2 December 2013, 11:12
When Yvette (pictured on the right) first emailed to ask if I’d consider bringing a bit of radical self love to Australia, I was really excited… But I said no. I didn’t have any plans to visit Australia in 2013, and couldn’t quite justify the very very long flight for one night.
In a magical twist, a couple of months later, Tourism Queensland got in touch with The Blogcademy, and told us they’d like to bring us over for a very special trip. I immediately emailed Yvette to let her know that our plans had changed! We started planning, plotting, scheming… To say that I was excited was a massive understatement.
So with our week of fun with Tourism and Events Queensland fading into the distance, Kat, Shauna and I flew back from Cairns, and checked into a hotel in Brisbane. I zipped up my insane irridescent scuba dress by Cynthia Rowley, stuck a pair of Crown And Glory Liberace ears on my head, powdered my nose, and bounced out to the event.
The venue was filled with flowers, and stocked with herbal tea and raw chocolate. There was even a photobooth. I mean, who could ask for more?!
The event was made up of a panel of women with experience in overcoming self-loathing, and it was such a great group. I had never met any of the babes beforehand, but I felt immediately welcome and so happy! Melissa Ambrosini glowed, Julie Parker radiated (and did such an excellent job as our Mistress of Ceremonies), and Rachel MacDonald sparkled in her chair.
There was a massive section of presubmitted questions, ranging among topics such as self love, sisterhood and soulpreneurship, which we answered on the fly, and after that we took live Q&A from the audience.
But that wasn’t anywhere near the end of the night: next up on the menu was a rocking dance party courtesy of Susanna Frioni! (Even better: Marilyn Manson was played! Life highlight!)
We talked, we laughed, we danced, we got sweaty. It was fabulous! Kat and I left the party feeling high as kites.
One of my greatest sources of happiness this year has been getting out from behind the computer and actually meeting the people who I’m writing for every day. Writing is a very solitary activity, and sometimes it’s difficult to see Facebook likes as anything but numbers on a screen. It has been incredible and humbling to meet so many of my readers who have been following my journey for such a long time. They (you!) bring me such enormous bliss.
If you wished you could have come along, well, I’m right there with you! I wish you could have been there, too; we had such a great time. But there’s good news: the recording of the entire evening has been made available, so you can listen along!
The dream team: Susana Frioni, Julie Parker, Melissa Ambrosini, Yvette Luciano, me, and Rachel MacDonald.
If you came along, thank you so much. It was amazing to share the evening with you. If you’re in Australia, check out Earth Events: they throw great parties like this all the time, and it’s a wonderful way to meet women who are on the same path as you.
Man, what fun we had. I’m looking forward to doing more events just like it!
Photobooth and group shot courtesy of Earth Events, the other 3 photos are by Janneke Storm.
27 November 2013, 12:37
I had a terrible, crystal-clear realisation the other day: all of my favourite television shows are about women being judged.
I am immediately sucked into the glitz and glamour of America’s Next Top Model, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team (oooooh boy), Millionaire Matchmaker, any beauty pageant, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race to an extent, though it is a bit more tongue-in-cheek. It’s all about competing with other women, trying-trying-trying to be perfect, trying to be THE BEST, failing, crying, getting sent away, and then one woman at the end smiling and laughing through smeared mascara about how she is the most beautifulest in the land.
Sure, I have always considered these shows a bit of a “guilty pleasure”. I know they’re trash, but they compel me so strongly that I can’t look away. I used to think it was because I liked getting to know the characters, to watch their journey, to see the art they create with their own bodies — and it is, partially. Sometimes there’s even a message of self-love tangled up in the middle, usually dished out by a benevolent drag queen.
But in reality, these programmes are mostly about being judged. Not measuring up. Not being good enough. Letting someone else dictate your self-worth… And handing over control over your destiny.
This all became very obvious to me a few nights ago, as I considered the kind of programming I enjoy, and the kind of shows my husband watches. He watches shows about men buying things, fixing them up, and making a profit. Fast And Loud, Pawn Stars, American Pickers: these shows are about using your knowledge, expertise and skills, and doubling your money. The male stars of these shows are almost notoriously unattractive, and yet, somehow, that doesn’t matter.
In contrast, the shows I’ve been watching are about looks, being eliminated for having thighs that dare to be larger than shins (this really happened on Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team recently), and crying when you get eliminated, because “this is my dream, my whole life, my everything!”
When I realised this, I was really upset. These shows are the absolute opposite of everything I stand for, and I couldn’t believe it took me so long to become aware of the massive discrepancy between what I preach and what I watch. I shun tabloids, but have been watching this junk for years. What?!
I emailed my friend Rabbit about it, because I couldn’t figure it out. Why did I enjoy these shows so much? Where did it come from?
She replied, “I mean I like Rupaul’s Drag Race maybe for that reason. I feel like it’s sort of affirming because in reality we are judged all of the time, it’s having our realities mirrored back to us.”
She’s right that we are all being judged constantly. It’s an unavoidable part of reality. It occurred to me that maybe the reason I like watching other people getting judged is because I get to indulge my inner critic. I used to be so judgmental of everyone and everything. Thankfully these things I’m much better, but that nasty little voice never totally goes away.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe I like these shows because I get to indulge my inner mean girl, but not feel personally responsible.
One of the most damaging things about these kinds of television shows is that they centre around competing with other women, giving forth the impression that there is a limited amount of success, happiness, prosperity and love for everyone. A lack mentality is not what I’m about. But even if I don’t believe that stuff, by watching it constantly, a little bit of it will surely creep into my psyche.
Sadly, though, there’s a reason why this kind of programming thrives: they make a mint for the network because of the amount of advertising they sell. That’s what it all comes down to. Ultimately, these shows make it easier to turn us into obedient consumers. When you watch models, dancers or single women fail to make the grade, you’re more likely than ever to buy the diet pills they’re peddling, or the lingerie on that size 2 model, or those low-fat, low-sugar products which are essentially chemical soup.
There is so much more to life than competing with other women and judging yourself based on your appearance. If you live your life according to those guidelines, you will find yourself immeasurably miserable.
My moments of greatest happiness have come when I’m working with other women, helping to build them up, laughing and smiling and trading information that helps us as a group. I have never felt that I was in my own personal nirvana while pondering the size of my thighs, or sabotaging someone else.
So I’m curious: do you watch these shows, and if so, how do you feel about them? Are you able to reconcile your enjoyment of trash television, or does the whole thing make you feel uneasy? Tell me!
P.S. Alexandra just told me on Facebook that this book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, is worth a read. I’m looking forward to checking it out!
Images from Weird Fantastic Tales and LIFE.
4 October 2013, 21:23
Pop quiz: are you a radical self love warrior? Are you awesome? And most crucially, can you get to Brisbane?!
Alright, well, shimmy into your favourite shoes and get ready, because Queensland, I’m thrilled to announce that we’re bringing the party to you!
Yeah girl, it’s true! We’re going to have a massive celebration of self-adoration, and of course, you’re invited!
What’s on the menu? A very lively panel discussion with Melissa Ambrosini, Julie Parker and Rachel Macdonald, where we’ll be chatting about radical self love, sisterhood and soulpreneurship. No holds barred! There are also going to be organic treats and drinks, a rocking dance party, and plenty of opportunities for photos galore! It’s going to be the best.
The pre-sale yesterday went nuts and there are only a handful of tickets left… It’s going to be amazing: a room full of love, enthusiasm, and glitter!
Wear your Sunday best… I can’t wait to hug you!
27 August 2013, 12:55
Even though my whole purpose is around teaching women to love themselves, I am far from perfect. All the work I have done over the years has gotten me to a place where I’m able to point at images in media, say, “That’s messed up”, and not internalise it or apply it to my own body. But there are still times where I fall down.
For example, my thighs.
Oh, my thighs.
Thighs thighs thighs. Thighs thighs thighs. Thighs thighs thighs.
I swear for all the energy I put into hating them, obsessing over them, and wishing they were different, I could have been Donald Trump, three times over. (Without the combover or the controversy… Hopefully.)
I don’t know where it started, or what kicked it off. But my thighs were the concentration point and the locus of my self-loathing, for so long. It was like one day I woke up, and I realised my thighs were not Olsen-size. And I couldn’t stand it.
This went on for years. It contributed to my eating disorder, and even once I started eating again, they was never my favourite part of my body. They didn’t disgust me anymore, but I certainly didn’t want to show them off.
I avoided jeans for years, but was forced to start wearing them again when I started dating Mike. Jeans on the back of the motorcycle became a necessity, one that I never hesitated to grumble about.
I finally had an epiphany moment when I was in New Orleans last year. My friend Jess and I were shopping when I told her I really wanted to own a pair of black pants. They’re so easy and versatile; I felt like I was missing a key part of my wardrobe.
And as I tried them on, I finally realised that no magical pair of black pants was going to make my thighs look any smaller. It’s the ultimate test, really. You can’t fake the funk, or the size of your thighs, in a pair of black jeans.
Standing there in a J.Crew fitting room, I was forced to face my thighs. And with Jess outside the fitting room, I knew I had to face her, too.
“How do they look?” she asked.
“Well,” I started to mumble. I rustled the curtain open and stepped out.
I was wearing a pink cashmere button-up cardigan with black Toothpick skinny jeans. Jess looked me up and down, before saying, “Oh my god! You look so cute; totally 1950s. Cuff those jeans and throw on a heel and you’re a bonified sex kitten!”
Isn’t it funny what other people see, versus our own so-called reality?
Long story short: I bought the jeans. I wore them all winter. I bought some other jeans, too: dark ink blue skinnies, and a pair of black jeans with white polka-dots. I love them, and I love wearing them.
But it ain’t all perfect. Sometimes when I put them on and look in the mirror, I feel that familiar old sense of self-loathing rising. If I allow it to keep ascending, I know it will consume me. I know I will feel overcome, exhausted, disgusted with myself. I know I will take my jeans off and hide my legs in a maxi skirt. And that disgusting feeling will permeate my day.
Not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not successful enough, not smart enough, not cool enough…
Instead, when I feel that familiar sense of self-loathing getting stirred up, I take a deep breath. I look at my own eyes in the mirror. And I run a positive interior monologue.
“Listen to me. You are a righteous babe. You may not be Candice Swanepoel, but you’re awesome to the core. You are not what you look like, and you don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to live a full, fabulous, exciting, and adventurous life. You do not have to have thighs like matchsticks to be loved or to contribute to the world. Plus, you look cute. So get over it, and get out there.”
And then I turn away from the mirror. I stop obsessing. I put on some bright lipstick, I grab my bag, and I walk out the door.
Recently, I dared to wear really short-shorts. I started to feel panicky… And then I realised that a girl rocking bright pink Hanes underpants can do absolutely anything! Sometimes something as simple as wearing fun undergarments can help you walk out the door with your head held high.
The truth is this. We all have our body challenges and our self-image issues. We all have “ugly days”. But it’s how you respond that counts.
This post was made possible with the generous support of Hanes and Style Coalition. Since Hanes is all about loving the skin you’re in, you can continue to do so by tweeting your undercover colour as a mini declaration of your ongoing radical self love! Apparently, pink underwear is most popular on Wednesday. In my world, it’s popular every day! #undercovercolor
Photo by Made U Look.
8 August 2013, 11:32
When I was in my early twenties, I felt like I was surrounded by chaos of my own creation. My life just kept spiralling, and happiness seemed a long way away; a distant hope at best.
I know that this feeling isn’t unique to me. I know that this is something we all battle with at times.
Can I speak to you for a minute? Because you found me — and I found you — for a reason. Because I know you. And I know where you’re at.
Deep down inside, you have a big dream… But you’ve pushed it aside because of what society tells you, and who you think you “should be”.
You’re scrambling to feel good about yourself, and sometimes it feels like the world is mirroring all your fears right back at you. You’re unsure of the source of your own happiness, and you don’t know how to tap into it at will.
You crave a deeper meaning and purpose to your life, but you know you’re definitely not going to find it doing what you’re doing right now.
You’re afraid of living a mediocre existence. Your worst nightmare is being “normal”. You’re terrified of being like everyone else: all those sad faces on the bus.
That’s not the real you. All of that stuff? It’s just a construct. It’s not your truth.
You crave the confidence to follow your heart. You want to live a life that’s expansive, full, exciting and challenging. You want to have the courage to travel alone, and the freedom to do it. You want to be happy… No matter whether you’re alone, or with a lover.
You want to live a life that lights you up.
What if I told you you can forget everything about who you think you are? What if I told you that you can be whoever you want to be? That’s why I created Radical Self Love Letters: a 30 day email program to lift you up and jumpstart your heart.
What are Radical Self Love Letters?
One of the most challenging things about learning to fall in love with yourself is the fact that it is a daily practice, and it requires daily work. But our lives are all so busy and densely-packed that making time to engage in a little self-care quickly slips to the bottom of the priority list.
With Radical Self Love Letters, you’ll be getting a personalised email love note every day for 30 days. A reminder to live more boldly, be more exceptional, take more risks, be more compassionate, and cherish yourself.
Each letter contains my personal reflections, concepts to think about, a prompt or action to explore, and some wise words to keep your heart light.
Maybe you’ll read your Radical Self Love Letter in the morning, while you drink a cup of tea or chew your toast. Perhaps you’ll let it soak in as you travel to work, on the bus or train or in the back of a taxi. And maybe you’ll read your letter just before you drift to sleep. Either way, it will become a part of your routine; a way of carving out some time to focus on taking care of yourself.
A lot can happen in a month. Allow me to show you it’s possible to believe what you want, and do what you please.
The whole experience is $20.
Are you in? If so, click YES. You’ll get your first Radical Self Love Letter tomorrow!
Photo by Chellise Michael.
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