The Evil Queen Grimoire

Let's Get Drinks: Cara on Body & Confidence

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Welcome to my new series, Let's Get Drinks. I decided I wanted to do a set of interviews with women about everything ranging from body image and confidence to sex, relationships, art, work, education, and everything in between.

For this next interview, I talk to my friend Cara about bad boyfriends, intelligence, and being a woman in a man's game.


Are you happy with your body?
For the most part. Not totally, I do feel like I'm not in the best shape I can be, I've been in better shape. I'm not unhappy with my body, its just not 100%, I know I'm not the best I can be.

In a couple of the previous interviews, we talked about forming healthy habits and exercise and diet come in to that a lot. So what is your feelings with that, what are your habits, what kinds of things do you do to take care of yourself?
I've been specifically trying to drink more water, and eat more vegetables. I do feel a difference when I eat healthy. I have a cup at work that I try to fill a specific amount of times a day to keep track of where I'm at. And I like to work out at least 4 times a week. I used to set these ridiculous workout goals for myself, and I hate exercising so I would never do it. So instead of trying to do 2 hours every night, I workout for 40 minutes 4 times a week. I find that I actually do it, so even though its less than what I was originally doing, I actually stick it out more. I don't dread it.

So how do you feel about yourself in terms of your appearance as opposed to how you felt 10 years ago?
In the now, I always feel like I don't look good, but then when I look back - like I look back at my pictures from 10 years ago and I think "damnit, I looked really good". I wish I had known then that I looked really good. I think it's difficult because 10 years ago I was 17, and I think "that was only 10 years ago, I could totally achieve that", but I was 17, I was a kid. Now I'm almost 30 and my body type has changed. I tried losing weight two years ago and I had my goal weight as my 17 year old weight and I could not do it. So part of it is getting used to the fact and accepting the fact that I'm never going to be what I was 10 years ago. So I have to find that healthy spot for a 27 year old.

I find that a lot of people are saying the same thing. You look back at yourself when you're 16 or 17 and you're in the best shape of your life pretty much, and it's like yeah, but you were a kid, you were a child. It takes a long time to realize you have to re-evaluate.
Yeah. I keep going back to my measurements when I was 17, because even at 17 I felt like I needed to lose 5lbs. I never had abs, I was never skinny, I was always a little bit on the bigger side, but I'm tall too. But I know what my measurements were and now I get down to those measurements - I don't even want the flat stomach, I don't even need abs, I would just like to be a little bit closer to that. I go by sizes now, how my clothes fit. I have my happy size and my not happy size.

Do you feel like it's detrimental to feel like you're never going to be at the perfect spot? 
At a certain point you just have to stop stressing about it and be happy with who you are. As long as you're healthy, that's what really matters. I do think you need to be realistic about what is healthy and what is not healthy, and you do need to find a place that you can feel comfortable staying at. What I had the problem with was setting goals that were unrealistic and I was never achieving them and I was always miserable. So where can I stay that's a happy medium where I don't have to constantly be overthinking what I'm eating and overthinking exercise where I might not be the skinniest I can be, but I'm also not starving myself. So where can I live a normal lifestyle, because I don't want to constantly be counting my calories for the rest of my life, but I also don't want to be disappointed in how I look for the rest of my life. So if that means 5 lbs heavier than what my original goal weight was but I can indulge a little bit more, then so be it.

How would you describe your self confidence on average?
I would say I'm very confident in my ideas and who I am as a person, but I do struggle with confidence with how I look because I have struggled with my weight for so long. So typically if I'm feeling bad about myself, I'm never feeling bad about myself because I don't think I'm smart or I don't think I'm a nice person. It's never character that gets to me, it's always more physical.

Do you feel like that has anything to do with areas that you think are more important than others in yourself?
It's interesting because I'm so proud of being educated and outspoken person. I don't think twice about speaking my mind or any of that, and I love women who are smart and outspoken and well-educated. and I get so angry at myself because I do put more into "oh, but I don't look good today," and it's like no, that's contradictory to what I'm proud of, and I get mad at myself for it. Like, I'm just as bad as everybody else, I say I'm confident and I say I'm a strong independent woman, but then I get down about myself because I'm feeling fat.

Do you think you can still feel strong and independent without feeling 100% about your appearance?
I think feeling 100% about everything about you is impossible, and you just have to be realistic and evaluate where you're beating yourself up. I don't think there's anybody out there who doesn't not like something about themselves. And I think that little bit of doubt is what keeps you trying to do better, keeps you learning, keeps you motivated. People who think they're perfect are insufferable, and I never want to be stagnant, I never want to be done. Cuz if you're done, what is there?

There's that quote from Harry Potter where Dumbledore says: "The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is". (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/Philospher's Stone) And you're right, then what else is there? There's nothing more to strive for. 
Right, there's nothing more to learn, nothing more to experience. And I think that there's people that I admire or that I'm attracted to that are my standard of perfect, so it's like if I can love someone that's not perfect there's no reason that I need to be perfect.

And you do think that people who are imperfect are more interesting?
Of course. People who are a little bit weird are my favorite type of people. Otherwise you're boring. What are you bringing to the table that's new?

So what kind of factors effect your confidence level?
This is another place where I get angry at myself. I don't like thinking that what other people think about my effects me too much, but it really does. Dating in itself is just a harsh reality check every now and then. When I think something went really well and then I find out it didn't, or it doesn't go the way I planned, I immediately think, well they must not like the way I look. I never think they must not like me as a person. I do doubt a little bit because sometimes I do think guys don't like the fact that I'm educated, and sometimes I think 'that must not have went well because he thinks I'm too smart', but mostly it's 'he doesn't like the way I look'. I get very paranoid. I do online dating and I get very paranoid about the first meeting because I hope I look like what he thinks I look like through my pictures. I've been online dating for a while and I just recently put up full body shots, and that took me a while to do because they might think I'm too chubby or whatever. So I put up full body shots and I get the exact same amount of messages which is great. But I think the dating aspect gets to my confidence more than anything.

We were talking about how you feel most confident with your ideas and your personality. What kinds of things effect that also, either negatively or positively?
I work with all men, and I feel like I do need to prove myself being a woman in a man's game. And it did take me a while to go in and have them respect me and listen to me and let me have my say. Initially I was the bitch. And that got me down, and when I first started working with them it was very draining, very emotional for me. How am I going to put this much effort in and care this much about this job and these guys when they're just going to turn around and think that I'm a bitch that doesn't know what I'm talking about? I don't think it bothers my confidence, I think it just offends me when people assume or treat me like I'm not smart. I don't start to doubt my intelligence, I just get really offended. And honestly, if someone doesn't like me at this point in my life, I'm like, alright, I probably won't like you anyway. Had you asked me that ten years ago it would have been a very different answer.

I'm sure not everybody gets to that point, but people who are of a certain emotional maturity get to that point where they have to feel that way, or else you're just going to feel like shit about yourself all the time. You have to cut people out if they're a negative influence on your life. You can't think twice about that.
I don't want to say I've cut a lot of people out of my life recently, but I have not stressed about losing friends. I had a friend that I haven't talked to in about a year - we were really great friends and she used to backhandedly put down things that I liked. And I used to let it go because we've been such good friends for so long, and eventually when we started drifting, it's like, I'm just going to let this happen because I haven't felt supported in this relationship for a long time. I don't think she meant anything by it. But she used to - I go to this particular bar a lot, and she used to say "ew, you don't want to meet anyone there, it's dirty", and I go there all the time, so you're essentially saying that the place that I feel comfortable is dirty and I wouldn't want to meet anyone there. Are you telling me that I'm dirty and low class? Is that what you're trying to say?

So what kinds of things can you do for yourself that make you feel more confident, to combat outside factors that make you feel less? 
Physically, because I do think that's my biggest issue, I do things naked all the time. Even though I'm not 100% satisfied, I am definitely more comfortable in my body. I'm not going to not get naked in front of somebody because I have a pooch. If you want to have sex with me, I'm pretty sure the extra 10lbs isn't gonna stop you. And if I take my shirt off and all of a sudden they're saying no, then good, go. I don't need this anyway. There's plenty of people out there who would be like 'awesome, I'm getting laid'. And at first I just started putting myself in those situations to get comfortable with it. And I've never had anyone run away screaming. So it's probably a fear that was never justified, it was just being younger and inexperienced and doubting yourself. So I think you just need to go for it, whatever your fear is or your insecurity is, just put yourself in that situation, so you can see that it's probably not going to turn out the way you fear it I think a lot of those fears are these situations that we've created in our heads that are probably never going to materialize.

When do you feel most confident in yourself?
I feel most confident when I'm teaching. That's why I really wanted to pursue being a professor because I really feel like that is something I'm good at and it has nothing to do with how I look, its how you reach people. I feel confident when I'm at work - not because I want to be career obsessed, but I like to help people and I think I'm good at it, so when I see the return it justifies it. know, I love the feminist movement. I think people don't define feminism correctly. I think there's nothing wrong with being girly. The point of feminism is that you choose how you wanna be and no one tells you how you have to be. I feel most confident when I'm all dolled up. I love wearing makeup, I love doing my hair, I love looking pretty, and I don't think that makes me any less feminist. I don't think there's anything wrong with wearing bright lipstick. And I'm not wearing it to impress you, I'm wearing it because I think I look pretty. I feel confident when I'm wearing nice clothes and my hair is nice. And fuck you if you think I have to dress boring or powerful or manly to be a feminist.

What is the thing people most often compliment you on?
People always tell me that I'm really nice, and I do try to be nice to people. But I just sometimes think when people say 'oh you're nice' or 'this person's nice', it's like great, what else are they? Nice is very boring. It's a good thing to be, but it's not interesting. My favorite compliment that I ever got was when someone told me I was genuine. I thought that was pretty cool. Whatever I say, you know I'm being real. They're not commenting on whether my choices are good or bad, just that I'm not faking it, and I like that a lot. Appearance wise - my smile.

Do you think it's true?
I like my smile. I'm a big teeth person - that's what I look at first on other people. So I do tend to focus there. I like bright lipstick, I like drawing attention to my mouth. It shows hygiene. I feel more intimate with my mouth that I do with - ya know. I spend a lot of time with my mouth. My mouth is much more aware of everything. I don't want to kiss you if you're mouth is nasty. I always go to the face because you cant change your face. If you're a little bit overweight or a little bit skinny, you can do things to change your body. Your face is your face. I'm happy that people don't say to me, the best thing about you is that you're thin, because I'm probably not going to be thin forever.

How have relationships influenced how you feel about yourself, and how does this differ from your relationships with other women?
My relationships with other women - I look for strictly who makes me feel good as a person. I don't want to be around women who put me down. I'm not concerned about how I look with other women, to a certain extent. I agree that you get dressed for other girls, not for men. Men would probably rather prefer you show up naked. I think that when you get dressed up you do it to impress other women. But I don't do long term relationships very well, and the last relationship I was in was only a few months, and when I got out of it I felt horrible about myself. And I feel like I didn't act in the way that I perceive myself to be so I was really hard on myself after that. Once I got out of that relationship I swore off of men for a while and just focused on my friends, because I felt like with my friends I could get back to who I was proud of being, because I've trimmed the fat, I no longer hang out with people who bring me down. The people in my life are who I think make me feel better about myself. So I look to my friends when I'm feeling down to make me feel better about myself. What I'm really proud of is my education and my strength as a person and that's what I doubted with my last relationship. I didn't doubt my physical appearance because the sex was great. Clearly the physical wasn't the issue, so it must have been me as a person that was the issue. And that's why afterwards, I feel like if I'm having doubts that my body might not be great, that's normal, but if I'm having doubts about who I am as a person, thats when things are wrong, and that's when I knew I needed to take a break from doubting.

Do you think it would be easier to get over someone who said they didn't like you physically as opposed to someone who said you were stupid or you're not a good person?
Oh totally. If you don't like the physical then it's like okay fine, go away, you're an idiot, I don't need that in my life. He used to say that I'm not 'the one'. Well good luck finding one person. Who is gonna be good enough for you?

How would you describe the relationship between strength and beauty?
I don't think strength or beauty is necessarily just physical or just emotional. I think both have aspects, you know. Obviously you can be strong physically, if you're healthy, but when I hear someone say they're a strong person I don't think oh, how much can they lift. I immediately think as a person they're strong, they're resilient, they've gone through stuff and come out better, they don't let little things get to them. When I hear beautiful, typically I do think physically first. One of my favorite quotes from Doctor Who is "You know when, sometimes you meet someone so beautiful, and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later, they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, and you meet them and you think, ‘Not bad; they’re okay.’ And then you get to know them, and their face sort of becomes them, like their personality is written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful." (Amy Pond, The Girl Who Waited). I think that is so true. Physical beauty is so fleeting, and you can be the most beautiful person, but if you are not a good person or a nice person, that means nothing. But you can be very average or not beautiful at all physically, but if you're a beautiful person, you start to reflect what's inside. I think there's a lot of people out there that you look at them feature by feature, but together they present themselves well and they carry themselves well and you can't help but feel drawn to them because it's their entire persona, they just have it all. And you can't get that without talking to a person.

What is something about yourself that you wish other people would take notice of or appreciate?
I work so hard to put out the confident, I've got it all together persona, sometimes I think it's nice to know that I'm working on it too. I know I'm putting it out there, but every now and then, but I'd like people to recognize  that it's not always easy. People will always say to me, "I don't know how you go through all this and you're still in a good mood, you're still smiling." But I don't. I wish every now and then someone would just be like, "hey, do you need to talk about it or anything?" I do put it out there because like I said, I'm a woman in a mans world and I think I need that to get anything done, but if you catch me with my guard down, I'm a nerd, I'm a fun, laid-back person. But I feel like you can't be that as a woman professionally and be taken seriously. I want to be taken seriously but I don't want to be all one thing all the time.

What advice would you give your 14 year old self?
Just do what makes you happy, don't worry so much about what people are thinking about you, and just do what's best for you. Happiness is whats the most important. If you're miserable and you're working towards something that's not making you feel better about yourself, don't do it. It's really funny because when I think back to my favorite version of myself, I almost feel like my high school self needs to give me advice. I look back and I was really involved in things that I loved, I had a great group of friends who are my friends now, and I was really doing what I loved. I was healthy and it showed. And then somewhere after high school I feel like I lost track of it. Probably with dating I would give myself advice and say don't ever change yourself for a man. But living my life, I kind of wish my 14 year old self would tell me to just go back to basics or something. There was a lot of stuff I liked about myself that I kind of miss.

Let's Get Drinks: Marla on Body & Confidence

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Welcome to my new series, Let's Get Drinks. I decided I wanted to do a set of interviews with women about everything ranging from body image and confidence to sex, relationships, art, work, education, and everything in between.

My second interview is with a longtime friend, Marla. We talk about healthy habits and unhealthy relationships, and how other people's opinions do not measure your own self-worth.

Elementary School Teacher

Are you happy with your body?
I am somewhat happy with my body. My weight has fluctuated a lot over the years, and I am currently on an up-swing (aka lower weight). I am happiest when I regularly exercise and put work into my body. Unfortunately, life can get crazy and it isn't always practical to do this. My goal is to be happy with my body whether it's flabby or fit or somewhere in between. Truthfully, I probably have some body dysmorphia issues, but I am always trying to work on them.

How do you feel about yourself (in terms of your body/appearance) in comparison to how you felt about yourself ten years ago? Have the things you like about yourself changed?
Ten years ago I hated everything about myself. I can say that I like a lot more about me now. I have had a difficult time liking my legs. That is still the case, but I like them more now than I did then. I like my face a bit more and other parts of me a bit more.

How would you describe your self-confidence on average? 
It's kind of hard to answer this not being in someone else's brain. I kind of feel like most females have a shitty body image. I am probably on the lower end of the scale, but I don't think my image issues are abnormal really. I think they are shitty issues to have, and it disappoints me that so many women feel this way.

What kinds of factors effect your confidence level? 
My weight especially effects my confidence level. My hair on any given day can impact it too. A bad hair day (which luckily I don't have too often) can totally put me in a mood!

When do you feel the most confident in yourself? 
After regularly exercising and taking care of my body. The work shows, but I also feel better. I think my body needs the endorphins, frankly.

What is the thing that people most often compliment you on? Do you think this is true? 
People usually like my eyes. I do like them, so that's great!

How do your relationships (ie boyfriends/girlfriends) influence how you feel about yourself? Does this differ from your relationships with other women?
Boyfriends have had the power, in the past, to totally derail me. I dated a real shit-head abuser for four years in high school and the beginning of college. He would comment on my body all the time, saying what I should and shouldn't wear, if I looked fat, etc. I went through a stage of not eating appropriate amounts every day for a month or two one summer. It was probably technically anorexia, but I mean... I love food so I don't think it got to the point where my body would actually show symptoms or anything. I just lost weight. It wasn't so bad I could actually hurt myself. Anyway, I know this mentality definitely was encouraged by the douche I dated. For example, while I am overly critical of myself, if I don't think something is a problem... I'm inclined to think it's not bad! I would think, knowing my own thought process, that I am TOO harsh on myself. Well, this guy decided to tell me that I had a mustache and a happy trail that I had to take care of. I was shocked. While I've had issues in the past and don't like PLENTY of parts of my body, these had never been insecurities or thoughts that even crossed my mind. I shaved some hair near my belly, and I wish I never had. It wasn't a problem, and now it grows in thicker. The mustache, thank god, I was smarter about. I knew if I started plucking/waxing/anything-else-ing, it would grow in thick. I did NOT want that on my face or to deal with the upkeep that would come along with it. I didn't think I had a mustache, though I was much more aware of the hair I had on my upper lip after that conversation. Long story short, I told the boyfriend at the time that I waxed it. He actually said to me how much better it looked! OH MY GOD WHAT AN IDIOT HE WAS. Then I told him I didn't wax it and he was full of shit and an asshole. Then of course he said, "Well, I must not have looked closely enough. Yeah, it still looks like shit." I already knew he was not a good boyfriend, but abusive relationships are hard to get out of, and that's a story for a different blog post! Thankfully I've never waxed my lip to this day. So yes, boyfriends can impact me. Luckily I know this and do not allow myself to date such scumbags. I date people who care about what is important, find me beautiful for what is on my inside, and are not shallow. My current boyfriend is the total, polar opposite of that ex. He says I'm beautiful with or without makeup, though he has made no secret of the fact that he prefers me without makeup. SIGH. What a breath of fresh air. I wish that personally I could hear the compliments and hold on to those as well as I hold on to the criticisms I've heard in my past.
My female besties are always kind to me and try to build me up, but again, I don't always hear it. I'm my own worst critic.

I do remember once in middle or high school, I was walking on the beach with a friend. She was a wonderful girl, but I don't think she is what the typical middle-high school guy would call conventionally beautiful. We were wearing bathing suits and were passing some middle-high school aged guys. One had the AUDACITY to rate us with his friend about what we were worth based on our looks. He thought he was so cool. He said something like, "not even a nickel!" (as in he wouldn't pay 5 cents to sleep with us), and I have always remembered how offensive and rude I thought that was.

How would you describe the relationship between strength and beauty?
I think strength and beauty are incredibly related on a physical and emotional level. Physically, as I mentioned before, I feel most beautiful when I know my body is strong. When I work out and care for my body, it rewards me. The catch is, you need to shift your mind into working out to get strong and because you love working out rather than to change your body because you hate it. Start thinking about what your body can do for you and how amazing it is, and your relationship with it (and therefore physical results) will be much better.
Emotionally, I have always admired a strong woman. Strong women make the world go 'round! A strong woman, an intelligent woman, a kind woman... those types of beauties are so much more special. If I were a guy (or a girl attracted to other girls), I'd be looking for this type of beauty. I guess I look for that type of beauty in a guy now that I think of it! As a woman, I feel like I usually think of this type of beauty with other women because us women are often so passionate about the female experience. 

What is something about yourself that you wish other people would take notice of/appreciate?
My curly hair isn't messy. It's curly. There's a difference.
My intelligence (both book smarts and emotional intelligence), my patience, my interests... these are more important than my body's beauty. I think a lot of people are so loud and/or looking for the "hot" girl that they forget what value I might have. Whatever, I sift through the dumbies that way anyway. Just gets annoying sometimes!

What advice would you give your 14 year old self?
It'll all be OK. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Just try to be your best self. Dump that asshole and try to get some therapy so you can love yourself sooner.

Let's Get Drinks: Nikki on Body and Confidence pt. 2

Friday, January 9, 2015

Nikki Sterling
Full Time Student

In Part 2 of this interview, Nikki and I talk about confidence, strength, fashion, and learning to love yourself.

Christina: So how would you describe how being happy with your body effects your self confidence? Do you think that your weight and how you feel about your body relates to how confident you are?
N: Absolutely. When I weighed over 200 pounds I felt terrible and unattractive and unlovable And I put a good face on it, I still dressed up and put on makeup, but I did not feel sexy or confident about myself and certainly not my body. And I definitely have more of that now. I am the giriliest I have ever been in my entire life right now. I was always a tomboy, and a lot of that was just my personality. But I think I actively stayed away from the girlier parts of clothing and making an existence in general, because for some reason in my head, it would make me less - less hardcore, less  strong - I don't know. 

C: I think it's exciting to find strength in femininity. And I struggle with it; it took me a while to feel like I can put on a dress and heels and feel like I could kill a dude. And being able to feel just as good in a pair of jeans and sneakers as you do in a dress and heels is a thing that a lot of girls don't learn. And every time I hear someone say they don't wear heels because they don't know how to walk in them or something I'm like, walk like you're gonna kill somebody.
N: I don't wear heels because I can't, I've come so close to breaking my ankle so many times. I would love to wear heels because I think they're incredibly sexy but they hurt! It's incredibly painful. 

C: In college I was wearing heels every day - I obviously don't do that anymore because I live in New York City. I don't know I felt like that was a good idea. It made me feel better than everybody else. I dressed up a lot when I went to college because it made me feel elitist. 
N: And for me, the funny thing is, being a slovenly punk-ass was always what made me feel elitist. Being barefoot in jeans and a t-shirt felt so much more empowering to me than that stupid girl froofy stuff. And when my husband and I got together, he liked to buy my clothing, and I discovered how fun and how sexy it can feel. And I'm always I'm always putting on makeup, I always really liked makeup. I put a lot of work into it - it took me an hour to get ready to come out. And there's part of me that wants to scoff at myself, but it feels great. It's so much fun, and because my body looks now more or less the way I want it to look, putting on these clothes feels like such a triumph. It's really a different experience. 

C: I always knew what my style was, and I had an aesthetic that I stuck to from when I was very young. And I always felt like, when you find the right thing, it fits you, it makes you feel like the person you want to be. It makes you feel like the woman you should be. 
N: Yes! High-low skirts make me feel like a flowy powerful fairy princess. 
C: And I think you should feel like a powerful fairy princess! 
N: Who doesn't want to feel like that? 

C: What other kinds of outside factors do you feel effect your self-confidence? Not necessarily body-centric.
N: My head space is the biggest thing. I live in my head a lot. I don't think constantly, but I'm very active in my own head, and I'm always very in control of my thoughts. Sometimes the way my thoughts phrase themselves and the way that things happen in my head are a little off beat. I actually tend to think a lot to think the way Stephen King writes, and something isn't right in my head. Not in content but in style. If I'm having a day where I don't feel like my head is my space and everything is working right, it screws everything else up, it feels like there's a neon sign pointing to me over my head going FREAK! CAN'T FUNCTION! And I know there's not, but I get so off-kilter that I can't function. I walk like a different person, I feel like a different person. 

C: When I have days when I'm feeling anxious, I feel like everyone can see no matter how much I'm keeping it together. And it makes me feel like, it does make you feel like a freak. That one day I had a panic attack at the office, I sat there thinking I feel like the biggest fuck up. I feel like a crazy person. Everyone else is just going about there day and - what must it feel like to be normal? I never felt like that. And I think a lot of people do and they fake it really well
N: Probably, but there are certain things like the hyper-vigilance - I don't feel safe ever. And so I'm always paying attention, looking for a threat. My preferred seating space is with my back to a wall. I basically have no room for self-confidence in a large crowd because I'm too busy trying not to actually panic. 

C: So when do you feel most confident?
N: I actually think that clothes make me feel the most confident.

C: You feel less confident when you're naked?
N: Yes, because so many more of my flaws are much more apparent when I'm naked. My breasts aren't being held up, and the little tummy that I have is very apparent. I have a huge ass full of cellulite, and there's nothing to hide that. So no matter how often my husband tells me that I'm sexy, shows me that I'm sexy, I do not feel at my best when I'm naked. I feel at my best in a really good dress. I love tights. I enjoy putting on makeup and it makes me feel hugely sex and hugely confident. Bondage makes me feel incredibly sexy. Actually the only time I feel sexy when I'm naked is when I'm tied to something. 

C: What about situational things? Rather than clothes or makeup, what about a place where you feel most confident, or something in your life outside of your body?
N: I'm not sure that I have anything like that. Because anywhere thats in public, some of my thought process gets taken up with feeling unsafe and anxious. So places that would normally be like that, like my favorite restaurant or a sex club, aren't that because I'm too busy being not safe, because no one is safe except for my husband.

C: Do you think that damages your experiences? If you guys go to sex clubs...
N: Absolutely. 

C: What is the thing that people most often compliment you on?
N: My smile

C: Do you think it's true?
N: I recognize that I have a really big smile, and an extremely expressive face, and I'm a happy and warm person and I know that that reflects in my smile. And I know that's what people are complimenting when they talk about it. 

C: Because I don't have straight teeth I always notice people who do, and you have really nice teeth. But also because you're expressive, it makes me sitting across from you feel like you're engaged and interested in what we're talking about, which is exciting because so often you're met with people who are bored and don't care. 
N: Which is the problem because if I am bored, you can tell. I can't control my face. 

C: How would you describe the relationship between strength and beauty? 
N: I have spent a lot of time thinking about strength as beauty, that I would so much rather see the message that strong is beauty as opposed to thin is beautiful. I've always found muscles incredibly sexy, on both men and women. I love when you don't really notice the muscles until they lift something and then all of a sudden it stands out. And not just the physical appearance of muscles, but someone who is strong, to me, is sexy. Although interestingly enough I never started applying that to myself until recently. 

C: I think that often women seek that in men for a protective kind of instinct. Because it feels secure. So what about finding that in yourself?
N: I was at my strongest in high school, believe it or not. I didn't work out or anything, I just ran around like a maniac and my best friend was a third degree black belt who I loved to fight with. And I lost that, and I hate that I lost that. Now actually working out and working with weights makes me feel like an incredibly erotic, sexy figure. And then I started doing benchpress and I couldn't tell you why, but I love the benchpress, it makes me feel like a sexy beast. I guess I'm reconnecting with strong and powerful. And definitely there are moments where I can feel the muscles burning and it feels sexy to me.

C: What about emotional strength in regards to how beautiful you feel?
N: I actually don't think that the two have any correlation for me, oddly enough. Because I've had to work so so hard for so many years now on my internal stuff, on my emotions, on really just everything about mental health, for me it's almost a completely separate thing, separate piece of myself. Though I have been told that I am particularly beautiful when I am manic, or when I am manic and furious.

C: I think there's something very sexy when a woman is standing up for herself and taking charge. But I think what you're saying is that you had to learn how to feel sexy and beautiful without the stability emotionally and mentally because that was such a long process for you.
N: Absolutely. When I was dealing with body and sexuality and all that stuff, mental stability wasn't even a faint hope on the horizon. I was still reveling in the fact that I was a psychotic little freak, which is a fairly typical defense mechanism. 'Yeah, I'm the most fucked up bitch you know', because what else are you going to do? You have to take pride in your role. 

C: Do you think that's beneficial?
N: Yes and no. I think it is a survival mechanism. Anything that lets you survive is beneficial. But it definitely also impedes wellness. Once you're able to start getting better, that habit gets in your way because you become very reluctant. I was terrified for ages that if I ever got well, no one would want to be around me anymore because I wouldn't be exciting, I would become boring.

C: And because you make that your weapon, that's the center of your personality. And you feel like, then who are you without that. But do you like yourself better now?
N: Oh absolutely. Unquestionably. I try very hard not to regret or hate on who I was, because I don't think that's healthy or helpful. But I did not like that girl. And I like myself now. And there are moments that I can even love myself, and I didn't think that was anything that would ever be possible. There are moments were I totally don't like myself or love myself, but I like myself more often than not. And I love myself sometimes, and that feels like a huge victory. 

C: Do you feel like you had to go through that in order to be the person that you are now?
N: Oh yeah, I would be someone completely different without those experiences, and to be honest it does sometimes make me feel a tiny bit superior, because I have done more living and more growing in my life by 25 years old than most people have done by the time they're 60. 

C: What advice would you give your 14 year old self?
N: Stay on your fucking meds, you crazy bitch! I think I would like to tell myself that being submissive doesn't mean you can't say no to sex, because I said yes to a lot of sex that I didn't really want because I felt like I shouldn't say no. I think about how much better my life would have been if I had done well in high school and gone straight to college, but given the bipolar disorder, it wasn't even an option. So stay on your meds kind of covers it. My childhood was a goddamn disaster, but I would not be anything close to the driven, intelligent, introspective, powerful, capable woman that I am today if I hadn't gone through those things. 

Let's Get Drinks: Nikki on Body and Confidence pt. 1

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome to my new series, Let's Get Drinks. I decided I wanted to do a set of interviews with women about everything ranging from body image and confidence to sex, relationships, art, work, education, and everything in between.

This first interview centers around body image, weight, and health. We talk about mental health, eating disorders, the importance of diet and exercise, and the journey to heath and happiness. I think you'll find Nikki's story just as interesting and inspiring as I did.

Nikki Sterling
Full Time Student

Christina: How has being married changed how you feel about your body and about your confidence level with your body?
Nikki: Almost none at all, actually. Because we kind of did all of that - all of that changed happened in me way earlier in the relationship. I came into this relationship with a lot of body image issues, and a lot of - I dont have a very healthy relationship with food, and I don't know if I ever will. I'm working on it, and it's way better than it used to be -

C: It's easier with someone, also.
N: It is easier with someone and he's trying really hard to get healthy too. But I did a lot of my getting healthy before I met him. I just completed the end of the journey with him. Most of my teenage years, I was not aware of the fact, but I was anorexic. It wasn't a very obvious thing, but I only ate a meal every day, every other day. I would have fainting spells frequently, head rushes almost every time I stood up, I was exhausted, I was malnourished. Sometimes I would get shooting pains in my chest that got worse when I breathed deeply - and it never really occurred to me that it was anorexia. It was just something that I did. I didn't really like food, I didn't like the way eating made me feel, and that hollowed out feeling made me feel strong and in control. But I didn't really give it a lot of thought, I wouldn't have classified myself as having an eating disorder or having a problem.

C: When I had bad problems with anxiety, I wasn't eating because I didn't want to go to the dining hall. I didn't have anyone to sit with, so I didn't go. And I found a weird power in that emptiness, in that feeling - I felt beautiful when I felt weak and fragile. I didn't realize until later that it was fucked up. I felt like a feather, and I weirdly loved it. And I love eating, I love food. And I love feeling strong and stable now. But at the time, I enjoyed feeling weak. 
N: And in a weird way, that physical weakness made me feel strong.

C: And I really wanted someone to notice, also.
N: See, I didn't. Because I had amazing friends, maybe I didn't have that. Because people did notice. My friends tried so hard to take care of me when I refused to take care of myself. They knew - people would always show up with food because they knew if they asked me when the last time I ate was, I'd say "oh, yesterday". It got to the point where I would go out with other people, having no intention of eating, and it would be someone's turn to order a sandwich, because if you get a sandwich I would eat your pickle because I really love pickles. And they knew that if they got me to eat the pickle, most of the time I would go "oh, that felt good, I guess I am hungry, I could eat half your sandwich," and that was how they would feed me.

C: I think if you were in it and you were aware of it, it might feel like a trick. But it's very smart of your friends to recognize that and to notice your patterns. 
N: I have the most amazing friends. Honestly, I think I might have died if I hadn't had people so dedicated to taking care of me.

C: Does that scare you?
N: No. My own death have never ever, been something that contemplating has ever bothered me. I am always more afraid of the deaths of people that I love.
C: I think that's very selfless
N: That's funny, it actually feels totally selfish to me. When I die, I'm not going to care when I die, I'm gonna be dead, I'm gonna be moving on, in another life. But losing someone here and now that I love, that would destroy me. I know that my death will hurt the people that I love, but I'll be gone, it won't bother me.

C: I think that when I was not eating, I was never scared of dying, I scared more of being sent to the hospital. I was more scared of having to deal with it.
N: I told you earlier, I don't know if you caught that when I warn people that I'm going to pass out, the first thing I say is "Do not call an ambulance. I'm gonna pass out, it's gonna be fine, do not call an ambulance." And I got that from those days where I would regularly have sinkable episodes, but no I'm not going to the hospital. I will refuse medical attention.

C: Yes, because that's the moment, when you're faced with a doctor, they're going to say something's wrong. 
N: And I was hospitalized against my will when I was sixteen, in a mental ward, for cutting and depression. And I was not given an option. Because I was a minor, I had no way to fight back, I had no way to say I don't want this to happen to me. And I can admit now that long term it was good for for me, but I don't think that it would have been any less good for me had I gotten the same type of help without being thrown into a mental ward. And said when I got out, never ever again. I will never let that happen to me, no matter how bad it gets.

C: Because that's when you lose your autonomy.
N: Because you have no control. They tell you when to eat, when to speak, how to speak, when to eat when to sleep when to get up, when to brush your teeth - you lose all control over your life.

C: I think I would have lost my shit. And that was another thing about not eating, I had control over that. And I had control over the way I felt. And at the time I was also, like I said, I was enjoying being fragile and so I was also wearing big shoes on top of it and I felt like I was in control of maintaining what I thought made me feel beautiful. Which is fucked up behavior, and I didn't realize that until I started living at home. 
N: When I was a teenager it had nothing to do with my looks. Because people were telling me how tiny I was, how skinny I was, because I have a fairly small frame to begin with. And I'm 5'6", I weighed 115 pounds. Sometimes 110. And you could count my ribs.

C: I never felt like being skinny was beautiful, I felt like being empty was beautiful. It's weird because I never lost a significant amount of weight, I wasn't also working out or anything, but I felt like being unstable - I felt good. And sometimes I feel like I should stop eating and get back to that. 
N: It's very difficult - It's not as difficult, actually, that's not true. That's the response I'm used to giving because for a long time it was true. It's not that hard for me anymore. It used to be that losing weight was so hard for me because I broke my metabolism as a teenager. And then when I did start eating, my metabolism was broken and I was on Abilify, which for a lot of people, it makes them gain weight. So I went from weighing 115 lbs to 215 lbs in the space of a year. So when I eventually got sick of that, losing the weight in a healthy way was such a struggle for me because if I let myself go even 15 minutes too long without eating, I would go from being hungry to having that hollow feeling and as soon as I had that feeling, all I wanted to do was not eat for three days. And I still get it. But not as much as I used to.

C: I still get that - I almost had that today. I'm always afraid, once it's gone past the 'I know I'm hungry' point, I felt like if I put anything in my stomach I was going to be sick. 
N: Absolutely. Food becomes abhorrent. I'll be sick if I eat.

C: And I'll wait like a day or so.
N: I also had an interesting thing because of the way my eating habits, disorder, whatever you want to say, developed, I only actually want to eat when I'm full. When I'm hungry, I don't want to eat. When I eat I want to keep eating. Which again, makes getting healthy so hard because I'm constantly fighting against these wrong impulses that my brain is sending.

C: So when you decided it was time to start developing healthy habits, how did you start that process? 
N: I got sick. I had an infection, I needed a root canal, and I had no insurance and I'm terrified of dentists. And the infection moved into my jaw, and according to the doctors that I ended up having to see, about three days away from moving in to my blood stream and killing me. So I spent a couple of weeks unable to eat, and I just stopped eating because I physically could not put food in my throat. I existed on water and broth. I mean I weighed 215 lbs, it's not like I didn't have fat reserves to burn. And I lost like 20 lbs in those few weeks.

C: It's a lot of fluctuation.
N: It is. So then having lost a chunk of weight, it seemed a lot easier to keep going with it. So the first thing I do before I do anything that I think is remotely important is research. Weeks and weeks of research, and I think some of that is the control thing. And everywhere I saw said the same thing - as strange as it sounds, your doctor has been telling you the only true thing your entire life. The only way to healthy weight loss is count your calories and exercise. That's it. So I got my Fitness Pal (app) and I started counting my calories down to 1500 calories a day, because you can't jump straight to 1200. And I did a juice fast. That was the other thing. But you can get all your essential vitamins from juice. So I subsidized it slightly with protein, so all day long, if I was thirsty I drank water, if I was hungry I drank juice. And once towards the end of the day I'd have four ounces of grilled chicken or two fried eggs or something. And I did that for a month and I lost another 20 lbs.

C: And did you ever feel like you weren't stable? 
N: No, actually, I felt great. It was the initial period, like day 2, I was crabby and angry. But surprisingly quickly, I got great sleep, I felt energized, I didn't feel like I was lacking anything. Probably at some point I will do another one because it felt really good.

C: I think it's a great first step. A lot of people are gravitating towards that. 
N: And because I had so much extra weight on my frame, cutting down my calories without damaging my nutrient intake, the weight just melted off of me, which then made the rest of it so much easier, because I suddenly had so much less of a journey. And I was already two pants sizes by that point. And then I started doing 1500 calories of day, and I started working out. I did half an hour three times a week, and then when I felt good about that I did half an hour five times a week, and then I moved up to an hour five times a week. And I moved my calories down from 1500 to 1400 to 1300 to 1200. So at the end of it, I was working out an hour a day five times a week and eating 1200 calories every day.

C: Are you still doing that?
N: Fuck. No. That, for me, is not a life style. It was something I needed to do, and I lost 75 lbs in a year and two months. I got down to 138 lbs, 135 was my goal. It's a healthy weight. And once I was under 150 I started to relax some, and by that point I had met Jack (her husband) and I think we had moved in together but my lifestyle was going to change. I wasn't going to keep working out as often and I wasn't going to force him to eat the way I was eating. And I didn't want to be eating separate meals from him. And I've gotten into a kind of rhythm with my body. I get down to 140, I'm comfortable, I stay there for a while, I stop worrying about food but I still think about what I eat. And then inevitably I get injured, I have to stop working out,  and I start to put on weight and at about 150 I say I'm done and I need to start being better about it, and then at 155 I'm actually done and I start being better about it. And I go back down to 140. But to be honest, as far as the yo-yo effect goes, I feel pretty okay with that.

C: So are you in a place where you're happy with your body? 
N: I am. I don't think I'm ever going to feel the best that I could about my body. Gaining the weight and losing it again has made my boobs very saggy, I have stretch marks, I'm never going to have a flat belly again and I had that, but my husband looks at me with undisguised lust in his eyes all the time, he tells me that I look fantastic all the time, he touches me in ways that make me feel sexy and beautiful, and I feel so healthy and so vibrant in a way that I never ever did.

Stay tuned for part 2 with Nikki on confidence

Meet Your New Favorite Band: Cable Car

Monday, December 29, 2014

If you're like me, you're always looking for new music. If you're like me, you also like to big up your friends who are making music. So right now, I'm going to do both. Meet Cable Car. They're talented, they're cool, and they're stupid hot. You're welcome.

For readers who aren't familiar with your band, can you introduce yourself and your band?
My pleasure, My name is Nate Mott singer and guitarist for the band Cable Car. Always by my side a Mr. Surr Chevvie and a Mr. Jack Turner. We hail from Rhode Island, Vermont and the UK. Chevvie and I came out to Los Angles together and we met Jack living across the courtyard from us. We started Cable Car soon after meeting.

So when I met you, we were both standing in line for the X Factor auditions. Now, you've just released your first ever music video with your band, Cable Car. Take me through that journey: how did you get from there to where you are now? 
Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone. I had the time and the geographical means to see what an X Factor audition might be like. As you remember it was quite an experience. When we met that rainy morning I was still in the middle of my plans to get to LA. X Factor was a why the hell not moment. Still it felt great to beat out 18,000 people that day and push on to the next round before I was cut. As for the video it was just the right time for us. We have a great new record and we wanted to put out a great video for it.

As for the journey…well it's a long story really. I could fill the page with the details so I'll condense it bit. As I said Chevvie and I had already made plans to move out to LA. We had a few friends who had made the jump ahead of us so we knew we'd have a  few friendly faces to help us get acquainted. Once we made the move we got right to work. Not only writing together but with two other projects we kept to the sides. The one that stuck was Cable Car. Why? honestly because it felt right for us all. Time and place kind of thing. We loved the music and each other so we went for it. LA is now well acquainted with us! We just played Sayers club a place many of our favorite bands have played including ASTR! In fact Bastille played the night after us. What an honor that was.

What is life like out in LA? Why did you make the decision to go there to begin your music career as opposed to New York? 
I have spent plenty of time in New York and although I love the people I'm a warm weather kind of person. There were also some friends out here that I knew would make the transition a bit more fun.

How did you meet your bandmates and come together to form Cable Car? 
Chevvie and I were already playing together in Rhode Island and Jack we met out here. Started playing together and couldn't turn away from how good it felt.

What is the music writing process like for you? Do you write with your bandmates, do you write music and lyrics together or one after the other?
Our process has evolved a bit over the last year. Instead of the standard acoustic guitar and a notepad we decided to let the studio get right into the mix writing as we record, throwing it all in the session and peeling away what we don't love. Lyrics tend to be derived from the mood of the sonic landscape. However if a theme comes up we might gear the music in a particular direction to fit it. Create a mood so to speak.

What was the experience of making your first video like? How did you come up with the concept? Has it been well received? 
The song Tonight speaks a lot to the power fantasy has when left unrealized. So we sat with the director and hatched out a concept that allowed each of us to express our sexual fantasies to a psychiatrists. To make the video exciting we had her becomes the fantasy but never really give us what we wanted. I think the video leaves you wanting more and that was our intent!

Will there be a full length album release in the future? 
There may be but to be honest EP's just seem to be where it is at right now. You can get in the studio burn out 5 songs then get right back in and burn out another 5 without these long gaps between releases. It's a fun new format.

What are the next steps for your music career? What can we expect next from Cable Car? 
We intend to promote the self titled EP just released for 6 months by touring it around a bit. From there a hopping on an established tour is where we are headed I suppose.

instagram: @wearecablecar

Lushie 4 Lyfe: Lush's BB Seaweed Face Mask, D'Fluff Shaving Soap, and You Snap The Whip Body Butter

Monday, December 22, 2014

It is no secret that I love Lush products. So when I had five empty black pots, I headed straight over there to get some more that I could use up and turn in for another free face mask.

I ended up getting BB Seaweed at the recommendation of the Lushy girls (who are always amazing). It's made with seaweed, honey, rose, and aloe vera so it's not only soothing and moisturizing but it smells amazing. This mask didn't leave me feeling dried out like some others do, but left my face feeling really soft and silky. I was really really pleased and I can't wait to continue using it. Plus the joy of hearing WHY IS THERE SEAWEED CRAP IN MY FRIDGE from my father is totally worth it.

Second pick is D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap. First off, this shit smells so good you want to eat it. I'm serious. My boyfriend kept smelling my legs like a freak. Plus, I have never been left so silky smooth after a shave. No razor burn, no missed spots, only clean and smooth and strawberry-scented skin. Loving it that I may as well go back and buy a huge pot of it now because I'm never gonna use another shaving cream ever again.

I love me a body butter, so I went with You Snap The Whip this time instead of King of Skin. It's got charcoal in it, which is the new thing for beauty products - charcoal soaks up impurities, so its great for a deep clean. Plus, this little beauty has exfoliating stuff in it too, so you're cleaned, scrubbed, and moisturized all in one. And let me tell you, I am about that life. That's the goal right there.

All in all, it was a successful mini-Lush haul. No regrets here.

Foam Party: Rituals Zensation Foaming Shower Gel Sensation

Friday, December 19, 2014

I acquired this in possibly the best way possible: for free, on the street.

The Rituals girls were just....gifting them. It was amazing. I was on the way back to the office from lunch and they were there on the corner giving away free shower gel. Bless Soho, man. They were also running some instagram contest at the same time, so I guess this was a promotion. But it worked, because it did get me interested in the brand and wanting to go back for more. So good job, Soho Rituals store.

Most importantly, this shower gel is the coolest. It's not your average Dove or whatever. I think most people don't really think about their shower soap even though they should. So you just slather it on, rinse it off, and be done with it. But cleansing the rest of your skin is just as important as cleansing your face, and especially for me and my dry skin, it's important to take care of my whole body.

Ritual's Zensation sets itself apart because it foams. And it's so boss.

It starts as a gel and as soon as it hits water, it foams up and gets all creamy bubbly. This is great for two reasons: one, because it makes me feel like a kid again. Two, because a little bit really goes a long way, and you can use a dime sized amount to cover your whole body. Zensation smells clean and fresh (it doesn't have a really distinct scent so it isnt overwhelming and won't conflict with all your other smelly products) and  does leave me feeling clean and silky.

But honestly, it's just fun to play with foamy bubbles in the shower. I am all about that.