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GIRL UP: You Aren’t Your Body

I have picked up a pretty fantastic read recently. If you are a woman, someone struggling with body issues, going through the feelings of inadequacy, or a man behind the times of the feminist movement, this book is what you need.

Printed in 2016 with a foreword by Emma Watson, author Laura Bates dominates in her international bestseller “Girl Up.”

“Hopefully [through this book] we can save a few more women some years of self-loathing and ‘what’s wrong with me’ questions,” said Emma Watson.

With the empowering slogan of “Kick Ass, Claim Your Woman Card, and Crush Everyday Sexism,” Bates unapologetically touches on the issues of consent, sexism, stereotyping, body issues, and all things a part of the feminist movement.

From comical graphics of how to respond to an unsolicited “dick pic” to real life examples of airbrushing in advertisements by using her own body as an example, Bates is real, raw, and honest.

I discovered “Girl Up” at a local bookstore and even though I have yet to finish, I am intensely aware of the power in this book. Bates’ chapter, “You Aren’t Your Body,” is arguably the most powerful in her book.

Body issues are something everyone struggles with, but they exist more harshly in the lives of women.  Bates expresses the severity of body issues and how women can change their outlook on themselves in an attempt to defeat body shame and insecurity.

According to Bates’ research, “by the age of twelve, the average American teenage girl has seen up to 77, 546 advertisements [of the] almost always tall, young, thin, white, conventionally beautiful, made-up, long legged, and large breasted woman.”

From growing up in a world where the ideal image of this “perfect woman” manifests itself everywhere and on a daily basis, Bates encourages women to see the reality of this false image.

“Our concern with living up to the perfect feminine image is even affecting our health. And it just isn’t worth it,” she writes. “Having the ‘perfect body’ doesn’t work as a magic solution to make you happy, because none of us will ever believe we have the perfect body. But if we could make ourselves believe it- not by changing our bodies, but by changing the way we think about them…that just might work.”

By using her book as a platform to encourage and motivate women out of thinking of themselves the way society tells them to, Bates empowers the reality of the uniqueness in femininity.

“All bodies are good bodies. The way you feel is not linked to the shape of your body. Behind all the obsession about women’s bodies is the basic idea that losing weight and getting thinner will make us happier. This is a massive lie.”

Just as Bates says in her book, losing weight and getting thinner will not make us happier. However, being healthy and taking care of ourselves according to our own needs, not what is expected of us, can bring joy.

“Our bodies tend to be healthiest when we eat sensibly and do a good amount of exercise. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent. Your body itself knows best, you just have to learn how to listen to it and drown out all the other noise,” she writes.

Exercise should be done out of a desire to feel good, not out of punishment or something to do excessively. Food is meant to nourish the body and bring energy needed to properly function, not in a way of stifling emotions or avoiding dissatisfaction.

However, Bates and I both realize that there can always be deeper reasons to body issues. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or concerned about the topic, do not hesitate to check out the NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association, or contact your nearest health care professional. 

Unfortunately, body issues are real, deep, and constantly affecting us. But, there are people that understand and are here to help.

Remember, you are valued, and you are worthy. Your body is special, and no one has the right to abuse that or treat your body unfairly.

Go get “Girl Up” and surround yourself with encouragement in this society that still needs hand holding in these issues.

“Pretty much the strongest, most badass, and rebellious thing that you can do is to love your body in this world that screams at you that you shouldn’t. It’s one of the ultimate ways to girl up,” said Bates.

xx,

Abigail


Why You Should Delete Instagram

Six months ago, back in Sept. 2018, I deleted my Instagram account. I did not deactivate it, nor did I simply delete the application on my phone. I deleted my personal account of seven years. To be honest, it might go down as one the healthiest decisions I have made.

From constantly counting likes and followers to a never ending battle of comparisons, Instagram wreaked havoc on my mental health and my self appreciation. For some people, social media is not a problem. For the multitude of others, social media has the opportunity to create unnecessary anxiety, self-loathing, and unhealthy time management. However, the app continues to grow in terms of the number of users.

About ten months ago, John Constine of TechCrunch released shocking statistics of users on Instagram. “Today Instagram announced that it has reached 1 billion monthly active users, after passing 800 million in September 2017 with 500 million daily users,” said Constine.

Even though millions of people use this app, there is no doubt that this platform of social media consumes people’s lives just as it did mine.

The idea of a social media cleanse—a timed detox of social media—has become one the most popular solutions to combating the unhealthy consumption of social media. Last year, numerous celebrities took social media cleanses by temporarily deactivating their Instagram accounts.

According to People magazine, Cardi B deleted instagram for two days in Feb., Ariana Grande for two months, and Kanye West for one week last October.

In July of last year, Bustle magazine of Bustle Digital Group — the largest premium publisher reaching millennial women according to their website — released an article including ten testimonies of women’s techniques to social media cleanses.

I am more productive at work because updates are out of sight, and if my phone isn’t going off, I’m deep into my computer focusing on my projects,” said Jessica, one of the women interviewed by writer Iman Hariri-kia. “It is a little difficult to maintain the abstinence, though, when I’m hanging with friends and everyone whips out their phones. That’s when I feel the pull the most, but it’s a small price to pay for the serenity and peace of mind that comes with not logging in.”

The fear of missing out, more popularly known as FOMO, arises severely when taking steps away from social media in a heavily social media driven society. Fortunately, FOMO does not last; what actually lasts is regained confidence, less anxiety, and newfound freedom.

According to a 2016 University of Illinois study by Alejandro Lleras and Tayana Panova, a connection was found linking mobile and social media usage to depression and anxiety after surveying three hundred college students.

Even though internet usage has become even more accessible to our fingertips, and social media platforms have become our favorite pastime, is it really all worth it when our mental health is at risk? From my experience, I would say definitely not.

Now six months into my social media and Instagram cleanse, I do not plan on stepping back into that world anytime soon. 

With more time on my hands for the things that truly matter and give life, and more opportunity to focus solely on the betterment rather than comparison of myself, I am staying in this Instagram-less time. I highly recommend you do too.

xx,

Abigail


Written by College Women, For College Women:

The Lala

About a month before I arrived as a freshman on UTC’s campus, an incredible, female-based online magazine popped up on my social media feed. This online magazine is called The Lala and let me just say, it has changed my life.

Honestly, I cannot remember which social media platform it was, which article I first read, or who posted about it; but even so, The Lala has been a place where I have frequented all throughout college.

Made up of an editorial team of incredible creatives, “the Lala is an online magazine dedicated to empowering 20-something women from across the globe with the authentic, positive and uplifting content they’ve been waiting for,” according to their website.

Founders Katherine Crowley and Molly Longest created this magazine while they were in their second year at Purdue University. After they noticed a significant disconnect between “negative college media and the bright, passionate women who were consuming it,” Crowley and Longest set out to create a lifestyle blog for the women on their campus. Their blog was launched in 2014 titled “purduelala.com.”

Now, The Lala has grown to the “ultimate lifestyle destination for bright, adventurous college women” according to their LinkedIn profile. Each writer for The Lala is a college student with a passion for journalism, graphic design, social media or basically any form of media that helps empower college women like themselves.

With a team of over 500 college contributors from over 150 universities around the globe, The Lala “creates a publication that produces creative, powerful and substantial media for college women, by college women.”

Whether it be hard-hitting opinion pieces, fun fashion advice or multimedia pieces like all-original video and photography; this magazine produces substantial, stylish and spirited content that seriously pumps me up.

Personally, I have always had a passion for writing, but I did not know where to connect with like-minded women around my same age that share this passion. Through The Lala, other women and I have the opportunity to be inspired and encouraged by people in the same stages of life with similar passions. By reading articles, personal stories and advice made specifically for someone like me, I have found a greater thirst for influential and impactful media content.

There is a reason this online magazine has affected me in such a powerful way. According to their mission statement, “the Lala stands behind a positive media mission dedicated to informing and inspiring college women from campuses across the world.” I believe The Lala could have a similar effect to the women on UTC’s campus and I challenge each and every one of them to give the Lala a chance to see how it affects their time here as college students.

xx,

Abigail


The Power of Spontaneity in College

If you are anything like me, you know that the best decisions made are the ones that are last minute and spontaneous. Well, maybe not every time, but especially in times like what happened over my fall break.

What started as a last minute camping trip with my best friend to a surprise visit from my mom, ended with the a very impulsive, very exciting trip to Atlanta.

Now, this was not just any trip to Atlanta. Originally, the plan for this road trip was to spend a day in Nashville with my good friend Katie. However, when we were about thirty minutes out from arriving, Katie and I decided to turn around to drive three and a half hours the opposite direction to attend a BROCKHAMPTON concert.

That might scare some people, that may even be just a huge waste of gas, but neither of us regret that decision.

It all started when I grabbed the aux cord to play BROCKHAMPTON’s new album, “IRIDESCENCE.” Little did I know that Katie was also very much into this band, *cough cough* the “world’s greatest boy band.” Side note: if you have not taken a moment to listen to this band, stop what you are doing right now and take a chance.

As soon as “NEW ORLEANS” came on, Katie knew exactly what was playing. From there, I mentioned how I had heard they were playing a show in Atlanta. That is when she looked at me with this intense stare implying “we have to turn around.”

We then bought two of the last few tickets, which were VIP and only $38, filled up the gas tank, and headed to Atlanta. The drive was long and we were late, but only by five minutes.

The concert was so worth it. We got to see a band that we both love, then we got to spend a day in an exciting city.

The next day we had brunch at this incredible restaurant, Sun in My Belly, saw the movie “A Simple Favor,” and I spontaneously got my ears pierced. Safe to say, a lot of spontaneous decisions were made that weekend.

Not only was the concert incredible and each little moment in between, but the excitement of taking risks like these made the experience that much more enjoyable.

Sometimes going after something you want seems frightening, especially in the moment of the decision process, but even if it is as simple as saying yes to a concert, pay attention to your gut feeling and go after it. More often than not, you will not regret it.

College is the perfect time to go on spontaneous adventures like this with those closest to you. Whether it be camping, a concert, a road trip, or even seeing that movie you have been waiting for, take those moments and enjoy them. Now is the time.

xx,

Abigail


Limited Wardrobe Week

I have always said that the brands Free People , Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie each make up most of my wardrobe and everyday fashion, but I have never weaved through all I own to put that statement to the test.

Free People, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie are all under the same umbrella of one company, Urban Outfitters Incorporated. Therefore, each brand is apart of the other.

This week’s challenge titled, “Limited Wardrobe Week,” is all about sticking to those brands of clothing for a week. The challenge and hope throughout this week is to push myself into a minimalist type approach to clothes while also seeing if I am able to function and enjoy the week in the clothes from my most loved brands.

While I separated my clothes by brand and only kept this week’s clothing options towards the front of my closet, I realized I had more pieces than anticipated. Pictured at the bottom of this article is the stack of clothes I accumulated in the planning for this week’s challenge.

Before I get into the details of the week, I did set a couple of ground rules for this challenge. I was not allowed to repeat tops or dresses and I was only allowed two outfits a day. I tend to change frequently through out the day, so I wanted to avoid that habit during this week. Also, I do not own any shoes from those brands (shoes tend to be more expensive), so the rules did not apply to shoes.

Starting on the first day of this challenge, I already noticed how much easier it was for me to choose an outfit and get ready for the day. Not only that, but dressing in the clothes that I already admired greatly made me feel incredibly stylish and put together for each day.

Whenever I ran late for class, picking a quick outfit before leaving the house was surprisingly easy. I knew that I already loved each piece I own from those brands so there was not a lot of decision making or stress put into each outfit.

My confidence also seemed to increase due to the fashionable feeling I gained from wearing the clothes I admire most from my closet. With that confidence, I found new motivations to wear pieces that I did not typically wear. For example, I wore a pair of Free People mustard colored overalls for the first time since purchased years ago and found a new appreciation and confidence in them.

Overall, I realized sticking to a limited amount of clothes that you know you feel confident in and love really takes away all the stress and time in getting ready each day. This motivated me to do some research to see if other people have applied this technique and see what they have to say about it.

In my research, I found inspiring information from The Minimalists , The Lala and The Chalkboard Magazine. Each gave me more extensive insight into this limited, minimalist type lifestyle in fashion.

The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, have helped over 20 million people achieve meaningful lives with less excess. On living a minimalist lifestyle with clothing, they said in their article “Less Clothes, More Routines“, “being fashionable is easy when all your clothes are your favorite clothes.”

This statement really perfectly sums up how my week went with only dressing in and choosing from my favorite clothes and brands for the week.

“The Lala,” a publication that provides creative and powerful media for college women,  explains this topic best in their article “5 Tips For A Better Closet In 2017.” They stated, “minimalism is a trend with benefits that go far beyond having a clean closet. Getting rid of unnecessary clothing items gives you a chance to focus on the clothes you love, makes it easier to get dressed in the morning, and allows you to get rid of clothes you never wear.”

This statement also points out what I discovered in only choosing from and dressing in the clothes I love, while also motivating me to weave through the items I do not wear to get rid of in the future.

From The Chalkboard, an online healthy lifestyle magazine, their article “The Closet Detox”  gives readers step by step instructions to cleanse your closet. In their words, “Having less gives you more – more freedom, more time, more appreciation for what you do have, more creativity, more emotional space, more peace.”

From money saving tips to keeping your personal style, The Chalkboard Magazine’s article really helps gain another perspective in the importance of having a closet that contains the brands and pieces that you love while expressing your personality.

This week’s challenge did nothing but motivate me to continue having a closet only full of the items I love, appreciate and feel confident in. With leaving the challenge with only positive things to say, I am inspired to get rid of what I do not wear and minimize my closet, only focus on the clothes I love and really focus on having a “closet detox” in the future.

Overall: Successful challenge.

 

 

Here are some pictures of a few of my outfits during this challenge.

xx,

Abigail

 

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