yes” she would ask, then why can’t you be pretty and curvy? She would explain if they thought I was pretty with a few extra pounds, then they too are pretty.

I had no idea my friend was doing this, and doing this for years. Then I thought about the disturbed girl who felt the need to go to such lengths as to end her own life over this. I thought about all those diary entries my friend read after she had passed and all the writing this girl put her energy into to describe how much she hated herself. Then I thought what she wrote probably isn’t far from what I wrote when I was her age. Even worse, what she wrote probably wasn’t much different from what I wrote a few months ago, a few weeks ago, a few days ago. I mentioned earlier how far I’ve come from my high school years. In reality that’s just what I show the world, but when I’m at home, alone with my thoughts, and I dwell over everything. I dwell over how hard it has been for me to find a job, how I will never be a good writer, how it has been three years since I’ve had a boyfriend and how many men have used me and treated me like shit. I think about all these things and wonder why and my conclusion is I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough and I hate myself. How the fuck, why the fuck have I not been able to grow up and move on from this?  It is because this stage of arrested development in my mid twenties is far too comfortable and the future is too scary. Growing up, settling down, these responsibilities are terrifying, so I stick to what I know.

The system is fucked. These girls who are literally killing themselves over shit we have all gone through don’t need soap ads telling them they’re pretty. Corporations selling self-esteem through their products and disguising it as a revolution is the exact same as the media telling us we’re never going to be perfect, but still we should sink all our money into the hope that we might be the exception. We might be the one ideal woman who if we can pay enough money and if we really, truly believe the revolution is here because a dollar driven devil is telling us so. What these teenage girls need is for us, the women who have been through the battles and have come out alive is to tell them, “yes, what you are going through is real and it sucks, but it’s not forever.”

We need to grow out of our comfort zone and be the role models these struggling young girls are searching for. Show them our bruises and scars, let them know our wounds have healed just like theirs will. We have all felt the fucked up pain and insecurities and it’s not the end. I know I still have my struggles, but I also know if the 15-year-old suicidal girl I was could see me now, she would be over-the-moon, happy and proud.

These girls have a future. We know that and we need to be the ones to show them. Like I said, they don’t need to be told they are beautiful over and over since the media has played that line into a broken record. They will get there, and they will see that, but first they need to see that there is a life after this pain. So, all my fellow twenty something ladies afraid of growing up, this is no longer about you. You have no choice. Grow the fuck up. Our little sisters need us now more than ever.

Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site casamonita.com.

Photography: By Unnamed photographer for Bain News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How (My) Fashion Impacted My Confidence

There is no doubting fashion’s effect on your confidence. Everyone’s style will change over time, and so will everyone’s satisfaction with what they wear. Personally, I went through three big stages recently. One was through high school and college where I only really wore anything that wasn’t form fitting, the other lasted for a couple of years after college where I was experimenting with layers, and now I am in a fairly womanly stage, finally! Looking back, I know what I wore affected me more than I realized at the time.

1) The Comfortable Years

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My first stage, or “the comfortable years,” was full of hoodies and jeans. Oh, and t-shirts and jeans. Wait, did I mention baggy sweaters and jeans? Don’t get me wrong, I still wear all those things, but at this point my whole wardrobe doesn’t consist of it. I always loved colour, so the only thing I’ll give my high school and college self is that what I lacked in structure, I made up for in spunk.

At the time I was perfectly happy with it, and perfectly miserable about my weight. I liked feeling like I was perpetually in my pyjamas, but looking back, I know I was never excited to open up my closet and I was never excited about trying something different. I always felt like my body wouldn’t look good in other clothes, so I needed to stick to what I knew. As opposed to standing up tall with my shoulders back, I had my shoulders constantly slouched forward with my hands in my pocket. That’s not confident body language at all, and perhaps that just perpetuated my feelings. I didn’t wear certain pieces to reflect my mood since the one “mood” of my wardrobe screamed that I was distracting you from my self-consciousness with bursts of colour. This apparent war on fashion fought hard, but alas, died out.

2) The “Doctor’s Coat”

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According to Vogue, “In preliminary findings from a study published on the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website, subjects who donned white coats that they thought belonged to doctors performed better on tests than those who wore street clothes, or those who thought the coats were associated with artists.”

That is exactly what my second stage was like. I felt more feminine and I was experimenting with layers. I was finding my way in fashion and despite not doing a great job at presenting myself the way I wanted to come across, I was gaining confidence because I threw on my own version of the doctor’s coat. I lost some weight and I actually started feeling happy about the clothes I owned. I started wearing skirts, and I even bought a dress! Things were beginning to change for the better. From the same Vogue article, Katherine Bernard wrote, “…if you have a strong cultural association with a garment, wearing it can affect your cognitive processes.” That was the transformation I was beginning to take. I started wearing clothes that reminded me of confident women, and I honestly started to feel a change in my approach to fashion.

3) Womanhood

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Now I am in the third major stage, womanhood. I love to wear dresses, and every morning I can find something that reflects my mood. All the bright colours are still there, but now there are more structured and collared shirts, as well as skirts, khakis, dress pants and of course jeans.

Another crucial element to this stage is that I opened up an Etsy shop last year selling knitwear. This allowed me to actually create pieces I could wear, and in turn, has made me feel even more confident as it makes me feel connected to what I’m wearing. If I’m sure of one thing, it’s that what you wear can affect your confidence. These days if I go to an interview, I have my go-to blazer and dress that give me the extra boost I need to feel at ease. Even if I’m at home and I need to have a productive day, the first thing I’ll do is put on a nice blouse, like one I would wear to the office. Without fail, it always sets the tone puts me in the mood to get stuff done.

There is no doubt my confidence would have been higher if I skipped over my first stage and started on my second. My style has changed over time, and because of it, I’ve learned how much it can affect me. Looking back, I know that what I wear right now is a good representation of the woman I am inside.

Jackie Amodeo is the Owner of Lively Loops, Head Writer/Performer & Producer of her comedy troupe, Steezy as well as a Blogger, Video Blogger and Social Media Specialist.

On Boudoir and Self Love

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As I slip into my brand new white lace panties and adjust my matching push up bra, I feel empowered and naughty all at the same time. Who is this scantily clad girl looking at me in the mirror? I wonder. I can’t believe I am actually posing for boudoir photos.

Normally I would never allow anyone to see me in my underwear, let alone snap photos of me in it. Call me a prude, but I always feel self-conscious when changing in front of people, even my fiancée! It’s hard to get comfy in your own skin when you are self-conscious about your body.

Boudoir photos are beautiful and I always wanted to have them done. They are sexy, fun and classic. Whenever I see these types of photos I feel liberated, inspired and proud to be part of such a beautiful sex of human. I decide to get these photos taken for two reasons:

  1. I am getting married in two months and wanted to have a sexy, fun gag gift to give to my groom.
  2. I am vain and want to have some hot photos of myself to look at when I am old and wrinkled.

As I untie my silk robe, the photographer instructs me to sit on the bed while looking at the camera and tugging the inner straps of my bra. I am sitting in my all white bridal lingerie along with my veil, tiara and some four-inch sparkly silver heels. I feel sexy, happy and feminine as I laugh and pose seductively for the camera. As the shoot goes on, I start to feel more confident and slowly start to let go of my inhibitions. These photos will only be seen by me and my fiancée so I let myself just have fun with the pictures. I know I am not a Megan Fox or Marilyn Monroe, but I am beautiful in my own way and want to showcase myself in a way that I normally don’t.

After a few shots of me on the bed, I make my way to the floor where the photographer instructs me to drape my legs over the edge of the bed. This definitely feels like a porn star pose and I instantly start to giggle. It’s hard to keep a seductive face when looking at the camera. I always feel awkward and vulnerable when a camera is directed at me, like the lens can see through all my insecurities.

As I pose in my lingerie with my hair tussled and makeup all done, I am proud to be a female at this exact moment. Although my body is far from perfect, I am happy with my small frame, curvy hips and bubbly butt. I deserve to feel just as sexy as any super model or actress does.

I deserve to feel just as sexy as any super model or actress does.

After the photos in my bridal lingerie, I change into my second outfit which is comprised of plain black panties and matching bra, along with one of my fiancée’s dress shirts. When looking for boudoir inspiration on Pinterest and Google, I notice many shots of women in men’s clothing. I thought this was hot and definitely something I had wanted to include in my session. Throughout the next slew of photos, all I can smell is my fiancée’s cologne on the shirt and it makes me feel special, knowing that I am the only girl who will ever get to wear any of his clothes.

The last photos we take is of me standing and facing the wall with my head tilted down and smiling while hanging onto the side of my panties. I feel satisfied with all the shots we have taken, and I can’t believe an hour has flown by already. I am sad that it’s over, but excited to see how they all turned out. Even more excited to have them printed and made into a book for my fiancée on the wedding day!

Even if you aren’t getting married, Boudoir shots are something I recommend all women to do. This experience for me was a real self-esteem boost and made me feel like a star. People may say it’s vain, but I say it’s admirable.  A woman who loves her body and herself is sexy. All women are beautiful and should be proud of their sex. And sometimes the only person that needs to be reminded of that is YOU!

Natasha Pavlovic is a writer and beauty blogger. Check out her other writing on her blog