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Magical Thighs on South Beach

Headed to be beach today with one of my sister wives, and I’ve gotta say, Ashley has been on the “glow up” for a while now. Used to have little stick legs I was ashamed of. Used to think I wasn’t pretty enough or even remotely okay looking. Used to hide and wonder why God had given me this burden of ugliness. But now–I know Ashley is beautiful. She doesn’t have a thigh gap. She doesn’t have long blond hair. She doesn’t have a PhD (yet. And yes, my lack of a PhD sometimes bothers me). She doesn’t have a wedding ring or even the shadow of one. She doesn’t have a churchy singing voice. She doesn’t even have cheekbones (all facefat, no angles at allllll). But she is wonderfully and beautifully made. She is confident and sure of herself and how she fits in the world. She is wearing her first real swimsuit and she is happy about it! She is a human with magic inside of her. And magical thighs.

Magical thighs on south beach

She is wearing her first real swimsuit and she is happy about it!

The me who wrote this post last week is a confident woman. She is a woman who loves herself, loves waking up in her body, loves participating in this world and this life in that body. But, I wasn’t always that woman. In fact, I was, perhaps, the complete opposite of that woman for a long time–I remember being a super skinny little girl who didn’t smile open-mouthed because I thought my teeth were too ugly to be seen in public. I was a teenager who didn’t wear her legs out because they weren’t perfect, airbrushed, like the glittering women in music videos. I willed my hair to be anything but what it was. I didn’t dare wear a pair of shorts because my thighs rubbed together. Life was a series of little pains, big pains, and hiding behind whatever would shield me.

I’d love to tell you that there’s a formula for shedding a lot of the self-doubt and low self-esteem I carried (and let’s be honest, sometimes it still bubbles up). I’d love to tell you that all you have to do is take a magic pill and all of a sudden, you’re ready to hit the beach–South Beach, at that–in a little black swimsuit. But, no, this self-assuredness and confidence was a hard prize to win. I had to search for myself, lose myself (in a relationship, in my work, in bad haircuts, in editing my natural weirdness), and, finally, cut off my hair and dive into my life’s passion–writing and teaching–to really find out how incredible, loved, lovable, and beautiful I really am.

I did no 90-day workouts. Iyanla did not fix my life. I did not win a car from Oprah. Instead, I started facing myself each day–confronting what it was that I’d been given in the mirror. I shaved off my hair and forced myself to fall in love with my face. I wore clothes that made me switch my hips (I’m no Beyonce, but my hips can swing a vibrant swing). I accepted the deep, thick magic in my thighs and the way they fill a seat or a tight pair of jeans.

I wrote unapologetically. I laughed. I made meaningful friendships, and most importantly, I made Ashley the center of it all.

Which part of your body are you most proud of? Tell us in the comments below.

Be Fully You

Loving Yourself this Valentine’s Day

The season of love is more than plus size valentine’s day lingerie and celebrating our love for others. We think we should be celebrating a little love for ourselves, too. Here are five great ways to do that:

Loving yourself this Valentine's Day

Get used to calling yourself beautiful. 96 percent of women in a recent survey said they wouldn’t the word “beautiful” to describe themselves. Getting used to calling yourself beautiful can help you remember that it’s the way you see yourself that really matters.

Forget what other people think. A 2011 Ohio University study suggests that women who focus on how their bodies are functioning had greater appreciation for their bodies and for themselves. Check in with yourself on a regular basis: Your opinion is the only one that really matters.

Don’t apologize for being proud of yourself. 95 percent of women in a 2015 study feel they could apologize more, compared to 18 percent of men who feel like they apologize “too much.” Turns out, it might be because we’re perceiving something as offensive where others may not. So go on: Be unapologetically gorgeous. Nothing to be sorry for there.

Speak up. In a 2014 study, 38 percent of 1000 high-level female executives responded that they wanted to be directly addressed in meetings, or have questions asked directly to them. You may not be in the C-suite, but you can change this for yourself. Make yourself heard. Use definite language. The world’s your oyster.

Honor your truth. In a 2006 study from the London School of Economics, researchers found that 90 percent of girls 15-17 wanted to change something about their bodies. We know, the teen years are hard. But those girls are young women now, and we hope they’ve learned to love their bodies for the truth they hold: You. Are. Beautiful. Accept it. It’s real.

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The Beauty of Being Fully Alive

happiness

There are over 22,000 self-help books about happiness on Amazon. But happiness alone doesn’t make a full human experience. And “happiness” always sounds kind of generic, like “sunshine”, “blue skies”, and “vanilla”.

We’re each a complex mix of messy emotions that can range from exhilaration and joy to anger and fear about our crazy world and politics with moments of peace in between. And exhaustion, that wonderful feeling that comes after a day of new adventures, challenges and accomplishments; a day fully lived.

Is happiness really our natural state? Are we doing something wrong if we’re not feeling happy every second? What if our quest was to be fully alive instead. To be fully ourselves. To make a difference in peoples’ lives. To dedicate ourselves to being forces for good in the world. To feel all of our feelings and know that they’re all okay.

Instead of “fixing” ourselves when we’ve had a bad day or stressing ourselves out more because we’re not feeling especially happy (like all of our friends on Social Media) we can appreciate the beauty of being alive, even if it means we’ll have moments of pain. Or anxiety. Or sadness. Or anger. We’re human after all. We feel. We hurt. We love. We have the capacity to care. Deeply.

Rather than making happiness some goal in the future or long term plan, how about being present for the experiencing the simple everyday pleasures we often miss? Look around you. Where can you find pleasure and beauty and miracles? The first sip of coffee in the morning. A kitty curled up against your thigh. The sun on your cheek.  A warm breeze blowing through your hair and tickling your skin. The rain that’s soaking our city when we’re in the middle of a drought.

Let’s enjoy happiness when it comes and stop judging the rest of our feelings. Remember that Social Media is not the whole truth. Its usually the curated parts people want you to see. Let’s see happiness as a by-product of being true to ourselves, but know it’s not the full life experience. Let’s make our goal to live fully, to take on new adventures, to do things that create meaning in our lives, and to have deep connections with others.

Be Fully You

4 Reasons to Love Being Single Over New Year’s

Love being single on NYE

Oh, sure, no one to kiss, blah blah blah. How about this? How about, limitless numbers of people to kiss, and no one would look sideways at you for it?

But seriously: New Year’s is a great time to be single. Here are four more reasons why:

  1. No need to coordinate New Year’s Party schedules. Seriously. An old boyfriend and I once got into a terrible rip-roaring fight on the edge of Times Square over whose party to go to next. (We’re not together anymore.) As a singleton, you can go wherever you damn well please, and hang the consequences, because your schedule is yours and yours alone, to spend with the people you care about the most.
  2. No dress-up drama. Actual conversation between another ex-boyfriend and I:

“So…what are you wearing to Aileen’s?”

“I dunno. What are you wearing?”

“…This?”

“Okay, I’ll find something that kind of matches.”

Yes, it was ridiculous. And no, it didn’t matter who had which lines. And, if I’d been single, it would have never happened.

  1. Celebrate friendships, not romance. Oh, the New Year’s drama: You know what I mean. Sometimes, you get a lovely New Year’s, kissing your sweetie on a rooftop overlooking New York. Other times, you get a freakshow meltdown of a fight. (C’mon, we’ve all seen it happen.) Celebrating New Year’s on your own means you get to hang out with your friends as their friend, not as a couple unit.

Some friendships will outlast any relationship. New Year’s is a great time to recognize those.

  1. Celebrate yourself. What better way, what better holiday, to take a really good look at who you are, and recognize all the good you’ve done and all that you have in your life, than New Year’s Eve? Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. Could one of yours be to be grateful for the things you bring yourself, and everything you offer the world? We think that’s a great thing to include.

Who’s single this New Year’s? Tell us in the comments below–and be proud of it!

Be Fully You

Find Your Uplifting Tribe

hipsandcurves uplifting tribe

It was only the second time I had seen my friend since we had both given birth. We carried our daughters in front-packs, walking through the shopping plaza on Kauai in Hawaii, conversing about how much our lives had changed over the past year since we first met on the island.

“I just don’t understand it,” I said aloud, “I know all these women who’ve given birth recently, but no one is opening up and being real or honest about their experiences as new mamas. Am I the only one feeling this way?”

My desperation, isolation, and sense of losing myself were deepening. Even though I was doing what I could to build a tribe around me, I felt I could not find any sort of community within the tiny North Shore town we lived in.

“No, of course not,” my friend reassured me. “You’re just being open about it.”

“Then why does it seem like everyone always has it together? I feel like I’m losing it, but every other mama I see makes it look so easy.”

My friend stopped walking and turned towards me. “Hold on, honey,” she paused. “YOU look like you have it together!”

“What?” I was completely flabbergasted. My daughter was less than a year old and I felt I was losing my battle against postpartum depression.

It was then that I became reminded of a lesson I learned when I first became a yoga teacher: “Stop comparing your insides based on someone else’s outsides.” After becoming a mama, this became, “Every mama is losing her shit – some just hide it better than others.”

There are countless issues an intelligent and independent woman experiences after becoming a new mama: battles with self-esteem as she struggles to “get her body back;” fighting the isolation that happens with postpartum blues, anxiety, and depression; dealing with the strains on a marriage. The list is long with innumerable variations of challenges she often hides in trying to make her life and body look perfect, the way it’s portrayed in the highlight reels of social media.

Even though I openly shared my experiences in the Facebook group I created for new mamas, it was rare that any other woman would voluntarily admit her struggles, despite the fact that when we talked one-on-one, she would let me in on her similar struggles.

Why are we all trying to hide behind this veil of perfection?  Women yearn to belong to a community, yet we continually engage in behaviors that bring us further from our tribe.

It’s essential we open up with one another. It’s essential we champion each other’s inner light, especially when we feel at our most dark and dim.  Having suffered from bulimia, compulsive overeating, binge exercising, and total body dysmorphia, I never want my daughter to waste a minute of her life worried about her worth based on the number on a scale or on the tag of a dress.

The only way this will happen is if we start to uplift one another through genuine authenticity in the ways we show up. When we’re struggling to love ourselves and our bodies, it’s vital we can get out of our heads and into a better reality, one where we reflect back kindness, nourishing thoughts, and affirmative truths.

For the sake of our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, we need our creative life force and gifts to be devoted to so much more than how we look. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes shares in her book, Women Who Run With Wolves, it is an offense to nature that we aim to confine ourselves to being small by trying to fit one standard of beauty. That is not how Mother Nature works: there is not one kind of tree, one kind of songbird, one kind of wolf.

There is brilliance in individuality and every expression of this light deserves to be celebrated grandly.

Create a mastermind group of women who you can connect with over the phone, Skype, Gchat, Zoom, whatever modality works for you. Make it an hour that becomes a haven of nurturing one another to shine.

Create your own tribe and empower every woman within it to thrive. This is how we’ll find the freedom to feel amazing for ourselves and for every generation that comes after us.

 

Be Fully You

Power is Fitness is Beauty: What I Learned from Roller Derby

Roller Derby Hips & Curves

By the time I hit my teens, exercise was about what was wrong with my body, not about how I felt doing it. Gone was the joy of gliding through water, or the satisfying thunk of catching a ball.

But shame, it turns out, isn’t a great motivator. I couldn’t keep climbing the stair machine in the gym, watching the calorie counter slowly absolve me for breakfast, and then lunch, every day for very long. My pattern of pursuing fitness came in short spurts: I’d be dissatisfied with the curve of my stomach, arms, and thighs, and try to run or stretch my body away. Eventually, I’d realize I didn’t hate the way I looked enough to endure the drudgery of daily activity I didn’t really like; and I’d stop. Until the process started again, a few weeks or months down the line.

And then came roller derby. At first, I was drawn to it for the same reason I was drawn to any physical activity — it’s quite a calorie-burner. But after a few weeks of practice — once I no longer looked like an awkward baby giraffe on my skates — I realized something new: it was actually fun.

Roller derby is played entirely on roller skates around an oval track between two teams. Each team has a ‘jammer’ and four ‘blockers’, the jammer wins points by passing their opposition’s blockers — the blockers try not to let that happen and help their own jammer pass the opposition. It’s complicated, but it’s one of the most fun sports to watch — and to play.

In derby, we get so close to others that we can feel their body heat and sweat; we can sense their breaths and heartbeats. We are relentless.

But, playing roller derby, I have a feeling of strength I’ve never had before. I don’t know where my tireless motivation to keep going — even when it’s very hard — comes from. And I now see my body as effective and competitive. It can exert influence in the world. It’s not something I care to whittle away anymore.

Watching women skate is a thrill. Sometimes they make their way around the whole track in only a few strides, the sound of their wheels echoing around the venue. Players leap on their toe stops, jump while rolling, stop on a dime. I’ve never known my body to be great at balance, but I’ve started to do these things too.

Off-track, the derby community is fundamentally nice. We about the stench of sweaty protective gear and how to fit in more squats in our day-to-day lives (squats while doing the dishes, squats while waiting for the kettle to boil or the bus to come). But it’s also deeply accepting.

This is a place for a diverse set of body types. Thin skaters can be particularly speedy. Tall skaters are good at strategy because they can see the track in-play from a vast distance. They can also take big, powerful steps and glide past everyone else. Short skaters have a lower centre of gravity, which means they’re advantaged when it comes to balance. They can also get into tricky spots and can be difficult to defend against. And bigger skaters are hard to knock down, or pass.

Turns out, good endurance and agility are within reach of all body types.

When I started roller derby, I began to accept myself.  The challenge for me physically isn’t changing my body anymore; it’s learning how to work with it. Exercise, something that once felt psychologically toxic and begrudging has become a well of enthusiasm and stimulation. For the first time in my adult life, physical activity has been about becoming stronger and learning fun and challenging skills. My weight is completely beside the point now; the point is how fitness makes me feel.

Be Fully You True Confessions

Cold Plaster

Hips & Curves Cold Plaster Blog

When I was young and crazy and living in San Francisco, I met a man with a beautiful Italian accent, a mane of dark hair, and an annoying clove cigarette habit. He called himself a sculptor. We will call him Ignazio.

Ignazio told me he sold his work to the fanciest restaurants in town, where the pieces were used as mock-ancient décor. He took me to dinner at one so I could see.

Hovering around our pasta al’oglio and zuppa di pesce were ghostly female shapes —torsos with arms outstretched or hands crossed at the heart and full-length bodies in classical poses, some holding drapes, others in repose. His “sculptures” — a mute and frozen Greek chorus — were actually plaster life casts of nude women.

A few were burnished on hips and hands with gold leaf. Others had been dusted at décolletage and derriere with sepia-toned powder. All were backlit, spot lit, or warmly glowing from hidden Christmas lights.

After fishbowls of cheap house Chianti, he asked if I would model for him. He couldn’t pay me, he wanted to be clear, but I’d become “himor-tal” as he put it. I blushed and stumbled over my words–but of course, I said yes.

Preparing for our session was anxiety provoking and time-consuming. He had warned me that the plaster would stick to body hair. That meant I would actually have to shave my armpits (he hadn’t mentioned the bikini area, so I just assumed I was posing for a waist-up torso). I wasn’t thrilled about the shaving. But I made it happen.

Ignazio worked his magic in a borrowed garage in the Sunset district, a typically grey neighborhood facing the Pacific Ocean. The place where he expected me to strip down was as cold and damp as a basement, and lit by the harshest fluorescent lights I’d ever seen.

He had a space heater the size of a toaster and a bucket of paste already prepared. I had a robe in my messenger bag, but there was nowhere to dis-robe without being seen. I had to doff it all right there in front of him; instinctively, I turned my back as I removed my heavy sweater and jeans.

The first red flag went up immediately. When I turned to face him, cheesy smile, goosebumps marching up my spine, and hands protectively placed over my groin, I noticed The Look. That’s the way a man will telegraph his disappointment without saying a word. “Hmmm,” he frowned, his gaze lowering to my belly. “A few sit-ups wouldn’t kill you.” My mouth opened, but nothing came out. I closed it, and he moved me into place and got to work.

He asked me to hold a drape, which was just a thin thrift store bedsheet soaked in plaster. He took my right hand, folded the slimy fabric into it, and positioned it at my right shoulder. Not only was the drape uncomfortably cold and slippery, but it was also heavy. Ignazio arranged my left hand low on my left hip and moved to tuck another part of the fabric there, when he stopped. “I told you to shave!”

“Riiiight,” I said, questioningly. “And I did …”

“No, no–you did not take it all off. This is not good. The plaster, it’s going to stick.”

I thought he was going to tell me to leave. I was blushing, but he was not looking at my face.

“Oh, the plaster …? I’m fine with that. Really.” I panicked, embarrassed, wanting to be The Muse at all costs. “I’ve done waxing before,” I lied, “ripping off a little plaster won’t bother me.”

And so he proceeded. The drape was moved into position across my body, smoothed again my skin from shoulder to thigh, breast to bellybutton, and below.

Still mortified about my pubic hair, I soon had another problem. The drape was so heavy and the plaster so cold that I started to shiver uncontrollably. I began seeing little glimmers–stars–at the edges of my vision. Please don’t let me faint.

I asked Ignacio if we could take a break. “I’m not feeling so great. I think I need some water, maybe a snack.” The Look shot my way again. He shrugged and turned away to wipe his hands on a rag.

“Uh, would you mind handing me my bag?” Clearly, I was pretty much glued to the spot where I was standing.

This seemed to be too much to ask. He turned back to me. “You know, maybe you actually shouldn’t eat anything. I need my models to be nearly perfect, and I’m already dealing with your pot-belly stomach.”

And with that, something snapped in me. Being a muse is clearly overrated. I dropped the sheet and scraped clods of half-dry plaster from my skin. Pulling my sweater on and shoving still-sticky legs into my jeans, I told him I was done. Without waiting, I grabbed my bag and bolted.

I waited at a rainy bus stop, with plenty of time to think over what I had just experienced. Predictably, I was depressed and, worse, self-critical. I felt fat — and stupid. Why did I ever think I could be someone’s muse?

As those doubts morphed into a burst of rage, I felt myself rise up inside. As the bus headlights finally came my way, the anger shifted into exhilaration. I’d taken myself out of a bad situation, and now I knew:

A muse should be worshipped, not criticized.

Be Fully You

Season of Gratitude

season of gratitude hips and curves

A friend of mine keeps a gratitude journal. In it, as her only concrete reminder of the day, half daily diary, half meditation, she lists three things she’s grateful for, every single day.

I find this a nice idea. I adopted for a little while for myself, actually– scientists and multiple studies regularly point out the benefits of such practices, including better productivity and happier outlooks on life–but while I did find myself smiling over my trifecta of gratitude, or whatever, each night, I also found it far too easy to lapse into generalities. My list of three items, I found, would veer into nebulous territory like so:

  1. Husband
  2. Dog
  3. Clean sheets

I mean, seriously. So I was thinking about ways to narrow this down, to keep myself more, um, centered, I guess, if that’s not too mushy of a way to put it. I think I was looking for a way that I could really focus on something tangible that made me feel grateful.

And then I realized: I was already in it, the thing that makes me the most grateful: My own body. I’m grateful for it, every single day. I’m grateful for the way I look in jeans. I’m grateful for the fine tendons in my wrist that show up when I tie my shoelaces. I’m grateful for the fact that it moves mostly fluidly, at 42, and even on days like today, when I’m fighting a cold, I’m grateful that my body can tell me when I need to take a break at watch Gilmore Girls reruns.

We’re all so busy preaching things like living simply and loving ourselves, that we forget to take stock of the fact that those things can be hard. I mean, living simply is a complex mechanism, a set of steps, a whole process. And loving yourself is a lifelong work. We all have days where we wonder how we made such a hash of an entire 24 hours.

But being grateful for brains, which think; our hands, which feel; our hearts, which can both hurt and give great joy; our feet, which move us forward every day? That’s a piece of cake.

What about your body makes you feel grateful? Tell us in the comments below.

Be Fully You H&C

Donate A Bra, Support A Woman In Need.

Donate Your Bra, 20% Off!

Do you have extra gently used bras that no longer fit?  Your old bra could benefit women and girls in desperate need, and help the environment.  The Bra Recyclers is a leading bra recycling company that has partnered with Ambassadors around the world to recycle over 1 million bras and support over 80 non profit organizations.

In partnership with The Bra Recyclers®, Hips & Curves will offer a 20% discount to anyone who donates a bra in November.  Bras and undergarments are recycled and/or distributed around the world through exporters or Bra Recycling Ambassadors to deserving families.  Support women and help the environment!

Infographic_fnl_Rev

 

Follow these 3 simple steps to donate your bras:

1. Wash It. Recycled bras that can be worn again should be washed. Prosthesis and mastectomy bras are accepted!

2. Return your bra to Hips & Curves 11099 S. La Cienega #170 Los Angeles, CA 90045

3. We will email you a 20% off coupon towards a new bra (or anything else on www.hipsandcurves.com) when we receive your old one.

Questions?  Call or Chat M-F from 8am – 5pm Pacific Time.

 

 

Be Fully You

My #BeFullyYou Story: Evelyn

Be Fully You My Story Evelyn

We asked women to share stories about that moment something inside them changed and they made the decision to be fully themselves.  Share your stories with us at [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @hipsandcurves using the hashtag #BeFullyYou

A moment for me that I can say I took a huge step was back in 2013. I was going on my fifth date after my horrible divorce and all the men I dated seemed to not flare anything inside to even kiss goodbye or hello. That’s not me.

I’ve always been the shy old fashion person to let the man take control and of course I’d know when to say no. Well, that night something about him made me feel as if I was back in high school and just getting to know boys.  I was raised in a Christian boarding school for so long and never was allowed to speak to boys.

Chris, my fifth date took me to a bar and we had one beer as we talked and spent the night as if it was only us two. It started to get late and we both had to work the next early morning. As he was driving me home I asked him to stop close to this turn out (mind that we live in wooded area in Northern California) it was dark and the stars were out and beautiful. He turned off the truck and I asked him to come closer and that’s when I took him by his shirt, pulled him in and I kissed him. I almost took his whole body weight and dragged him to me. Makes me laugh because I felt like some sexual beast getting ready to pounce.

Never in my life have I took that first step and a big one for that matter. I felt strong and independent as if “that’s right, I got this” kind of feeling. Chris and I are getting married this October and if it wasn’t for my crazy bold move I would have never been so happy in my life as I am now anticipating wedding day.

That kiss was my bold and big move that I can honestly say changed me for the better. Thank you all for reading my superwoman story.

———

UPDATE: Evelyn & Chris were married on October 8. 2016 🙂