She's PHONEY, She's FAKE!
Have you ever called someone fake? Has anyone ever called you fake? What was implied in either of those situations by the word “fake”? There are a lot of definitions that may come to mind for you, but I think we can all agree that being called fake is an insult. When I think of the word fake, I think about a lot of celebrities that have been deemed as such based on whether or not they’ve had plastic surgeries or how they treat their “friends”, such as the Real Housewives or the Kardashians. In the words of Dej Loaf, “Let’s just be honest; let’s just be real!”
If you ask the closest of my close friends, they’ll tell you that I can sometimes seem fake! I know, I know, “Gigi, you hypocrite, how are you supposed to write about being fake if you’re fake yourself?” Let me explain. I don’t like conflict. I’m a people pleaser, meaning, I like for everyone to get along (with me) and I don’t like causing trouble or drama with others, especially other women. There were instances in college where I’ve smiled and acted like I was friends with girls that I really didn’t care for simply to avoid conflict or beef with her. I would smile in her face, take selfies with her, go out and party with her, and then trash talk her behind her back. That’s being fake! I’m not proud of these moments, but it’s important to recognize your errors so that you can improve as a person. As a slightly older adult, especially in the workplace, if I have an issue with someone, I don’t give them any of my energy, negative or positive. I’ve realized that there’s no point in feigning friendships with people I dislike. I may say “Good morning” when I pass them, just to be polite, but that’s about it. In order to maintain a sense of realness with others and myself, I’m no longer going out of my way to be best buddies with people I don’t like. And you shouldn’t feel like you have to be best friends with everyone either. There are some people you won’t click with, and that’s okay because that’s part of life, but don’t feel obligated to be extra friendly to that person. Certainly don’t be rude, but learn to be okay with being neutral with others. You can be cordial, mature, polite, but also neutral; this prevents you from coming across as fake.
Another point I want to make is about being fake/real with yourself. In society and mainstream media we see so many campaigns encouraging teens and young people to “Be Yourself!” While that’s a great message, it’s being preached much more than practiced and time and time again, I’ve seen so many young people doing things that they wouldn’t normally do just to fit in with the “in crowd”. And it’s not always bad things! Sometimes it’s just pretending that you’re interested in certain music or TV shows because other people are. Or it’s dressing a certain way that you’re not comfortable with because everyone else is. By doing things like this, you’re trying to be someone else and not your authentic, amazing self! It’s okay to try to expand your interests or hobbies, but if you’re doing it just because you want other people to like you, you won’t be happy and you may even get a reputation for being fake. GASP!
Everyone wants to be liked, of course, but it’s important to remember that people value integrity and genuineness in others! People will like you for you because odds are, you’re probably pretty great!
The Negative Nancy In My Head!
We ALL deal with negative thoughts! Every last one of us has had a time when our minds were infiltrated with pure negativity and self-doubting nonsense. Even the most confident of individuals still deal with negative thoughts because sometimes we truly can’t help what pops into our heads, but it’s how we handle them that is important! I want to share how I handle my own personal negative Nancy that occasionally likes to drop by to bother me and bring me down.
I always like to keep it real with my readers because I feel like honesty and transparency are both important qualities in a blogger. Obviously I’m not perfect; I’m still human and as a human, especially in our American and western society, I deal with self-doubting and negativity all the time. I’d be lying if I said I completely had my mind under control and that my faith in God was always 100% and that my self-assurance was perfectly in tact. Truth be told, throughout college, my negative thoughts were a lot more powerful than they should’ve been and with all of the activities and classes I was engaged in, I didn’t have the necessary tools to combat them. It wasn’t until close to my senior year and after graduation that I was able to deal with my thoughts and respond healthily.
All through high school, I was so self-doubting with my intelligence, and to an extent, today I still am, but I’m starting to realize that I’m actually pretty smart. Growing up, I was so scared of failure that I would refuse to study, so that if I did fail, I could blame my failures on my lack of studying and not my lack of intellect. I felt like everyone was always getting A+’s on their tests and I wasn’t. Everyone was getting into Ivy League colleges and I wasn’t (though I was close). I had to stop comparing myself to others in order to recognize my own individual intelligence and flourish the way I should’ve been!
If you know me at all, you know that I’m a decently unique individual. I talk in funny voices, make silly faces, and can definitely seem awkward when first meeting people, but underlying all of that is a desire to bring joy and laughter to others. There have been times when my negative thoughts have prevented my true personality from shining because I’ve been self-conscious about how I come across to others. As an adult, I’ve learned to embrace my weirdness because it’s part of what makes me, ME! My goofy and warm personality has helped get me jobs, a date or two and the great friends that I have and have had and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
My biggest source of negative thoughts has come in a more superficial form surrounding my looks and body. Obviously, there is an overwhelming societal pressure for women to look a certain way and it’s promoted just about everywhere. I’ve already written about society’s unrealistic beauty ideals and how they have negatively impacted my thoughts and actions in the past, but I want to share how I’ve been able to overcome much of it. For me, prayer is a priority. I spent many nights praying for God to show me the beauty that He has placed within me, and praying that I would see myself the way that He sees me. On top of that, I had to stop comparing myself to others and embrace the way that God made me because He made me and YOU beautiful! A slim percentage of people legitimately fit into society’s beauty norms, but we ALL fit into God’s beauty norms because we were made in His image.
Negative thoughts will come; it would be irresponsible of me to say that you’ll never experience self-doubt, but if you’re able to separate negativity from positive truths, they won’t be a problem. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but the best version of yourself and embrace and love YOU!
Love Thy Fellow Woman.
This past Sunday, I was at the Kevin Hart show in Philly laughing/crying my eyes out, having a blast, but when I returned home, I realized that I had missed the VMAs (again). I’m not usually one for award shows; it’s always the same thing: someone said or did something ridiculous, someone wore something weird, the usual. One of this year’s biggest topics, at least on social media, was Nicki Minaj’s “clapback” to Miley Cyrus’ negative comments towards her. Now I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the Minaj/Cyrus debate, because that will be an entire dissertation on feminism, but I do want to talk in general about how women/girls treat other women/girls in this society.
It should be no secret that America was built on patriarchy and misogyny (amongst other things), meaning that women have been known to be mistreated and demeaned by men. But in many socio-cultural circles, it is actually women that tear down other women. Whether it be through language, attitude or behavior, many women tend to bring down their fellow women when they should really be supporting each other. We judge each other on our bodies, hair, romantic partner choices, expressions of sexuality, you name it, a lot of us do it! And I would be lying if I said that I haven’t done it in the past. I’ve used degrading words to describe my fellow women and I’ve shamed other women for their behaviors and I feel awful for that!
“You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”
The quote above comes from Tina Fey’s character, Ms. Norbury, in Mean Girls after she discovers the infamous Burn Book and presents it to the junior girls. While this line went over my head in 2004 when I was 12, as I grew older it began to resonate with me more as I heard my peers calling each other all types of negative names. And in a society that already devalues women, calling each other “sluts” or “b****es” further fuels misogynistic views and behaviors. I’ve learned that when watching a video on YouTube, I should refrain from reading the comments section because it’s usually a batch of trolls trying to get a rise out of people. But what saddens me the most is that so many of the legitimate (negative) comments on videos featuring women in almost any capacity are those from other women! Recently I was watching a video of a woman doing her makeup, and too many of the comments were from women shaming her for what she chose to put on her face, and these were the more mild of the commentary.
Whether it be in Hollywood or your neighborhood, we need to do a better job of supporting our fellow women. Most men won’t do it because society hasn’t fostered many of them yet, so it is up to us, as women, to build one another up with our words and actions. We are our only allies, and we should be trying our best to instill confidence into each other and empower one another. Love thy fellow woman, my fellow women!
Ever have those days where you just do not feel like you're “on fleek"? As much as I try to promote positivity and self love and confidence, I still have days when I feel the exact opposite. I’m not perfect, obviously, no one is, and we all have days where we don’t feel as great as we should. But there are things you can do to help yourself so you’re not wallowing in your own misery and pity and I wanted to share three of them!
1) Take Selfies
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. “How shallow and millennial-like of you to list this as your first thing, Gigi!” Let me explain myself! I had a horrible day recently. Like, terrible. I was crying a lot and really could not pull myself together. My hair was a hot mess, I refused to get out of my pajamas and my eyes were puffy and red. I couldn’t allow myself to continue feeling and looking the way I did. Although I had no plans of going out or seeing anyone, for my own sake, I wanted to feel better about myself. So I took a shower, washed my hair, put on some makeup that made me feel pretty and decided to take a bunch of selfies. I had my own little photo shoot right in my dining room and honestly, I must say, they are some of the nicest pictures I’ve taken of myself. After physically getting myself together, I ended up feeling much better psychologically. This may not be an ideal solution for everyone, but sometimes, getting dolled up just for YOU can change your perceptions and attitudes about yourself, even if only for some selfies.
2) Pamper Yourself
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to pamper myself! I think I mentioned this in an earlier blog, but I believe self-care is extremely important. Self care can be anything from yoga or meditation to eating healthily (or indulging), to taking solo trips, to shopping! My friends know I am a huge fan of the latter. Sometimes just purchasing a special pair of shoes or a really pretty dress can turn my day around and make me feel like the queen that I am. Another frequent way that I help myself feel good about myself is getting my nails done, but self care doesn’t always equal spending money. Sometimes just putting on your favorite outfit or baking something for yourself can be fulfilling. Pampering yourself, in my opinion, is just another way of loving yourself! Treat yourself!
3) Do What You Love
Feeling good about yourself isn’t only feeling good about how you look, although for some, that is a huge part of it. Feeling good inside can also permeate on the outside. Doing what you love to do can be a great reminder of my talents and a reminder of the reasons that you were placed on the Earth. Personally, I love to sing, and it is one of the few things that I can confidently say I’m good at doing. A friend of mine once suggested that whenever I’m feeling down or anxious that I should sing because I love singing! Recently on my sadder days, I’ve turned on some YouTube karaoke and sung my heart out of its funk. Other times, I’ve taken out my paints and brushes and created a piece of artwork or I’ve danced around my room with my music blasting. Whatever it is that you love doing, do it! Whether its something that gets your blood pumping or something that helps you unwind and relax, if its healthy and makes you feel good about yourself, I encourage you to try doing it when you’re having an off day.
Take care of yourselves, readers! You are valuable and worthy of love from others, but most importantly, from yourself!
Listen & Feel Sexy!
Do, re, mi! Sounds like music to my ears…literally! Think back to your first memories of music. Was someone playing you something or singing to you? Or were you the one creating music? My first memories of music involve my parents (professional singers) singing around the house, both to me and with me. Music has been part of my soul and spirit for as long as I can remember, and its influences have been quite strong. It’s basically my life (or at least a large part of it).
Music is said to be the universal language of the Earth. In every culture, psychologists have found variations of music and rhythm to be present. It is inescapable. Lyrics and melodies flow through the minds of children and adults alike, and our access to music has only increased over time and decades. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't enjoy at least one genre of music. That being said, music has the power to create, maintain and alter emotions. Think of your favorite song. Got it? Ok, now how does that song make you feel? Did you say “happy”? Then you’re not alone! Most music that we prefer to listen to makes us feel happy. We feel so good when that beat drops or when that singer hits that high note we always try to imitate or when the guitarist plays that sick riff. But what about when music makes us feel sad?
When I was in college, I had a playlist specifically for when I was feeling sad. It consisted of slow songs that ultimately would just escalate my sadness and send me into an emotional frenzy. This could be debated as unhealthy behavior, but in the moment, when I just needed to feel, I turned to music. Whether it’s the lyrical content or the patterns of notes and tones, music has the innate ability to draw strong emotions out of its listeners. Story-telling intertwined with the melodic structure of a song can create beautiful works of art that can bring out the saddest of feelings. The song “Christmas Shoes” comes to mind when I think of sad songs. It’s about a little boy who wants to buy shoes for his dying mother so that she can be beautiful when she meets Jesus. How depressing! Every Christmas, the radio stations insist on playing this sad song, and every time I hear that piano intro, I immediately change the station!
Obviously not all music is sad. Music is generally thought to be a form of self-expression and entertainment. Music has the power to make one feel loved, sexy, and confident, too! I know of a lot of girls that have a “going-out” playlist that usually consists of upbeat, perhaps empowering songs that employ one to feel like they’re ready to take on the world. Many times the lyrics of songs can make someone feel like they are on top of the world and that they are sizzling hot! One of my favorite genres is (90’s) R&B for its slow and smooth beats, as well as the passion and love written into the lyrics. Hearing someone sing to you about how beautiful and desired you are can be a pick-me-up for sure, and a lot of the R&B that I listen to does just that! So thank you Brian McKnight and Jodeci for helping a girl out!
Music is so many people’s way of escaping reality; it allows one to close their ears to society and open their hearts and minds to delight in aural enchantment and pleasure. Yes, I just made that up. Music produces a variety of emotions, sometimes all within one song, and because of its natural existence, it will probably withstand the test of time. Go listen to something!
It's Time To Unfriend HER!
We all have something that we've been meaning to start, write, create, produce or do. That dream or goal that you've had for a long time but just aren't doing. Stop it! Making excuses as to why you can't or why you aren't is not gonna cut it anymore! You have everything you need to START. I know, getting started can be the hardest part because if we're honest, pursing a dream is a risk! It can be scary to step out and try!
But what if I told you that it's not what you don't have, but what you do have that's holding you back?
You know, that friend that shows up right around the time you decide to go for it. She shows up when it's time to work on your business plan or write your first draft of the book. This is the friend that loves you just the way you are and wants you to stay right where you are forever. This is the friend that calls right when you need someone to talk you out of your enormous ideas.
You reach for her when the thought of success makes you feel uncomfortable.
She's there to remind you why you couldn't last time, just in case you forgot. And because she’s such a pal that she's also there to remind you of what others might say should you decide to go for it. She lives super close and you take her with us wherever you go.
Her name is Fear.
There are some friends that we have in our lives that are in our lives for a time period and for whatever reason we grow apart. There are other friends that you connect for a while until you realize they're not adding a thing to your life! So you go ahead and distance yourself.
But then there are some friends…
Who you've know FOREVER and they've been with you through thick and thin, always present and you don't remember a moment or time period in your life without them. But there comes a time sometimes where we have to acknowledge when we've outgrown some of our oldest friends.
Everyone has some sort of relationship with fear. It's either healthy or unhealthy. A healthy relationship with fear doesn't prevent you from moving forward or alter your thought patterns. An unhealthy relationship with fear paralyzes you. This is when fear controls the decisions you make. It affects your perception of your reality.
No one wants that.
And you don't have to have that! Here are four easy to remember steps to unfriending fear once and for all.
1. Forget your mistakes – Just like we all have fear sometimes, we all make mistakes sometimes! And believe it or not, some of our fear comes from reminding ourselves of the mistakes we've made. You remind yourself how things went horribly wrong the last time and how you hated the way you felt, so the fear of a repeat kicks in. There's a saying that says “you live and you learn.” It's true! Don’t let the mistakes that you've made in the past prevent you from moving forward! Make the mistake in to a lesson and keep on going!
2. Evaluate your NOW – Believe it or not you have come a long way! The last time you were afraid to go, do, or say whatever it was, you found a way to overcome! In the life of a confident girl, moments of fear is temporary. Look at where you are and realize that it took courage to get you there! That should encourage you to keep it up because you are your own proof that you can do it!
3. Accept your awesome – Unfriending Fear requires you ditching fear and replacing her with someone else. YOU! Have you checked you out lately!? You Rock! Once you really believe in yourself and how awesome you are, you won't have to be afraid of being yourself. Accept who you are, and embrace what makes you different, and fear can't stop you!
4. Reach forward – Always remind yourself of your awesome future. Be positive and always looking for ways to improve or get better at what you're good at. Focusing on building your skills and talents will allow you to be more confident when you're doing your thing! Keep your eyes on the prize because focus puts fear in the run.
Remember these steps to Unfriending fear and propel your life in to the fierce, free and fabulous life you were meant to have! As always, don't forget your confidence!
Here's to you being you,
Love The Skin You're In
By now, almost everyone with access to the internet has read or at least vaguely heard of the Rachel Dolezel story/scandal. If for some reason you have not, the basic thing to understand is that the now-former chief of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP was a white woman living her life as a black woman. As expected, much of the black community was/is in uproar over this situation, some taking sociological stances, others taking a more comedic approach to dealing with their emotions regarding Dolezal. While I’m going to try to avoid dissecting this case from a political or social standpoint (because at this point it has already been done), I mainly want to use this story to remind you to love the skin you’re in because all skin is beautiful skin.
“Being able to look in the mirror and love what you see is a privilege many people don’t have” - Alexis Walker
I love this quote that a friend of mine stated in a social media post because it speaks volumes to society’s ability to shape one’s self-esteem and confidence based on something as trivial as their skin color. Our country was built upon structures and institutions of racial hierarchy and oppression that, unfortunately, still affect so many black Americans who have been told that they are “less than” simply because of their skin color. By the time they develop a sense of racial consciousness, many black children have an understanding that their skin color is NOT celebrated in mainstream media. Time and time again, psychologists conduct “The Clark Doll Experiment” (Clark, 1939) where young children are presented with a black doll and a white doll and asked a series of questions about the integrity and beauty of the dolls. And each time, children unanimously decide that the white doll is pretty and good and the black doll is ugly and bad. From the 1940’s to 2015 (meaning the other day with one of my black students), black children across America are not being taught to love the skin that they are in, unlike their white counterparts that see themselves represented in almost all forms of media on a daily basis. There is still a lot to unpack here, but the center of this current situation is Rachel Dolezal did not love her original skin. The levels of privilege one must have in order to take on another racial identity and deny their own heritage are very strong here and that is perhaps another reason why black people are so upset about this. We (Black Americans) live in a world that subliminally and constantly reminds us that our skin is not beautiful nor is it societally desirable. Then a white woman, Dolezal, who IS reminded how desirable her skin is, decides to reject her whiteness and attempt to imitate and live the struggle that is blackness in a white America. Who does that? I can only speculate someone who is deeply confused or someone who truly feels a level of self-hatred for themselves, much like some non-white Americans who wish they were born into privileged skin. “Never in her natural born life did that woman have to feel self hatred and wish she was white” (Alexis Walker).
I could probably write a short thesis on this whole ordeal, but what I wanted to ultimately get across is my constant message of loving yourself and loving who God made you to be. Light skin, dark skin and everything in between is beautiful! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So this past school year I worked as a kindergarten classroom aide at my district elementary school. I’m leaving this year with so many stories from my kids, and I want to recount part of a conversation that I had with one of my little girls while walking together in the hallway. I have changed portions of the conversation due to privacy.
Her: (whispers) That boy wants to marry [my friend]!
Me: Oh my! Are you going to marry someone?
Her: Nope, never!
Me: Well I bet there are a lot of little boys that like you because you’re super smart, pretty, and you’re nice to all of your friends.
Her: I don’t know about all of that.
Me: What do you mean? You’re such a nice, pretty girl!
Her: Not really.
Me: Do you know what having confidence means?
Me: It means that you believe in yourself and you know how special and beautiful you are!
Me: You have to believe in yourself so you won’t be sad.
It truly broke my heart to hear that my little kindergartener had these feelings of inadequacy. I wanted to cry. She just seemed so doubtful and all I wanted in that moment was for her to understand and realize how special she is, because she is truly a special little girl. Based on what I know about her family background, she is often praised and encouraged at home, so I’m unsure as to what would cause her to have such a negative sense of self and at such a young age! Low self-esteem is plaguing our country and its favorite victims are our little girls.
As much as I tried to build her up and explain the somewhat abstract definition of “confidence” to her, I felt as if I wasn’t really getting through. I realized that no matter how much someone builds you up and tries to instill confidence into you, unless you actually believe it for yourself, it’s virtually pointless. And I get that! I have been complimented on my smile many times by strangers and friends alike; however, due to my own insecurities, I still can’t help notice how imperfect my teeth are every time I look in a mirror or at a photo of myself. I state all of this to say that I can relate to my little girl and that I understand that my telling her how amazing she is won’t entirely wipe away her low self-esteem.
I don’t suspect that any of the people reading this are in kindergarten, but I tell this story because the core message may still resonate with older readers. I charge you to try to see yourself the way that others see you, because odds are, others see you in a much more positive light than you may see yourself. The people that see you in a given day do not notice the things that drive you crazy when you see yourself. Most importantly, God made you! He made you in His perfect image and in His beauty. Try to view yourself through a “God-lens” rather than a “self-lens”. Remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Inhale Confidence, Exhale Doubt
Inhale high self esteem, exhale low self esteem. Look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful and unique. God made me different because I am.” Inhale loving who you are and how God made you; exhale the doubt that you are not pretty enough. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!
People use to tell me all the time, “smile you’re beautiful.” But that’s not how I felt inside. I thought I was ugly and too skinny. I have scares on my legs from being burnt and I have vitiligo (which causes you to lose the pigment (color) in your skin) on my face. I was teased because of my scars. I took in all that negative energy and that really put my self esteem at a low. One day this guy comes up to me and tells me that I encouraged him because I wasn’t afraid to show the scares on my legs. He also had burns on his legs and was ashamed to show them. For me, after that my confidence went up because I was brave enough to show my flaws and scars. I encouraged someone else.
You were made different for a reason, stay who you are. You don’t need all that make up and plastic stuff and you don’t have to wish that you were shaped like this girl or look like that girl. You never know who you’re encouraging when you show your flaws. There is a reason why we all are made different. So the next time you’re thinking you aren’t pretty or your confidence is a little low put on your invisible confidence crown look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I’m beautifully made.” Then inhale confidence, exhale doubt.
What good is a nice looking sports car with no engine? What’s the use of a pretty face, nice clothes and no substance? What good are you if you’re a Barbie? Yes, she looks good on the outside; some might even say that her body is “perfect” yet she has, no brain and no personality! If you ask us she is pretty useless. What are we trying to get at? Being confident is more than just looking good! You can look good on the outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and be dying on the inside because you feel horrible about yourself. That is not a good thing at all. If you want to change the way you feel about yourself there are three things you must know before you can truly Wear Your Confidence.
1. Know Who You Are.
Before you can be confident in your abilities, you have to know who you are! If someone were to ask you, “Who are you?” What would you say? Would you start naming things that you do? Would you tell them that you’re a student or that you’re an employee for a certain company? Who you are has nothing to do with what you do, what you wear, or the kind of car you drive. You are not things! Knowing who you are has to do with your personality. Are you smart, funny, outgoing, shy? Make a list of your personality. Think of some adjectives that describe you. If you need help, ask your friends, they will be more than happy to tell you who are. Just be ready for what they have to say.
2. Know What God Says About You.
When you have a negative view about yourself and the people around you don't understand you; that would be a perfect time to remind yourself about what God says about you. Just in case you didn't know. God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! God created you in such a special way! He did not just throw you together like a last minute project! Instead, He took His time and had you develop in your mother’s womb. He knows how many hairs you have on your head and how many times your heart beats in a day. He created you and you are perfect just the way God created you!
God says that you are loved! Did you know that God loves you so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for you so that you could live with Him forever in Heaven (John 3:16)? It is true! You are special! Who else would die for you after you treated them wrong? Not many, but Jesus did! God says that you are royalty! Yes, you! You are a princess. God is the King of the world! If God is King that makes you a daughter of a King, a princess! You are His chosen possession (1 Peter 2:9)!
God also says that you are brave! He gave you power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)! You are able to love, love yourself, your friends and your family because God gave you the ability to love. You are not weak and you are not crazy or dumb! How could you be when a perfect God created you?
3. Know That You Can Do All Things Through Christ.
When you need help you ask, right? In order for you to Wear Your Confidence you are going to have to ask. God is the only one who can help you. Philippians 4:13 says you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! That simply means that with Jesus Christ you can do everything! It seems to good to be true, but it is the truth. The only catch is you have to have Jesus. Pray that Jesus will be with you and He will! He will help you believe that you can be truly confident!
*Don't forget your confidence.