Much Ado About Cindy: Body Image and the Big Screen

The Cinderella movie just came out, and though I haven’t seen it yet, twitters’ all abuzz about the size of poor Cindy’s waist. Comments from it being airbrushed, to how the actress, Lily James, needed to go on a liquid diet to fit into the dress, and how it’s a terrible role model for children. The part that really gets me is where she is a “bad role model for children”, mainly because people come in all shapes and sizes, and because you’re not that size, you’re unaccepting of her as a person.

I feel passionate about body image because I didn’t always love myself; I knew I was pretty because my mom always said so, but I felt like an outsider at school because I was bullied, which made me terrified of people. Today it’s a different story. I love my body, I love myself, and I have a healthy (maybe too healthy..) level of confidence to where I can be in the buff in front of my hubby and not feel ashamed or ugly. Though to be honest, when I see a truly fit girl, I do feel a pang of dolefulness at my lack of discipline when it comes to working out. But nevertheless, I’ll tell you how I got to a place of loving my body.

I have a gorgeous mother. She has the body of a woman who had two kids but she’s beautiful and very fit. When I was growing up, I’d watch her faithfully put on makeup every day and refresh her lipstick before my dad got home. She believes that you must always look your best for your husband. She took care of her body in that she ate heartily and healthily, she was very active and is still quite fit for her age. She washed her face with amazing skin care products and later on would switch to all natural oils, lotions and potions. This paid off in that her skin looks like a 45 year old’s and she’s well into her 60’s. I watched her religiously put body butter on her whole body when she got out of the shower in the morning, and before she would go to bed at night. She would put lotion on her hands the second she got into the car, every single time. She was the woman that always had fabulous hairdressers, and I remember thinking that she was at the cutting edge of fashion and style. A real modern woman.

She had clothing for every situation, and her wardrobe was impressive. She could find amazing clothes anywhere she shopped and I would prance around the house in her clothing that she brought back from Greece and Israel. I stomped around in her high heels and played the “I’m so beautiful game” as a humble 5 year old, and my sister and I would pretend that we were princesses with the scarves she had gotten from some far away land. My mother didn’t only dress well though, she lived well, and she was the embodiment of a confident, loving, beautiful woman that I wanted to be one day.

She and my dad complimented my sister and I endlessly, and she would give us manicures and pedicures and put lotion on our hands and we would watch her spend time on herself like that. She championed our independence when it came to picking out our own clothes. She wasn’t my favorite person when she disciplined us, but I always knew without a doubt that I was my mom’s (and dad’s) princess, and that my sister was their rose. Those were her nicknames for us and they still are. Sure there were times when it wasn’t all rosy and things were hard and unfair. My dad and her would be gone a lot on business or really busy with work, but I remember the good times.

When we moved to the United States, it all got worse, compared to what it had been at school back home. I didn’t know who I was, where I belonged and I felt like I really stood out. I went into a bit of a grunge phase and, though I was confident and strong, I felt like I wasn’t being myself. After 4 years of painful high school memories and so many bad moments, I graduated and I knew that I could choose who I wanted to be. After a year of detoxing from school and being thrust into a new life in a city surrounded by amazing people, I finally stepped into “myself”. I knew who I was and started acting accordingly. I started being like that princess my mom always called me. I started doing my hair and makeup every day, had a nice wardrobe and really started loving myself. I changed my outlook on life, and decided that it was fun and I was meant to live it to the fullest.

When I’m about town I notice things, and I see moms who don’t love themselves, they don’t take care of themselves, and their outward image speaks of “I don’t care, I don’t know how to care, why does it matter” etc. I see wives who don’t try to look their absolute best for their husbands. I also hear moms who never compliment their daughters for fear that they might grow up with a false sense of self. They don’t want to pressure them into being someone specific, rather let them have the freedom to choose whatever. What they’re doing, in fact, is not giving them a framework to thrive in; those girls, therefore, will be the ones who succumb to society’s “ideal woman” and they will be the ones struggling with their body image because it was perpetuated through their mothers’ insecurity.

It’s those same mothers who are offended at the Cinderellas’ of the industry. You see, although in principle it might sound nice to give a child the choice of who they want to be, you can’t expect them to make decisions like adults do. They haven’t been given the options, seen the consequences, made the mistakes, intellectually derived solutions to problems, and lived through years of regret, understanding, knowledge of wisdom, like adults have. All they see are unicorns, flowers, fun, not fun, sad, happy. They don’t understand, or can’t comprehend, the “choose whatever” lifestyle. Why? Because they’re kids. Their brains haven’t fully formed to a place where they can decide for themselves. All they’re doing is absorbing, like sponges, information around them. They aren’t deciding anything, just absorbing.

What role model are you being for your daughter or son, so that the information they’re absorbing is information you can be proud of. The information I absorbed about body image around my mother, was that I could be beautiful, that I was a princess, that I had a good heart, that it mattered that I loved myself for my future husband’s sake.

So it all starts at home. Mothers, love yourselves. Show your daughters that you love yourselves. If you don’t love yourself then do something to change it. Change your diet and start working out. Those endorphins will immediately change your mood! Find the things about you that you love and if you’re having a hard time, grab a girlfriend and chat about it. Be open, honest, and real. The best thing you can do for your daughter is give her a proper framework for what true beauty is. Actually, be an amazing role model for her. Teach her what you think she should know about beauty and body image. Rather say something than nothing at all. Teach her to love her body, in whatever shape or size it is, whether it’s tall and willowy or a little tubby.

Before I got married, I weighed a very slight 125lbs. For a 5’9″ girl, that’s quite skinny. After marriage I quickly gained the “marriage weight” and clocked in at a solid 140lbs. That felt like a lot to me. You guys. It was real. I was so ashamed. My husband didn’t really care because we were both in the marriage muffin boat. I went from prancing around the house in my undies as a single girl to wearing t-shirts to bed. This was so not me! I loved being free and loving myself! I knew something had to change, and drastically. First I cut out the pizzas and Krispy Kremes, the chocolates, and the drinks, and I joined a gym. (Although, you haven’t lived if you haven’t had a freshly glazed hot Krispy Kreme donut right off the belt.) That was fine but I realized that my mindset concerning myself wasn’t changing. I decided that I would stare at myself in the mirror until I could accept myself and love my body. I continued to faithfully put lotion on every night, and I would stare at myself until the day came that I realized I looked like a cherub. I kid you not. Those little angels in Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Those ones. I laughed so hard the moment I realized it, because I loved it. I started feeling playful again, and then soon after that I felt sexy. I felt like the models in those old paintings, the ones lounging lazily on a couch with grapes in their hands. When I saw myself like that, I started loving my body. My sexiness hadn’t diminished with the extra love. It was there all along; I just had to realize it.

I’m closer now to the size I was when I got married and I remind myself every now and then that I might not look like a Victoria’s Secret model, yet, but I sure do feel like one. And that’s what counts.

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Borrowed From The Boys: How To Rock Menswear

The “girls just wanna boys” look has been around since women first started wearing pants.. circa 1920’s. We saw androgynous looks on the runway this year (and every year past) which means that the trend of women wearing mens clothing, and vise versa, really isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. If you love being feminine (like me) it might seem hard to trade your heels for brogues or loafers, and your a-line skirts for trousers, but there is a way to rock this trend while still staying true to our girly selves.

Check out these looks below for some menswear inspired trends!

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These are some basic “borrowed from the boys” pieces, mix and match and have some fun outfits! The way to rock this look is all in the details. Soft and feminine hair and makeup, accessories and the right shoes.

Styling Complicated Pieces: Moccasins

My husband hates two things in this world; maxi dresses, and moccasins. I used to avoid moccasins because I felt that they were so style specific. If you wore them, I judged you to be a beach girl from California or the towns local bohemian (which, by the way, if your town has a local bohemian then it has more culture than most places). Not bad things, just different. That was until I actually got my first pair of Minnetonkas’. I had left all my comfortable shoes at home and while we were away on a trip, I got myself a pair to ease my hurting feet. I have never looked back.

For a short period of time I started wearing them with almost everything, and managed to style them in such as way so as not to lean too heavily to the bohemian side, but sort of stay in the middle of classic chic, and boho glam. I’ve since learned that pretty much anything can be styled in a way thats adorable and presentable, if you just think a little outside of the box. I like to balance mine with minimalistic clothing as well as more structured accessories.

Check out these outfit ideas!

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Apart from the statement necklace, everything is really simple and low-key. This way you can wear your hair wild or put up nicely and still looks contemporary.

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This look is very demure but sexy at the same time. Leave the coat behind if it’s warmer out and you still have a wonderfully cohesive look. Do a peach lip for some color and tie your hair back in a loose bun.

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I love this version of a look that could be business-y were it not for the denim skirt and booties. It’s playful but the lady wearing it is to be taken seriously. I love a nude lip for this one, keeping the hair and makeup really simple will add more to your look than trying to add loads of makeup. Let the accessories do the talking.

Here are some celebrities rocking their moccasins!

That 70’s Vibe: The Beginning

We’ve seen it on the streets, and we’ve seen it on the runways, but that 70’s trend is coming back, albeit with a modern twist, and it’s coming back full force. From culottes, to flared denim, to flowery, flowing dresses and billowing coats, these pieces will be around for a while bringing texture, color and prints to center stage. I’ve collected the top 20 outfit inspirations from that decade and given us a mood board we can glean from. Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Debbie Harry are some of our leading ladies in this collection.

Check it out! Which looks are your favorite?

Inuit Tribes and Tattooed Ladies: Dsquared2’s Breathtaking Collection

I’ve been harping on and on about texture, color, style, layering, etc. and happened upon Dsquared2s’ collection for fall/winter 2015. Needles to say I was drooling. Their collection is absolutely amazing, and not just one or two looks either. Every article of clothing is unique and perfect.

From first glance it seemed that they drew their inspiration everywhere from native american culture to matadors to inked ladies from the 1800’s. When I finally read where they had in fact drew their inspiration from, I wasn’t surprised. I had hit the nail on the head. They designed their collection around their Canadian roots, and imagined something like a plane that fell from the sky with suitcases with clothes from old Europe, and imagined an Inuit tribe incorporating what they found into their own dress-ware.

I’m completely obsessed. They utilized layering in a major way, using different textures and styles to compliment each other and created this visually stimulating collection that takes your breath away. You can easily incorporate a piece, or several pieces into your day to day wardrobe with some fun styling, to make a look thats fun and appropriate for todays street style.

Check out the looks below and tell me what you think!

Images from style.com

Very Beige

It’s not often that I explore the color beige. Why? Because it’s so.. beige.. I do however like to experiment and try out different looks, especially when it comes to color, since I wear so little of it. I threw this number together and realized it was very beige but also pretty adorable. (It did remind me a little Jenny from the Block circa early 2000’s, which made me nervous, but what the hell, right?). It’s fun to play with colors and shapes that you’re not usually in to, and it’s amazing how often you’ll find that the thing you thought you’d hate, you actually loved. I’d wear this outfit with beachy waves or a beanie to keep with that low profile but city chic look.
Have fun and explore!

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Pieces long sleeve cardigan
$76 – pieces.com

Paige Denim blue skinny jeans
$425 – coggles.com

ACIGOLLA
aldoshoes.com

The Season’s Sweater

How to wear this season’s staple without looking like a soccer mom or a carpet bag.

Finding those great knit sweaters to wear when the weather gets chilly can be tricky if you’re not sure what it is that you’re looking for. (If you live within two miles of a Forever 21, however, you have nothing to fear because everything is just so trendy, you could shop with your eyes closed and still manage to look good). When you’ve been  relegated, however, to a few department stores, consignment stores and your brother’s/dad’s/boyfriend’s/husband’s closet, the options for greatness is severely diminished. I do believe in shopping online but sometimes you just need to try stuff on. I love consignment and thrift stores because I always find some great vintage pieces that are to die for.

I love this simple cropped cashmere sweater, such a sweet little thing but paired with the pants and shoes it gives this outfit the perfect balance between edgy and classy.

There’s not really a sweater that’s so hideous that you can’t do anything with it, unless it is covered with anything sewn on, especially  bells, poinsettias, bits of leaf, or weird shapes (bar aztec). Don’t be afraid of anything with a fun pattern though. A bow on the shoulder is a great little added lux.  I always try to get a sweater in the most raw form of its material whether it’s a type of wool or cashmere or a blend of the two. Anything else that’s not natural will make you hot; your body won’t be able to breathe which turns you into a sweaty mess.

I stay away from v-neck sweaters unless it’s a cardigan or a deep-v, I can never seem to find one that sits just right on people unless it’s very chunky. I love a scoop, crew or boat neck. I feel as though those are the most flattering especially since it can be either bulky or light-weight and it always seem to sit just right.

Over-sized loose fitting sweaters are a major trend this season, especially worn with booties and  fun leather jackets, vests or a chunky scarf. When doing an over-sized sweater remember that it is bulky so keep the pants/jeans/skirts etc on the tight fitting side. Also, because it’s such a casual piece of clothing, bring balance to your over-all by wearing a dressier shoe, (not uggs, for instance, unless you are lounging around your house) and crisp, clean makeup and kept hair. You don’t want to completely look like you rolled out of your house without paying any attention to yourself whatsoever.

Below are some fun sweater ideas. Pay attention to the shape, size and the overall look. Whether it’s cropped, 3/4 sleeved, crew neck or boat neck, you could easily find any of the below styles at any store if you search a little more than usual. Remember you can always layer with blouses underneath to create some texture and layering. Don’t feel like you need to be stuck buying something in “your size”. I often will buy sweaters a few sizes bigger or smaller if I want to achieve a certain look.

Check out the looks below!

Wardrobe Essentials and the Art of the Sock.

Fellas, we’re revisiting the age old story, the one that suggests what you should have in your closet if you want to look back next year and say that the winter of 2012-2013 was your best winter yet; also, it’ll be easier for you to dress in the morning if you have a helping hand with knowing what looks good, no matter what.

First let’s start with these boys:

Jasons’ look:

Keep your vintage tee and a wool blend (either tweed or something to that effect) extra slim fit pant paired with your oldest most rugged brogue boots, it completes this outfit. The tee dresses down the pants and the boot adds that edge that it needed. Sometimes it’s nice to create variety in your look, shying away from wearing jeans every day. Mix it up a little but maintain your comfort and edge if you’d like.  He accessorized with a hat.

Calebs’ look: For a more dressy look, something more put together that’s do-able for the office (not if you’re a lawyer though, sorry…). Try a cotton blend (or wool blend if it’s real cold) button-up shirt paired with an extra slim fit chino pant in dark dark blue (or color of your choice) and a pair of oxfords or brogues. If the weather is particularly cold where you live, go ahead and wear fun patterned or solid colored socks (try something that ties in with the color of your shirt or pants). Not only will your feet stay warm, but the socks give an exciting detail. NEVER wear white socks. Leave those for the gym and other extra-curricular activities.

Which brings us to this conversation: The do’s and don’t’s of sock wearing.

DO wear fun socks with dress shoes – it’s a fun detail that tells women, your boss and all the other important people in your life that you pay attention to detail and that you care.

DON’T wear fun socks with sneakers. It’s too much.

DO wear no-show socks with your sneakers, it’s a much neater look. If you argue that your feet will get cold then you should be investing in boots. It is winter after all and you might be the fool wearing Vans in the snow. No bueno. Your toes’ll turn black and have to be chopped off which makes for an awkward story as to why you no longer have toes. Don’t be that guy.

DON’T wear gym socks (those white bunchy ones) for your every day chukka wear. But DO wear black instead. You can never go wrong with black. It doesn’t stand out like a beacon in the night hailing lost sailors and sirens. Example below!

Jason’s second look:

Simply, cozy, casual, classy. Jason wears a cable knit sweater with a cowl neck and a hat, completely casual but put-together looking. Pair this with those wool blend extra slim fit pants and boots, or jeans and chukkas, and your whole look is complete. You’re put-together but you’re still comfortable.

This sweater is great because you can also throw a tweed blazer over, or a bomber jacket, or a pea coat of some sorts. It goes with everything.

Check out the different looks below, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to try new things! You’ll be surprised at the outcome.

Finally! The Pre-Winter Campaign!

A few weeks ago we did a photo shoot that seemed more like family time than an actual photo shoot.

The photographer, Trevor Boyd, had been wanting to do something using only natural lighting while maintaining the flawless look  that a studio would bring. We spent some time looking at different locations that had great lighting and finally settled on his friend’s place who also happened to be one of the models, Caleb. It has massive windows and a perfectly white living room. After settling on a time we decided we would shoot Meeks and Caleb and hopefully find more models along the way. Little did we know that they would come off the street in the shape of friends and friends of friends that  perchance would happen to stop by.

The first unexpected model to arrive on scene was Emily, who grew up in England and was here for school. She had heard through one of Caleb’s room mates that we were doing a shoot and wanted to hang out and be a spectator. At this point we had a few of those as friends would drop in to say hi and watch the process. Trev, Allie and I took one look at her, asked her what her name was and if she was free for the afternoon. With much excited bewilderment, she shakily said yes and  was thrown immediately into position with hair, makeup and a sweater. The rest with her is history. Trev couldn’t stop gaping at her and frankly neither could I. She was flawless and her innocence only added to her beauty. We couldn’t believe our luck, that this absolutely stunning girl just stumbled through the front door, and despite her nervousness, absolutely killed it in front of the camera.

Our next visitor were Trevs’ friends Jason and Lisa who stopped by to say their farewells. The two were headed back to LA after a weekend retreat in town. Once again, gaping ensued. Trev asked Jason if he had 5 minutes, those 5 minutes turned into about 3 hours of more gaping and shooting and exclamations on how amazing he was, and how ridiculous it was that everyone looked so good together. Again, it was perfect. Lisa yelled her two cents with eyes glued to her phone and gave much feedback and ideas. We couldn’t have done it without her. Meanwhile clothes were swapped in and out, closets were raided, clothes were shared and the corner of the living room started looking a little rambunctious.

As models posed and sweated it out in heavy sweaters and makeup, pizza was ordered and soda was drunk, loud music kept our pace going and our gorgeous hair and makeup girl, Mariah, gave haircuts wherever she could find a willing head, and I was willing. The girl knows how to cut hair. The beautiful Allie ran around fetching things and dressing people, steaming clothes and making sure everyone had anything they needed. She was a godsend.

After we wrapped up the day, shooting at the lake with the sun setting, we looked back on it with whimsy. We didn’t want it to end. New friendships were formed and etched forever in our minds, were the warmest and most affectionate memories.

We decided that the only way to do photo shoots, fashion, style, life was being family. And from here on out that’s the way it’ll be.

Enjoy some of the shots taken at Calebs’ house!

(Click on the first image to open the slideshow)

Fall Cozy for Him

Fellas, not sure how to put together an outfit that doesn’t consist of a tank, shorts and boat shoes for the soon approaching chill? Here’s how to not be the guy at Thanksgiving this year still living in the Endless Summer.

When it comes to chilly weather, layering is key. The way to pull that off while still hanging on to your dignity is by paying attention to colors first, then textures (whether it’s knit, cotton, leather etc). Your outfit doesn’t necessarily have to match, it just has to “go”. Start with a tee, then throw on a vintage denim shirt, throw on a knit sweater over that (can either be chunky or not, depending on the look you’re going for. Chunky is more cozy and relaxing, the other a little classier). Finish the look with the coat of your choice.

Alternatively, you could try layering flannel under your denim shirt and a tee under that for extra texture. Accessories are an easy way to add layer as well, even if they’re just peeking out. A watch with a few bracelets is always a good look, or a beanie etc. Roll up your jeans and do fun socks with brogues, oxfords, desert boots, work boots etc and your layering 101 is complete. Try looking for shirts that have some fun to them, whether it’s an aztec pattern, a good wash, or great material. Sweaters are great for layering as well, so invest in a few different ones and your wardrobe will be much easier to work with.

Remember to try new things!