Brava, Gaga!

Christopher Polk / Getty Images

I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions. thank you so much everyone for supporting me. I love you guys. Xoxo, gaga 

I don’t get it: Lady Gaga was body-shamed after her performance at the Super Bowl Halftime show? First of all, I can’t imagine anything to criticize. And shaming? Why? But it was Lady Gaga’s response that warmed my heart, with her positivity and empowering message. And by the way, the fashion show was amazing. Those sculptural shoulder pads from the opening number (fully-beaded futuristic costume designed by Atelier Versace) – accentuated by a bright, red lip? To die for!

Good for her – Brava, Gaga!

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Redefining the Swimsuit Model

Yazemeenah Rossi

Yazemeenah Rossi: The Dreslyn x Land of Women

When you are yourself and you don’t try to copy, you get power. And you feel that power the more you go on in life.“​ ~ Model, Yazemeenah Rossi

Yazemeenah Rossi is definitely herself. This star of a new swimsuit campaign for The Dreslyn has a lot to say about feeling her personal power. At 60 years old, Rossi exudes confidence and a strong sense of self. And she is doing it her way and staying true to herself, opting to keep her hair both long and gray (who says you have to cut your hair as you age??). The Dreslyn didn’t airbrush out wrinkles, either – refreshing for a swimsuit model.

Positive body image – at any age –  is truly inspiring. Wouldn’t it be nice if more brands followed suit and hired models of all ages? Beautiful. Real. I’m buying it!

 

 

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Body Positive Messaging For Men

Photo courtesy, Target

Photo courtesy, Target

Model Ashley Graham is changing the conversation for the modeling industry and reshaping the standards regarding women’s sizing. And now, Zach Miko, the plus-size male model who caught the industry’s attention modeling on Target’s website, is bringing awareness for male models, as well. Miko has just signed with IMG Models to its brand-new plus-size Brawn division. At six feet, six inches tall, with a 40-inch waist, he is able to offer men a better idea of what the clothing will actually look like on their bodies.

Miko, a New York-based actor and musician, is proud of his size and stature. He recently spoke with Chubstr, an online site for men of many sizes, about the need for the fashion industry to embrace more body types. Says Miko: “I can only hope that other companies will take the lead of companies like Target and finally show real people, with real bodies, looking as beautiful as they are, in clothes that look great on them.”

I love these conversations that are bringing change to our perception of health and beauty. It’s a huge step in the right direction and I’m buying it!

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Souk and The Heart of Styling

Optimized-Black Prada Bag-1Optimized-Vincecamutopump-1Souk is a force of nature. Stylist extraordinaire, this Chicago-native is hitting her stride in a big way: styling clients and working on many projects, including producing fashion shows to raise funds for non-profits and working on a book. She works and speaks from the heart in all of her work.  I met Souk a few months ago when she first appeared on TFIO; we caught up again to talk about the art of styling, or in Souk’s case, the heart of styling …

MKG: How long have you been styling? Was it a natural evolution for you?

SOUK: Technically, almost 8 years. But I have to say that I’ve been styling my whole life. My friends always asked me to shop and pick out outfits for them. Just this past weekend (at a dinner party), a good friend of mine was remembering how I styled her over 15 years ago and she felt lucky because she didn’t have to pay! At that time I was in the insurance industry and even before then, I knew I was meant to be in fashion. This friend couldn’t believe that a dress that I saw off the rack, that she didn’t think was cute, turned out to look so beautiful on her. Then another friend said,’I know, Souk, you picked out a dress for me online that I had never would have picked out for myself – and I fell in love with it!’ Hearing these recollections validated I was meant to be a stylist.

MKG: What have you learned about the effect of the right clothes on a woman?

SOUK: It is amazing – once you find the right clothes! When you put the right clothes on a woman and she feels great both physically and emotionally, that is the most important thing. How you feel about yourself on the inside will always be connected with how you look on the outside. People feel that energy about you. Continue reading

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Body Shaming in a Dressing Room

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

“Sincerely, Mother of a Beautiful Girl” is how a Kansas mother signed a powerful letter to the sales associate who body shamed her teenage daughter in a dressing room earlier this month while she tried on a dress to wear for an upcoming formal. This associate at  Dillard’s Department Store told the customer shopping with her mom that she would need Spanx in order to wear this particular dress. When the mom told the associate that she wouldn’t need Spanx the associate argued with her. Mother and daughter then left the store and soon after the mother, Megan Naramore Harris, fired back with an open letter to the associate on her own Facebook page. In the letter, Megan said: “I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress, that is all that should matter.”

In less than a week, the story has garnered over 330,000 likes and been shared over 56,000 times (including Dillard’s Facebook page, who thanked Ms. Harris for bringing it to their attention). I am glad that this conversation is gaining momentum. Our words are more powerful than we know and body shaming is extremely harmful, especially to a vulnerable teen. Especially in a dressing room – where we already feel exposed. Hopefully, everyone can feel just a bit more empowered by this strong and supportive mother.

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Make Room for a Body-Changing Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

Straight/Curve Documentary

I just want to see every size represented – no labels – all of us.” Heather Hazzan, model featured in the documentary, Straight/Curve

I have spent a lot of time talking on TFIO about the importance of positive body image. Now there is a documentary called “Straight/Curve” set to release the summer of 2016 and it looks awesome! Directed by Jenny McQuaile, Straight/Curve is an insider look at the fashion and modeling industries that exposes the questions of size and body image that have been unaddressed for too long. McQuaile told Glamour Magazine:  “When, how, and why did size zero become the norm when two thirds of women are considered ‘plus-size’ sitting between a size 10 to 14? Our documentary will examine this question. There’s always been a complex relationship between the fashion industry, the media, and body image and we’re finally making a film that will investigate that.”

Like Heather Hazzan, I too look forward to the day when we will see every woman represented – but without any size labels – just the women we are. Take a peek at the teaser trailer. I cannot wait for the summer release!

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Joining the RunwayRiot!

Iskra

Iskra Lawrence courtesy of RunwayRiot

For too long the fashion industry has made the majority of women feel inferior, but we’re DONE with feeling invisible. Starting today, RunwayRiot, the fashion and beauty site for all women is celebrating you.” ~ RunwayRiot

Good Morning America greeted me with an inspired interview with model Iskra Lawrence. Committed to championing body diversity and improving the image of women in the media, 25 year-old model and fashion editor Lawrence is starting a movement today, with the launch of RunwayRiot, a new style and fashion site. Says Lawrence, “We plan to create a home for women to come and feel inspired. It’s going to be the first chance for women to feel included in fashion from 0’s to 28’s. We’re going to talk about cool and trendy clothes for all sizes.” Lawrence, who has been in the fashion industry for twelve years, is using her experience to start a fresh conversation. The website will have absolutely no re-touching and will embrace the beauty in all of us. We are all more than a size – we are more than a label. Here it is, for all women! #jointheriot I’m buying it!

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The Dreams of a Young Model

Kayla Odenthal

Kayla Odenthal – Photo Credit Jeananne Sizemore, Art Whims Photography

Dreams and dreamers come in all shapes and sizes. I met a young 18-year old woman named Kayla Odenthal, a small-town girl from a neighboring city of Portland, Oregon – just across the river in Washington State. Kayla is studying to be a nurse, working at Hollister (her first job), and about to start her new job as a certified nursing assistant! But with all this going on and in Kayla’s words, “as crazy as it may sound,” she also dreams of modeling. In pursuit of this passion, Kayla has done a promotional shoot for Avari Magazine. She is not signed to an agency at the moment, but is planning to build a portfolio and submit it to agencies as soon as she can. Kayla has had a love of fashion since middle school, when she started reading Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine. However, at 5’3″ Kayla is considered petite for a model. Says she: “I know that I have a hard road ahead of me with my careers and education, but I look forward to the journey!” Here is more from this 18-year old dreamer …

MKG: You mention being interested in fashion and modeling since middle school, when you started reading teenage fashion magazines. When did the notion go from an idea to a true pursuit?

KAYLA:  I never really took modeling seriously until this year. Previously, I thought that you had to be tall and thin and have that “perfect” body, as seen in most magazines. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized anyone can model; the type of modeling that is right for each individual just varies. I tried submitting some simple photos of myself when I was in middle school, but I was turned down. I felt hopeful, but at the time I didn’t have the confidence to try again. That changed when I met with the photographer for my high school senior portraits, Jeananne Sizemore of Avari MagazineContinue reading

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Nicole Turns 30 and Body Boop Moves Forward

Nicole

Nicole Stephani

It was a year ago that I met writer Nicole Stephani; she was then Nicole Rohr, about to be married. It’s a big day for anyone, but for Nicole, it came as a special milestone, as she had successfully battled years of eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. Nicole has worked hard to accept herself just as she is, and in her commitment to share her story with honesty and openness, Nicole created Body Boop. Created in March 2014, Body Boop has grown in its following, providing hope and inspiration to people everywhere. I promised to follow Nicole on her journey, and I am happy to report that at the time of Nicole’s 30th birthday, she is moving forward with continued courage and positivity. Here is my latest conversation with Nicole …

MKG: Tell me about Body Boop’s mission. What has changed since its inception?

Nicole: Body Boop started as a personal outlet. I had always wanted to write a blog about my story. But prior to 2012 I wasn’t ready; I wanted to start when I was well into my recovery. I created Body Boop in March, 2014. As it developed, I began to feel more confident. The more I shared, the more I noticed that I started receiving messages from friends, from strangers, from so many people who felt supported and heard. I saw that this was now more than a personal story; it was a chance to create a place where others could be heard and supported – where they knew they were not alone. Continue reading

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Say it with me: I am Enough!

i_am_enoughHave you had that moment when you say to yourself: “I am not (fill in the blank) enough?” As women we often look to our bodies to fill in that missing word. I have done that. I have questioned myself and wished I could change certain things about me. After much self exploration, I have finally come to a place where I can say with conviction, “I am enough.” That is the most important thing we can say to ourselves for healthy, happy, wholehearted living.

I recently heard about the inspiring work of Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, and author of several books. Ms. Brown calls herself a researcher and a storyteller; she has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Big stuff! Listen to what Ms. Brown has to say on the subject: “This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of kind of terror when we’re wondering, ‘can I love you this much?’ … and the last which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we are enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to those around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

So, say it with me: I am enough! And let’s let the acceptance and the joy make its way in.

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