Bloom Where You're Planted: Why Your Situation Doesn't Define You

Let’s say it together, “your situation does not define you” or rather, “my situation does not define me.”  This phrase is important for so many reasons.  Let me delve into it a bit.  When I was sixteen years old, I struggled with a serious eating disorder.  There has been many a time I’ve heard someone label an individual as anorexic purely because they are slim or they weren’t able to eat lunch, and this breaks my heart.  It’s a real issue and it’s much more mental than physical.  It’s viewing yourself as something you’re not.  That’s where I was.  I’ve never been heavy, or even curvy, but I thought I was overweight.  I thought that pretty meant my thighs shouldn’t touch, and so I starved away the pain in my heart.  Fast forward to 20 years old, fully recovered from the disorder thanks to my amazing support system, and scared to death because of such severe stomach pain.  After the test, the diagnosis read “gastroparesis,” a stomach disease that basically paralyzes the stomach and doesn’t allow it to digest food.  After going through job after job and panicking because I couldn’t keep one more than a couple of months before my stomach would flare up and I’d have to call out sick for weeks at a time, I said “so long” to the 9-5, and took a leap of faith.

That leap of faith was this blog.  I could have easily given up right then and there.  I could have fallen into the deep depression I went through in my later teenage years, but I chose another path.  I chose to combine every part of my life that I loved and create something beautiful with it.  I chose to bloom where I was planted.  I chose to not let my situation define me.  When my stomach flares up and I’m stuck in bed for days, I write pitch emails, I edit photos, I search Tumblr and Pinterest for inspiration, and I thank God for the fact that despite my health, I can still do what I love.

I’ve brought this mentality into another portion of my life as well now.  I’ve discovered that I absolutely love to work out (especially in my cute Adore Me activewear).  It relieves my stress, if I don’t over-work it actually helps my stomach, and it makes me feel proud of my body – something I haven’t been able to do in my entire life.  Not only have I hated on my outward appearance, but then my stomach created a disgust for my insides as well.  When I see the results from the hard work I put in during a work out, I get excited.  I’m not doing it to get skinny – no, I would be dishonest if I didn’t say I actually need to gain weight right now, but to see the definition in my arms, or the fact that I can win at tug-of-war with the Mastiff dog I walk each day, it’s immensely satisfying.

Look at your situation right now.  Does it define your life?  Do you feel anxious or depressed over the place you’re in?  What can you do to change that?  Take a deep breath and assess for a second – not your overwhelming situation – but rather, what you can do to learn from it.  My disease has taught me to culture my gifts and learn more than I ever thought I would.  What can your situation teach you today?

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activewear set c/o Adore Me | tank top | sneakers | water bottle | hair extensions

photos by Stefanie
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For any of you who follow me on Snapchat, you’ll know that I mostly post videos and pictures related to my blog: unboxing, behind-the-scenes during photoshoots, and shopping excursions.  I also post about going to get coffee with my family, my obese cat (if you think I’m kidding, I’m not – she’s HUGE), and sometimes little recipes and random funny things.  However, recently I decided to take a massive leap for myself and for all of you, and I did an entire Snapchat story in relation to my biggest insecurity – my face.  The video is at the top of this post for you to watch and get an idea of what I’m talking about.I didn’t want my story to take up too much time on Snapchat, so I cut it shorter than I planned, but the response was so overwhelming, I decided it was entirely necessary to write a full post on the topic.

As I said in my video, from a young age, I received criticism on my face and my skin.  I’ve had horrible allergies for a very long time, and because of that, I have deep purple circles under my eyes.  People used to question me and ask if I was alright, and if my home life was okay when I was little, because it literally would look like I had a black eye. When I was relatively young still, my sister introduced me to concealer, and I began by just putting that under my eyes to help my appearance not be so frightening.  Then I started dealing with acne, and by the time I was thirteen years old, I was wearing a full face of makeup (yep, I’m talking foundation, concealer, powder, and the likes) just to cover up my blemishes – though there weren’t many yet.

In high school, I actually had a YouTube channel for makeup tutorials.  This had only recently become popular, so I jumped on the bandwagon since my dream at the time was to become a makeup artist.  This was something I absolutely loved, but I never actually showed my face without anything on it because I had become so self-conscious.  I would always get excited when I found a girl that did tutorials and who didn’t have flawless skin, but I was never confident enough to show my own.  I hated going to the beach or the pool during the summer because I wouldn’t take off my makeup and so people would giggle and make fun of the fact that I had a full face of makeup on while I was splashing around in the water.  I was part of musical theatre in high school as well, and I refused to have anyone aside from myself do my stage makeup (side note: as much as that sucked at first, it ended up being a blessing in disguise because I was requested as a makeup artist for the shows even after I finished high school – so that was encouraging and I still thank my summer camp directors for giving me that opportunity).

I dealt with an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety as well, which only increased my skin issues.  My occasional acne became worse and worse, to the point where I would actually sleep in my makeup because I, myself, couldn’t stand looking at my face without it.  Now, I deal with some major digestive issues which has made not only the acne worse, but my skin pigmentation is totally “off” as well.  Then I became a fashion blogger.  How on earth, in a world filled with all these beautiful, seemingly flawless women, would I be able to survive?  Comparison has been a very challenging issue for me throughout my entire life, and now I was deeply enthralled in the beauty and fashion industry – where it’s completely dog-eat-dog!  I will say that there are many ladies that are showing who they truly are and they accept others in the most encouraging manner, but I have also seen the opposite.

For the past month, every day that I got on Snapchat, there was at least one lady who would cover her face in shame, swear by filters, or ridicule her “terrible skin,” only to reveal in the next video her near-magazine-cover-perfect skin.  It made me stop and think, “if that person thinks that they’re so ugly with one, barely visible blemish, then what would they think if they saw my face without any makeup?  What would they say about my acne-ridden skin and black eyes?”  It hurt my heart, because while those people may think they’re only critiquing their own skin, they’re not only bullying themselves, but they’re affecting the mindset of their watchers or readers.  I was talking with one of my life-long friends, and flat out told her, “I’m thinking about just showing my face to the world and taking a stand and seeing what happens,” and she said, “I think you should do it!”  I kind of shrugged it off, but then two days later when I woke up and got on Snapchat, I saw yet another flawless lady talking about how unsightly she was, and I practically threw the covers off my bed and was like “that is enough.”

After posting my short story on Snapchat, showing my makeup-free, filter-less skin, and then totally freaking out over the fact that I just showed all that to all of social media, the responses immediately came flying in.  Not only did I receive compliments on my beauty without makeup, but women and men began sharing their stories with me, telling me how insecure they were and how social media and the fashion and beauty industry has made them question themselves and their worth.  My heart was simultaneously warmed and saddened.  It was comforting to know that my vulnerability had helped other people, but I want to do more.  I want to stand and make a difference in my blogging world, and outside it.  I can’t just sit still and watch people hurting and questioning their beauty, because the thing is: whether you have acne, stretch marks, pigmentation issues, extra weight, glasses, you’re in a wheelchair, or anything else, you are still beautifulYou are not alone.  I may not struggle with every single challenge, but I have a few, and I know that there are so many who can relate.  We should be encouraging each other’s beauty internally as much as externally.  Our hearts, the way we care for others, the stories we are writing are all unique and completely beautiful.

I’m not sure what you’ll come away with after reading this – and seriously if you read all this, you’re incredible – but I hope you truly take away the fact that you are more than just your skin or your size, and you always have someone to talk with.  I want to hear your stories, whether you’re still going through it, or whether you’ve come through it to a better place.  And I want you to take a moment today to find something about yourself and about someone around you that you find completely beautiful.

This post was written while I was still under the name “Drunk on Vogue”.  For those of you interested in keeping up with my current YouTube, just click here.

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Drunk on Beach Bums | Drunk on Vogue

“Oh crap, it’s swimsuit season.”  If you’re a woman, you may have had that thought more than once in your life, and so have I.  Another summer, another new swimsuit that needs to be purchased, another year that you wished you had lost that extra weight. This year, I banished those negative thoughts completely.  I recently partnered with Surania, a company that’s catering to every woman’s (as well as man and child’s) swimsuit desire by allowing you to customize your own pieces.  Not only do you get to choose the style of suit – from one pieces, to separates, to beach dresses – but you decide on the patterns and colors of your ‘kini too. Once you’ve finally put together your dream beach wear, you can enter your exact measurements for a set that’s tailor-made for your body.  I’ve always struggled with ordering bikinis online because my bottom is bigger than my top, but if I order a medium bottom, it covers my booty but falls off my waist.  When I received this swimsuit from Surania, I was pleased to find that it fit me perfectly, and stayed on just fine even while I played in the ocean!

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A while back, Target introduced their swimsuit campaign, and asked all the ladies who represented the brand to post their #NOFOMO pictures on Instagram.  Just a couple months later, Aerie asked ladies to keep it #AerieReal and post all their swimsuit pictures without retouching them on Instagram.  To Die For Swimwear doesn’t touch up their models (they also make a point in saying they work with only healthy models) and they donate to international foundations against eating disorders.  More and more each year, the fashion industry is pushing us towards body acceptance, especially when it comes to this tricky, skin-bearing season.  I’ve taken a pledge, not for any company, but for myself, to accept and love the body I’ve been given – stretch marks, cellulite, curves (or lack thereof) and all – and I’m not going to spend my summer comparing my body to all the other ladies when I go to the beach or pool because we’re all beautiful and deserve to be celebrated.  As part of this, I promise that I will never edit or retouch the size or shape of my body on my blog or any social media platform.  I may erase a couple of acne marks on my face here and there, but whenever you see my bikini body, that’s 100% real.  Who’s going to take this pledge with me?

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This post is all about body positivity and feelin’ good.  From swimsuits that fit your gorgeous bod perfectly, to promising to love yourself during the summer and the rest of the year, I hope you walk away encouraged after reading this.  Today is the first day of summer, and in my opinion, summer is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.  So put on that bikini, eat that ice cream cone, stick your toes in the sand, and soak up the sun.  It’s time to party now, babes!

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Bikini: Surania

photos by Brandon
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Drunk on Quirk | Drunk on Vogue

If you didn’t already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  For some of you, that might just be another random label for a month, but for me, it’s a little more meaningful than that.  Mental health is something that not only I have struggled with throughout my life, but something that has been a challenge for other members of my family and a few close friends as well.  I have spoken in length about the battle I finally won with my eating disorder a few years back, but I’ve also been working through depression and anxiety since I was fifteen years old.  Maybe at some point, I will speak more in depth about those two awful enemies, but for now, I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the major elements that played into them: people-pleasing.

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Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to fit in.  I tried to squeeze into the popular crowd, but I didn’t own any Hollister clothing, and I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was almost seventeen.  In middle school, I tried to become Sporty Spice and took a month of basketball training because that’s what two of my best friends played.  They continued on all throughout high school.  I quit after that first month.  Just because I was tall, didn’t mean I wanted to be a basketball player.  Eventually I found my rhythm with the theatre club.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved theatre with all my heart, but it wasn’t exactly the “coolest” thing to be part of.  I began to feel as though everyone I grew up with was looking at me differently.  Then I joined ballroom dance.  I got even more flack for that.  Even within the two realms that I was 100% invested in, I was always trying to be more.  I had made a few close friends, but was still trying to impress them and everyone else around me.  My anxiety grew as I tried to be someone I was not for the sake of pleasing others.

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Life hit pretty hard after high school.  My family was going through a very difficult time, and I made decisions that will forever haunt me.  I wanted so desperately do to my own thing and be my own person, that I forgot who I was entirely.  I tried to find myself again by getting engaged at nineteen and moving to another state.  I thought this action would solve everything.  Maybe if I put together a life for myself, my anxiety would go away.  Not so fun fact: it didn’t go away.  After that, I jumped from one bad relationship to another.  None of the guys were remotely similar in looks or personality, but they all had one thing in common: they knew how to take advantage of me and twist my mind to believe that I was wholly me when I was exactly who they wanted me to be.  I will tell you right now, that was the farthest thing from the truth.  I sank into the darkest time of my life.  I had no clue who I was.  I hadn’t figured anything out, and suddenly I wanted it all to just stop.  Now.

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I took a leap of faith.  I let go of everything I had been trying to become on my own.  I said “sayonara” to the jerk I was dating.  I dove wholeheartedly into a church that surrounded me with love and filled me with faith when I needed it most.  I quit the job that made me show up at work even when I was horribly sick.  I started She Saw Style because I knew it was my dream.  I would like to say that I am truly myself now.  You’ll find me belting Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs, spending hours reading articles on the latest superhero movie, staying home on a Friday night to read an entire fantasy novel, and never ever wearing culottes because I just don’t care for them, and that’s okay.  I have surrounded myself with people who know me without a facade and still love me.  I realized that it’s alright to just be yourself, without trying to please those around you. If you find yourself feeling like you’re in a situation where you can’t be who you are, and you’re experiencing anxiety or depression related to it, get out.  Take care of yourself first, even if it means disappointing other people.

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Even in the blogging world, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in.  Before blogging, when I was just posting fashion-related photos on Instagram, I tried to be what other people wanted me to be, but once I began blogging, I made a different choice.  She Saw Style is a social outlet, and it’s for my readers, yes, but it’s also for me.  It’s “my style spirit encapsulated in a blog” as I say on my about page.  I’m not going to sacrifice my standards or change who I am just to be popular on the internet.  Whatever you read on my blog, on Instagram, or on any other social media outlet I post to – that is me.  It’s exactly who I am if you met me in person, and that’s how I always want to keep it.  I want the same to be true for you.  It’s so freeing to release yourself from those boundaries and be yourself.  I promise, you’ll find people who accept you for who you truly are, you’ll feel so much better, and life will be filled with so much joy.  I hope you can take that step today.  Happy Mental Health Awareness Month.

photos by Donna
special thank you to Quirk Hotel for letting me shoot at their location
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Drunk on Princesses | Drunk on Vogue

As a young girl, I always dreamed of being a princess.  What little girl doesn’t?  Now that I’m grown up a bit (still a kid at heart, of course), I dream of being a superhero.  Not what you were expecting, right?  I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to my interests.  However, no matter how much I’d like to be drafted into the Avengers Initiative, that little girl inside me still longs for the castle and the white horse and a Prince Charming – although, I think I’ve already found mine.  No matter how old we girls get, there’s always that small voice inside us that wishes to be a princess.  I’ve recently learned how crazy important it is to be treated like a princess.  No, that’s not sarcasm.  I truly believe that every girl should be treated like the princess that she is.

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You see, even before I had a Prince Charming in my life, I was fathered by a King.  He showed me exactly what it was like to be a princess: how to carry myself with grace, show respect to others, and treat myself as though I’m worth all the love He gave me.  As the daughter of the King, I’ve been given more love than I ever knew I could receive.  Even in the hardest times of my life, I had Someone reminding me of the beautiful flower crown on my head, and always picking it back up when it fell.  It took so much time to learn how to value myself in the way that He values me.  It’s still a major learning process, but I wake up every day with the realization that I never have to strive for perfection for Him to love me and that is the most freeing feeling in the world.  For any of you struggling with your worth, be reminded of this: even when you look at yourself like a lowly peasant, He will always look at you like you’re wearing the most luscious ball gowns in all the land.

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So whether you grew up wanting to be a pirate, a mermaid, a superhero, or a pretty pretty princess, know that the One who made you in all your stunning perfection looks at you only as the daughter of a King.  No matter how old you are, no matter what you struggle with, you are absolutely treasured in His eyes.  Now it’s your turn to start living the life of a princess.  Don’t let foolish jesters take advantage of you, don’t get into petty wars with princesses of other lands, treat those around you with as much kindness and love as possible, and most importantly, take care of yourself like the future queen that you are.  Some serious food for thought on your Monday: how can you be more like a princess this week?

photos by Donna
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