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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Confidence trumps all

Carleigh O'Connell (Photo courtesy of:
Carleigh O'Connell, confidence, bullying, personality, healthy

Carleigh O’Connell

I ran across an intriguing article online. Carleigh O’Connell is a 14-year-old New Jersey girl who appears to be very healthy and fit. She heard rumors from her classmates that someone made rude remarks about her behind by tagging "Carleighs ASS" on a stone wall.

First of all, why do people have to be so cruel?

Second of all, Carleigh has an amazing personality in that instead of crying, being ashamed and wanting to change herself (like I probably would have at 14 years old), she put on a bikini, found the wall and had someone take a photo of her proudly smiling about the graffiti.


Carleigh posted the photo to Instagram, and her mother, Daryl, shared it on Facebook. The photo instantly went viral.

Carleigh told that "It felt very empowering…it felt really good [to take the photo]."

And Daryl couldn’t have been more proud of her daughter. According to her original Facebook post, she said, "For me as the mom…I type this with tears in my eyes. Tears of joy knowing that my daughter can face negativity with a smile and a sense of humor. This will take her far in life. No perfect report card, high test score or award could top the pride I have today."

Isn’t it cool how something like this can go global in a matter of hours or days? Social media and the connectivity through the Internet is one of the greatest things for our global culture.

I can’t be certain, but my guess is that Carleigh has inspired many young and old women (and men). I know that she inspired me, and I will teach my daughters how to have such a great sense of pride and confidence in who they are as well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Ashley Judd, puffy face, feminism, beauty, body image, hypersexualization

Actress and Activist Ashley Judd. Source: Wikipedia
Isn’t it quite spectacular when someone with a global reach can chew up and spit out all of the terrible things said about them – but in the most eloquent way? Isn’t it amazing how social media and the Internet can propel something into the limelight to the point where it’s still talked about years later?

Ashley Judd a noteworthy actress with more than two decades of acting experience did just that.
Ashley Judd, sister to singer Wynonna Judd and daughter of singer Naomi Judd, most recently starred in the movie Divergent—an action film based on the young adult novel by the same name.

However, Ashley is probably more known for her activism in politics and humanitarian efforts, which means she’s comfortable with speaking her mind. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In 2012, the media heavily criticized her for having a work done on her face (because it looked puffy) and for being “fat” and a “cow” when she went from a size two to a size six.

Ashley Judd’s own personal Ninety-Five Theses

Martin Luther. Image source:
Ashley’s response to these derogatory comments is epic to say the least—she essentially wrote her own version of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Instead of nailing her essay to the door of the Catholic Church, she blasted it out online right back at the media.

Check out this little gem from the very beginning of her statement:

“Consequently, I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.”

How can anyone not read this and be like, “Wow! She hit the nail on the head and did it with such intelligence too”?

All I have to say is Ashley Judd rocks it hard and true.

“If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start…The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in—and help change—the Conversation.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie, brainwashed, beauty standards, body image

Men recognize this pattern, too

Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie.
Picture pulled from The Daily Mail (c) Columbia Pictures
Dustin Hoffman

About a year ago, The Huffington Post ran an article about an interview that acclaimed actor Dustin Hoffman gave to the American Film Institute. This video sat in the archives for awhile and was published on YouTube recently by the AFI (December 2012).

Hoffman talks about his role and movie "Tootsie," where he was transformed into a woman to earn an acting role in a soap opera after being considered difficult to work with as a male.

In the interview he goes on to say how he was brainwashed by the industry into thinking what beautiful women looked like. Hoffman even admits that he thought he made an interesting woman, but if he saw Tootsie at a party, he wouldn't give her the time of day.

Fighting through emotions, Hoffman said, "There are too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life, because I have been brainwashed. That [movie] was never a comedy for me."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Making waves and history

Robyn Lawley, plus-size, modeling, paradigm shift, comfortable, honesty, makeup free, retouch free, body image

Robyn Lawley is Robyn Lawley

I ran across an interesting article today by CNN about an Australian woman and model named Robyn Lawley. Many people describe Robyn as a plus-sized model. Why? Because she's not a size 0 model.

Robyn Lawley un-touched and makeup-free.
But Robyn is hardly plus-sized. On her facebook page, she even said she doesn't call herself a plus-sized model, because she "can understand the ramifications to young women who see [her] body and then think "if she is plus size what does that make me?"

Robyn is 6'2'' and her weight is appropriate and healthy for her height. In fact, she loves eating food and isn't afraid to admit that. According to her Facebook page, she enjoys working out, photography and designing. Robyn is Robyn, and she doesn't need a title to define her or her career.

Robyn has become something of a super-star activist and role model for girls and women. I mean look at the photo above! She is beautiful. She is healthy. She is strong. She is confident. She is proud of who she is, and she doesn't have a problem showing the world who she is under the makeup and digital alterations. Robyn has the star power to influence and make a difference in our society. She can change what is considered beautiful.

Robyn rocking out a bikini
Making waves and history

And The Huffington Post ran an article about Robyn back in November talking about her bikini modeling career and how Ralph Lauren selected her as its first "plus-sized" model.

Robyn is a success story and telling people how it is whether they like it or not.

"My message is clear 'love your body right now as is…..we have a short life and hating yourself or trying to be something your [sic] not is a waste of your time….be proud that you can walk, when a lot of people can't, be proud that you can see, when others are blind……I'm tired of spending so much time caring about how we look…..I know thats [sic] rich coming from a model but I chose to live my life to the fullest…by constantly taking up hobbies, cooking, photography, djing and designing. I try to teach myself how to be a better person, how to help protect our environment and how to help others.'"

Rock on, Robyn!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Something Worthy"

Carol Rossetti, globalization, art, body image, women, girls, worth


One artist at a time

Example from Carol's Facebook Fan Page
Carol Rossetti is a Brazilian artist who is using her talents to spread the good word of what it means to be a woman no matter the imperfections. She will make a drawing catered to a specific woman, name her by name, direct a specific inspirational quote about the imperfection to that woman or girl, and make that quote something that all women can appreciate.

Carol has been doing these drawings for about four months, and her goal is to post at least one drawing per day. Most of her artwork is in her native language of Portuguese, but once in a while she will post something in English.

She has been quoted saying that she wants to draw while "doing something worthy."

Carol is a real inspiration, and she is doing her part to take a stance and make a change.

Even though I have traveled the world, I always thought that body image was something American women were hounded with...but with Carol's initiative, I now know it's global.

I encourage everyone to check it out and like her page -- even if you can't read Portuguese. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Girls, women, beauty standards, personality, friendship, love

My journey

It's easy to embed any video I want into this blog, but I was challenged to create a video of my own.  Through Facebook, I was able to reach across the globe and retrieve photos of my friends with their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, nieces, and friends.

I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to share themselves and their photos for use in my project. I had friends from elementary school, high school, rugby, work, friends of friends, you name it emailing me photos of them being them. This was what I wanted, and it was exactly what I got.

So take a look and let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pretty to Perfect


Dove, Real Beauty, Forensic Sketch Artist, Confidence, Image Distortion, Media, Photoshop timelapse

Dove is doing its part

Dove is a skin and beauty company that was first introduced in 1955. It is primarily known for its bar soap, shampoo and deodorant. In 2004, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty kicked off. Since then, it has capitalized on the social media and video markets to help push the message that all women (and men) are beautiful inside and out.

Forensic Sketch Artist

64.1 million -- that's the number of views this video campaign (below) has received on YouTube. Dove brought in a forensic sketch artist and invited quite a few women to describe how they view their facial features. The results are not only shocking, they are truly sad.

Because of how we (average women) feel what beautiful means (since we aren't models or actresses), we exaggerate how we view our "abnormal" features.


Time-lapse exposure

Dove also promoted another video where they showed how a real and normal-looking woman goes from being pretty to perfect. The video is a time-lapse so that viewers can see the process of how a woman's face goes from the studio to the billboards.

At the end of the video, a powerful statement reads: "No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted."

I commend Dove, and I wish that other health and beauty companies would feel responsible to sell women products in a way that will make them feel confident and comfortable in their own skin.

Like I said in my first blog post ... maybe I'm ignorant and never noticed this push to show the truth; maybe I'm surrounded by women (online) who repeatedly share this information; or maybe a shift is starting. I can't help but think the latter is most plausible, and I'm glad these videos and campaigns exist.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Paradigm Shift

A paradigm shift?

As I mentioned before, social media and the Internet are slowly starting a paradigm shift regarding what is considered beautiful—for a woman that is. I’ve faced the teasing and meanness from other people (mostly from women!) because I’m not perfect, sometimes I don’t want to wear makeup, and most of the time I want to be comfortable in my day-to-day clothing. I want to help put these companies’ and peoples’ efforts, articles, videos and photos in one place, so that we can see how things are slowly changing.

I’m only one small person on this 7-billion-person planet, but I’m passionate about this topic. Luckily there are women out there who share the same passion and also have the ability to reach the masses.


Colbie Caillat is rocking it hard and true

For example, one of my Facebook friends and my graduate course instructor, shared this amazing article and video shared by ELLE. (Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?) Colbie Caillat is a Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter. Colbie was “Getting a lot of pressure to be someone [she’s] not.” This is a way to show the world that hey, even Colbie Caillat gets a zit once in a while!

Later in the Q&A session, she even mentioned that when she doesn’t wear makeup, people tell her she looks tired. If you’ve read my previous blog postings, you’ll notice I mentioned the same exact phrase. I promise you, I didn’t steal that from Colbie—I actually have had that said to me time and time again.

Does she feel responsible to tell the truth?

Near the end of the interview, Colbie is asked if she “feel[s] responsible as an artist… to think about the message the music videos, album covers, and magazine spreads send to fans?”

Her response is spot on.

There’s major responsibility. When I see gorgeous models and singers and they look perfect on their album covers, it makes me want to look like that, too, and it makes me feel like if I don’t Photoshop my skin on my album cover, I’m the one who’s going to look a little off and everyone else is going to look perfect. And that’s what everyone is used to seeing. They’re used to seeing people on the album covers completely Photoshopped.


Robin Korth bares all

Robin Korth is an international speaker and writer in her 50s. The Huffington Post recently published one of her articles entitled “My ‘Naked’ Truth.” This story was personal. She walked readers through her personal struggles of what it means to be an aging woman in today’s culture, and how she fought through the crap to finally be happy with herself and her body.

I applaud the Huffington Post for sharing this article. This is exactly the stuff we need to see more of. We must open our eyes to see and read about women who are confident and happy with what they were given.

Here’s an excerpt from her article:

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and my buttocks have dimples. My upper arms wobble a bit and my skin shows the marks of the sun. There is a softness around my waist that is no longer perfectly taut, and the pout of my abdomen attests to a c-section that took its bikini flatness -- but gave me a son.

Why this brutal scrutiny of myself? It was time to counter the damage of my culture, my own soft-held fear and to pour warm love on my own soul. It was time to claim every mark and not-perfect inch of my own body -- a body that had been called "too wrinkled" by a man who was fetched by my energy and my mind, but did not like the bare truth of me. His name was Dave and he was 55 years old.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Eye of the Beholder
Eye of the Beholder
“Now there are questions that come to mind. Where is this place, and when is it? What kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn't make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence. On this planet or wherever there is human life, perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The Twilight Zone: Eye of the Beholder (1960)

I blame Thomas Edison and his 1903 The Great Train Robbery, as this most likely ignited the motion picture film industry. Less than a decade later, Hollywood set its roots, the glitter and glamour began, and the definition of beauty started its ugliness.

I’m 29 years old. I’ve felt uncomfortable in my skin since I was about 10 years old. We had to sketch portraits of classmates, and I got paired up with a rude little twerp who frantically poked the paper with his pencil to mimic my freckles, laughing like a maniac and making fun as he went along. At 13, some older girls told me my chest was as flat as my back. At 15, a girl in school told me I had a big, pointy nose. Three years ago, I was asked if I was a lesbian because I “wore jeans and no makeup.” And just last year, a woman in her mid-to-late 30s told me I had too small of feet.

When I lost about 25 pounds during my sophomore year of college (from a relationship ending), I was unhealthy and rail-thin, and I was constantly told how “great” I looked. When I’ve gone to a tanning booth, I get compliments, like “You just glow” and “Wow! Your skin looks great!” When I wear something like stilettos and a sexy skirt (knee-length, of course), I’m told “You look a-mazing!” and “Wow! You really clean up!”

But when I roll into work on a Monday morning in jeans and only a dab of mascara on my eyes, I’m always told that I “look tired” or I'm asked if I'm feeling well.

Seriously. What the hell?

10-year-old me
Fat me
Present-day/is-she-a-lesbian? work me

Thin, tan, made-up, Photoshopped me

Why is this?

Like I said, I blame the movies, Tinseltown and now beauty magazines and Photoshop. Girls as young as prepubescent are living in a world where they are made to feel self-conscious of who they are on the outside. We women are expected to fit a certain mold, and if we don’t, we are then considered undesirable.

So what are we to do?

First of all, can I get an "AMEN!" for the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the like? For without these information mediums, how else would we find out that this Victoria's Secret model is not hot, she's a weird hybrid-human-looking freak with only half of a torso?!

I could be ignorant, a shift has started, or perhaps I'm simply virtually surrounded by other people who feel the same way I do and are willing to repost this information. One thing is for sure. I, myself, feel as if the Internet and the aforementioned mediums are exposing the beauty-insanity more and more.

At any rate, I'm glad it's happening.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm Sara, and I'm a woman.

This is me. I am Sara. I am an American woman. I live in a twisted, sad society that judges me and my fellow women by our shells and not by our guts. This happens every single day.

I am starting this blog because I want to talk through what is considered beautiful, the double standards women face, and how social media is slowly working to correct this destructive path that we have paved for our daughters.

I remember seeing a Dateline (or a similar report) a long time ago about how agencies/photographers altered models with makeup, clothes pins, lighting, etc. to reach the epitome of "beauty." This video was before Photoshop really took hold, and it had a profound effect of me when I was only 11 or 12 years old.

With information at our fingertips, we are now able to research the ways images are altered to make women seem beautiful and perfect-looking. Many videos are available that show how Photoshop artists manipulate photos of average-looking women and turn them into something that's impossible to attain.

We're now starting to see more and more short video campaigns, especially from Dove and Always, that expose what is behind what is considered beautiful and what is actually beautiful.

With all the new outlets for information, plus the desire to want the truth, women and girls are now able to see that these beautiful models and actresses are just as normal as the rest of us, and that every female has the right to feel comfortable in her skin.

Jennifer Garner without (left) and with makeup/professional styling (right).