Friday, October 29, 2010

Good things come in small packages

We are honored to have a guest post written by our dear friend Kara Lydon. Kara is a Registered Dietitian who believes in the power of good, wholesome food. With a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Boston University, she currently specializes in weight management. You can find Kara blogging about nutrition, food, and wellness at Peace, Love, and Food or tweeting@karalydon.

4 feet 11 & 3/4 inches. A height that doesn't always make you feel powerful. In fact, it was a height that for me made me feel self-conscious and subject to ridicule growing up. It also was a height that didn't flatter me during puberty. As my body was preparing for its womanly changes, I gained weight. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. The teasing at school increased. I even overheard family and friends commenting on my appearance. Little did I know weight gain is common before a girl undergoes puberty. Little did I know my friends and family were concerned about my health, not my appearance. What I did know is that I began to hate my body.

It's not surprising to me then that by the age of 13, I developed issues around food. I had all the common red flags, a best friend with anorexia, a mom on Weight Watchers, and a lack of control around major changes that happened in my life at that time. I started dieting. I started counting points of the foods I was eating. I started skipping meals. I lost a ton of weight in a short period of time. I looked at food as something that was evil and would make me fat.

My wake-up call was I stopped getting my period. I knew something was wrong and my body was trying to tell me I wasn't treating it right. My mother took me to see a registered dietitian who specialized in adolescents with eating issues. She set up meal ideas for me that would help me meet my calorie needs. The combination of her help & expertise along with making new friends at a new high school, all of whom had very healthy relationships with food, helped me to break the cycle.

The period of time when I had an unhealthy relationship with food was probably the worst time of my life. I neglected and mistreated the most important person in my life, myself. Many people do not know this piece of my life. It's a piece I like to keep quiet and brush under the rug. But the reality is it shaped me and motivated me to a place where I am now. And for that I am grateful. For the purposes of Guiltless, I felt inspired to let go of the guilt I feel toward my past and share my story in a hope to inspire others.


I have come a long way from that year of my life. I am thankful that my issues around food were short-lived. I am thankful that I never let it go too far to jeopardize my health. I am thankful that I have never looked back at food in a negative manner. I am thankful that I now have a healthy relationship with food and myself.

For those reading, if you are struggling with self-image or struggling with food, just know, there is hope. You CAN change. It may take time and it may not be easy, but don't give up on yourself. The most important relationship you have is with yourself. Also, don't be afraid to seek help. Confide in a family member, a friend, or a doctor. The positive support of others is powerful. That having been said, surround yourself with positive people who love you just the way you are. In the words of Dr. Seuss, "be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Start by making a change that is simple. Write down one positive thing about yourself each day. Tell yourself what you love about yourself. Shout it to your mirror in the morning. Today, I still tower at a mighty 4 feet 11 & 3/4 inches. But I love it. I love being different. Being cute. Being petite. Words I used to perceive as negative, I take pride in today. Good things come in small packages, I tell myself. Acceptance is a big part of self-love. Accept your body, its curves, its strength. It is who you are & who you are is beautiful.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Concept of Beauty

by: Stephanie Horton


Merriam-Webster Definition of BEAUTIFUL

1: having qualities of beauty : exciting aesthetic pleasure
2: generally pleasing : excellent

The concept of beauty is a loaded one. The social, political, and environmental constructs that form our perspectives on beauty are not free of flaw and delusion. Yet, the messages we receive about beauty are so powerful, that to see through or beyond them is truly a struggle. And more often than not, we only have a small window of opportunity to really comprehend what beauty actually means to us.

To me, beauty means a lot of things, and usually, different things at different times. The question is, why is it always so hard to see ourselves as beautiful all the time?

The following (amazing) video was shown to me over the weekend from one of the most beautiful people I know. And now I want to share it with you.

It's called "Pretty" by Katie Makkai.

Awesome. What was your response to this video? What is your response to the picture below? Do your responses to these things provide a perspective on your own feelings about beauty? Maybe as a reminder... or maybe you learned something totally new about yourself...

Also, as a follow up to last week's post on Mindful Mirror Viewing, here was my Guiltless challenge from last week (reminder: The Guiltless challenge is to find one thing about yourself each day that you love...Unfortunately, it's a lot easier said than done!) Here's what I came up with last week. Please share what you came up with, even if it was just for one day!
1. I love my eyebrows
2. Hair is looking a little crazy, but I like it, because it's me.
3. I love my eyes when I get enough sleep
4. I love my abs after Pilates
5. (On day 5 I was super tired and overworked, so didn't remember to love something about myself)
6. I love my short nails
7. I love my legs, because they are the strongest part of my body

It's not easy to share these things without a slight twinge of embarrassment over feeling vain. But with all the pressures of society on us to fit a specific idea of beauty, I think it's time we forget about the concept of "vain" while we focus on appreciating ourselves. Please share your thoughts on beauty with us. We love hearing from you.

Be well, and enjoy the day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let me Tell you a Tale....

by Elizabeth Jarrard

Let me tell you a story that starts with a simple sentence, that can be loaded with meanings. love food.

My brain is full of fond food memories, like rolling out homemade cinnamon rolls with my mom, and smelling sugar and butter laced air waft through the kitchen as we waited for dad to wake up on a lazy Sunday. yes i realize this is bread. i couldn't find the cinnamon roll picture. you get the idea

I could spend my entire life reminiscing over meals if I wanted to. Little things like to piling ketchup on Irish Patsy's at grandma’s house in the abandoned mining town of Butte Montana to sharing crepes so saturated with Grand Mariner in Nice that 2 bites later we were feeling tipsy. Being surprised on my 17th birthday by my Thai classmates to a huge party at a Korean Hot Pot restaurant in the middle of Bangkok.Diving face first into a watermelon post 20 mile training run in the middle of marathon season, carbo-loading with sweet potatoes and quinoa. The simple goodness of a weekday stirfry to the complex flavors of a 5 course gourmet meal, all adored. Food parties, events, meals, drinks, the way to my heart is possibly through good food.

But even more than I love food, I love talking to people about food and hearing their food story. Our food story isn’t the entire story of being, but since food is the sustenance of life, it often comes front-and center. Our view of the world can be reflected in our food choices. You vote with your fork and share your soul at least three times a day in what you include or exclude in your meals. Since this is often a topic of conversation for me, I have found very few people in the world who have ALWAYS 100% listened to their hungers, who have felt completely guiltless about their eating. Often eating is only intuitive and carefree when we are very young, when the mere existence of a petite strawberry is all you need to be happy.

i know, my fashion sense started at a young age. love the complimentary patterns, right?

What happened in between that time and now? And how can we get back to eating Guiltlessly?? Well the process is different for everyone, but hopefully we can grow and learn from each other. And I believe that starts with sharing your food story. Appreciating the good AND bad days, and learning more about yourself from that.

Join the conversation-what does your food story say about you? Tell me one of your favorite food memories!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Love My Braces

Gaby Garcia: "I Love My Braces!!!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mindful Mirror Viewing

by: Stephanie Horton

Your mirror has a history. As we grow older, the atmosphere of our minds change as we view ourselves. In other words, looking in the mirror is not a static experience. It evolves and changes with age, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

At one point in your life, you may have been more forgiving and loving while looking in the mirror, while at other times, more judgmental and hostile. The only constant in mirror viewing is the person looking back, even if that person feels differently toward you each time.

When I was very young, looking in the mirror was exploratory. I would make goofy faces at myself and I would try and try to see my back even though I knew it was impossible without the aid of a second mirror. I practiced smiling, laughing, crying, etc. Then in adolescence, I was much more hostile toward myself...pulling back parts of my body to see what I would look like if they weren't there...tugging at my hair and loading it up with product to get it just perfect but never being satisfied. It was interesting then, to say the least, when I watched a 9 year old video of my friends and myself last night! Back then, the mirror was not a happy place for me. Yet, as I looked at Steph-circa-9-years-ago, I thought "wow, I looked pretty good back then (minus the less-than-great fashion sense!)" And so the saying goes, "if only I knew then what I know now..."

Luckily, my present mindset while looking in the mirror has finally become peaceful. If I like what I see then great! If not, then I think "oops, had a little too much fun, should probably work out a little harder this week and increase my fruit and veggie intake back to acceptable ranges." But I never EVER feel devastation or remorse....unlike when I was in my teenage years. This is a great place to be with the mirror, and I am determined to keep it progressive.

As we get older, life gets busier, so looking in the mirror is usually just something we do before we leave the house to make sure hair is in place and that we didn't forget to put something on. But if you look in the mirror today, like really look, pay attention to your emotions. What do you feel? Anything? Nothing? It's interesting to see yourself and realize that you are actually there...a person who other people see and think about the same way you see and think about others.

Guiltless challenge: Every day this week, look in the mirror and pick one thing you love about yourself. Try really hard not to criticize yourself! But if you do, make a mental note and the next day, try again. Write it down in the following format:
Day 1: I love my eyes.
Day 2: I love my nose.
And so forth...

After 7 days of this, write to us at with your 7 days of self-love. If it's ok with you, we'd love to share it! (Your name doesn't have to be revealed if you don't want). I'll do the same thing, and next week on Wednesday, I will share my 7 days with you.

Looking forward to hearing from you all. Be well, and enjoy the day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friends Don't Let Friends Fat Talk

Mirror Mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all??

I was sitting with some friends last week, and a beautiful, strong woman I know confessed that when shopping she hated going to the dressing room, because she hated to see herself in those awful lights, and she was so sick of how "fat" she looked that she left the store empty-handed. I know I myself have been crippled by such self-negativity, but it's heart-breaking to see the same people you admire, and adore, break themselves with such fat talk. Whether its said to ourselves, to our girlfriends, to our families, fat talk is prevalent in our world today.

Fat Talk describes all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies. Examples of fat talk include: “I’m so fat,” “Do I look fat in this?” “I need to lose 10 pounds” and “She’s too fat to be wearing that swimsuit.” Also positive statements that reinforce the need to be thin, like “You look great! Have you lost weight?”

The sorority Tri Delta is Hosting a Fat Talk Free Week this week. I encourage you to share the message of ending fat talk through self-expression and social media as well as visiting their Facebook page.

10 million women are dealing with eating disorders in this country, which is more than are suffering from breast cancer. It’s time we take control over our own destinies, our own bodies, and our own inner dialogues. We’re changing the conversation to create a more positive body image for women everywhere!Stop Fat Talk in your life. Comment on someone's personality instead of their body type.

Remember that friends don't let friends fat talk

Jump on board with us and commit to no fat talk all week log. Let's swap out these negative words with some self love! To wrap up Fat Talk Free Week October 24th is also Love Your Body Day- Let's celebrate!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Enlightenment is a Constant State of Gratitude

by Summer Jarrard

A wise woman once told me, enlightenment is a constant state of gratitude...

It simultaneously felt like laughing, twirling, crying, slow dancing, and floating. Our eye contact sent a thrill of shivers down my spine. Blinking felt like a punishment, and my feet felt like they couldn't touch the ground. One inch above, I floated through the kitchen, the living room, and they said, "It looks like traveling has done you well." I thought that maybe if you turned off the lights, I would turn into a firefly.

Maybe the traveling did do me well. But what really did the trick? Coming home. Opening my palms to the magic of gratitude. Letting myself just feel grateful for those people of mine. The ones who raised me, the ones who love me, the ones that listened to every worry, thought, fear, and piece of courage. Grateful that I had a roof over my head, a kitchen that smelled like heaven, a living room with a fire crackling its way into my ear. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In my case it grew larger as well. Expanding until I felt it might just pop out of my chest, beating for the world to hear.

Let gratitude pour down your sleeves until you have danced it's entire dance. Don't worry, your feet will never get tired. Let it drip into the small space between your heart and your chest, and trust that it will shine its own light. Breathe it until you feel full, and then breathe some more. It will send delightful chills all about your shoulders, if you let it.

And the best part is, no matter how confused you are, no matter how upset you are, I guarantee gratitude will always be there, smoke drifting, a stranger knocking, waiting for you to let it in. Let it send you into a dizzying dance where you lose track of how you got here, enveloped in something else besides the daily trivial matters.

It is a replacement for any trouble. A magic tonic that warms your throat on the way down. Worrying about money? Replace it with gratitude. Wishing you weighed just 5 pounds less? Be grateful for this vessel that carries you around without asking for payment.

Gratitude is a goddess that gives without asking for anything in return. Lift your hands and ask her to dance. You won't regret it.

Thank you Summer for sharing your beautiful words about Gratitude. We are so grateful to have you contribute to this month's reflection!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It takes a village: Interview with Kelly Valen

by Stephanie Horton

Kelly Valen is a successful writer and an attorney, but most importantly, she is an incredibly strong woman who is currently sharing her difficult experiences as a college student with thousands of readers with her book The Twisted Sisterhood. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about this book and it's messages. Lucky for us, Kelly agreed to answer a few follow up questions! Check it out...

1.) After such struggle with female relationships, I find it so fascinating, (almost gift-like), that you have twin daughters! In your research, you said that you learned a lot about the mother-daughter relationship and it's influences over how females build friendship bonds with one another. How will this influence your relationship with your daughters? What kinds of things will you tell them to encourage them to be supportive of each other and of other girls?

My twins are so cool and, yes, it’s a grand irony that I was dealt three daughters in this life. A major motivator for me to write the book was this sense that, as a mother of three young girls, I wanted them to navigate Girl World better than I had. I wanted them to make strong, authentic, reliable girlfriendships and to make it through adolescence and beyond with their confidence and spirit intact. I had been seeing so much nonsense among girls and women at the time I wrote my New York Times article, so much of it unnecessary, gratuitous, and self-defeating. It was demoralizing. After conducting a survey with more than 3000 women, many of them mothers, I now know that I’m in good company with these sentiments.

The influence of mothers on daughters was a theme that actually came up over and over in women’s responses to me — so my book deals with the role of mom on a number of fronts. And while I don’t think we can simply blame mother dearest (or anyone else) to excuse our own bad behavior in perpetuity, I do call on mothers to engage and take a more proactive role in their girls’ lives if they aren’t already. It sounds like there is a lot of denial and distracted or under-engaged parenting out there. I’m not here to judge; I just want to get people thinking about how we can grow our girls to be more confident, kind, supportive, and collaborative beings.

I’ve tried very hard to teach my girls kindness and empathy, both by talking about it and through example. I’m their chief role model, after all. So if I’m gossiping and judging, constantly comparing, and excluding or playing other manipulative games in front of them, well, that’s a pretty powerful message about how the world works. But I’ve also tried not to pass along my own wariness or ambivalence. I don’t want my girls starting out of the gate feeling that way! So far — knock on wood — I’m lucky: all three seem pretty confident, are kind and empathetic kids, aren’t afraid to tell their brother to take a hike, and have made terrific, deep, and meaningful friendships with girls. They amaze me.

2.) Guiltless is about promoting positive body image and self-appreciation. How do you think your experience shaped your own self-image?

Such an important goal! Unfortunately, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my sorority debacle, which happened over two decades ago, seriously undermined my self-confidence and left me hobbling about with a pretty negative self-image. Even when you’re able to pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and succeed in other areas of life, those kernels of doubt and wariness are tough to shake. I’ve now heard from so many women who, after run-ins with other females, have carried forward residual, phantom doubts about themselves like a sack of bricks. They can feel demotivated and demoralized, become more self-conscious or cautious, less willing to take risks, disinclined to put themselves out there or open up to new friendship possibilities and, ultimately, less productive humans. At some point, then, it’s not just about one person — the effects radiate outward, impact the broader gender, and ultimately society as a whole. All too often, I think, we women can be found handing over the keys to our self-worth to others —male or female. I think that finding value and worthiness from within, instead of looking outside ourselves to others for validation, is key to sidestepping or overcoming this self-flagellation and reaching our full potential in life. Knowing you have a supportive "sisterhood" at your back can only help.

3.) What's the connection between female friendships and health?

Researchers and other experts will tell you that female friendship, when it’s healthy and positive, can literally be the best and cheapest medicine we have for leading happy and qualitatively better lives. The scientific evidence in this area is compelling and very exciting. The flip side is also true. When our relationships (with females or males) become strained, or when a source of nurturing or comfort (e.g. other females) becomes an emotional threat or no longer feels safe or supportive, it’s going to take a toll on our mental, physical and emotional health. Women cope in different ways, but some will have a more difficult time; their struggles can manifest as poor choices that affirmatively harm their well-being.

It’s useful to keep in mind that the emotional toll can be worse when we’re talking female-female relationships. A number of studies underscore the distinction. Generally speaking, the stakes are often higher because our expectations for each other are great and our style of relating is often more intense and intimate. We share a lot of information with each other, invest trust and emotion, and have been socialized to expect a lot from one another in return. This can tee things up for big hurt when things go awry.

4.) How can we intervene in high schools and colleges to end this type of behavior? What could we say or do to prevent this from happening over and over again?

Again, we have been working from the angle of discussing the behaviors themselves for a long time now. This hasn’t really prompted much behavioral change — it seems like business as usual out there. My book takes a fresh perspective: it looks at the power and influence females have over one another (for better and for worse) and lays out the actual impact and fallout from our inhumanity and incivility. I really believe most of us don’t mean the extent of harm that our behaviors can cause; we just don’t appreciate the impact that these garden-variety insults or outright cruelties can and do have on other human beings. A lot of it is simply done out of habit, sport, or even as a bonding mechanism. But these aren’t parlor games we’re playing. Girls and women all around us are getting hurt and feeling ambivalent about their own — they just aren’t talking about it. With all the recent bullying and suicide stories in the news, however, I do think many folks are at least beginning to appreciate that people have different degrees of resilience. Hopefully they’ll pause, start thinking twice, and do the right thing. It really goes back to the old golden rule: treat others as you’d like to be treated; treat people with respect, tolerance, and dignity.

5.) Your story is not an easy one to share, and I thank you for opening up and sharing. What is your number one goal that you hope to accomplish by spreading your message?

This book is all about raising awareness about what’s really going on within the gender. I want to promote a more proactive, mindful civility generally, but starting with females (over half our population, after all) isn’t an unreasonable place to begin since we have our own set of unique issues to tackle.The fallout from our incivility is, again, appreciable. A lot of women are subtly turning away from each other, bunkering down in more exclusive clusters of carefully selected girlfriends, feeling wary of women they don’t know and, ultimately, contributing to a less connected and collaborative society of females. I can’t tell you how many women have told me things like: “Gosh, I’d never considered that my current insecurities or the reason I avoid female group events or certain types of women might have something to do with that pack of girls who tormented me back in junior high.” Many of us truly don’t appreciate that a seemingly innocuous nudge, slight, or outright jab can leave lasting marks on another human being. I think that awareness of that is key to changing the status quo.

Beneath the surface, there’s a lot of ambivalence and quiet suffering within our gender - women just haven’t been talking about it openly. We feel awkward, ashamed, or like the odd girl out. It feels vaguely anti-woman, too, to point fingers within the gender when there are plenty of other culprits to blame for our problems, such as men and the media. While I can’t necessarily deliver tidy Hallmark solutions or silver-bullet methods for engineering social change, I’m hoping the book will trigger reflection and fresh dialogues among women and, yes, a genuine commitment to pausing, thinking twice, opening up, and being more supportive toward one another. Almost 97% of my survey say they believe the female culture in this country has to change. They want something better for the gender, a “new normal,” if you will. But this is going to take serious reflection and resolve. And it’s going to take a village.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Kelly. We're part of the village.

Monday, October 11, 2010


by Elizabeth Jarrard
The amazing Ashley of Nourishing-the-Soul has started a new blog series called Self-Discovery, Word by Word. to encourage the blogging community to engage in meaningful self-reflection by focusing on just one word. The word for this Month is Gratitude. Read below for my input, and be sure to check out Ashley's website!

Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others” With gratitude comes respect, and honor. Gratitude is definitely the correct attitude, and can really help to foster a positive attitude about your life. Taking the time to say thank you makes one appreciate the fullness and richness of life.

Today I am thankful for many things. I am thankful to wake up to watch the sunrise, surrounded by friends. I am quite sore (the Chicago Marathon was yesterday), but I am oh so thankful for me legs. Lactic Acid build up, muscle soreness, it's a good pain, and one that is a reminder to me of all the things my legs get me through. Knees scared, muscles tight, they are athletic and get me through mile after mile. I am thankful for my friends and family who have carried me through all my adventures in life, supporting my pursuits and being there when I need help on this journey called life.

I am going to remember to cultivate gratitude and tell those who matter to me how thankful I am for their love and support. I shall appreciate the little moments, and greet each sunrise with appreciation. I shall try to start back at my Gratitude Journal, by writing down one thing I am grateful before I turn off the light at night. In the words of Oprah;

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.”

What are you grateful for?

Friday, October 8, 2010

I love my yoga ass

Callie Gordon of Salem Mass.
Co-founder of The Urbane Cyclist and nutrition grad student at BU

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You look good in those genes!

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. -Judy Garland

We come into this world completely vulnerable, a little shocked, and happily naked before everyone's eyes. We didn't know what love meant, but we felt it. We didn't understand the concept of family, but we knew we were surrounded by loved ones. We'd never heard the word "nutrition" or "calorie," but we were hungry. And we had no idea that there were things about ourselves that would someday make us feel inferior, angry, guilty, etc. Somewhere along the line, we were influenced by outside sources to have certain notions of ourselves. Then one day we realize that we are completely stressed and full of anxiety about things like missing one day at the gym or failing at an attempt to resist the ice cream.

Back up and reverse! Our perceived flaws are actually the unique characteristics that make us interesting and different. Your genes are a code to the coolness that is you. Feel good in them!

Your genes always fit, and they never have to be washed.
They are never too short and never have to be hemmed.
Your genes are not limited to blue, or black or gray.
They are not skinny.
They are not wide.
And they look good with all of your shirts and all of your shoes.
Your genes love wearing you and wouldn't want to be anyone's but yours.
Let them know that the feeling is mutual.

So put on your favorite pair! Be well, and enjoy the day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In a Guiltless Fashion

beauty and grace

"You can't separate fashion from the world. Fashion is the way we live. Dress designers lent me textures, shapes and patterns that become the ally of my true work, which was always about women-what was going on beneath their clothes, beneath the hats.
In their heads."
-Richard Avedon, World Renowned fashion photographer
Fashion. I love it, I appreciate it. While gym clothes may be my standard attire I live for nights to get dressed up in. Attending a Fashion Week AfterParty and being surrounded by beautiful people in beautiful dresses, suits and get-ups thrills and inspires me.

Unfortunately fashion also promotes negative self esteem. When normal women compare themselves to size 00 models, we rarely come up on top. Yes, those supermodels are gorgeous, but they are also a ridiculous basis for comparison. The average woman is not a living hanging rack, and sadly, often feels less because of this. I am by no means bashing models, remember, they are people too, but instead I would love for us ALL to let our radiance shine through and cease this comparison battle.

I fully support a renewed banning of airbrushing and makeup, highlighting the true beauty behind the veil of editing and professional artists.
gorgeous without makeup
And then places like Urban Outfitters advocate "eat Less"

Digusting, wrong, appaling.
I'd much rather see this
Free People "You are Beautiful"

You are Beautiful. Let your grace and wonder inspire whether you are flat-chested, have hips, curvy, straight, slender, athletic. Be confident in your beauty and the world will notice.

So kick up your new heels.
Wear that dress more than once.
Be confident and you will radiate even more than your sparkly new top.
Celebrate Make Up Free Monday!
Tell yourself you are beautiful!
Because you are.
Do you compare yourself to the unrealistic images and messages the fashion industry promotes? how can we appreciate fashion but also find love for ourselves, and our bodies?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Label Project

From: Cacky Mellor Performing Artist and Creator of the Label Project

Exploring labels and their impact

on personal growth.




Sickly, Smart, Beautiful, Confident, Fat, Strong, Student, Weak, Self-Absorbed, Scared, Entrepreneur, Ugly, Independent, Peaceful, Loving, Tall, Slim.

If you allow them, labels can control how you dress, act, eat and live; many times without you even realizing how strongly they are affecting you, until you are free from them. Labels can limit you, not allowing you to reach your full potential or they can strengthen you, helping you to reach your full potential. Labels can get inside your head and you can become the label rather than the individual you are. You can become so identified with a certain set of labels that it is difficult to break away from that view of yourself. Labels have the power to warp and distort your perception of reality, or to strengthen, expand, and create a healthy persona. I have been labeled many things in my 20 years.

I had an on-going illness all through my high school career. Peers, teachers, and even doctors labeled me as sickly because they did not understand my illness or my inability to attend school on a regular basis. The label sickly stuck with me long after my illness was under control. It did not matter how many times my family told me it wasn’t sickly, because I had accepted it as truth. I wasn’t able to shed the label, sickly, until I changed my beliefs about it. It is important to understand the power of labels on the individual’s self-esteem and in the shaping of identity. Use labels as a tool in your self-growth instead of accepting other people’s perception of you.

Labels can be “positive” or “negative”. Every label has the potential to be either depending on you perspective. I am grateful to have been labeled sickly because without the high school experience I would not be who I am today. My illness and recovery led me to a career in art therapy and holistic psychology. Exploring what the label means to you personally empowers you to make the label work for you.

Each time I do a performance for The Label Project I wear my labels for the world to see. I am simultaneously vulnerable and empowered. After visibly wearing my labels I am able to take back another piece of myself, acknowledging, accepting, and transforming each label for my personal growth.

Wear your labels with pride and confidence.

To get you started thinking about your own labels here are some questions.

Remember, it is how you interpret and utilize the label that is important.

What label are you most proud of?


What is your least favorite label about yourself?


Visit The Label Project on Facebook!

Thank you Cacky for all of the inspirational work you do! We are so happy to feature The Label Project on Guiltless! Continue to shine your inner and outer beauty!