Dear 2015,

You were both the worst and the best year of my life. Over the course of the last 12 months, I have grieved and I have celebrated. I’ve loved and I’ve lost and I’ve learned to love again. I’ve recovered and relapsed…multiple times. I’ve moved forward then reverted to old ways.  I’ve cried and I’ve laughed. I have, at times, belittled and dumbed myself down for the sake of others but above all else, I have grown and I have learned. 2015, you have taught me more than any other year in my 22 years of living. You have taught me that I am capable of standing on my own two feet. I have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else, but I know now that I am stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. I can think for myself, have my own ideas and opinions and I don’t have to make myself small  for anyone. I have a complex mind and a voice for a reason and I am worthy of being listened to and truly heard.

You have taught me that I am no less of a person because I struggle. For as many years as I can remember, I have struggled with self esteem and body related issues. I have not been kind to myself. I’ve deprived my body of the love that it deserves. I’ve gone through phases of  binging, restricting and starving it. I’ve been obsessed with the number on the scale but as of December, 2015, my house is scale free and I refuse to bring another one into it because you have taught me that my worth is not measured by whether my weight is two or three digits. You have taught me that beauty is not defined by having flawless skin, long blonde hair, a perfect little nose and big lips . What it is defined by is my ability to love myself and love others. It’s defined by the sincerity, kindness and gentleness of my spirit. That is what makes someone truly beautiful and I’ve finally grasped that. I have learned that I don’t have to have plastic surgery or buy a new outfit every week to make people like me. I am worthy of friendship and love and I am not compelled to prove myself to anyone. I am enough.

You have taught me that it’s okay to give myself permission to live. Permission to be happy. Permission to be confident and permission to stand up for myself. You see, I have always felt an intense responsibility for the happiness of others but never left much room for my own. So thank you, 2015, for teaching me what it is like to finally give myself permission to be free of the responsibilities I’ve placed on myself that I have no business being responsible of. What I am responsible for is the way that I choose to live my life from this point on. I choose to move forward and not look back. The pain of my past has shaped me and molded me into the person that I am now and I have never been more at peace with myself and my life than I am in this very moment.

You have taught me that sometimes life hurts. It is easy for humans to be broken, but I now know that when the times of brokenness come, there is hope. Not so long ago, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live or die because I didn’t think life held the possibility of getting any better. But boy, was I wrong. God is faithful and He gave me strength I never knew I had to get through that valley in my life. I have learned that heartache is real but so is moving on and it is indeed possible to restore joy that was once lost. I have learned that I have no room for bitterness because my heart is too full of love and forgiveness. I have also learned that forgiveness is for me, not so much the person I am extending it to. I have learned that you’re never too far gone. God is always right behind you with open arms.

Lastly, you have taught me what it is like to be content and at peace. In every season, under any and all circumstances, I am content. I am at peace with my body. I am at peace with my past. I am at peace with my friendships. I am at peace with my job. I am at peace with my family. I am at peace with my relationship. I am at peace with the direction my life is heading in. This year has worn me down and stripped me to my core, but through it all, God has proved Himself to be faithful. I am not the same girl I was on December 31, 2014. I am a new person, fearfully and wonderfully made and adored by my Jesus and so many others. I am finally at peace with accepting love. I am at peace with loving myself.

Thank you, 2015, for being both the worst and the best year of my life. Here’s to 2016 and being 22!

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The Beauty of Makeup vs The Importance of Natural Beauty

This is a topic that I have always struggled with. I still do in many aspects, but I’m doing everything I can to work through it. For as long as I can remember, I have heavily depended on makeup to define my worth. I started wearing makeup when I was around 12 years old and my obsession with it only grew and grew as time went by. I had convinced myself that people only wanted to be friends with pretty girls and I never thought that I fell into that category. Everyone has heard the saying ‘true beauty comes from within’, but I could never quite grasp that. I have always had a big heart, a love for people and a zealous attitude towards life, but somehow that was never enough in my eyes. My physical appearance was always the thing that I stressed and fretted over the most. Over time, my zealous and upbeat attitude began to dwindle…

Throughout my teenage years, I had troubled skin, as most young people do. The difference between how I dealt with it as opposed to others was that at the time of the onset of this, I had no idea that I had BDD. I assumed that my constant skin picking and absurd obsessions with my face were normal. They were not. Every little tiny bump that surfaced on my face would send me spiraling. At such a young age, I didn’t have the money to try different products or expensive foundation. Basically, I would get cheap stuff from Walmart and when I felt that there wasn’t enough coverage, I would put another layer on. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to properly apply it, all I knew was that I wanted to do anything possible to cover the disgusting mess that was, in my opinion, overtaking my face. What I didn’t realize was that by using my hands to apply it, I was spreading germs and causing my skin to become oilier, which in turn caused more breakouts. I was also really bad about taking it off at night (and I still forget sometimes), which was another way that I was unintentionally blocking my pores and ruining my skin without realizing it. My skin picking left many scars. It was a vicious cycle.

When I was around 18 years old, my face slowly began to clear up. By no means has it ever been completely blemish free or flawless. I will probably always have scars and I still break out occasionally. But because I began investing in better quality makeup and I learned to use brushes instead of my hands, things started changing. Even though my complexion is way better now than it has been in years past, I still have a hard time going out without makeup. There are many of my friends that have never seen me bare faced. The thought of people seeing my face for what it actually is terrifies me. However, I am learning how to overcome that fear and I am gradually becoming more comfortable with less makeup and I am proud of this accomplishment, no matter how small it may be.

The point of this post is not at all to bash makeup and people who wear it. I love makeup and anyone who knows me knows that! I am not going to stop wearing it just because I am pointing out that it’s okay not to. Some people choose to go all natural all the time and that is great! More power to them! Some choose to have a natural face a majority of the time and only use makeup for special occasions, that’s cool too! Some of us, such as myself up to this point, wear it every single day no matter what we are doing or where we are going. Yes, I have been one of those girls that wears makeup to the pool or to the gym. That is because it’s my security blanket. I feel safe when I have it to hide behind. For me personally, makeup is a really fun tool. Sure, this post is to promote being okay without it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to have fun with it too! The application of makeup is a great hobby, it truly is an art. Sometimes if I’m having a rough day, I can go to my mirror and experiment and play around with different colors and pallets and products and it completely takes my mind off of what is bothering me, not to mention that when I’m done, I feel wonderful! It’s okay to branch out and try new things and it’s also okay to stick to what you know works for you. It is different for each and every person and that’s the beauty of it.

Something that I find so interesting is that the girls that don’t wear makeup on a regular basis are not seen as ugly or plain, simply because it’s normal for them. People view us differently depending on the way we present ourselves. For instance, I wear makeup every day. People that come in contact with me on a regular basis know that I look pretty much the same all the time. Full coverage foundation, bronzer, eye shadow and/or liner, mascara and lip gloss. I touch up multiple times a day in attempts of making sure that it never fades off or gets smeared. Now, on the off days that I choose to go without makeup, the sight comes as a shock to people. I’ve heard comments such as “You look tired”, “Are you sick?” and “Wow, all natural today, huh?” which is obviously a bit sarcastic. I don’t think people intend to be rude and hurtful, but it’s just that what they are seeing is not normal for you to show therefore it’s drastic. However, if we went out of town and chose to not wear makeup, not a single person would give you a funny look because they don’t know any different. I wish this wasn’t a thing, but it is. People expect you to look the way that they are accustomed to you looking and when you switch it up, it comes as a surprise. But ya know what? The more comfortable you are with a natural face, the more normal it will appear to everyone else. If you are radiating confidence, it will show no matter how much or how little makeup you have on, I can assure you! Keep that in mind and always keep your head up! A genuine smile can light up a room and a willing heart can change the world.

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I did a little project for this post and I am so pleased with the amazing feedback I got. I put out a post on Instagram asking if any of my female followers wanted to participate in sharing their before/after makeup pictures as a way to promote natural beauty. I didn’t expect to get as many responses as I did, so I certainly admire and applaud their bravery! It’s simply incredible to hear what all of these ladies have to say about what makeup is to them and how they feel about it as a whole. Everyone’s answers are different and unique. Some are similar but no two are exactly the same. I am so honored to be able to call all of these ladies my friends. They are so beautiful inside and out, and I know this is so cliche, but it is true. I can look at only the left pictures of each of them and not see a flaw in the world because I know them and I know that their hearts are golden. Any redness of the skin, lack of mascara or patchy eyebrows don’t mean a thing in the world when you truly know the soul behind the surface.

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“For a long time, I hated makeup because I hated my face and my bumps and scars from my cystic acne. I felt like no amount or variety of makeup or skin products could ever help me and “fix it”. It wasn’t until I realized my face didn’t need to be “fixed” that I really began to like makeup and feel more confident in my own skin. I finally realized all the beauty gurus on YouTube have different techniques because we are all different. So, that meant I had to find what worked for me because I was never going to look like them; but that was perfectly okay. Now I really enjoy putting on makeup and I’m semi-okay with going bare-skinned too. I feel like going out without makeup has the potential to be empowering in many cases. Hardly any of us have baby soft clear skin and when we go out without our makeup and expose ourselves, it opens the path for other girls to feel more comfortable doing it too. Makeup is wonderful and you shouldn’t reject it. Accept your own form of beauty and make the makeup work for you.”

@samkalverson

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“Makeup is very much a tool for added confidence for myself. I’m fine without it, but I would definitely rather be wearing it. I try not to wear very much face makeup, such as concealer or foundation, because I don’t want to have to rely on it to make myself feel better.”

@delaney.williams

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“To me, makeup is used to enhance the beauty you already have. I wear makeup because I want to and because it makes me feel more confident. I do not wear makeup to impress others or because I feel pressured into wearing it. I enjoy showing off my natural face just as much as I enjoy wearing makeup.”

@sara_steinbach

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“I think I depend on makeup now more than I have in recent years just because as I get older I’m more aware of the way people perceive me with or without it. I’m comfortable without makeup but I prefer to wear it because it puts me at ease in a sense. For me it’s also an art, and almost a hobby. I’m sure some people think that wearing a full face of makeup every day is ridiculous, and that’s fine, but it’s something fun for me, I enjoy it. I’m the same person with a full face or without a drop and sometimes I think people can forget that because we get so caught up on what’s on the outside.”

@thelauraclark

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@kestyng_1493

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“Makeup, to me, enhances your natural beauty. Makeup is fun and I enjoy playing around with new colors and trying different combinations. I like to change up my makeup styles. Sometimes I will do winged eyeliner and bold lipstick, or eye liner without any lipstick and sometimes I just wear mascara. I am fairly comfortable going out in public without it, but I am not always comfortable going out without foundation if I have blemishes or acne. I think anyone can look beautiful with or without makeup! I also think that girls should not bash other girls for wearing ‘too much’ makeup. If it makes you feel beautiful, do it! I love seeing people experiment with makeup. It is a wonderful thing!”

@colleendanielleee

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Then there’s little old me. Actually, ya know what? Scratch that…

Then there’s BIG fear fighting, beautiful me. It has always been so easy for me to be kind and complimentary of other people, but when it comes to myself, I always come up empty. Not anymore, folks. Today, I choose to embrace who I am; acne scarred, splotchy skinned, big nosed, pointy eared, imperfectly perfect me.

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I am flawed, I am beautiful and I AM BEKAH. The only one in the whole universe.

@iambekah

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So, Someone Doesn’t Like Your High Waisted Shorts? SO WHAT!?

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Have you ever NOT worn a certain article of clothing that you would have liked to because:

a) you were afraid that someone may not like it or approve of it?

b) someone specifically told you they didn’t like it?

c) you were simply just too self conscious?

I will be the first to raise my hand to all 3. I have been extremely guilty of allowing the opinions of others to dictate how I do a lot of things, with one of the biggest being the way that I dress. Catering to people and their ideas of how you should do things is exhausting and people pleasing is not a good habit to pick up. There are just some things that you have to choose to do for YOU and you only. For instance, if you like frilly dresses but your best friend is a tomboy that wouldn’t be caught dead in such a thing, wear them anyway! Don’t let the style or opinions of someone else change the way that you choose to dress and present yourself.

A big thing that I’ve heard some negative comments about is high waisted shorts. I personally love them and think they are super cute! Not everyone agrees and that’s okay. My boyfriend hates them and thinks they look like granny shorts, but I wear them anyways and he thinks I’m cute regardless. It may not be his outfit of preference, but whether he loves them or hates them is a matter of opinion and I am entitled to mine as well. It’s all about respecting the individuality of others and that is so important.

When you go out in public in an outfit that you feel self conscious in, I guarantee you that you are going to be more mindful of the looks you get from people. If you go to Walmart in a prom dress, you’re probably gonna get some stares. That’s a no brainer! Now, imagine how it might feel to someone who goes out in something that they personally love, yet they get judgmental looks or overhear someone whisper about how out of date or hideous the outfit is. They’re probably not going to feel so comfortable anymore and they may choose to never wear it again, even though it was something that at one point they felt happy and beautiful in. Looks and words can be hurtful and are so unnecessary! If you don’t personally like someone’s high waisted shorts, crop top, overalls, romper, hat, flower headband or any other article of clothing or accessory that isn’t the ‘everyday norm’, then by all means keep it to yourself! There’s absolutely no reason you should ever put someone down because of something they are wearing that makes them feel comfortable and confident. You do you and let them do the same without any criticism. (Rant over, sorry!)

Everyone has a right to express their individuality however they so choose. That goes for tattoos, piercings, hair color, clothing style, etc. None of these things define you or reflect your character or heart, they’re simply an outward decoration and symbolism of personality and uniqueness. Always be true to yourself and be confident in doing so!! Rock those high waisted shorts, I’m sure ya booty looks great in ’em!

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How to Make Mondays a Little Less Mundane

mun·dane
ˌmənˈdān/
adjective
  • 1.
    lacking interest or excitement; dull.

    I’m pretty sure that 90% of the general population have a strong dislike for Mondays. What is it that makes Mondays so much more miserable than any other day of the week? While I do understand that sometimes it feels as if the week days drag by and the weekends fly by, there are no more or less hours in any particular day, therefore it’s all a matter of our perception and use of time. It is also a mental thing and a matter of how we intentionally choose to allow ourselves to think. If you go to sleep on Sunday night already dreading the next morning, then chances are you are going to wake up in a dreadful mood with no motivation. What kind of day will that attitude result in? A dreadful one. Yuck. Let’s check out some ways that we can use Mondays to our advantage by turning them from mundane into marvelous!

    1. Wake up with a grateful heart. 

    I challenge you to take a few minutes, first thing in the morning, to think about a few things that you are blessed with. You can probably think of more than just a few if you allow yourself to. In reality, there will be be days that you may wake up exhausted, not well rested, depressed, weighed down, anxious, or stressed, but at least you woke up and have the opportunity to see another day. Be thankful for that. Thank God for air in your lungs, the food you have for breakfast and the Starbucks you get on your way to work. There are so many things to be grateful for, so take the time to dwell on those things instead of negativity and I assure you that you morning will go much smoother.

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    2. Listen to music that makes you happy

    I am a firm believer in the power of music. What goes in your ears is processed through the mind and has an affect on every aspect of your day and your life as a whole. I will do a full post on music at some point, but in short, music is one of the most powerful sources in the world. It has the ability to build up and tear down. I have particular songs and bands that I go to when I’m in a great mood and others that I go to when I’m angry and others I go to when I need a good cry. They always serve their purpose. Know yours and put them to use. On Monday mornings, listen to the happiest, most upbeat, uplifting music you possibly can. It’s a simple way to easily brighten your day before it even gets started. I highly suggest adding a little Paramore into your playlist! Aint it fun living in the real world!? 

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    3. Eat well and give your body some TLC 

    Have blueberries for breakfast!! They have the most antioxidants of any fruit, they give you energy and they are also a natural antidepressant. Start your Monday off with a bowl of these bad boys and you’ll be set. Also, this one is a given, but drink plenty of water! Skip the energy drinks and sodas and see the benefits. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you normally would and take the time to stretch and meditate on how you want your day to go. Do something different with your hair, dress up more than usual, do something that makes you feel nice. Anything that can give you a little confidence boost is sure to make Monday a little more bearable.

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    4. Set goals for the week and reward yourself when you reach them

    Everyone loves having something to look forward to. By setting specific goals on Monday, you have something to work towards throughout the day and the rest of the work/school week. If you accomplish your goal by Friday, then you should reward yourself on the weekend! It’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. Don’t feel bad about splurging occasionally or treating yourself after a long, hard week. Mondays will be a much happier day if you know that you’re working towards a checkpoint and there will be something positive waiting for you at the finish line!

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    5. Do something that will encourage or benefit someone else 

    Technology can be a wonderful thing when it’s used properly. Take a few minutes on your lunch break to call your mom or significant other just to say “I love you”. Text a friend and tell them that they’re on your mind or ask them if they’re in need of anything. Spend time in prayer for someone that is heavy on your heart. Go for the opposite of technology and hand write a letter to someone! It may seem old fashioned in this culture, but I personally love writing and receiving snail mail.You should give it a try! I don’t know about you, but I know that I feel much better and more accomplished when I know that I have made a positive influence on someone, no matter how small it may be.

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Bottom line, Mondays are what you make of them and they don’t have to be mundane and dreary! Take time for yourself, give time to others, choose to be joyful and make the effort to enjoy every single day that is given to you! No one is promised another day and not everyone was blessed enough to wake up this morning. Don’t ever take life for granted and always remember to give thanks for everything and everyone that is important to you. Enjoy this Monday and every other one that you get to live to see!

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When the Desire to be Thin Outweighs the Importance of Being Healthy

Capture5-e1405355414434As I am googling, researching and gathering material to write this, I am becoming more and more outraged by the minute. I have personally fallen victim to this epidemic and I am appalled by the media and the effect that it has on young, impressionable girls. All you have to do is turn on the TV or drive a few miles in any direction and I guarantee you that you will see commercials and billboards that promote thinness and devalue women. Society has put so much emphasis on ‘how to appeal to men’ and ‘how to have the perfect body’ that we have been made to believe that we are not beautiful or worthy of being desired if we’re not a size 2 with a perfectly flat, toned stomach and cellulite free legs.

Since I was about 13 years old when I began developing insecurities and body image concerns, I have been attracted to magazines. When I was younger it was J-14, Tiger Beat, etc. They were never necessarily bad or inappropriate but even at such a young age, I began comparing myself to the celebrities in them. At the time it was people like Ashley Tisdale, Hilary Duff and Vanessa Hudgens. Over time, I began gaining interest in more mature ones such as Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and ultimately Glamour and Cosmopolitan. I never had subscriptions or read them religiously, but I was definitely drawn to them every time I was in a check out line or at the library. It wasn’t even that I was interested in reading the articles, I just liked to look at the people in them. I knew what I was doing and what it was doing to me. Looking at stick thin women who had been photoshopped and airbrushed was constantly giving me unrealistic expectations and ideas of what I should look like. I always knew that I would never measure up, yet I continued to feed my mind these unhealthy thoughts. It ultimately led to severe body image issues and deep rooted insecurities that I still have to this day and very well may carry with me for the rest of my life. However, I am in the process of learning how to deal with them and I have come a long way from where I once was.

Over the last year or so, I have tried particularly hard to shy away from falling back into those habits. I have tried to avoid magazines at all costs and made more of an effort to divert my attention from things that drag me down. As far as other media goes, I have also been more careful and mindful of movies that I watch and celebrities that I look to because I realize that these things have great power over me. Since I decided to do a blog on this subject, I have purposefully allowed myself to dig deeper into the topic as a whole. In recent weeks, I have gone out of my way to pay extra close attention to magazine cover stories in order to be real, raw and relevant in this post. I will now share some of the articles I have seen and have been particularly disturbed and upset by.

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Why is that it is so normal and socially acceptable to have weight/size articles on the cover of EVERY women’s magazine every single week/month? Whatever happened to being beautiful in your own way at any shape and size? When did losing weight in order to fit the media’s mold become more important than loving the body that God gave us?

Disclaimer: I am by no means bashing exercising and healthy weight loss and living. I am in full support of it! What I am upset by is that the majority of the articles are being directed towards women that are not even overweight to begin with. Also, what I am disturbed by is how much emphasis is put on weight and body size in general. Whether it be targeted towards people who are considered “too fat” or “too skinny”. Everything is very black and white and doesn’t leave much room for a healthy medium. Also, I am aware that people may turn up their noses at this post simply because I myself am not overweight and some may think that I have no business in speaking out about this subject. Well, let me assure you that while I may not be large in the eyes of others, it does not mean that I have not been large in my own. Yes, I may be delusional and I may be deceived in some ways but THAT is the whole point of this. It’s not easy for me to come out and tell the world that I see myself as fat, but I believe that transparency is a big stepping stone in recovery.

Anyways, carrying on! So far I have mainly addressed the side of society that is all about weight loss and shedding the fat and getting bikini body ready. Now we will dig into the flip side of things. The side of the media that bashes people for being too thin. Anyone that has any interest in media can hear the word “anorexic” and most likely have several celebrities immediately come to mind. Mary Kate Olsen, Nicole Richie, Kiera Knightly, Lindsay Lohan.

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My question is: DOES THE MEDIA NOT SEE THAT THEY ARE TO BLAME FOR THIS??

** Different discussion for a different time, but I would like to clarify that I am aware that eating disorders are a mental illness. I do, however, have firm beliefs that there are things that trigger the onset of them, society and social expectations being a huge one. While it may not be fully to blame in all cases, I feel that it is at least partially to blame. **

Everything is either bashing women for being too large or bashing them for being too small. We are all under so much pressure on a daily basis to fit a certain standard that in reality, is impossible to achieve. You can lose weight, restore lost weight, tone up, slim down, have plastic surgery, etc. but you can never be perfect. Nobody ever has been or ever will be. We are all imperfect beings created by a perfect God. He sees us all as beautiful in our own unique, individual way and the people that matter will see you in that same light. It is so important that we learn to accept, embrace and love ourselves at any weight, shape or size. Our bodies care for us and work hard on our behalf every day so shouldn’t we reciprocate that same unconditional love?

    Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration, what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

Psalm 139:14

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The Influence of Instagram

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Social media can be used for many things. Facebook was created with the intent of college students being able to stay in touch, Twitter was created for people to tweet random thoughts and Instagram was created as a place where people could share their life though pictures. At what point did it become a competition as to who has the best body, the highest paying job, the most attractive husband, the fanciest car and the biggest house? Even more importantly when did people begin to find it easy and acceptable to negatively comment on other people’s accomplishments? Also, when did the quantity of random followers become more important than the quality of our real life circle of friends who genuinely care about us and want to see us succeed and be happy?

I am writing this post from the standpoint of someone who has been guilty of putting entirely too much stock into Instagram and how I wish to portray my life depending on what I choose to post. While I can certainly say that I have never and will never partake in any type of cyberbully behavior, I have had the thoughts without putting them into words publicly, which is almost just as bad. The majority of my ‘girl hating’ tendencies stem from Instagram which stem from deep insecurity which has also at some point stemmed from Instagram. This is not what the app was created for and comparing is not what we as humans were created for. It has become so easy to scroll through your feed of everyone’s pictures and see a variety of things that have the potential to make you jealous or give you room to talk about people in a negative manner.

“So and so got a new car? I don’t know how he afforded that.”

“They broke up? I just knew he was cheating on her.”

“I can’t believe she’s wearing a bikini when she clearly doesn’t have the body for it.”

“She has no clue how to properly apply makeup, bless her heart.”

And my personal favorite…

“She posts so many selfies, she must really be stuck on herself!” *unfollow*

How many of these comments are necessary? NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

I took it upon myself to do a little project. I decided to go through my list of people that I follow and read a lot of comments, both new and old. While I did see many positive comments (which I will address), I was appalled at some things that I came across. Instagram hate is not just something that celebrities experience, it can happen to anyone and if we put all of our worth and value into an app and what people think of us and how many likes we can get, then we run the risk of being let down and hurt. Let’s take a look at some comments I found and saved. (Excuse the grammatical errors.)

17800_1101540483195093_4938752530526579695_n 22424_1101540433195098_3454019571161357110_n 22823_1101540459861762_6170142807340527514_n 10985886_1101540463195095_566600538813406418_n 11070518_1101540466528428_5532920488837535044_n 11139981_1101540453195096_1092207410942355126_n 11165065_1101540426528432_3743003500577449014_n (1) 11188329_1101540429861765_3197233215341709176_n

I was honestly disturbed and infuriated when I read these. It breaks my heart that people find is so natural to hide behind a phone or a computer and say such hurtful things with no sense of concern with how their comments are going to affect the person they are aimed towards. Statements such as “Wow, I’m trash” prove that it is also easy to put ourselves down, generally out of jealousy. Over the last 6 months, I personally have had to unfollow 300+ accounts because I found myself comparing my life to theirs and falling deeper into my depression. The majority were celebrities, fitness/thinspo, makeup gurus and fashion accounts. The thing about social media is that you get to pick and choose what you post and chances are, you’re not going to choose to post the bad days or the things that you don’t want anyone to see. All we choose to broadcast are the things that we are proud of, the days that we are dressed nicely and airbrushed, surrounded by friends, etc. This creates the false illusion of a perfect life, which in reality does not exist. Above all else, be smart about what you post, be aware that everything is not always what it seems and lastly, be slow to judge and quick to be kind. Actions may speak louder than words, but words are still pretty loud.

Enough about the negative side of things, let’s carry on and explore all of the positive aspects of Instagram, which in my opinion and personal experience, far outweighs everything else. On December 1st, 2014, I made the decision to begin recovery. Over the course of the last 5 months, I have made many changes in the people that I follow, the things that I post and the way that I portray my life on social media. When I shared my story on Instagram and Facebook, I was blown away by the amount of support, encouragement and love that I received. I always knew that social media was a powerful platform but I never realized just how powerful until I became open and honest about things in my life that I struggle with. I chose to be transparent even though it was in a setting that gave people the opportunity to judge, ridicule, invalidate or attack me. Luckily, I didn’t experience any of that. I began getting comments, messages and texts from people who wanted to share their stories with me. I have made friends from other states, countries and even continents. We all go through the same things and we all need each other. I have learned so much throughout this process and knowing that I have the opportunity to help and encourage others gives me a sense of hope for myself.

Here, I have several examples of positive comments that I have gotten. This is in no way to promote myself, but just to show the the drastic difference between the previous comments as opposed to the potential positive possibilities! Also, you will notice that the majority of these comments have very little to do with physical appearance, which I think speaks volumes

.                                                                                                                                        65  7 10492  11 112 13

When I decided to do a post on this topic, I asked many people if they had anything they would like to share. Their identities will be kept anonymous and some of it will be paraphrased and shortened, but they made some great points and I’m grateful for their input.

“Body positive pages such as @healthyisthenewskinny and @thecomplimentcampain make my day. I don’t follow negative accounts because everything that you encounter changes you in some way and I choose to let positivity influence me.”

“Social media has allowed me to reach out to people that also struggle with similar issues. Without it, I feel like I would be alone in the way that I feel. Books have been helpful but it’s nice to meet people who that actually deal with the same things that I do on a daily basis.”

“It has not happened to me personally but I sometimes see people commenting on other people’s pictures, who are obviously underweight, and saying things such as ‘fat’, ‘you need to lose weight’ and things like that.  They may be sarcastic but that triggers and hurts people and it is a really stupid thing to do.”

“I have personally been really struggling with insecurity and I have for a very long time, but with the rise of social media, especially Instagram, it has become increasingly worse. I have found myself addicted to following and spending a substantial amount of time obsessing over things such as fitness pages and women, thus comparing myself. For a while I would find myself doing it and not even realizing it. My father and boyfriend know that I deal with feelings of insecurity and comparison, so eventually they encouraged me to delete the app for a while in order to center myself and focus on other things. I did end up deleting it for a couple of weeks and it did greatly make an impact. I felt myself feeling better and naturally stopped comparing myself as  much. Instagram especially is one that can become very centered around vanity. It puts so much emphasis on outside appearance, which can definitely become an issue for many girls. Chronic insecurity, comparison and girl hating is already such an epidemic for many women and young girls in this culture. Although I do not think that Instagram is all bad, it can easily become that way if you allow it to.”

“I had to unfollow a friend because she had relapsed in her eating disorder. The thinner she got, the more difficult it was for me to see her. She would post pictures of her bones sticking out and pictures of her binges. She had even gotten follows from ‘Pro-Ana’ accounts. When I was in the worst part of my eating disorder, I was all over ‘Pro-Ana’ sites, so seeing this took me back to those days when I would do anything to be skinny, and I did. I sacrificed a lot including my time, energy and happiness. Now I will do anything to remain happy, healthy and in recovery. On the other hand, social media has allowed me to stay in touch with the women who I was in treatment with as well as connect with other women that went to the same treatment center that I’ve never met in person. We offer each other invaluable support and encouragement. It is awesome!!”


I want to challenge anyone that sees this to try something new this week. Let’s start some positive hashtags! I see so many on a daily basis and I believe that we can make a difference if we do away with negative ones and replace them with positive ones. On #SelfieSunday, post the selfie of all selfies and be confident doing it!!  #NoMakeupMonday, because we are naturally beautiful without it. Put a new spin on #TransformationTuesday and post happy, recovery driven photos (if applicable). #IAmWorthyWednesday, beause so many people are lacking self worth and it needs to be addressed. #TrustworthyThursday, make yourself open and available for people to talk to when they need a friend and assure them that their secrets are safe with you. #FabulousFriday, because heck, YOU ARE FABULOUS! Let’s make #SelfLoveSaturday a thing. Share things about yourself that you think are awesome and forget about the things you want to change. It is not wrong to love yourself. You are worth all the love in the world, let’s embrace that!

Bottom line…

Social media of any kind, especially Instagram, can be used for many reasons. It is up to YOU how you choose to use it. Will you boast about yourself and put down others? Or will you encourage, support and allow the love of God to show through everything that you post? Make the right choice, and you hold the potential to change the world.

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Mirror Checking, Skin Picking and Other Side Effects of BDD

It is 8:19 am at the moment that I am typing this and I have been up since 7:08. Exactly 30 minutes out of the 71 minutes that I have been awake were spent in my car on the drive to work. Let’s take a moment to recap how this short amount of time has been spent…

Before my feet ever hit the floor, it is guaranteed that I will have already checked my reflection in my phone screen at least twice. What’s the first thing I do when I get up? Fix a bowl of cereal? Brush my teeth? Get dressed? Nope, guess again. I go straight to my first full length mirror, which is in front of my window where the natural light can come in. I dissect my face thoroughly, I check to make sure that my nose didn’t grow overnight, I check to assure myself that my chin didn’t get pointier and my forehead didn’t grow, I check to see what kind of new bumps could have formed and how red and blotchy my skin is after it’s been slept on. I obsess.

Next, I go to my second full length mirror (I have 3 big mirrors in my room), and I check my stomach, legs and clavicle. I look from every angle to make sure that my thighs didn’t expand, my stomach didn’t get  pudgier and my collar bones didn’t get overtaken by a layer of fat. I squeeze at the skin of my stomach and wish it away. I pull at the back of my thighs and imagine what it would be like to have a thigh gap like a Victoria’s Secret model. I obsess. I know that these things are attainable, but at what price? It’s a scary thought and an even darker road to go down.

Time for mirror #3. I usually skip the 3rd one in my bedroom and I opt for the one in the bathroom under the awful fluorescent lights. Even though I know the lighting is harsh and it exaggerates my flaws, I must go to it anyways.

“The redness has gotten worse, my pores have gotten bigger, my nose has gotten longer, my shoulders have gotten wider, my skin is dry and broken out and my face is hideous. What kind of monster am I looking at?” 

These are just a few of the things that my BDD tells me. I am a prisoner of my own mind. Whether these things are true or not, they are MY reality. I physically and literally cannot see myself in the same way that others view me. No one with BDD can. That is why it is such a serious illness. It’s not attention seeking and it’s not vanity, it is a disease of the mind and it can be a killer if you allow it to be, but recovery is possible!

Anyways, carrying on. The skin picking continues throughout the day, basically every day. If I feel a little tiny bump on my face, it becomes all I can think about. I will touch my face hundreds of times over the course of an 8 hour day, which only continues to aid my breakouts. It’s a cycle that seems impossible to break. For someone that does not have BDD, having a bump still stinks but they can apply concealer and go about their day. They don’t feel that they are defined by it, in most cases. For the majority of BDD sufferers, we constantly feel that people are looking at us and pitying us because of our ugly appearance anyways, therefore having a bump or breakout is enough to send someone into hysterics or cause them to become home bound. I know that for me personally, there have been many times when I did not want to leave my room because of this reason. Becoming home bound is a huge side effect of BDD. It affects every aspect of daily life: mental, physical, spiritual, relationships, friendships and work opportunities. So many sufferers not only don’t leave their house but they don’t even associate with their family because they are so ashamed of their perceived deformities and abnormalities. It is trapping and tormenting.

The other biggest side effect that I have experienced over the years is constant reassurance seeking. This is not the same thing as ‘fishing for compliments’. For instance, even after 5+ years of being in a relationship with my boyfriend, who has been faithful to me, I still feel the need to ask him every day if he still loves me. Of course his answer is always “Yes,” and my response is always “Are you sure?”. It’s a constant fear of mine that one day he is going to randomly wake up and not love me anymore so I feel the need to ask over and over for reassurance even though I’m afraid that one day I’m going to hear the response that I dread. It’s terrifying. Another example of this is being uncomfortable going out until and unless I get at least 2 reassuring positive responses about what I am wearing, how my hair looks and if my makeup is okay. I will ask my mom repeatedly if I look okay but even when she says yes, I still don’t believe it. Again, a pointless cycle. I will send pictures to a couple of my close friends and ask if my outfit is cute or if my eyeliner is even. It’s exhausting to not be able to just do as you please and leave the house with ease and confidence.

Another side effect that often goes unknown and is primarily viewed as vanity is the amount of selfies one may take and/or post to social media. I am extremely guilty of this and I have heard some comments about it. The issue behind this is that someone with BDD will usually take many selfies in one setting. When I say many, this could range from 10-200+. Often they will feel that they have to take that many in order to find one that they feel comfortable with posting. A lot of times the point is not always to appear flawless and beautiful, but simply to look normal. It is not an attention seeking method and it should not be perceived as narcissism. In most cases, people with BDD cannot or do not know how to accept a compliment. They find it hard to grasp and believe that anyone could ever see them differently than they see themselves. It’s a sticky situation.

Lastly, I have a shopping addiction and I change clothes at least 3-4 times every single day before I actually leave my room. I literally have more clothes than I have room to store them. I have 2 closets that are slam packed, a 6 drawer dresser, endless stacks of clothes that stand 3+ ft. high and cover most of the floor space in my room, plus multiple huge trash bags full of summer stuff I haven’t even unpacked yet. YET I CONTINUE TO BUY MORE. Just like emotional binge eating, I tend to emotional binge shop. Also, I will buy things but then be too self conscious to wear them in public, so they will sit in my closet with tags on them for months until I get to courage to wear them. When I finally do wear them out, I often regret it as soon as I’ve left my driveway and I want to change. I keep a ‘safe outfit’ in my car at all times for this reason. My ‘safe outfits’ are generally all black and/or big and baggy. I also have ‘safe foods’ which I will talk about in a later post.

In conclusion, there are many other things I could talk about but I will save it for another time. What I will leave you with is that BDD is a very complex mental illness and there are endless factors that can contribute to the onset of it. It is easy to go undetected and it is often easy to hide. Take the time to love, value, support and encourage everyone you know because you never know what they are battling.

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