Natural Hair and Bare Faces

Let’s talk about the fact that society says that women need to either a) enhance their features, or b) change how they look.

Let’s talk about the number of eating disorders present in the United States alone.

Let’s talk about how corrupt our society can actually be.

And let’s talk about what we can do to go against the grain. How can we be authentically ourselves? How do we get to a place where we do not feel this overwhelming pressure to conform to societal standards that, let’s face it, resemble that of perfection?

Let’s talk about natural hair and bare faces.

I’m no body-positive guru that is here to preach about how we all need to love how we look. How we need to feel confident in our skin and in our bodies all of the time, because we are each beautiful in our own unique ways, blah, blah, blah.

I don’t want to say that is a load of crap, but…

As someone who has struggled with a relentless eating disorder for seven years, I know it’s not that simple. Being in recovery for a solid two years, I still struggle, immensely I might add, with body image. I think the key though, is to start off small.

As a child, I always hated my hair. I thought that the only beautiful hair was straight hair, and I did not have that. I was cursed with this awful curly, frizzy mess. I spent countless hours straightening my hair, trying to get it poker straight, flat, and smooth. It has taken me a long time to be able to embrace my natural hair, and now, I truly do! And NOT just because I am lazy! In all seriousness though, I have grown to love my hair, and I have learned and am still learning that beauty takes many forms.

Makeup. Let’s talk about that. There seems to be this unwritten rule that states that women cannot look presentable unless they have on makeup.

Not. True.

Just like any other girl, I do enjoy getting dolled up from time to time, doing my makeup and feeling “put together” if you will. HOWEVER, I feel even better when I come home, and can take it all off – ridding my face of the cakey BB cream, face powder and blush. Taking off my mascara. Letting my pores breathe again. It’s honestly such a good feeling. And why can’t we take this feeling with us when we leave the house? I am getting more and more comfortable going out with my natural hair and makeup-free. I am learning to accept the parts of myself that I once hated. I am starting off small. Embracing my natural hair and skin is no easy feat. But the more comfortable with myself I become and the more I leave the house my natural self, the easier it gets. Loving my hair and skin can be hard, but loving my body can be even harder. I hope that this growing confidence in one area can transfer over to my body as a whole, and who knows, one day it just might. But we need to take small steps, and of course take it one step at a time. We can start by not feeding into these God-awful standards that society has set for women in particular. I know I said I wasn’t the body-positive guru, but I am going to get slightly corny here while telling you the truth at the same time: the body that you have, the features that God blessed you with, is beautiful. You don’t need the hair straighteners, the blow dryers, the makeup, the nail polish. Sure, that stuff is nice sometimes. When it becomes dangerous is when you think you cannot leave the house without it. When your self-worth and self-esteem rides solely on your appearance. Be cautious of this.

Let your hair down. Let your skin breathe.

Your okay.

image1.jpeg

Advertisements

Untethered

I wake up. It’s 9 am and I see the sun shining through my window and feel the warmth touching my face. It feels so nice to wake up by my internal clock, and not by an obnoxiously loud beeping alarm. I feel refreshed. Not too sleepy to where I cannot keep awake. So I comfortably and easily swing my legs over the side of my bed and stretch. My body elongates and I feel nothing but gratitude; for my wrinkles, curves, fat, muscles, skin, freckles, scars. My imperfections do not bother me. In fact, I embrace each and every one of them. I acknowledge that the parts of me that were once was hated and abused are perfect in their own way. I wrap my arms around myself giving my body a gentle hug. Because all of these years I know that’s what it always wanted. Its what it always needed.

I make a cup of coffee and watch the creamy almond milk turn my coffee to a delicious warm brown. I pour just the right amount of sugar. I eat my breakfast and plop onto the chair at my kitchen table, opening up my laptop. I enjoy scrolling through and reading all my favorite blogs. I soak up the beautiful and wise words of others. As I read, I take bits and pieces from each post, retaining the information at my own pace and in my own time.

I get ready for the day – brush my teeth and wash my face, and leave my hair as is. It is messy and curly and tangly, but I like it that way. Its my natural hair and I do not mind it. Actually, I kind of like it. I take one glance at myself in the mirror, and part from it until the evening. I don’t need it today.

I ride my bike through country and down by the lake, taking the winding trails for hours. I feel the wind blow through my hair. I know it’s got to be changing the way my hair looked from the morning, maybe even messing it up. But I do not care. I am too busy enjoying the moment. I feel alive. I feel free. I tilt my head up and squint at the sun, feeling the rays penetrate through my pores.

When I finally arrive back home, I take out a juicy red apple and open a fresh jar of creamy almond butter. It makes for the best snack, and I feel satisfied knowing I filled my body with some good nutrients.

I read a new book. A memoir, a collection of poetry, or the newest fiction – anything that can take me into a different realm or world for a while. It makes me think about life; the struggles, the beauty, love and loss. I laugh and cry – I feel each emotion as I venture through the pages, appreciating every word.

It is now 9 pm. I had my dinner. I spent some time with family and with my boyfriend. We laughed until tears were rolling down our cheeks. My boyfriend is so funny – we always have such a fun time together. He knows how to make me laugh, and because of him I learned that life is meant to be enjoyed. I now know that I must live my life to the fullest and embrace it all. Feelings are a part of life, not something to be feared.

I climb into my bed and feel my head on the cool pillow. Snuggled in warm blankets, I lay there and talk to God. I thank Him for such a beautiful day. I thank Him for giving me a second chance. I thank Him for all he has blessed me with, despite the things I have done. Tears begin to fill my eyes because I am overwhelmed with emotion; I feel His love pouring over me, and I am still. Peacefully, I close my eyes and fall asleep.

You Are Still Loveable

Valentine’s Day…it has never been my favorite holiday. Sure I like it for the chocolate and the little gifts I get (and so appreciate) from my loving parents. And I have to admit, it has always been more fun when I have been in a relationship. But Valentine’s Day does not have to be celebrated only if you are in a relationship with someone. I do want to say that yes, I am currently in a serious relationship that has been so good for me. It is a lot of give and take. Well, quite often I feel like it is a lot of taking on my end, and not enough giving. The reason I feel this way is because I suffer from anxiety and other mental illnesses, as well as chronic illnesses. And I get it, everyone has something. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. We all have struggles. But sometimes, I feel like there is A LOT of baggage that comes with me. And my chronic illnesses, well, they are not always easy to deal with. But honestly, the thing that I feel extra guilty about, the thing that has always pushed other people away in the past, is my mental illness. My eating disorder, my severe anxiety, my depression. I mean, who wants to deal with that?

Well, I finally found someone who will go to any length to make me smile, who will try his hardest when I am in an anxiety attack to find words of comfort. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I am so blessed.

But back to my main point: I want you to know that if you suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, or any other mental illness, DO NOT LOSE HOPE when it comes to relationships. I am not the easiest person to be in a relationship with half the time (just to put it plain and simple). But maybe, we are better at it then we think. When you find the right person, that person will love and accept every part of you. And you, in turn, will feel more comfortable being yourself and going to that person when you need a hand, hug, or shoulder to cry on. And sure, your anxiety might be annoying or aggravating at times to that person, because he/she is only human too! But that person will accept you with your disorders or perceived flaws. They will look at the whole you instead of that one part of you. They will not be annoyed by you (maybe by your anxious or depressive thoughts once in a while, but not by you). They will love you unconditionally and do what they can to help you or make you feel better. For the longest time, I thought I was unlovable. I thought I would never be in a solid, healthy relationship, never get married, never find true happiness. Slowly but surely, God and the universe is proving me wrong. We are all deserving of love. We are all deserving of a happy, healthy life. And my advice to all of my friends who spent this Valentine’s Day without a significant other or felt lonely, is to have patience with yourself. Shower yourself with some love because before anything, you need to love yourself. This does not mean that you have to fully love yourself 100% of the time to be in a relationship. That certainly is not the case. Self-love is an ongoing process. Something that we need to work at every day. It may come easier to some than it does to others. For me, it has not been an easy journey. But I am on the journey none the less, and I am learning to love and accept myself more and more each day. You do not NEED a significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day. All you need is you, and of course, family and friends matter and mean everything too! But if you felt lonely this Valentine’s Day, and if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses in particular, I hope you show yourself extra kindness and give yourself grace. Know that everything happens in its perfect timing, and you are loveable, and you are beautiful, and you are special, and you are deserving of good things. And if you don’t have anyone who can tell you that or show you, you are at least hearing it from me. But please, hear it from yourself, too. Happy late Valentine’s Day, friends. And if you didn’t do something nice for yourself, go buy yourself some chocolate :).

hearts

Getting My Head Out of The Sand

Some of you may know that I have an eating disorder. Or should I say, am in recovery from an eating disorder. Some of you may not have known. Well, now you all do. Cats officially outta the bag!

Now, I liked to think that for the past year or so I haven’t had an eating disorder. I have not really struggled with eating or counting calories. I can’t really exercise anyway so that’s out, and body image, well yes there are issues with that. But won’t there always be?

I have just been going through life taking challenges head on, and not really looking back. Yesterday, however, I was reminded that my eating disorder is still a part of me. That voice, though small, is still there. And when it wants to come back loud and rearing it’s ugly head, I cannot have my head in the sand pretending everything is just fine and that I will never relapse.

 

Let me just be clear about one thing: I do not plan on relapsing back into my eating disorder. Ever. But – I am not a magician, and I am not a psychic. In other words, I can’t do magic and I can’t see into the future. I HAVE an eating disorder. It may not always be active in my life, but that small ED voice is always going to be in the back of my mind. It’s whether or not I choose to listen. But even when/if I choose to listen to my ED, it is not as simple as “oh, there Claire goes choosing to listen to her eating disorder instead of choosing recovery.” No. It is way more complicated and complex than that. Eating disorder thoughts and behaviors are so engrained in me, and in others that suffer, that it’s not always just a matter of choice. These things can sneak up on you, life can sneak up on you. It’s a sickness that’s intent is to destroy and ultimately kill. It’s not so simple.

But, let me get back on track. Yesterday, I was reminded that I do still have an eating disorder. And that I have to be cautious, careful, and mindful of this fact. I was going skiing with my family for the first time this season, which, is a big deal due to my having chronic illnesses. I tried on my snow pants, and sure enough, they didn’t fit. I could not do them up. Immediately I felt ashamed and embarrassed, not to mention anxious over what snow pants I could find that WOULD fit me. Well, I tried my sister’s on and they fit. So those are the ones I wore. But I just could NOT stop thinking about how I couldn’t fit into my snow pants. It put me in this awful mood; I was upset, sad, anxious, and wanting to shed some pounds more than ever.

Well, fast forward. I ended up going skiing. I took five runs and had a great time. That’s when it hit me, and everything fell into perspective again. So…my snow pants didn’t fit me. Maybe, over the last year I have gained a few pounds. Maybe I am not a stick anymore. Maybe, I actually have a woman’s figure. Maybe my chronic illnesses cause weight fluctuations (even those without chronic illnesses experience weight fluctuations). But you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER.

There you go, I said it.

It really does not matter. Your size doesn’t matter, your weight doesn’t matter, what does/doesn’t fit you does not really matter. The things in this life that DO matter: family, friends, love, health, happiness. If you are healthy, that is all you can ask for. So, maybe size and weight matters in some circumstances, because it can be linked to health and health issues, on both ends of the spectrum. But overall people, your weight in the grand scheme of things is not the most important thing. And above all, our size should not dictate our self-worth. We should appreciate all of what our bodies can DO, instead of how they look. My body has been through so much over the years between eating disorders and chronic illnesses. It’s time I start taking care of my body instead of punishing it; not seriously restricting my food intake, but eating foods rich in nutrients that will help my body heal. It’s time I start appreciating my body rather than criticizing it. It’s time for you to do the same.

She Holds The Key

This girl, so quiet

Speaks few words and sits in silence

Yet in her mind, it is loud and clear

Screaming, yet hard to hear

If only she could hush the thoughts

All of the battles she’s ever fought

Some were lost and some were won

She feels as if she could just run

Who is it that holds the key?

Someone who could make her see

She is not small, but standing tall

Not incapable, and will not fall

Like she has in the past

She is blooming, these difficulties will not last

Who is it that holds the key?

To freedom, life, longevity?

It is no one but she.

anxiety