deconstructing the art of comparison

Melissa

We are all guilty of it. You open Instagram and spend a half an hour ogling over that fashion blogger’s profile—inspecting every perfect outfit, sexy husband pic, and pristine house video. You scour the lines of stunning photos on Pinterest dreaming of the DIY banners and pots and framed art you’ll put in your house just like the perfectly arranged ones there. On Facebook you gather around the spotlights of people who just scored a dream internship, jetted off to a new island with their significant other, or recently was promoted to a higher rank than you. On tumblr you rack your brain on how you can be funnier, more artistic, more photogenic. It’s embarrassing the amount of hours we all spend on VSCO and Lightroom trying to make a photo not only appease our aesthetic, but the aesthetic everyone else wants from you. We start losing grasp of ourselves; unable to recognize who we actually are when we look in the mirror. And the whole time you can’t help but wonder—how come your life doesn’t look like that?

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It’s become an art form, comparing. It’s a flux and flow of finding what we like, what we don’t have, and erratically searching for ways to get it. And when we finally have “it,” or close to it, the cycle starts again. It’s an odd concept; we all know that social media are curated, constructed, Photoshopped, and perfected. So why do we view someone else’s highlight reel as an everyday reality? And why do we so heavily compare the parts of ourselves that we lack confidence in to those highlight reels?

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It’s hard to beat it. Many of us are storming head first into industries that require us to be a constant spectator and showstopper on the web. So what can we do to fix it? I think it needs to start with inclusion and insightfulness. Inclusion can range from showing your audience your flaws and imperfections to urging the media or creating your own media that includes all women. So many of the images we view and digest on a daily basis are thin white, tall, and tan models flaunting their “perfection” around the world, wearing every to-die-for trend, and living the life you consider to be ideal. It’s completely acceptable to showcase all of this, but it’s essential we have equal representation of all races, sexualities, and sizes. If everyone has a positive image to relate to that makes them feel empowered, comparison can be stomped out quickly.

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Insightfulness is checking in with yourself, acknowledging other women’s accomplishments, and still being proud of your capabilities. It is also being able to recognize the twisted reality we get from apps like Instagram and Pinterest, and knowing that we don’t have to resemble that. Be proud of your friends, send them empowering texts and comments, admire people, but don’t let the adoration you have for others make you feel low. It’s so hard to do, but such an important aspect of keeping a healthy self-esteem. Someone else’s beauty, intelligence, and success does not diminish yours. While I’m not going to give up editing photos and enjoying aesthetically pleasing art and social media posts, I will give up the idea that my life has to reflect this, and that I have to conform to unrealistic standards. I strongly urge you, love, to do the same.

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the voices of feminism

Melissa

I had a firm, much needed wake up call at the Women’s March in Eugene, Oregon last weekend. One of the last speakers took the microphone and made a comment about how there were only one, if not two, women of color who spoke at the rally. An eruption of applause burst out, clapping in agreeance, but acknowledging it is only one part of the solution. The ignorance I was taking part in is a toxic and regressive environment that you may be promoting, even if you think you have progressive political and social beliefs.

Women of color, women of the LGBTQIA+ community, women with disabilities, and other minority groups have been fighting this fight for hundreds of years. Their feet hit the pavement, signs in hand, with voices demanding equality for everyone far before white women did. It’s not fair that we haven’t participated until now. It’s time we demand and refuse to back down. It’s time we will accept nothing less than full-fledged inclusivity. It’s time we use our privilege to give equality to the people whose voices we’ve ignored and who we have left in the shadows for a shamefully long time.

Intersectional feminism is essential. Every woman’s story is different and deserves to be heard. Many people, including myself are familiar with the term, but are unsure of or haven’t researched it properly to know how to apply it or discuss it. It was coined by scholar and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams, and in the most basic sense of the term, it’s defined as, “the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.” Thankfully, I know a quite a few incredible women who are patient, intelligent, and willing to take questions and graciously give answers. They offer personal stories, what intersectionality means to them, and suggestions on the things that must be done in order to make equality happen. It’s time to take the backseat and listen—it’s long overdue.

 

Laurise

I read a quote once that said feminism without intersectionality is not feminism at all. As a black woman, my experiences as a woman will always be different than those of a white woman, and anyone who is for the equal treatment of men and women have to also be for the equal treatment of WOC and white women. Non-POC feminists can incorporate intersectionality into their feminism (on the smallest scale) by simply acknowledging it. Rowan Blanchard is an amazing example of that.

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(@lauriseirl)

 

Manju

One question I hear a lot is why feminism is held to a standard of intersectionality that other movements have not necessarily been held to. It’s because, historically, feminism hasn’t been intersectional. With the age of the internet, even the most marginalized communities in the country and world have the chance to speak on a platform.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, suffragists like Alice Paul decided on pushing for white women’s suffrage first, as they would most likely lose the South if they worked for all women’s rights. Ida B. Wells was told not to march with the white women marching for suffrage–she did anyway, but not without resistance. Native American women were not able to vote until 1924 and black women were not guaranteed their voting right until 1965. People with disabilities are still barred from voting in 16 states if they are “mentally incompetent or incapacitated.” Trans women still face many barriers with voter ID laws. And that’s just with voting.

The issues with inequality range far beyond voting from incarceration to child custody to wages. If we focus solely on white women, as we have historically, we end up celebrating achievements that are glorified as “reaching equality,” while they actually leave their sisters of color, sisters with disabilities, non-Christian sisters, and LGBT+ sisters behind. Feminism must be intersectional or it will continue to proclaim victory in a war not yet won.

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(@astronautmanju)

 

Serena

Being a transgender woman, I go through the intersectionality of being considered a woman but have the look of a man. Being judged with discrimination and being wrongly gender-identified is difficult. I want people to not gender identify so quickly, I know it’s hard but if they see a guy dressed in girl’s clothes–identify me as a woman.

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(@serenafashiondiva23)

 

Danielle

Intersectionality to me, means knowing and acknowledging that women of different races and sexual orientations experience different forms of discrimination. If you are a white female, it’s important to understand that you still have certain degree of privilege. As a black woman, I not only have to fight discrimination based on gender, I also have to fight discrimination based on race. The feminist movement has such great intentions, but most of the time you only see white middle class women. I think the reason why people have such an issue incorporating it because historically, the feminist movement did not include women of color or people who identify as females. While Susan B. Anthony fought hard for women’s rights, she was not in favor of equal rights for ALL women, and history books always seem to forget that. It’s so important for the feminist movement to become more intersectional because when all women are united, we are a force to be reckoned with. I truly believe that equality will be achieved if this movement was inclusive of all women. The best way to achieve this is to be open to having hard conversations about history and privilege. Women of color and gender minorities do not want special treatment, we just want equal treatment.

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(@daniellesandifer)

 

Negina

The night before the (great) Women’s March, I was as Obama would say, “Fired up and ready to go.” The thing about protesting is that for it to be effective, people need to show up and have their voices heard. I don’t think we had a problem with turnout on January 21st, but there did seem to be a communication issue on the topic of intersectional feminism. When women were taking to streets during the female liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s, it was overwhelmingly white women fighting white men for their rights and it marked yet another case of people of color being neglected in American history. But it’s 2017 now and we can’t repeat those mistakes. The Women’s March this month needed to be one for all women–white or not, vagina or not–and that’s what intersectional feminism stands for. The poster I made for the protest events read “All Oppression is Connected: racism, ageism, ableism, classism, egoism, sexism. #intersectionalfeminism” for this very reason. I was a minority in the marches I participated in, so I wanted to make sure that my opinion on this whole “pink pussy” brigade was known. Not all vaginas are pink, and again, not all women have vaginas and this cannot be ignored.

Our generation is the one that needs to be correct in this sense and employ this concept that all types of discrimination intersect. We need to keep showing up for each other’s demonstrations, whether it’s to fight systematic racism or raise awareness for the environment or any other social movement. We need to be there for anyone who feels like their social identity is coming under fire because no one should be discriminated against for who they are. There’s already heavy polarization happening in this country and it doesn’t need to trickle into our efforts, in regard to those who supported the Women’s March on Washington. As so many people have been saying recently, so many great leaders and citizens, that now more than ever is when we need to ban together and fight the man and his administration that our neighbors voted for.

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(@negina.jpg)

 

Sam

A movement working to gain equality for women should be inclusive of all women and recognize that every women does not begin at the same starting line in life, that some have more privileges and advantages than others. Women who are part of other oppressed communities have a very different experience than women who are not. At Toronto’s Women’s March on Washington this past weekend, I saw a sign that read: “We can’t all succeed if half of us are held back.” I assume this was pointed at the disparities that exist between men and women, but I think the sign’s message could be applied to the feminist movement as well.

A victory for one portion of the female population is by no means a victory for all women. Intersectionality is crucial to the movement, it acknowledges the issues that women of every race, creed, socioeconomic class, identity, sexuality, and ability face and it addresses them. I would say one way to adopt intersectionality is by rejecting exclusionary language and supporting diverse voices to express their own concerns because issues like imperiled reproductive rights and the gender wage gap are just the tip of the iceberg.

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(@samhannes)

We can’t say we are activists when our sisters still don’t stand on even ground. Figure out how you can help, and do it. This will be an ongoing post where we will add women’s voices, opinions, and suggestions as we receive them, that way we can continue to learn the ways we can help each other out.

women’s march photo diary

Melissa

Today hundreds of thousands of women (and men) gathered around the world to stand up for the rights of women, POC, people with disabilities, sexual assault and rape survivors, the LGBTQIA+ community, and other minorities. It was a day of power, action, love, and fighting for what’s right. Check out the photo diary from one of the world marches that took place in Eugene, Oregon.

 

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babe love: alandra michelle

Melissa

There are some people in the world who are your friends, but offer much more than simply a friendship. It’s the feeling that you can’t explain in any other way than the phrase “we just get each other.”

Alandra is one of those women. I met her during an internship we were both a part of and we just kind of clicked. I was completely blown away by her authenticity, creativity, and perspective of the world.She is a Jane of all trades and aside from her breathtaking photography portfolio, she has two other known talents which deserve more recognition: art and writing. Her art is stunning and the words she writes resonate much deeper than surface level. She’s worked for Nobleman Magazine, Wayfare, and does freelance work for refreshingly minimalist boutiques and cafes. I had the opportunity to interview and get inside the beautiful mind of the person I consider one of my dearest friends.

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All photos have been taken by Alandra.

You’re an artist, a photographer, and a writer–how did you get involved in each one?

I don’t really know how it happened, I was just born with it. I started writing as soon as I knew how to spell. I loved art and photography; I was happy looking at pieces in galleries and museums–standing there just staring at them. I loved music, picked up the guitar a bit, and sang a bit, but I always seemed to have a camera in my hand. It wasn’t until after one of my best friends died in high school when I began to really channel into my love for photography. I took my first black and white film class sophomore year, and formed what I didn’t know would be one of the most important relationships of my life. My photography teacher, who became my mentor and biggest supporter, picked up one of my photos and said to me, “Look at this. This is good. This is what you are going to do. Now go do.” I was pretty much sold at that moment. I think of him every now and then when I feel stuck or at a standstill in my work.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by women who have pushed the envelope on female standards and expectations. I love women like Sophia Bush and Lena Dunham who have used their talents and fame to enhance their roles as political and social feminist activists. Art-wise, I’m infatuated with Jenavieve Belair, a Southern Californian fashion and lifestyle photographer. She is so stripped and raw with her work, which I love. I admire women who are authentically themselves, even if it probably scares them a little.

What is a song or album that describes your life?

Hmm, my life is definitely a mix of albums haha. I’d say I’m a little bit of everything. There’s some Lana in me, a little Amy, The Kooks, 1975, LANY, CHVRCHES, and of course The Lumineers.

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How would you describe your style? Do you have a method to getting dressed each day?

I like to keep my style classy with some edge. I’m pushing myself to go further out of my comfort zone nowadays, but I definitely wear a lot of black. You just can’t go wrong with black on black.

What’s the hardest part about being a creative? How do you get past these obstacles?

Two things. Fear and comparison. There’s nothing worse than the fear of putting your work out there, the fear that no one will validate your worth, or the fear that you won’t make it. Comparison is a tough one because it’s human nature, at least for women I think it is. And we tend to use the excuse that what we’re comparing ourselves to is a source of “inspiration,” but there’s a difference. If the source that is “inspiring” you is making you feel incapable, low, or worthless, it’s no longer inspiration. Get it out of your life. Inspiration should help you grow, teach you a new skill, and ignite a fire inside you that makes you want to create and share.

 

I can’t say there’s an easy or specific way to overcome the obstacles that come with being a creative, but I do know I have to keep pushing. If you love it, keep doing it, and let that carry you. It’s easier said than done, but I’ve learned that being a creative takes passion, patience, hard work, dedication, and baby steps. Once you understand that, it’s easier to accept the obstacles, because you know it’s just a part of the journey.

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Why do you think it’s so important to empower women and other creatives?

I have so much to say on this topic, I honestly think I could write about it forever, but I’ll keep it as simple as this: People have the power to lift each other up or bring each other down. Especially in this day and age, with the heartbreak that has followed politics, the rise of social media and self image, and the increased role the creative industry has taken, why would we tear each other down? What exactly is the purpose of that? If humans have the power to inflict pain, fear, and insecurity, then they have the power to fuel each other, inspire good, and support one another. Do good and be good. Not to mention, you have no idea what kind of opportunities could come from collaboration, grabbing a cup of coffee with another creative, asking for advice or offering advice. I’m a huge believer in creating community. Creatives are soulful deep thinkers who have so much to give, and inspiration is such a huge part of who they are and the identity of their work, so why not be a source of inspiration for someone else? (And this goes for both men and women. But, women especially, we do some pretty incredible things when we come together.)

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What’s something that interests you that isn’t related to the work you do?

It’s hard to answer this question without it relating back to my work because I think a lot of pieces of life are all a part of influencing what I do and why I do it, but putting creativity aside, I’ve always been interested in politics and feminist movements. ( See, that influences my work 😉 ) If I wasn’t in the creative industry, I would be involved in some kind of female activist group. I loved US History when I was in school, and I always thought if I were alive during the time of the peace protests or when the fight for women’s suffrage was taking place, I would’ve been rallying alongside the other women I would’ve held similar beliefs with. I love the idea of fighting for what you believe in. I’m so drawn to that.

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What are your goals for the future?

I have quite a few goals: be the editor in chief of a women’s magazine, travel more and take my work elsewhere, learn Italian and live in Italy for a year or two. But my main goal is to inspire women. As cheesy as it sounds, I want to make a difference in someone. Creativity is an escape for me, and it puts me in a really peaceful spot, where I’m comfortable telling a story. I want my work to evoke something inside someone else. Something real. I don’t know how to explain it, I guess I just want to make people feel connected to my work and hopefully, feel inspired by it.

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What changes do you hope to see in the fashion, art and/or creative industries in the next few years?

Honestly, I would love to see the creative industry be taken more seriously as a career. Artists, writers, musicians, videographers, photographers, and designers fill our world with the things we love. Things that bring us emotion and keep us in touch with our human souls. Creatives are responsible for incorporating our lives with personality, beauty, style, excitement, and authenticity, whether it’s through poetry or literature, movies, music, clothing, interior structure, decor, and design. And that’s not even the half of it. Creatives put themselves wholeheartedly into what they do, and they should be recognized for that.

You can follow Alandra on Instagram here and check out her website here.

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PNW Holiday Shopping Guide

Melissa

You and the loved ones that surround you are anything but ordinary. You have talents, passions, and traits that make you inimitable. When it comes to gift giving, especially around the holidays, you want to give gifts that reflect who you are and who the recipient is. it’s easy to see that a typical gift card or pair of socks won’t cut it. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest is home to shops, artisans, and artists that are as unique as you and your friends. While it’s easy to shop at fast fashion stores and large retail chains, it’s important to appreciate the creative, high quality work that surrounds you. Here are five shops you don’t want to miss out on.*images courtesy of each shop*

W/M Goods
https://www.shopwmgoods.com/
Indie magazines, high-end wool coats, paraben-free beauty products? W/M has you covered. And we guarantee you won’t want to leave the store once you’re in it.

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The Meadow
http://themeadow.com/
This shop is the place to head for the friends and family that adore supreme quality food. A variety of salts, seasonings, chocolates, and bitters from around the world will make your tastebuds water while you’re picking out a gift.

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gilt + gossamer
http://www.giltandgossamer.com/
This boutique in eugene is the perfect stop for all your fashion savvy babes. You can’t find boho essentials and must-have accessories this good anywhere else.

View More: http://dawn-photography.pass.us/gg--fall-shoot

Baby and Company
http://babyandco.us/
Seattle-based Baby & Co has fine clothes for those with the finest taste. Their goods are all superb quality, and a piece from their shop can spruce up the dullest of closets. They’re rebelling against the fast fashion industry with classy clothes that look as if they’ve waltzed right over from Europe.

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Noun: a person’s place for things
http://www.shopnoun.com/
If you’re looking for a gift that can’t be found elsewhere, noun has it. A piece of its collection of vintage furniture, jewelry, and other odds and ends is a nostalgic gift to the person who has everything but deserves more than a new shirt or purse.

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November Inspo Board

Melissa

We’re smack dab in the middle of November and the thought of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and holiday events are constantly on my mind. I know many of you are in the midst of heavy loads of homework, finals and midterms, and stressful work projects. Sometimes it feels nice to take a break and look at reminders of why november is such a beautiful month.

Here’s a curation of pictures to wrap you up in the warm, tasty, stylish blanket that is november.

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Faux Fur Photo Diary

Melissa

There’s something that feels so lavish about wearing (faux) fur. Throwing on a jacket can make you feel like the badass queen that you are. Amidst the stress that’s been circulating around our country currently (we’re looking at you 2016 election), sometimes it just feels nice to get creative and get your mind off things for a bit.

Faux fur has been a rad new trend that I’ve latched on to, and am still trying to find the guts to rock. If you’re considering a fur-lined purchase, try rocking it with skinny jeans and boots, or an edgy, leather mini skirt. There’s hundreds of ways to rock this, and if you’re one of those stylish souls, let us know how you style yours.

Faux fur coat from forever21, boots by Steve Madden from Nordstrom, jeans by Topshop from Nordstrom, bodysuit from T.J. Maxx, lipstick NYX.

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Quiet Living Spaces

Melissa

The pristine, refreshing trend of minimalism, revived from the sixties and seventies arrived a few years ago and has since stayed. I’ve personally never found a trend that I’ve held on to for so long. The quiet shapes and colors, and the sense of calm and tranquility you get from wearing a minimalist shirt or simply decorating a white wall are refreshing touches amidst the busy, hectic lives we’re all so used to.

I personally avoid relaxing, studying, or working in areas with lots of people or poor decor. It’s not so much as a snobby thing, but a thing of comfort. I am most productive when I am in an environment that I feel I can thrive in and express myself creatively. Any girlboss knows (yeah, I’m looking at you) how hard it can be to focus and how easy it can be to procrastinate or get distracted.

Because of this, I’ve worked on making my room a space of creativity and calm. I love neutral colors and simple pieces of furniture. Here’s a little preview of my work-in-progress place where I feel most productive.

 

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4 Stylish Ways to End October

Melissa

As disheartening as it is, the beautiful month of October is quickly coming to a close. But all we can hope for is the same fun, beauty, and adventures to come in November and December. I was super ecstatic with all the lovely things fall brought with it. Crunchy, colored leaves, tasty pumpkin chais, fall foilage adventures, cozy and stylish clothes, and new projects and ideas. So while November gets closer, here’s 4 fun ways to kiss October goodbye.

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Take a fall adventure

There’s a lot of gorgeous, exciting endeavors to take in the fall. Whether it’s a covered bridge tour (they’re fun I promise), a last minute pumpkin patch run, or a harvest fest; there’s something for every babe. Bring a long a polaroid camera to capture some stylish, washed-out shots.

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Plan a fall photo shoot

I can’t think of a prettier time to grab your girls and style some outfits. A combination of the leaves, misty, rainy days, and faded colors creates some mysterious (but also bomb AF) photos.

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Have an autumn treats party

I love food almost as much as I love writing and fashion (maybe more). Autumn brings some of the best flavors back into season. Round up your babes and bake everything from cookies to pumpkin bread. Swirl some caramel apples, pour the sparkling cider, and celebrate all your accomplishments thus far.

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Schedule an art day

There’s plenty of rainy fall days to go around, so pick a day to relax and get your creativity flowing. It’s important to do things that keep you grounded, and feeling good about yourself. Sometimes colder months can bring unneeded stress and occasionally mental health problems. Be sure to love yourself and spend a day painting, drawing, writing, singing, or really anything that makes your heart sing.

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Fall-time Denim with CollegeFashionista + Levi’s

Melissa

A few weeks ago I was invited to do a collab with CollegeFashionista and Levi’s. It was all about styling denim for fall and doing so in a way that reflects your personal style. As someone who obsesses over monochromatic, all-black/all-white, I must admit I was a bit hesitant about styling a pair of gray jeans.

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I took this as an opportunity to try monochromatic with gray. I layered a chunky knit sweater with a speckled jacket. And to add a bit athleisure, I threw on my Stan Smiths.

img_0659Deep oxblood lipstick gives this look a little more of an autumn edge too.

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