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.

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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.

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.

Quote of The Month – January

Hello loves. I hope you all had a good and relaxing weekend. I am enjoying my Sunday by laying low; writing, snuggling in my heated blanket (it has been SO.COLD.), reading my book, and catching up on some Netflix. So – I’m doing something new this year and spicing up each month by writing a quote to live by in my planner for each month of the year. I thought, what a perfect idea to share on my blog, and I am kind of in love with the quote that I chose for January! I was just excited to share this project here and give you all a little something to look forward to at the start of each month. So, here goes…

January’s Quote of The Month:

“Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Mind. Body. Spirit.”

Simple: short, sweet, and to the point, yet holds so much meaning and significance. I was never one for self-care. In fact, whenever therapists or other people would bring up self-care in therapy sessions or treatment centers, I would do the eye roll. Because, well, I just thought self-care was downright stupid, waste of time. Why would I want to waste my time taking a bubble bath? Why would I want to put on scented lotion…on a body that I already despise. Why on earth would I want to do something nice for myself…which is, I think, what all of this boiled down to. Well, after years of being in and out of treatment for an eating disorder, years of suffering, heartache, loss, and unbearable anxiety, I have come on the journey of accepting self-care, and making it something to practice. Self-care does not come easy for me, even to this day. But it’s something that I at least try to incorporate into my life now. Because I finally realize, self-care is NOT stupid. Not by any means. It is a necessity for life. Not only that, but a necessity for my future profession. We cannot be of help to others if we do not take time to care for ourselves.

I chose this quote for January, because I really want to improve in this area of my life this month, and heck, this year. This quote encompasses my main, overarching goal for all my New Years resolutions in one small line. This year, for January, especially while I have a little more time on my hands, I want to really work on personal growth and nurturing; tending to all aspects of myself, including my mind, body and spirit. Self-care truly is a beautiful thing, and the time we spend taking care of our souls is sacred time. I say this because when we take time to care for ourselves, we are growing as people, and growing with God. We are making self-discoveries, and improving upon ourselves. We self-reflect. And all of this is not only good for us (and the people around us, lol) but it is good for our relationship with God. And maybe, you don’t believe in God, maybe you are not sure what you believe, or maybe you just believe in some higher power, something bigger, greater than us. But regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs, I think we can all be in agreement that self-care is a good thing, even necessary so that we can continue to grow and evolve into better versions of ourselves. And we can only do this by taking time with ourselves, and by taking care of ourselves. In January, I want to be especially mindful of how I can take care of my body, my mind, and my spirit. I want to eat good foods – those rich in nutrients. Foods that give me the energy that I desperately need. I want to do my PT exercises any chance I get. I want to grow stronger. I want to take care of my mind. I want to give myself grace, calm my nerves and anxious soul, and try to live in the moment. I want to grow stronger in my faith, grow in my relationship with God. All of my new years goals I set lead to this overarching resolution of self-care, and I don’t want to forget that this month.

If you were to choose a quote to live by this month, what quote would you choose?

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