Whitney Wood

 

I'd like to introduce you all to Whitney! I met Whitney through a friend a while back when I was living in LA and immediately I thought wow, this girl is awesome and seems so comfortable in her own skin. I want some of that to rub off on me! Whitney is a real example of what I want my blog to promote and be about, so needless to say I'm so happy I get to feature her! Read below for Whitney's nuggets of wisdom and how she got to where she is today.

Name: Whitney Wood

Location: Virginia

Height: 5'6

Weight: 145

What would you say your body type is and how have you learned to dress for it?

Hey Addi thanks so much for asking me to be on your blog. I love the content you’re putting out to encourage women!!

I would say my body type is athletic. Growing up I was a huge tomboy and played water polo and swam, so I have always had more of a “football player-esc” frame lol. I used to hate my body and my style was baggy sweatshirts and boxers! I legitimately went to my brother’s graduation in sweats and a sweatshirt haha. Now I would say my body type is “slim-thick”. I have learned to dress for it by just figuring out what I feel the best in. I attempted to dress sexy at one point by showing more skin than need be. It didn’t make me feel good though because I knew that wasn’t me or how I wanted to be seen. I have a slimmer waste but bigger hips and thighs which I have come to love! My booty is my favorite part of my body so I have learned to dress where I feel like I highlight my favorite features. I like to wear more fitted things because I am proud of where my body has gotten. I have lost about 70 pounds in the past 5 years from learning how try to be healthy instead of lose weight. I’ve stopped limiting myself to one style and like to go with what I feel on a given day.

What is your personal style?

My personal style really depends on how I feel each day. I am an athlete at heart so I love anything spandex :) I love to be comfortable and that takes many shapes each day. Some days I love high wasted jeans and body suites while other days I love ripped jeans and baggy shirts. I love to feel sexy and confident in whatever I’m wearing and sometimes that means super bright work out pants with a matching top and shoes!! 

You seem really grounded in who you are and really comfortable in our own skin. What would you say is the biggest insecurity you overcame and got you to where you are now?

Well thank you for saying that, it has been an insane journey for a couple reasons. First, I have grown up with an autoimmune disease that has really affected so many parts of my life. The hardest thing has been not being able to get in as good of shape as I’ve wanted for myself. As I have gotten older my body has become less predictable and less able to engage in athletics like I have wanted. If I could, I would be one of those crazy cross fit chicks with rock hard abs but some mornings I can’t even get out of bed.

Second, I have always been a bit thicker than my other friends growing up. In junior high I somehow was besties with cheer leaders who all weighed 90 pounds. No hate at all on cheerleaders, I was just a basketball player and emulated zero cheerleader swag. I was so insecure that I would never look in mirrors. I had this weird mentality that if people saw me fixing myself in the mirror they would think I was ugly and what need would I have for a mirror. Twisted I know, but that has even carried into last year. I would not reapply make up or put on lipstick in front of people for fear of looking vain when they knew I had no reason to be vain. In junior high I had small warts on my hand, so I always wore sweatshirts. I also had two freckles on my neck and a small mole on my shoulder so I would never wear my hair up or wear a tank top. It’s been exhausting!! The past couple years I have wanted to take some more “sexy” pictures and then when I would be in front of the camera I felt like a fake trying to be something I couldn’t possibly be. I would always laugh and do funny things in pictures because people always said I was cute or funny but never “sexy” or “hot”.

Last year I ended a long relationship which has been the hardest thing ever, but I have gained so much confidence from this split. I realized I had the strength to go through some pain to reach a happier me. Ever since then I have never felt sexier, ironically. I would say the biggest insecurity I have gotten over is that no one will love me or find me attractive. I had that and yet I knew there was something more that I needed to be more complete. It’s been the toughest season and yet the most growing and confidence building season in my life. The pictures I included for this are the first set of pictures that I have ever exuded confidence in. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling myself in this photo shoot.

What do you do now if/when those insecurities start to resurface?

I currently am struggling with a sleep issue and it has made me sick and not able to workout for about a month. I have gained 8 pounds and seeing that made me so frustrated. I allowed myself to feel how I felt for a bit. I then gave myself permission to be ok that I was not where I wanted to be physically. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to change what’s bugging you immediately. When I feel insecure I get off all social media and try to get up and go somewhere by myself or call my friends. There’s nothing like a confidence booster from friends who know you need a little extra encouragement. It’s different every time for me, sometimes a good workout can kick me out of a funk. I am also a very spiritual person so I like to turn on worship music or read some books that speak truth into my life. To be honest, on a morning where I don’t feel wonderful I turn on “Feelin myself” by Beyoncé and Nikki Minaj haha it works!!

 I love your healthy outlook on beauty and body image. What is a piece of advice you could give girls/women who are struggling with body image?

The most powerful advice I ever got was at a conference from a life coach who focused on body image. She kept talking about how we engage with self talk. Many of us would never talk to our friends and family the way we allow us to talk to ourselves. I thought over the litany of horrible things I would tell myself daily. How can a body thrive if it’s being repeatedly abused? That woke me up! I want a happy healthy body and instead of feeding it with what it needs, I give my body trash. She then said to stand in front of the mirror naked every morning and thank my body parts for how they help me thrive. Yes, I have thanked my cellulite, the rough patches on my skin, the hair that I don’t want in certain places and my stretchmark’s and let me tell you how freeing it is to celebrate and love on your body. It shouldn’t be so unnatural to celebrate the very thing that helps you function throughout your life. SO, my advice is to stand in the mirror everyday and love and thank all your body parts. You will be impressed at how confident and at peace you will feel. I began thanking my hips and saggy bottom for how well they have supported me and allowed me to walk and I receive more and more compliments about my backside then ever before. I don’t do it for the compliments but my body naturally glows the more I feed it what it needs. Don’t starve yourselves of physical and emotional nourishment. This is the only body we’ve got!  

Also, I am not and will never be Beyoncé. Once I realized  I had to embrace my own swag, I woke up flawless J Seriously though! I just told myself I’m about to be dope and I believe that I am J  

Any last nuggets to share?

There are so many cliché things I could say like “There’s only one you” and “love the skin you’re in” but in reality it’s really hard to live that out every single day. Be gracious on yourself. We all have things we want to change physically and emotionally, but I try to think if I was 20 pounds’ thinner tomorrow what in my life would change? Would every other issue I struggle with go away? Of course not! There’s nothing wrong with not being perfect because frankly we aren’t perfect anyways. Kind of a relief!  

You can follow Whitney on Instagram here!

 

Jessica Zigenis

 

Meet my fun, feisty, strong, adorable friend Jessica. Jess and I bonded quickly over Jane Austen and Gilmore Girls, but the more I got to know her the more and more depth I saw in her. She has encouraged and inspired me throughout the years to let go of my dumb insecurities, and she really helped me and encouraged me through the tail end of my eating disorder. I am so lucky to have her as a friend. I look up to her in so many ways, and I'm excited to share her encouraging interview on overcoming her own insecurities and what she has learned through it all.

Name: Jessica Zigenis

Location: Medford, OR

Height: 5’4”

Weight: 120 (I think – I don’t own a scale!)

 How would you describe your body type?

I’ve been told I’m petite, but I also have curvy, muscular legs from genetics and playing soccer my whole life.

How would you describe your personal style and what do you chose to wear that makes you feel the most comfortable?

My style has changed so many times since high school, but as I near my 30th birthday, I finally feel like I’ve settled into my personal sense of style, which is relaxed, minimalistic, with some grunge rock thrown in the mix. My go-to look is definitely jeans, a tee shirt, and my converse in shades of black, grey, and white. I’ve never really felt confident in a dress or heels.

What have you learned about how to dress for your body type and what looks best on you?

Once I accepted that I’ll probably never feel exuberantly confident about my muscular, pale legs, I decided to stop obsessing and hating on them and just start dressing in a way that flatters them. I quickly realized skirts and dresses that are fitted and knee length or longer make me feel great. I loathe shorts and mini-skirts. Since I like my arms, I try to wear things that draw the attention and focus on them instead of my legs.

Moving onto a heavier topic, what would you say have been some of your biggest insecurities past or present?

To be honest, I’ve never really struggled with body image, but I’ve always struggled with self-image. Growing up, I never worried about weight, but I deeply craved approval from others. I didn’t spend a lot of time tearing apart my physical appearance, but I became obsessed with appearing like I had it all together and had everything under control. I wanted approval from my parents and peers, and put a lot of effort into things like good grades, being captain of the soccer team, and slapping on that giant smile, all for the sake of appearing like my life was perfect.

I now realize that my obsession with appearing “perfect” during these years was simply a mirage to distract people (and probably myself) from seeing the real struggle happening inside me. I hadn’t yet dealt with some trauma and pain from my past, so I attempted to control all other areas of my life as a distraction and coping mechanism, which worked well until I could no longer ignore the pain I hadn’t yet dealt with, and eventually I imploded during my early years in college. I went from being “fine” to being a total mess and sinking into a deep depression. I could no longer hide my pain behind my seemingly happy life and giant smile and turned to self-harm and a self-hatred so deep it’s taken years to undo the hateful lies I told myself during those years. So yes, I was confident and happy with my body, but in every other possible way, I felt worthless.

How have you overcome some of those insecurities and what have you learned from them?

Once I realized that my worth isn’t dictated by others’ opinions, I began to accept and love the real me, messy bits and all. The real me, I discovered, is enough just as she is, and she’s deeply cherished by God. Once this truth sank in, I realized that in putting the mask away and being willing to embrace myself and my perfectly authentic mess, I’m now able to meet others in their mess. I’ve been set free in a way that allows me to connect with people on a new level. Authenticity used to be something I was afraid of because it meant being vulnerable. Now it’s something I strive for and am grateful for when I encounter it in others. It’s led me to some of the most meaningful relationships of my life.

What do you do now when/if those insecurities ever resurface?

First and foremost, I pour myself into other people. I’ve found that the more I focus on loving others and taking the time to get to know them, the less time I have to worry about my own insecurities.

Also, it may seem odd, but having a baby also helped me overcome some of my insecurities. On the one hand, it provided some much needed perspective that there is more to our bodies than just physical appearance. Pregnancy and childbirth made me look at my body with more appreciation and taught me to value its strengths and abilities. It actually boosted my confidence. On the other hand, pregnancy and childbirth did some unrecognizable and crazy things to my body, so I quickly realized if I didn’t learn to laugh at myself a little more and take it all less seriously, I was doomed. So if I find myself staring at those stretch marks, the terrifying objects that are my post-baby boobs, my separated abs or my herniated belly-button, I force myself to look away and take in the miracle that is my daughter, and then I go laugh with her. It’s hard to feel ugly while laughing, so I try to spend less time tearing myself apart in the mirror and more time laughing with her. I don’t always do this well, but it’s definitely something I’m conscious of and purposeful about.

Lastly, I try to stay away from social media and take it all with a grain of salt. Social media, while it does have its benefits, can be an extremely dangerous tool with the capacity to fuel comparison and self-hatred, so for me, I limit my usage and who I follow. If somebody’s well-crafted portrayal of their life is making me question my own worth or value, whether or not it’s their intention, I unfollow them immediately because I don’t have time for that crap anymore. I’ve worked too hard to on my self-worth to watch it crumble over a photo that is most likely posed and only showing a sliver of that person’s reality. Rant over.

You have always been such an encouraging presence in my life ever since we became friends and I really admire your healthy and positive outlook on body image. Can you tell me how that outlook developed?

It makes me so happy to hear you say that! I owe a lot of my healthy outlook on body image to my mother. Growing up, I have no memories of her tearing herself apart or ever putting an emphasis on physical appearance or weight. My mother happens to be beautiful, she sells high-end clothes, and she always looks fabulous, but never once did I hear her mutter a negative word about her body or stare at the mirror in disgust. We didn’t own a scale. We didn’t talk about physical beauty, wrinkles, makeup, or losing weight. And I didn’t even know what a calorie was until I noticed girls in high school talking about “dieting.” Without even realizing it, she instilled in me the important truth that kindness and joy are beautiful. Being skinny and smothered with makeup was never part of the equation in our home. I was very lucky that this concept of beauty survived the scrupulous perils of high school and the aggressive outpouring of contrasting messages the media sent me in my youth. I just decided early on that physical beauty was not the kind of beauty I was interested in. I wanted the kind of beauty that my mother was dishing out because it radiates from her soul and has yet to fade.

Lastly, what is the most important advice and overall perspective you want to give/teach to your daughter about body image and her appearance?

I want her to know that it’s more important to be kind and authentic, and that she should focus less on outward appearance and more on being the kind of person that makes others feel welcomed and loved. A good reminder for myself too! When I think about the women whom I’m truly drawn to for their beauty, it’s not the skinny girl or the one with perfect hair—it’s the women who radiate joy and make others feel loved.

 

Kate Booye

 

I'm happy to introduce to you my best friend/blog advisor/confidence inspiration Kate Booye. Kate is basically the whole reason I started my blog. She's the one who pushed me to go for it and start it when I didn't feel ready or prepared enough. I'm so glad she did because I never would have felt ready and my blog will probably never be up to the standard I want it to be. Kate helped me realize that's okay and that sometimes we just need to just take a leap and refine as we go. Since then, she's pushed me to keep going when I have felt discouraged or uninspired, and to improve and make changes when I felt my blog was in a rut or wasn't spreading the message that I originally wanted it to. So basically, I have Kate to thank for all of it, which makes this interview extra special. Her own personal confidence inspires me, as well as her personal style (which she claims she doesn't have but she is so wrong). So read on for Kate's little life lessons and personal style! 

Name: Kate

Where are you from: Everywhere

Height: 5’4

Weight: 118

How would you describe your body type?

Hmm. It depends on what part of my body we’re talking about here. I’d say petite curvy? Like my legs look like you found them somewhere in a third-world-food-deprived country but then other areas, mainly between my neck and torso… let’s just say, my legs have been compensated for. 

How would you describe your style and what do you chose to wear that makes you feel the most comfortable?

I don’t have a style. I wear what scares me. Or what is multi-functional. Like, can I sleep in this and go to dinner?

Have you ever been insecure or unsatisfied with your body?

Yeah. You know, the whole “I’m a 14 year old flaming ginger” kinda makes you question the world. Especially when South Park’s “ginger” episode came out. Wow, that was a real game changer. 

This whole blog is about honesty so let’s be honest here: I was a freaky looking kid. It didn’t really bother me though. What really got me was having huge b**bs at like the age of 12. I HATED it. Going shopping for bathing suites was a humiliating experience. Like one time my mom said that I may have to go to this “bra shop” that made special sized bras because normal places didn’t have my size. I was horrified. Like you’re telling me I have to shop in the oversized lady human department? I'M TWELVE. It didn’t help that I also was’t a girly girl. I was raised with boys. I hung out with the boys, I acted like the boys, I fought like the boys, I was treated like a dude. Like looking back, I honestly wonder if those boys really knew what gender I was? I always joke that I, myself, didn’t really know I was a real girl until I went to college. 

So yeah, I was this heavy-chested scrawny tom-boy ginger. I definitely had some insecurities, it’s kinda hard not too, I mean some kid actually dressed up as me for Halloween one time (love you, Cam!). My biggest dream was to have a breast reduction. Like what 13 year old’s biggest dream is to have their teets chopped off? 

I also hated my teeth. They were so small and so so yellow. And for some reason my dad wouldn’t let me whiten them so I just walked around with these bark colored teeth that were the size of rice granules. Or at least that’s how I saw myself. 

Things that didn’t help my insecurities: I was uprooted from the same place I’d lived my whole life at the age of 13. I moved across the Pacific Ocean to Kauai. I was homeschooled at this point. I got braces shortly after (on top of yellow rice teeth). I was the only ginger in all of Hawaii (not technically true but said for the sake of drama). I was surrounded by tiny, thin, brown bodies with perfectly sized…. teeth AND chesticles. 

So as you can tell I had a few misfortunes, however, as you can also probably tell, I may or may not have been a little dramatic… as a child. Not anymore, I’m never like that anymore. 

How did you overcome your insecurities and ultimately embrace yourself?

Here’s how I got over my self-absorbed insecurities. I got over myself. I realized I am who I am. I need to be able to identify what I can change and what I can’t. For example, I whitened my teeth. Felt like a whole new person. I DIDN’T get a breast reduction. But hey, here I am. Not hating myself. Yeah, are they annoying sometimes? Sure. Do I have to wear a bra under two sports bras when I workout, of course! But I ain't hatin. 

There are days when I look in the mirror (and by mirror I mean this is actually what people have said to me) and say, “are you sick?”, “wow, you look like Shaun White!”, “are you old enough to drive?” This is just one of the many blessings that comes with being a ginger. But you know why this crap doesn’t effect me? I realized how disproportioned my value for appearance was compared to my character and how I treat people. Let me explain further:

We place so much value on our looks. We’re obsessed. So much so that when someone disapproves or just refrains from approving, it leaves us distraught, offended and ultimately devalued. Why do we allow that? Yeah, I still have my insecurities and the things about myself that I not 100% stoked on but what I’ve learned is to place the accurate amount of value on things so fleeting as looks.  And do you know what the amount is? Close to nothing. There are days that I look in the mirror and a little boy with cancer looks back at me. Ok. Cool. You know what I tell that little boy with cancer? THERE ARE BIGGER PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD, GET OVER YOURSELF. BYE. What I’ve chosen (key word “chosen”, this doesn’t just happen, its a daily proactive mindset) to trump the value of my looks with the value of my character, my personality, the way I treat people, my effect on others. This is how genuine confidence is accomplished. I see so much crap out there on how to embrace the way you look, love the way you look blah blah blah. Sure that’s great. But the whole focus is STILL ON APPEARANCE. What we have to first understand and achieve is how to accurately weigh the UNimportance of our looks. Then we must revalue our character, placing much much more importance there than is humanly natural. If we can’t correctly identify the appropriately small amount of worth linked to appearance then we’re doing something wrong. That mindset and realization is what changed my outlook.

What do you do now when/if those insecurities ever resurface?

I recheck what I’m prioritizing in my life. Insecurities are usually just a over-amplified, warped version of reality. It’s taking something about yourself and hyper focusing on it until you’re unhappy (even if its stemmed from someone else's perspective). I tell myself, Kate… get over yourself. 

What advice would you give to others concerning body image?

I’d say, above all else, remember how insignificant and fleeting your appearance is. Yes, also be accepting of how God created you, but on those days or weeks where you feel not up to par, reevaluate what’s important and what is going to last and focus and improve those things. At the end of our lives we’re not going to remember how ugly or pretty we were; we’re going to remember who we were as people and what kind of effect we had on others. 

 

For more on Kate's style and her nomadic life follow her on Insta! (@katebooye)

 

Ruby Addiline

 

Top two photos by Hannah Brasseur (check out her photography page here!)

Guys, I'm so excited to introduce to you Ruby, my FIRST guest style feature! I've known Ruby for 10 years now which is crazy. She's basically a sister to me and has the greatest retro/hipster/eclectic style. I asked her some questions about her personal style so read on!

1.) First off, thanks for letting me feature you, Rubes! I've always loved your personal style and am excited to show it off to my readers/followers! Tell us about yourself. What are your favorite hobbies and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

My favorite hobbies are watching old movies, going to and experiencing new places (which you can see from my Instagram hahah), vintage stores, and the art of coffee. Oh Lord I'm such a hipster. In the next 5 years I see myself (Lord willing) having my own coffee shop that would be venue for concerts to weddings, and being a counselor for young women.

2.) Describe your personal style.

I would totally say that my personal style is all about certain era's. Growing up my style icons were Audrey Hepburn, Zooey Deschanel, & Minnie Mouse even. But, as of late & with my new hairstyle, I've really been into the style of the late 60's and 70's. I saw a picture of Bridgette Bardot and I absolutely adored her hair to her style...so I went with it.

3.) Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from mostly all the old movies that I watch. Growing up, my mom made costumes for a lot of theatre companies and in the 80's was a model for YSL (which is always very dramatic), meaning my wardrobe would also be very theatrical. I loved how Maria from West Side Story wore that white dress with the red belt & red little flats, or how everyone dressed in Bye Bye Birdie. I loved how the showed the figure without showing too much. Now I see my self transitioning into the 60's and 70's with the mini dresses and bell sleeves, to copious amounts of tassels. I love it all!

4.) How do you dress for your body type and how did you learn what looks the best on you?

Growing up I was very skinny & I hated it. I would get made fun of all the time about how skinny I was. It honestly left a haunting impression on me, making me feel bad about the way that I looked. When I was 22 I had deep depression and would honestly forget to eat, making me even skinner. It was a hard season of life. But, within the last 3 years and recovering from my depression and anxiety that I had, I've now reached my goal weight and am so happy with the I look and feel. I finally feel healthy! Because I feel this way now I have the confidence to wear my long dresses, that I never felt like I could wear, to my mini dresses that I've always loved. I wear what I wanna wear. Trends come and go, but your confidence in yourself defines you forever.

5.) What is the best piece of advice you'd give to someone about finding and embracing your own personal style?

The best advise I could give to someone about finding and embracing their own personal style is this: what's your favorite time in history? Honestly. Is it the Victorian Era with all the lace? Or is it the 80's with all the color block? I honestly would encourage you to look back in history and see what you love. Those kinds of things, lace to color block, never go out of style. I mean, look at right now, the look of the 90's are totally in right now! So, I encourage you to find your time era and see what your favorite details are and then incorporate them into your style.

Be sure to check out Ruby's Instagram here!