the truth about victoria’s secret

Libby

Raise your hand if you’ll be watching the Victoria’s Secret fashion show tonight! I wish all of you could see me waving my hand about. I’ve got my wine poured and after admittedly stalking Karlie, Lily and Bella, I’m ready.

I’ll be totally honest… I get a little giddy inside when I think about the show. As a girl who grew up in the world of competitive dance—roaming around in dazzling sequins, vibrant colors, eloquent fabrics and anything that sparkled—I get all the heart eyes for the details that make this show all that it is.

While the planning and production of this monumental fashion event amazes me, I’ve seen this show evoke a negative conversation around the standard of beauty and body image over the last few years. Influencers, magazines, and brands in the fashion/style sphere often share critical content through a comical lens that elicits and fuels a negative conversation around what’s sexy. By playfully insinuating a sense of urgency to hit the gym, shaming the art of stuffing your face with a perfectly good pizza and demeaning different forms of beauty that don’t replicate the beauty strutting down the runway, we’re all contributing to a conversation that suggests a very distinct and determined definition for what constitutes beauty. Even if the intent is to be light-hearted and funny, I think this show translates as an opportunity to celebrate all forms of beauty, instead of acknowledging just one.

It’s easy to watch a fashion show like this once and subconsciously sink in to patterns of comparison and self-criticism, and I think that’s true for all of us. So, as the founder of a blog that celebrates female empowerment, body-inclusivity and women who are unabashedly themselves, I want to take the time to start a conversation where we all celebrate the things that make us beautiful. And I want you all to join me!

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(Photo // Anastasia Gentry of Chapel Lane Photography)

This past year I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing photographers in the Cincinnati area. These images are just a few shots that bring my favorite features forward and make me feel confident and beautiful. I love the way these photos compliment my eyes, my style and me doing what I love most.

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(Photo // Brooke Genn of Nomadic Newlyweds)

While we’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the glitter and glam of tonight’s fashion show, I challenge you to remember that no matter how our sizes differ, we, as women, are united in the fact that we are all victims to self-criticism. We all have things we’d like to change about ourselves and we all have features we dislike, but when it comes to the things that make us beautiful – we’re all in this together. Defy the tendency to fixate on your shortcomings and consider a few of  the things you love about yourself instead. We’ve all got to remember that we can admire the beauty of other women without questioning our own. It’s on us to rally together, lean in to these conversations and define what beauty is on our terms. Pick out your favorite self-portrait and share it with us on Instagram using @velvetnvinyl. We can’t wait to see all the things that make you lady bosses feel like your best, most beautiful self.

 

what it means to be a woman

Maddie

Velvet Vinyl Collage

 

As I sit at my desk wearing my “Girl Power” t-shirt I ask myself, what does it mean to me to be a woman?

I am restraining myself from writing a novel on this topic as there are so many facets to womanhood. While I can only speak from my experience, there is a quality that I keep going back to that I believe all women possess, strength.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said, “… we shouldn’t be afraid of our own strength.” Strength is something that women have contained since the beginning of time, but I feel that today women are truly owning this fact. Why should we be afraid of our own strength, talents, and unique qualities? At times women may have been encouraged to suppress these things in order to fit the roles and life choices society deemed fit for them. Today I am realizing that there is something extremely powerful about embracing my strength, my vulnerability, and appreciating every experience and quality that makes me the woman I am today.

As women we are capable of anything.

We are makers, mothers, bakers, bosses, creators, photographers, artists, authors, designers, we are STRONG and resilient. Women DO. 

To all my super women out there: embrace your uniqueness, your gifts and your strengths. These things are not arbitrary. These things are the assets that will take you far if you choose to nurture and foster them. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Nothing will be able to stop you if you don’t let it. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you realized your true potential and power?  

These are my thoughts and opinions as a 20 year old woman and while my views may shift with each year there’s one view that will always remain, women have and always will be forces to reckon with.

I challenge you to reflect on what it means to you to be a woman. What experiences, conversations, and relationships have molded you into the woman you are today? What does being a woman mean to you?

Please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. xoxo

what it means to be a woman

Baili

IMG_5332The first time I heard the term “androcentrism” I was a sophomore in college, sitting amongst a group of newly acquainted girls from my sorority. The class: Women’s Studies 101. The teacher: tall, thin, straight medium brown hair parted down the middle, no makeup, wearing a tee shirt that read in all caps, “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE.” At the time–before my assault, Trump, the Harvey Weinstein investigation, the MeToo hashtag–she suited my expectations perfectly. I rolled my eyes and my friends scoffed. We knew little about the world at large.

For those hearing the word the first time, androcentrism is basically a 50-point word for “the assumption that all perspectives are inherently male.” For example, when one hears the term “actor,” one assumes the person in question is a male. The term “actress” does exist for binary clarification, but the word “actor” is not, in fact, exclusive to males. The basis of the assumption is androcentrism.

I want to point out that, this concept is so underutilized that it is being underlined in red as I type it.

When I was asked to write about what it meant to be a woman this last week, I wasn’t sure what to write. Of course women have hardships that men will never experience. Of course women live in subtle (and not so subtle) fear of being attacked and objectified. Womankind has, with or without present knowledge or consent, been cooped up in the same shitty boat traveling up Shit Creek without a fucking paddle since [the androcentric term] “the creation of Man.”

Here’s what’s awesome about being a woman: bigots will tell you that, as a woman, you get special privileges. Leniency. You can flirt your way out of a speeding ticket (guilty). You can have doors opened for you. You can tee off 50 feet closer to the green.

Sure, those things are nice.

But I think I’d rather not have to bear the bullshit that comes with it. I would rather not live in an androcentric world where heroes are always tall, dark and hypermasculine men.

When I think of what it means to be a woman (in a totally binary world, for the sake of this blurb) I think about how women were literally built to survive. I am bracing myself for the angry feedback I’m about to get for this…

…From an evolutionary standpoint, men are disposable. They were made to plant seeds, if you know what I’m saying. They literally eject their most precious components, daily. Women, on the other hand, were biologically engineered to last. We carry weight on our stomachs because it is cushioning and insulation meant to protect the humans growing inside of us. During and after pregnancy, our breasts enlarge with food that we have produced ourselves. We store higher percentages of fat which helps us stay warm and sustains us in times of famine. The SSA reports that women live statistically longer lives than men. Despite the omnipresent danger that plagues womankind, we still manage to live longer, healthier, more educated lives. Fuck yeah.

Now, before half of my high school Facebook friends start roasting me with grammatically inept comments, allow me to humbly state that I am not a biologist. In fact, I have always been and will always be terrible at science.

However, as a woman, I want to point out that despite our genetic advantages, the world still has it out for us. I love men. Don’t get me wrong. The male species certainly has biological advantages over women (it would be so nice not having to wear a bra when running, if I ever ran lol). But women have to do so much more just to accomplish what men do. I’m talking everyday things: walking to a car at night, securing a job, safely arriving to a destination utilizing public transit, enjoying a drink at a bar without getting drugged… the list goes on. We fucking persist.

If your eyes have glazed over and you’ve skipped down to this part, know this: to be a woman is to succeed in a world that has systematically been engineered against you. Know that you were literally born to survive and succeed.

And if any of you guys from high school want to pick a bone with me over this, just know that I’m not afraid of you, I probably already have screenshots of you hitting on me, and the bone you pick is the only bone you’re getting with me.

fierce and femme: 2017 AMAs fashion

Baili

This was supposed to be a fun post about how amazing all the American Music Awards attendees looked last night. I poured myself a glass of wine and sat at my computer refreshing the Vogue coverage site, Copic markers loaded and ready to go.

As the night progressed, my excitement began to fade. I was so excited to whip out the chartreuse-colored marker I had traveled 20 minutes to purchase. I wanted to see some jewel tones and cascades of taffeta. Yet time after time, it was nothing but black. On black. On black.

While many people think that fashion is just clothing, I (and you, my savvy and brilliant darlings) know that this was no mistake. You and I recall the flood of white we saw last year as an homage to the suffragette movement. You may also have noticed the severe lack of females nominated for awards. In the wake of perhaps the largest wave of sexual assault allegations in Hollywood history, I hesitate to think that this sable salute is anything short of a declaration of girl power. Let’s begin:

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First, we have Demi Lovato. She stunned the crowd in her Ester Abner gown which, though composed of delicate netting and a darling sweetheart neckline, boasted her curves in the most unapologetic way possible. Here, I like to think she is making a statement about how not-sorry she is for being a strong, loud woman. She may be packaged prettily, but she is tough as nails and wants you to know it.

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Next, we have Selena Gomez who rolled up in a Coach leather jacket-dress. Honestly, I didn’t know I needed a leather jacket-dress until I saw hers last night. Santa please deliver. Anyway, like Demi, this ensemble urges viewers to ponder where the line of feminine and masculine is drawn. The form-fitting microdress is certainly a nod to the female form, but the leather, patches, and chunky hardware allude to traditional masculinity.

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Last but certainly not least, we have my personal favorite look donned by none other than the young but fierce Hailee Steinfeld in a Mugler ensemble. Not only is her outfit tailored phenomenally, but it also screams “fuck with me, I dare you.” At an awards ceremony in which nearly every nominee was male (save for the female-exclusive awards) and on a red carpet flooded with impeccably-crafted suits, this peaked-lapel stunner physically challenged the men around it.

What It Means To Be A Woman

Rachele

One woman can change the lives of many women, but it takes many women to feed the confidence and broaden the intellect of each groundbreaking woman.

It’s like the age old story of how a flower can’t grow on its own; it needs water, soil, sunlight, and then pollination of course to continue its legacy. So, women are like flowers. Beautiful, blooming flowers.

They are delicate yet strong. Unique and unpredictable. Growing and wilting with the seasons. Endless, and relentless.

There is nothing more breathtaking than a field of blossoming, florals.  They’re an army standing against nature. Feeding into one another, feeding off of one another, growing with one another.

The women in my life are the sunlight, the soil, the water I need to bloom. The women they give me the opportunity to touch are the pollination that will take my words and the words of other great women and pass them on. They criticized and empowers me to grow from a tiny little seed. Everyday they push me to develop into the most magnificent flower I can be in order to stand amongst the unstoppable field of flowers that is the women of 2017.

What does it mean to be a woman?

It means not only being the flower, but the oxygen to grow other flowers in a field we are proud to call ours.

Accepting criticism. Criticizing society. Building a better home.

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what it means to be a woman

Libby

A few days ago, while sipping some late night vino, “wine-ing” down from my day and clearing unwanted emails from my inbox, I happened across a subject line that caught my eye.

“101 Reasons It’s Damn Good To Be A Woman in 2017”

Prior to reading the thought-provoking Glamour article, the girl gang here at Velvet + Vinyl had given thought to what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Today we’re excited to formally launch the beginning of this series. Throughout the month of November, each boss babe on our team will share her thoughts on this opened ended issue.

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It’s damn good to be a woman in 2017. Despite the non-stop chaos that’s consuming our world right now, women are making a comeback unlike ever before. We’re leaning in, fiercely marching towards our victory, and we whole-heartedly refuse to take “no” for an answer.

When I think of what it means to be a woman in today’s world, the first thing that comes to mind is an army – I think of women by the masses, unified despite our differences while pursuing the things that align us as a force to be reckoned with. I think of relentless bravery, audacious grit, and a bold and unapologetic sense of valor.

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From the strides of senators, the voices of victims, fearless feminists in the film industry, full-circle inclusivity from Rihanna’s introduction of Fenty, a hail to hijabs for Muslim athletes, the meaningful nature of the #MeToo movement, increased recognition of real, untouched beauty, and the persistent and passionate madness that defined the Women’s March… these are just a few instances that demonstrate the magnitude of our womanly power fully exposed. I see it and I feel the women around me rebelling courageously in full force.

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I’ve been inspired to see how the women of our world have courageously refused to accept the “no’s” that have silenced our voices, confined our passions and have summoned us to mere, quiet, irrelevant corners we’ve become all too familiar with. For me, being a woman in today’s world resembles a shift where women are rising above who we once were — we’re redefining our potential and approaching our lives with the intent to meticulously invent an adventure that fuses passion and purpose. I see women defying odds, pushing borders, challenging the norm and pursuing dreams that once felt far-fetched. When I think of those women – boss babes like Reese Witherspoon, Malala Yousafzai, Rupi Kaur, Sheryl Sandberg, Sophia Bush, and Elizabeth Warren, just to name a few – these are the women I want to embody. I want to be an agent of this change. I want to stand next to women that represent all forms of conviction, grace, meaning and beauty; women who complement me and women who challenge me in my differences. I want to be surrounded by an army of bold, take-no-shit, visionary badasses who bring internal realizations forward, and translate groundbreaking, world-changing ideas to life. For me, my life and my personal goals, that is why there are 101 reasons and counting why it’s damn good to be a woman in 2017.

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– A million thank-you’s to Brooke Genn of Nomadic Newlyweds for making magic behind the camera and shooting the portrait photos you see here. Check out her beautiful work! Xo.