I don’t know about where you live, but here in Lincoln, Nebraska it’s been really cold lately. The temperature right now is 49°F, and that feels like summer compared to how it’s been! The good news, though, is winter provides the perfect opportunity to do one of my favorite things: get under a blanket, snuggle up with my cat, and read.
One of my most recent picks was—you guessed it!—How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Surviving Conquering Life by Lilly Singh, who rose to fame through her YouTube channel, IISuperwomanII. In the past few years, I’ve noticed an explosion of books by YouTubers on the bookstore shelves, and to be honest, at first I was a little skeptical. But after I got hooked on Lilly’s videos sometime late last year—in addition to being hilarious, she’s positive, empowering, and wonderfully honest—I decided to give her book a go. Besides, who doesn’t want a few more strategies for conquering life?
I’m really glad I did. Each chapter of the book addresses a different lesson Lilly has learned on her journey about achieving goals, from “Get Uncomfortable” to “Let Go of FOMO” to “Be Santa” (you’ll have to read to find out what that means!). What I appreciated most is that Lilly is really specific, both in how each strategy has worked in her life (which often includes a cool story, such as meeting Selena Gomez) and how it can apply to yours. While Lilly’s success has come through being an entertainer and entrepreneur, I honestly think her advice can apply no matter what goals you’re working towards. Additionally, in four sections of the book, Lilly opens up about her experience with depression, and contrasts that time in her life with what it’s like now that she’s overcome it. I am hopeful that her openness will inspire those who are struggling to know it is possible to overcome dark times, and to seek the help they need.
For more positivity, inspiration, and laughs, check out Lilly’s YouTube channel (if you haven’t yet!):
We all have bodies. Me, you, that person over there reading that other blog. That much is clear-cut. But for at least some of us, that’s about as straightforward as it gets. Having a body, and living life in said body, can be weirdly complicated.
My struggles with having a body have revolved around weight and appearance, or rather, my beliefs about those things. Starting around the time I left elementary school, I became convinced that I needed to be thinner to be popular to be happy. Unsurprisingly, that belief had a negative impact on how I treated and felt about myself, body included.
Thankfully, I now know how very wrong I was, about all of it. But still, living in a world where we’re bombarded with images of women’s bodies and messages about them (often not from the woman herself), it’s hard not to feel, at the very least, a little weird about being in your own living, breathing, changing, 3D body. I am at a place where I want to develop a healthy relationship with mine. Where it no longer feels like a strange, sometimes annoying attachment to my brain, and just . . . . feels good. And like me. At least most of the time.
The best thing I have figured out so far is to simply commit, over and over again, to the exploration of what makes me feel whole, good, and like myself. As part of this process, I decided to seek out (and share with you) wonderful words from wise women on beauty and having a body. Some of these quotes are long and can be referred back to as needed, and some are short, so you can repeat them back to yourself in a moment where you need them. To change the soundtrack, if you will. Hopefully, at least one will resonate with you and help you on your own journey.
“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.” – Salma Hayek
“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.” – Sandra Cisneros
“I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold that society wanted me to fit in.”– Ashley Graham
“You’re a human being—you live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damn red velvet cupcake.” – Emma Stone
“Everybody has a part of her body that she doesn’t like, but I’ve stopped complaining about mine because I don’t want to critique nature’s handiwork . . . My job is simply to allow the light to shine out of the masterpiece.” – Alfre Woodard
“I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will.” – Amy Schumer
“Someone recently asked if I had any dieting tips for other teenage girls. Try and reverse that. ‘Do you have any dieting tips for other teenage boys?’ . . . I mean, come on. I don’t diet! I’m thirteen! Nobody my age should be dieting or trying to change themselves because society says so. And seriously, I’m thirteen!” – Rowan Blanchard
“Body acceptance means, as much as possible, approving of and loving your body, despite its ‘imperfections,’ real or perceived. That means accepting that your body is fatter than some others, or thinner than some others, that your eyes are a little crooked, that you have a disability that makes walking difficult, that you have health concerns that you have to deal with — but that all of that doesn’t mean that you need to be ashamed of your body or try to change it. Body acceptance allows for the fact that there is a diversity of bodies in the world, and that there’s no wrong way to have one.” – Golda Poretsky
“I’m not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body.” – Demi Lovato
“. . . my mother again would say to me, ‘You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us . . . what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.” – Lupita Nyong’o
“If I wasn’t five-foot, I wouldn’t be who I am! My size is a huge part of me. You just have to appreciate those kinds of things. So I wasn’t born with long legs—who cares. You just have to embrace it. Being body positive is really important to your overall happiness.”– Sabrina Carpenter
“It’s important with all of the messages that might tell you otherwise that you have that in yourself to say that ‘I am beautiful. I am smart and I’m amazing.’” – Laverne Cox
If you have any favorite quotes—on body image or anything else!—please feel free to share them in the comments below.
One of my goals, when I started this blog, was to not just share my thoughts and what I’m up to, but also other parts of girl culture—including girls and young women who are creating and doing awesome stuff. With that, I want to highlight a singer I’ve recently become obsessed with: Alessia Cara. You very likely have heard her debut single “Here”—the oh-my-gosh-I-shouldn’t-have-come-to-this-party anthem—on the radio, but if you haven’t listened to the rest of her debut album Know-It-All yet, I implore you to do so. If you need more convincing on why you should get to know this 19-year-old singer-songwriter, here are 5 reasons to check her out:
1.) Her voice is uh-mazing. I could try to sell you on it, or you could just here it for yourself. Press play below:
Before writing and performing her own music, Alessia posted acoustic covers on YouTube. They’re still available on her channel and worth a listen!
2.) Her lyrics are unique yet relatable. Alongside her co-writer Sebastian Kole, Alessia began writing her debut album after school, while she was still in high school, and her unique perspective and personality shows through the entire thing. In this awesome interview with Taylor Swift, she explains that the title of the album comes from a line in her song “Seventeen”: “I’m a know-it-all, I don’t know enough.” She explains that the concept—which for me, definitely describes my experience of life—comes up in one way or another in each song on the album. “Four Pink Walls” is one of my favorites, and it describes her experience of growing up and having big dreams, but never really believing they’d come to life outside her mind and bedroom . . . until, one day, they did. “I’m Yours”—one of my favorite songs, period—is the love song of a transforming cynic: “Oh, how rude of you/To ruin my miserable/And tell me I’m beautiful/Cause I wasn’t looking for love, no.”
My favorite thing about writing, in music or print, is when someone can put into words an experience you’ve had (or want to have) in a way that really rings true. Finding songs or books or essays that do that is a really good feeling, and for me, Alessia’s music is one of those finds. I imagine it has been and will be for others, too.
3.) She is confident in her unique self and wants to show that you can be successful by being yourself.
I love Alessia’s music, and though I haven’t met her, from everything I know I like her as a human, too. In all her performances, Alessia keeps her style laid-back, especially in comparison to other pop singers. When Cosmo asked her if that was important to her, she had this to say:
“All I’m really good at is making music and singing and doing this. I’m not good at fashion, so I don’t see a point in trying to be good at that. It’s important to show that there’s different ways of doing things. Some people like to be glamorous and that’s perfectly fine and that’s amazing. If I were that style, then I would do that. I’d wear heels every day and I’d strut around in a dress, but that’s not me. I’m not saying that anything other than what I do is wrong; I’m just trying to show people that there’s another side of it. It’s not only a one-sided thing. You don’t have to do that to be a star. You can do anything and be a star. You can dress like however you want, and you can do whatever you want. If you wanna wear meat suits like Lady Gaga, good. She’s freaking amazing! She’s doing that and she’s unbelievable. I can wear T-shirts and still be great too. So that’s just what I’m proving to people.”
I love that, because the concept extends beyond fashion. There’s not one right way to do things; the only “right” is the one you have to live your life, from the clothes you wear to the dreams you pursue, in a way that is comfortable and genuine to you.
4.) She’s funny.
She wouldn’t have to be—for me to be a fan, I mean—but she is. When Cuddle Buddy, her stuffed animal, “ran away,” she made a Twitter account to help find him. She’s on tour right now, and every week she posts a vlog, each of which includes awesome behind-the-scenes content but also major silliness. Check out her vlog from Week 3 of the tour below to see what I mean:
5.) Her most recent music video stars her and four of her friends.
And if that isn’t living the dream, I don’t know what is. Watch below:
Today is a very big day in Pop Culture Land: the Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover hit newsstands. The cover made the internet rounds last week, so I’m sure by now you’ve seen it, as well as commentary on it from many a source. Admittedly, I’m pretty selective as far as what comes up in my various feeds (the internet can bring you down, man!), but the vast majority of what I’ve read regarding Caitlyn’s cover story has been supportive. Many have been cheering her on for not only making the change she felt she needed, but also for being open about her story in the hopes of helping others. Watching all this unfold sparked me to reflect on some of my other favorite celebrities who attempt to use their fame-power for good. Today seemed like a great day to acknowledge them.
Taylor Swift, my favorite musician of all time, has taken the top spot of DoSomething.org’s “Celebs Gone Good” list for the past three years. Part of what makers her so “good” is her commitment to donating to charity. She’s even donated her music, so to speak; all the proceeds of “Welcome to New York” go to the NY public school system, and all the proceeds from “Ronan” are donated to cancer charities. One of the things I enjoy about Taylor most, however, is how far she goes to connect with her fans. There were the 1989 secret sessions. Then there was Swiftmas. Best of all, though, are the times she reaches out to fans on social media that are going through something, be it a bad breakup or even the death of a parent. Taylor certainly has a knack for returning the adoration to her most devoted fans.
Here’s the thing: it’s entirely reasonable to be skeptical of celebrities, even when they’re doing good. The celebrity world is a very fun one to observe, but it’s also meticulously crafted, and at times, fake. So it’s healthy to take it in with a proverbial grain of salt.
But beyond that initial side-glance, I have a few thoughts on the matter. My first is, I get it. No, I’m not a celebrity by any stretch of the imagination. But when I first started writing, I had two driving impulses. The first one, the initial spark, was that I wanted to write things that would help people the way things I’d read helped me. The second was, Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if my stuff reached lots and lots of people? If in the process of helping others, I made a name for myself as well? And that’s the reality. I don’t think impulse #2 takes away from the good of what I’m trying to do. If anything, it’s become a good checkpoint: am I writing this because it’s a message I believe in, or primarily because I think it’s very social-media-sharable? And I think, or would like to believe, that for celebrities like the ones I’ve mentioned, the sentiment is fundamentally similar. In fact, Caitlyn Jenner has already addressed potential skeptics head-on:
“I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people. If I can make a dollar, I certainly am not stupid. [I have] house payments and all that kind of stuff. I will never make an excuse for something like that. Yeah, this is a business. You don’t go out and change your gender for a television show. O.K., it ain’t happening. I don’t care who you are.”
Perhaps I am overly optimistic. Even if that’s the case, my next thought is this: doing good is doing good is doing good. If someone reads Caitlyn’s story, or watches one of Demi’s interview, and feels more educated or prepared to fight their own battles, great! If a Disney Channel fan follows Zendaya on Instagram, and feels inspired to speak up for themselves the way she does, awesome! And I have no doubt that tears and happy dances have been the direct result of Taylor reaching out to her fans. If celebrities get a publicity boost from their do-good endeavors, that’s fine. We can always use more good in the world, so whatever motivates someone – celebrity or not – to go out there and provide it, well, I’m all for it.