#SayTheirNames

The recent events of senseless police brutality and inexcusable institutionalized racism has left me deeply saddened and disgusted. A "routine" traffic stop should NEVER result in murder or violence, ESPECIALLY at the hands of law enforcement. NO American, regardless of color, ethnicity or background should live in fear for themselves or their loved ones because of the prejudice within our police force and society.

My heart goes out these souls and everyone who loved them. A hashtag simply does not do them justice. This violence needs to stop. America, wake up. We are killing our own.

To all of the innocent, beautiful people who lost their lives this year to acts of police brutality, I'm sorry this country failed to protect you and your rights, your freedom.

It's our responsibility as Americans, as PEOPLE to protect each other. These deaths must not be in vain. They must carry magnitude and meaning, they must be a signal to facilitate change and reform. America MUST stop devaluing, disrespecting and destroying black lives. Black lives MATTER. 

To put this in perspective for you:

Courtesy of: MappingPoliceViolence.Org

I hope for a future where my children never see a headline like the ones I have seen this year.

 Rest in peace to the innocent who lost their lives. #SayTheirNames

Not included in this list: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile

Who I'm Loving: Bella Hadid

It's been the year of the meteoric rise of the Hadid's and Jenner's, or better known to society as 'the social media supermodels.' Much to the disdain of some of our past supermodel matriarchs (Stephanie Seymour I'm looking at you) these girls have taken the fashion and modeling industry by storm.

 Top: Kendal and Kylie Jenner for Balmain F/W 15  Bottom: Gigi and Bella Hadid for Balmain F/W 15

Top: Kendal and Kylie Jenner for Balmain F/W 15

Bottom: Gigi and Bella Hadid for Balmain F/W 15

If you've picked up a fashion magazine or tabloid in the past year, you've undoubtedly seen one, or both of the Hadid sisters gracing the pages. While I am a huge fan of Gigi and her glowing positivity and overall just chill attitude, there is something about her younger sister, Bella, that absolutely enthralls me.

Her photographic presence is so hauntingly beautiful and inexplicably enigmatic. She truly speaks through her photos. With major modeling achievements already under her belt (she's only 19) such as walking for the likes of Balmain, Chanel and Bottega Veneta (to name a few) she's also landed a plethora of ad campaigns, her most recent and arguably most impressive with Dior as their new beauty ambassador.

 Picture via Instagram: @bellahadid

Picture via Instagram: @bellahadid

All of this success comes in the wake of America's current obsession with her supermodel sister, Gigi. I really respect Bella because she does her own thing and tries to separate and differentiate her successes from her sister's. 

 Modeling aside, her bad-girl minimalistic street style is swoon worthy, complete with one of my favorite R&B artists on her arm (the equally enigmatic and enchanting 'The Weeknd'). It's safe to say my obsession with Bella is nowhere near ending and her supermodel-in-training title is here to stay. I look forward to following her and her career throughout the years. In the meantime, check out some of my personal favorite editorials of her.

 

 

 

Summer Leather

If you gravitate towards edgier/darker styles, hanging up your favorite leather jacket and pants during the summer is most likely a struggle you can relate to all too well. But fear not fashionistas- you can still don some leather in the hot summer months without wanting to peel all your clothes from a sweat induced frenzy.

The beauty of leather is it's fabulous transitional quality. Any leather daytime look can be easily turned into a nighttime appropriate outfit by making a few easy tweaks. A great example of this scenario that applies to the summer season is the arguable summer staple of a leather mini skirt.

Image Credit: (left to right)  Shopstyle.com, GlamRadar.com

The leather mini is such a great option for leather during the heat because it's so versatile. Throw on your favorite t-shirt or tank and you've got a super chic yet laid back look. Elevate your outfit for an evening out by throwing on some heels and a red lip. Voila. If you're not feeling the whole leather skirt vibe, try some of these other ideas.

Image Credit: SincerelyJules.com, Pinterest.com

Leather shorts are a fun and chic option as well and give you more freedom.

Image Credit: GlamRadar.com, HarpersBazaar.com

Not feelin' leather on the bottom? Try it on top! Mix up your leather pieces by trying out a cute tank or dress.

Stand Up To The Stigma: Mental Health

In today's world, mental illness represents the largest economic burden of any other health issue, costing roughly $2.5 trillion in the past couple years alone, a number projected to triple by 2030. Shockingly, 60 percent of people suffering from mental health issues do not receive any care, primarily because of lack of resources and health care. But there is another silent enemy of the mental health industry, the social stigma that seems to accompany these conditions. Research continually suggests that the public holds a generally negative perception of mental illness, which has led to hurtful and false stereotypes.

Because of this public perception, it seems a mental health "stigma" has run rampant amidst our society. People suffering from common mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder are put in a position of shame because of their supposed mental "shortcomings." Those who seek treatment and medication often keep their condition a well-guarded secret, while the remaining number of afflicted people will never seek help because of embarrassment and fear of judgement.

I'm here to tell you we need to make a change.

One in five Americans will suffer from a mental health related illness at some point in their life. Look around you. Your classmates, your coworkers, your friends, even your family. Do they "fit" the common stigma of what mental health sufferers should be like?

When I tell people that I have suffered from major depressive disorder for the majority of my life, they're shocked. The truth is, depression has no profile. It has no specific target. It can happen to absolutely anyone. At the beginning of my mental health treatment, I was slightly ashamed of myself. Most days getting out of bed was nearly impossible, and going outside and joining society was out of the question. I was inexplicably sad, all of the time, and covered in a shroud of self-pity and internalized hatred. Why was I unable to be like "normal" people? I quickly discovered I was not alone, and through the help of close friends and family, I found my footing and regained the confidence and tools to start living my life.

The thought of people, just like me, suffering in silence for fear of criticism is heartbreaking. Not only is it saddening, it's destructive. Each year, thousands of Americans die from untreated mental illnesses, the majority of these deaths being suicides. It is our jobs as humans, to support those who suffer from mental afflictions. There should be no shame associated with suffering from anxiety or depression, as it is quite simply out of our control.

Let's change the dialogue. Let's uplift others instead of casting them into the dark. If you suffer from a mental health related issue -- you are not alone. You are not less beautiful, less intelligent, or less of a person. You are strong, capable and worthy of love.

So how we do fix this issue? It all starts with spreading awareness and changing the way we talk about this topic. Sign the National Alliance on Mental Illness "Stigma Free" pledgeto join the movement.

"All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul." -- Robin Williams

Why You Need To Stop Making New Year's Resolutions

Let's face it, the majority of our New Year's Resolutions never happen. They just don't. We get super motivated to become better, and then about two weeks into the New Year, our shiny new gym membership becomes a dreaded afterthought. So why do we keep promising ourselves -- year after year -- that we are going to accomplish something that will probably never come to full fruition?

After a bit of research, I discovered that 92 percent of New Year's resolutions fail, and the most commonly broken were as follows:

1. Lose Weight

2. Get Fit/Workout More

3. Quit Smoking

4. Eat Healthier

5. Get Out of Debt

Call me a cynic, but none of these goals are easily attainable. All five of these resolutions require constant work, dedication and support. So why are we beating ourselves up every year when we don't reach these objectives?

In my opinion, a new year should not constitute a new you. Our struggles, mistakes and failed efforts are all important lessons that ultimately help shape our character. I'm not saying you shouldn't pledge to lose weight or quit smoking; I'm saying we need to start setting realistic and attainable goals, one at a time, to become the person we want to be. We are far too quick to point out our flaws rather than celebrate our progress. Yeah, maybe you didn't lose 20 pounds in 2015, but what about everything else you did? I promise you accomplished something to be proud of in the past year despite not going to the gym every day like you originally said you would.

The goal of this new year, of this new chapter, should be to grow and learn. You really want to lose weight this year? Don't make a resolution. Make an effort. Start small. Accomplish little things that will make you look back in 2017 and be grateful. Read a book. Volunteer. Practice random small acts of kindness. Meditate. At the end of the day, we may not always reach our goals. But it's important to try, not just around the New Year, but every day.

Stop making resolutions, and start making goals. Your future self will thank you.

These 7 Celebs Don't Have Time For Body Shamers

Ah, 2015. This year can easily be dubbed as one of the most explosive years on social media thus far. Between Kylie Jenner's Snapchat and Instagram takeover, the ever controversial striped dress, (Guys I swear it's honestly white and gold) #LoveWins and endless iconic pop culture Twitter memes, there has been no shortage of Internet entertainment.

I'll be the first to say social media can be a wonderful thing. It gives everyone a voice and platform to project their thoughts, feelings, and opinions out into the world. Unfortunately, not everyone has nice things to say. If 2015 has been the year of dynamic social media occurrences, it has also been the year of the Internet trolls. Basic translation: Haters. The majority of hateful comments and remarks are posted on celebrities social media pages, and almost always pertain to their weight, physical appearance, and what they consume their time with. It's inevitable to escape the judgement, even for top celebrities. Don't people have better things to do? Below is a roundup of all the badass celebrities in 2015 who didn't let the haters get them down, while spreading awareness.

1. Gigi Hadid

I know what you're thinking, but even supermodels aren't immune to haters. Despite this 20-year-old's massive success this year (she just walked in the Victoria's Secret Fashion) body shamers claimed Gigi's figure was just not "right" for the runway. *rolls eyes* To combat this influx of hate, Gigi took to her Instagram to share a personal note, essentially informing everyone she loves her body and isn't going anywhere.

2. Zendaya

All hail the queen of calling out BS. After covering Modeliste Magazine, the young starlet noticed the mag had excessively photoshopped and retouched a few of her photos. Zendaya quickly penned an honest and eloquent post shared to her Instagram complete with the unretouched photo compared to the doctored one. "These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have."

3. Selena Gomez

2015 has arguably been one of Selena's biggest years. Between her brilliant relaunch into the music industry with her album Revival and swoon-worthy red carpet looks, I can say with total honesty she is absolutely one of my biggest girl crushes. So you can imagine my shock when shamers and tabloids ripped her to shreds after a few "unflattering" photos of her beach bod. To combat this onslaught of negativity, Selena informed everyone that their opinions were basically irrelevant with an adorable Instagram post, complete with a short and sweet caption.

 

4. Serena Williams

It's truly sad that we live in a world where top athletes like Serena have to defend their athletic frames. The tennis superstar made an appearance on Good Morning America to share an important message. "I love that I am a full woman, and I'm strong and I'm powerful and I'm beautiful at the same time. And there's nothing wrong with that."

 

5. Jennifer Lawrence

It's hard to imagine anyone insulting J-Law but alas, we live in a cruel world. During a Yahoo Q&A, everyone's favorite actress and all around fabulous human being stated she had had enough of critics discussing her weight. "Screw those people…You look like you look, and be comfortable. What are you going to be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb…I love to eat." Can I get this quote embroidered on a pillow?!

 

6. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly isn't worried about her weight gain after giving birth to her daughter, so neither should anybody else! Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. A snarky British Television host called the songstress out on Twitter for not losing the weight she had gained during pregnancy. In response to this unsolicited comment on her appearance, Kel responded in one of the best ways possible, "Oh she tweeted something nasty about me? That's because she doesn't know me. I'm awesome! It doesn't bother me." *drops mic*

7) Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer killed it this year. Between successfully solidifying her position as one of the top female comics in the industry and the release of her hilarious rom-com Trainwreck,Amy is just getting started. But haters gonna hate. After the release of the movie, film critic Jeffrey Wells wrote, "Director Judd Apatow is introducing a chubby, whipsmart, not conventionally attractive, neurotically bothered female comic to a mass audience." In response, Schumer shut him down with an honest and well deserved sassy tweet.

Welcome To New York

Like most fashion obsessed girls, I am totally and irrevocably in love with New York City. Ever since my first visit at the tender age of eleven years old, I have been fascinated with it’s buzzing energy, creativity and seemingly endless fountain of possibilities. I made a promise to myself moments after stepping out of my first New York cab: I would live here someday. And it gives me incredible joy and pleasure to say I was right.

A little over 2 weeks ago, my mother and I (God bless her) drove twelve hours from Charlotte, North Carolina to the city of my dreams, Manhattan, New York. I had spent the entire summer and the vast majority of my highschool career dreaming about my future adventures in the city and now, it was all beginning.

Not only was I living in the city of my dreams, I was attending a school I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be apart of. LIM College, short for ‘The Laboratory Institute of Merchandising’ is a fashion business school  dedicated to teaching students marketing, merchandising, visual merchandising, and international business within the retail industry.

Long story short- I was finally starting my future. What no one told me (or what they did tell me and I I refused to listen to) was that living in the city is not as glamourous as Carrie Bradshaw depicted it to be. Add being a broke college student on top of the situation and you find yourself wondering What the hell? Where’s my dreamy Mr.Big and pair of brand new Manolo Blahniks?

Here are some aspects of New York City life you don’t get to see on TV.

Guess what? You HAVE to take the subway. And yes, it smells.

Think back to every Sex and the City episode you’ve ever watched. Have you ever seen Carrie go in, nevertheless near a subway once? No? Thats what I thought. News flash: totally unrealistic. Unless you’re a multimillionaire (insert Mr.Big) avoiding public transportation is nearly impossible. Here’s the good part- you’re not alone. Virtually everyone in New York uses the subway. It’s simply the fastest and most efficient form of transportation and also the most affordable. I personally ride the subway at least twice a day and after mastering the art form of not getting lost ( I say this tentatively) I really no longer mind it. The subways are filled with all the different personalities of New York: hipsters, college students, businessmen and women, senior citizens and occasionally, the neighborhoods’ local crazy person. Taking the subway is such an essential part of being a true New Yorker, so don’t even try to call yourself one if you’ve never had the pleasure of taking this underground joyride. *cough Taylor Swift cough*

You can’t prance around the city in those fabulous heels everyday.

Well, you could. But like I mentioned before, virtually every New Yorker uses the subway and exposing your brand new patent leather pumps to the grime of the subway is just cruel (and stupid). Also, you gotta walk a lot. Most women you see sporting an impressive pair of heels on the street almost ALWAYS has a trusty pair of flats in her purse. The trick is wearing your flats to commute, but slapping on those high heels whenever you get to where you’re going. Yes, this actually happens and yes, it actually works.

You’ve got to be smart. Or act like you are.

Tourists are a huge target for pickpockets and thieves. And also, unfortunately, lost and innocent college students. You always have to be aware of your surroundings and where you’re going or else, you could have a reallllllyyyy bad day.

The food is really really really good. But really really expensive. Like really expensive.

I would love nothing more than to trot down to my favorite cafè everyday for lunch but guess what- it adds up over time. I learned this one the hard way, unfortunately. It’s almost impossible to get lunch in the city for under $10. Four classes a week= 4 lunches= over $40 in lunch money a week. So yes, sometimes I do treat myself to a soy vanilla latte and a fabulous gourmet panini for lunch, but it’s all about moderation. Packing lunches is definitely the way to go.

It can be really loud. And really smelly.

If someone asked me What sounds remind you most of the city? I would immediately reply blaring horns and sirens. Not a day, scratch that, an hour passes without hearing one or both of these lovely sounds. Fortunately, I’ve gotten so used to it, it doesn’t even phase me anymore. I could go into great detail about some of the affronting smells I experience

day to day, but I’ll spare you the gory details. The good news is, sometimes you get a  delicious whiff of New York Pizza or fresh brewed coffee from the adorable bakery on the corner. ( Spoiler: there’s an adorable bakery/cafe on EVERY corner).

Shopping sprees are totally fun. Lugging your crap around all day is not. 

One really important aspect to remember when going out for the day (Or night) in the city is this: whatever you take, you have to carry. All the time. So yeah, my impromptu trip to H&M was totally fabulous, but carrying around the shopping bag all day was not.

I write this post not too complain about the hassles of city life, but simply to enlighten people who comment “Oh my gosh you’re life is like a dream!” or “Wow, you’re life reminds me Carrie Bradshaw’s!” And let me get one thing straight: I am completely obsessed with my new life here. I wouldn’t give up these daily complications for anything. While life in NYC isn’t nearly as glamourous as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City make it out to be, moving here was the best decision of my life. Every day I get to wake up, throw on a fabulous outfit, and dive into the city I love so much. Everyday, I see something new or inspiring I probably wouldn’t see anywhere else. Everyday I get to study what I love and constantly be exposed to it. Just from living here a mere three weeks, I have learned so much about myself, responsibility, and most importantly, started the beginning of a career I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl. It won’t be easy and it won’t always be glamorous, but it will be worth it.

Diversity In The Fashion Industry

For a painstakingly long time, the most diverse thing in the fashion industry was the rise of Naomi Campbell. It’s a sad, but well known fact that this industry is selective and exclusive when it comes to skin tone, clothing size, culture, shape and even personality. As a fashion obsessed female, but also a self-proclaimed advocate for “different” people everywhere, this issue has been a constant struggle for me.

I find diversity beautiful, and furthermore, absolutely necessary. Especially in such a creative and artistic industry, we cannot afford to turn away anyone based on characteristics as trivial as their skin color, weight, or ethnicity.

The Huffington Post style section released a frank, but amazing video after the end of NYFW titled ‘New York Fashion Week Isn’t Just for Skinny White Girls Anymore.’ They even included a campaign hashtag, “NYFW4All” demanding and challenging the industry to step up and diversify its runways, front rows, and even target consumer.

I’m not going to lie- the fashion industry’s got a long way to go. But I’ve found that we’ve made progress. Really great progress, in fact. But the real concern is, the staying power of making these decisions. Diversity should be incorporated into fashion ALL of the time. Not just during a highly publicized time period, like Fashion Week. What inspired me to write this post was the amazing stories and articles I stumbled across while researching this topic, and the tremendous impact these people and organizations have had on others and the industry as a whole.

Here are their stories.

1) Ashley Graham

Graham, a size 16, is famous for appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition as a plus-size model and for speaking up about the body issues women and girls face — and why curves aren’t a bad thing. Her fierce attitude towards diversity in modeling and the fashion industry has set this 27 year old apart from others in a way that can only be described as inspiring. She brought her boldness and curvaceous figure to the runways of NYFW, not only to model, but to introduce her own line of lingerie with Canadian retailer Addition Elle.

  Some looks from Ashley’s (on the far left) NYFW show.     Credit:   Huffingtonpost.com

Some looks from Ashley’s (on the far left) NYFW show.

Credit: Huffingtonpost.com

Her glowing body positive approach is reaching girls of all shapes and sizes across the globe. To me, this is a HUGE step forward in changing the standards of women in the fashion industry, and I find Ashley’s presence absolutely inspiring and needed in fashion. For other information about amazing plus size models who walked in NYFW, check this link out here.

2) Winnie Harlow

Although I am not an avid viewer of “America’s Next Top Model” I did read an article about one of the show’s contestants, Winnie Harlow. Living with a skin condition called vitiligo, Winnie has made waves in the  industry for challenging fashion’s “one-size-fits-all” beauty ideal. She was tapped by spanish brand Desigual and Diesel for their upcoming ad campaigns (shown below).

Harlow, whose real name is Chantelle Brown-Young,  shared that she was bullied as a child (I swear kids can be crueler than adults) and called ‘zebra’ and ‘cow’ by her peers because of her vitiligo – which causes de-pigmentation of the skin in patches. Winnie’s amazing perseverance and confidence in the fashion industry is sharing the message that you can be different and follow your dreams. Hats off to the beautiful Miss Harlow, and to the brands supporting her.

3) Madeline Stuart

For those who don’t know, Madeline is a 18 year old Australian model with down-syndrome who isn’t letting anything get in the way of her dreams. In fact, she just walked in New York Fashion week for designer Hendrik Vermeulen’s Spring 2016 collection.

Madeline is the second model with Down Syndrome to walk in New York Fashion week, Jamie Brewer,  a well known actress and Down Syndrome activist being the first woman to do so. I just love everything about this, I love seeing people follow their dreams and getting the results they deserve. Congratulations Madeline, I hope your career continues to be successful and serve as a model of strength and inspiration for others.

4) Bethann Hardison

Founder of the Diversity Coalition in 2013, Bethann Hardison has been and continues to be an integral component in bringing racial diversity into the fashion industry. Dedicated to promoting diversity among fashion models, Hardison goes a step further. She realizes that while designers are incorporating a growing amount of colored models in their shows, there is still a significant gap in balance in the industry as a whole. “I’m trying to educate the minds of others that it’s a diverse environment we want to see, not a diverse situation.” And she’s absolutely right. Diversity in fashion should go beyond just the media campaigns and runways. Hopefully, with her continued dedication and work towards this cause,  permanent diversified environment for fashion will blossom.

  Bethann with her 2014 CFDA Founder’s Award.    Credit: Getty Images

Bethann with her 2014 CFDA Founder’s Award.  Credit: Getty Images

To follow Bethann and the Diversity Coalition, check out this link here.

5) Designer Gogo Graham

The transgender community has been getting a lot of attention lately (primarily due to Caitlyn Jenner). You don’t have to like Caitlyn to agree on one thing- she’s bringing trans women issues into the spotlight. But let’s not forget the hundreds of people before Caitlyn that have been fighting for the same cause. One of these people being trans gender fashion designerGogo Graham. This 24 year old’s latest collection was designed “by the trans community and for the trans community.” By adapting this powerful tagline and even more powerful collection, Graham is letting the trans community shine and letting others know, it’s okay to be who you are in the fashion industry. Featuring only trans women models,  “Graham’s collection was not about the creation of clothes or even the fun frivolity of making big one-off fashion statements. Rather it represented a moment in which everyone involved came together to celebrate the importance of every trans girl’s unique story, beauty and individuality” – DazedDigital.com

  Models from Gogo’s Spring 2016 show. Credit:   Oystermag.com

Models from Gogo’s Spring 2016 show. Credit: Oystermag.com

While these are only a few inspiring stories of diversity, there are many many more. I could go on for days about all the amazing lengths being taken to increase change in the fashion industry, but for time’s sake, I won’t. I hope you all enjoyed learning about these amazing people as much as I did. I challenge YOU to try and find diversity in fashion from now on. Take a closer look at the ad campaigns you see, the magazines you read. The fashion world is changing, and hopefully for the better.