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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dress to Impress YOU!

This article was originally posted on I AM THAT GIRL's website! 

 Recently, one of my young gymnasts informed me that she had BIG plans for after practice. In fact, she really didn't want to be at practice. She had already straightened her hair, applied her make up, and set out her outfit for the evening.
I very jokingly asked, “Let me guess: high-waisted shorts and a crop top?” I was half right. She was wearing a crop top with leggings and a very cute flannel shirt to be tied around her waist.
That's very IN right now.
I giggled and wondered which boys were going to be there, because, obviously she was excited to be all dolled up for the evening. She filled me in on the new friends she had made and her excitement to begin high school in a few weeks. And as she began to complain again, about getting her hair all sweaty and developing a “ponytail bump,” I could feel a slightly teachable moment approaching. So, in all of my Yoda-like wisdom I said, “You know, those boys are going to like you whether your hair is up or down. You shouldn't be afraid to sweat at practice because if they don't like you with your hair in a ponytail, they aren't going to like you with your hair down either. And those, my dear, are the boys who are absolutely NOT WORTH IT.”
She laughed a sort of, “I know you're right but I still want to look cute,” chuckle, and then proceeded to tell me she wasn't dressing to impress the boys. She was dressing to impress the other girls.
My jaw dropped.
The raw honesty completely set me back. She was absolutely right, and I do it too. I can remember trying on 8 million different outfits for various events in college. At one point, I had four roommates and four opinions for every evening out. 75% of the time, I wasn't even wearing my own clothes because someone else in my house had something more fashionable to offer. And as I've never been overly aggressive when it comes to hitting on guys, I still found myself obsessing over my wardrobe, my hair and my make up. Why? Because it was really the girls I was trying to impress.
Perhaps, as I’ve gotten older, I've forgotten these things. But ladies, we CANNOT focus on impressing everyone else. We CANNOT spend our precious time stressing out about what clothes we are going to wear, if our hair is perfectly straight, or if our handbag is going to accent our outfit well enough. Our minds are FAR too important to be wasted on wondering if everyone else is satisfied with our appearance. 
you-are-beautiful-no-matter-what-they-say1.jpg
Photo Courtesy of iamthatgirl.com
Instead, we should get dressed in the morning and be confident in our appearance, even if it is a t-shirt and yoga pants (my gymnastics coaching wardrobe of choice). Instead of spending an hour in front of the mirror making sure our hair and make up are perfect, we should take a few minutes to watch the news and get informed with what is going on in the world, call a friend, or meditate.
I'm not saying we should all fly off the handle and stop showering and taking care of ourselves at all. But your best accessory is your attitude whether you’re in a prom dress or medical scrubs! So wear it well and make sure it rubs off on someone else! You are your harshest critic, so cut yourself a little slack and show yourself some love.
I love the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat because it is true and incredibly beautiful. It has an amazing message about not surrendering to the media's portrayal of what is beautiful. Being you and appreciating yourself is the most perfect expression of beauty. So ladies, let's stop trying so hard to be someone else, and just be ourselves. “Don’t you like you? Cause I like you!”

Love True,
Allison

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

You are not defined by your struggles

"Don't let your struggle become your identity."

This quote was posted on the I AM THAT GIRL Facebook page a few days ago. I clicked the "like" button, as I'm pretty quick to do that on the IATG page, and carried on with my day. That evening, I looked back (because I'm on that page more than any other), and the words hit me a whole lot harder.

You see, I spent a significant portion of my day picking out an outfit, curling my hair and worrying about my make up choices because today was picture day for the gymnastics team.

I found myself double and triple checking the mirror, snap chatting friends to see if various things looked okay, and I was stressed out.

What the hell for?

When I think back on the years (yes years) that I spent where I COULD NOT emotionally control the stress levels reached on days like this I get sad. I'm at a place in my life right now where I can CHOOSE to ignore those doubts, I can CHOOSE to see beauty in myself in a hoodie and messy bun, and I don't need to spend hours looking in the mirror.

"Don't let your struggle become your identity"

It took me a long time to decide that I was worth more than my eating disorder had allowed me to be. It had been my identity. I hid behind it, used it as an excuse and allowed it to consume every bit of myself.

It destroyed everything. It was like an abusive boyfriend. "He" decided when I ate (which was not often), what I ate (which was usually very little), where I went (almost always by myself), how much I worked out (which was usually a ton) and when I went to bed (usually very early).

It took until I could place the eating disorder in the above mentality for me to understand exactly what kind of abusive relationship I had been in. If it had been a friend with an abusive partner controlling her life, I would have been ALL OVER IT- but because it took me about four years to understand the situation, I spent all of those years drowning in overwhelming feelings of self-doubt and confusing depression. And that, my friends, is a very lonely way to live.

It saddens me now, when I hear of individuals struggling with the same condition. It breaks my heart, actually. I don't know if my illness could have been prevented, but I do know that seeing the messages posted by I AM THAT GIRL inspires every day. As healthy as I am today, there is still that little part of my heart that is unhealed by this disease. That little piece of me that needs constant care and consistent reminders that I am more than enough, just the way I am.

"Don't let your struggle become your identity"

I decided, quite a while ago, that I was done letting my disease define my life. And since then, I've felt unchained and liberated. I've found a courage and a trust in myself that I never knew existed, and I pray that with groups like I AM THAT GIRL, every woman who has these struggles will know support. That they will heal quickly and wholly. And that they will spread these encouraging messages with everyone they know!

PLEASE check out I AM THAT GIRL  see what they are doing, how they are inspiring, and check out the articles I've been writing for them :)

Love True,
Allison