I Am The Big Girl

July 7, 2015

I am the big girl, I think over and over. And one day, this big girl will write to save her life.

But not today. Today is the day that will change my life, even though I don’t know it yet.

I’m sitting alone, fidgeting in the waiting room sofa chair, the one with the stuffy patterns on it. Anxiously, I click at the top of the pen I borrowed. Inscribed on it is “Mercy Hospital.” With a breath of air that escapes my nose quietly, I laugh. I think, this pen, for reasons obvious, is not going to be a memento I bring home. I imagine it as a terrible conversation starter lingering around in my pen jar, or floating around in my purse waiting for someone to borrow it. The scenario plays out in my mind:

“Oh, Mercy Hospital, what were you doing there?” My shoulders uncomfortably rise around my ears as I picture the total doozy of a conversation ender, “um, plastic surgery?”

A part of me wants to keep the pen, too. Mostly as a token of surviving the trauma I’m about to endure. It would be meaningful to have something that was with me when I was at my loneliest. A pen that would mark the hurtiest part of my life–the part where I set out to change the way I looked, because deep down, I didn’t feel good enough. Which I don’t.

I want to look like the other girls. The models I work with. The models in the magazines. The fit girls at the gym. Fuck, I run on that treadmill, too–and I take the same sweat-drenching, hunger-inducing bootcamp classes they do. But damn if I’ll never look photo shopped like the yoga girls I see on Instagram. I want thinner limbs, a skinny stomach, and stick straight legs, goddammit.

I’m a knock-kneed chunk of meat that’s over a size 12–and not “curvy.” I have a plus sized boy figure. Like a Stepford Wife when no one’s watching them, my mind rages. I fucking hate this body!

I picture myself breaking down in the hospital waiting room, falling onto the carpet floor, wailing, holding myself as if I was an injured baby bird fallen from it’s nest. I decide that the thought is too dramatic to play out, so I hesitate and instead, bravely squint my eyes to keep the welling tears from rolling over the brim of my lower eyelid: This is the only way I know how to do it. I have to fix myself.

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The No Apologies Woman

June 25, 2015

Every morsel of my self-confidence crumbles a little more when I hear a woman apologize for the way they look. Specifically, “I’m so sorry. I just ran out of the house and didn’t have time to put any makeup on.” And, “I know you’ve seen this dress before. I’ve posted a picture wearing it on social media, so I’m not taking any pictures of that sort tonight. Yaknowwhattamean?”

Sadly, I know what you mean, sister. I’ve been the apologizing woman, too, and I know that apologizing for myself feels so much crappier than wearing that dress over and over again.

Excusing the way we are is not any one person’s fault. It’s a collective decision we’ve made as women to apologize for anything that’s not up to society’s impossible standards. We must always cover our dark circles and acne. We must never be spotted in the same thing twice.

If we want to feel empowered, we have to stop apologizing for ourselves.

Any woman that’s just landed from a long flight and is picking up groceries for her family should look acceptingly disheveled–and there should be an understood woman-code that crumbles floating around in her hair from the in-flight Pop-Chips and a slightly stained shirt from the turbulence in coach warrants an honest, “you look amazing compliment.” Because truthfully, when has rawness and honesty never looked refreshing? A confident woman with a clean face has always made me feel empowered, good enough, even human. Owning up to our rawness creates a magical space for women to reclaim their own natural beauty.

As women, we are infinitely more powerful when we support one another, instead of tearing each other down with comparison or judgement. As women, we are unbreakable when we own what we are, through and through. “Owning it” is what creates the vast safe space for other women to find their personal radical self-acceptance.

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Lift Your Mother Blasting Freak Sails And Run Like Hell

June 16, 2015

It’s 10 AM on summer Saturday morning, which means, if you’re in Miami, you’re most likely in a bikini nursing a hangover or enjoying brunch out with the girls. Not cooking your body on your longest training run ever. That being said, I chose the latter for reasons only the Gods can explain.

As I lace up my running shoes, I decide that I’m going to run without my shirt on, for the first time ever. I walk out the front door and head for the elevator bay with my bare belly, and I cautiously turn around and decide that the service elevator might be an easier route so I don’t have to bump into anyone I know. Clearly, I’m still pushing past a serious fear of having my shirt off outside of yoga.

When I step out of the service elevator, part of my wandering mind thinks, “This girl is not fit enough to run–where’s her six pack? Look at the size of her thighs. With every step, her soft tummy ripples like rocks skipping a pond. People whistle when her shirt’s on, but it’s totally different when it’s off and her belly’s exposed.”

The other half of my mind thinks, “Ohhh, fuck you. I’m great enough today. And I’m creating space for me to be me.” I always let the “fuck you mind” win, which I think is one of my better qualities. That wasn’t always the case though. But that’s also the story of why I’m here today, taking my first steps into my longest run so far, without my shirt on. Just me, a sports bra, shorts, a hat, socks that are too thin and my new pair of blue running shoes.

I choose not to run with music or a watch, because I’m an intuition junkie. I don’t want to lose myself in the music, I want to find myself in my breath, in my stride and most truthfully, in my mental dialogue.

On the sidewalk, as I first start into my jog, I catch a glimpse of my body in the plastic reflection of the bus stop advertisement and curse Miami-Dade county for it’s awful placement. I see my white belly jiggle and fold into a snarky smile from the support band on the top of my running shorts. I think that if I can run past the ad, and keep breathing through my belly, then the rest of this 5-mile adventure will be smooth sailing.

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Keep Your Pictures, Dammit (Before You Go On A Deleting Spree)

June 9, 2015

This has been an ongoing dialog for as long as camera phones existed: Delete that, I look fat. Delete that, bad angle. Delete that, the lighting is bad. Delete that, the background’s not great. Oh, send me that one! I’ll edit it and post it to Facebook.

Not too long ago, my Mom and Grandma came down to spend a girl’s weekend with me in Miami—for my 29th birthday. It was, to succinctly describe such a momentous occasion for the three of us, just incredible. We rented a fabulous ocean front hotel room, ate at the best restaurants and had a weekend filled with a puritans idea of hedonistic pleasure. Fabulous hotel room, delicious food, loungewear all day.

On this trip, I made a point to have my husband take a lot of pictures of the three of us together acting like tourists in my hometown. We had so much fun and the pictures were just beautiful, capturing each moment so honestly.

When I went through the photos from the weekend–which are now a complete treasure to me–there were comments like, “I look like a whale in that picture,” or, “Oh, delete that! Please!”

The unpleasant comments, which I have said to myself at times (learning to accept myself the way I am will always be a work in progress), were so uncharacteristic of the moments. There was so much more to the picture than seeing a “whale” or a bad angle. These moments snapped in time, in fact, are as precious to me as the Koh-i-Noor diamond is to the Brits. We captured the essence of life—family—and quite tragically, the only thing we’ve been trained to see is ourselves.

Incredible, that if we were to show the picture to anyone else, they would see the beauty in the shot, yet, we’re culturally trained to apologize for our personal appearance. I’d like to make a motion to end all personal apologies of the kind.

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Beautiful Women For A Positive Social Change (Cosabella x TOPLESS)

May 27, 2015

I’ve always aspired to live my life as a (role) model and inspiration for social change and self-acceptance. The dream is real my sisters–and dreams take time. Well, good dreams, dreams well done, those take time. Like marinating something really juicy, a good recipe takes patience, persistence and a vision of what you want in the end. In this case, it’s just the beginning. And oh how I’m enjoying the journey so.

I find myself walking that fine line of trying to find balance and inspiration in all of my choices. Like most of us do, I feel the need to access presence and exercise my right to feel the universe so deeply, so intensely. And then there’s this nouveau life on the other end of the spectrum, full of social media and crazy hashtags, that still too, have the universal power to touch someone who treads across the share. Learning how I enjoy the balance of the new world, and still being able to access the deep presence of the old, I find, is most interesting. It’s an incredible tightrope act, walking the faint line of real, filling, old world connection, and marrying it to the new technological connection that seems decently filling, and still yet, having the ability to inspire and make ripples throughout the world.

I’ve always played with being on the precipice of powerful social change that would have softened the blow of body image awareness when I was 14 years old, reaching for hipbones I couldn’t yet find under my fleshy skin and developed muscles. Here we are today, 15 years later, and the tip of this empowering journey is being strung together by leaders who beat their own drum, knowing at the core of our existence, that our message of self-confidence is what we share.

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Topless ™ by Emily
Reviews and Giveaways

Reviews + Giveaways

Praise For Emily

“Emily is an absolute joy to collaborate with. She brings the real conversation to the forefront about body image in such an authentic way. Our community left her Topless event feeling empowered & full of possibility!”

- Alison Utne, Lululemon Athletica

“Working with Emily is always so much fun (so much so that we’ve done it twice!). We love how she connects with her audience and exhibits true love for the companies she showcases, offering her own in-depth and authentic thoughts.”

- Madeline Alcott, Petit Vour

“Working with Emily is a no-brainer. Her writing is brave but vulnerable, sassy but self-aware, and kind but tough. It’s a joy to share her pieces with our community because so many readers tell us that they feel inspired and empowered by her choices.”

- Mind Body Green

“Emily provided great insights and tips as she reflected on the value of seizing the moment in a wide variety of her experiences. In short, she “rocked!”

- Stephen C. Harper, Ph.D.

“Emily was a pleasure to work with on our Rescue Chocolate giveaway. She has built up an active community in a short period. I would do a giveaway or any project with her again in a heartbeat.“

- Sarah Gross, rescue chocolate

“Emily is as sweet as she is smart. She is a true beauty with a body that is powerful, loved, and strong. Doing a giveaway on My Kind of Life was so much fun, her community is filled with wonderful women just like her!”

- Leanne Maily Hilgart, Vaute Couture

“Topless provides not only an opportunity but a call to action for each of us in service of radical honesty and acceptance of ourselves exactly as we are, to show up authentically not just for each other but for ourselves and THAT is magic.”

- Claire Santos, E-RYT

“In a way like very few can, Emily teaches us the importance of embracing our vulnerabilities in order to maximize our full potential. Topless Yoga is not your ordinary yoga class, but rather a movement and a state of mind!”

Tina Pate, KIND Snacks

“Each person involved brought their full heart into the event, creating a space of love, compassion, and clarity like I hadn’t experienced before. If you are so blessed to have Emily and her team visit your city, drop everything and go experience the magic for yourself.”  

- Nikki Novo, Author
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