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Conformity Vs. The Individual

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Conform-Comply with rules, standards, laws

Individual- Single, separate

Those two words are small, yet so powerful. Why? Because as women, we are pretty much forced to conform to what society has had laid out for us since time began. I’m not going to get into the whole history of women’s place in society, and it’s one hell of a ride especially if you’ve been paying attention to the MeToo Movement. It’s roots are undeniably in religion and the smear campaign against Mary Magdalene. It doesn’t get any better from there on out.

Women were property from day one. Ever wonder why ‘traditional wedding’ includes ‘honor and obey’ and taking the husband’s last name as your own? Because women were OWNED by their fathers, then husbands. In some countries, they still are.

Remember ‘Leave it to Beaver?’ The 1950s sitcom about the ‘ideal suburban family’ with two kids, stay and home mom and breadwinner father? This was after WW2 when America was rebuilding. This reinforced gender roles and told women ‘THIS is how you’re supposed to be. Forget about what YOU want, SUBMIT TO YOUR HUSBAND.’ Since women has nothing and no one else to rely on or turn to…..they complied. I don’t think they had much of a choice. Hell, even vintage ads from that era are INCREDIBLY sexist.

Then the 1960s came along. Hippie love and breaking free. No wonder society condemned them. They were a threat to the norms of society. Not long after, the bra burning of the 1970s and civil rights movement. I read somewhere that in the 1970s or thereabouts, divorce was high. No wonder. If you’re forced to marry due to a child out of wedlock(which I’m certain is why my own grandparents married)or you were a war bride, and once the walls of society began to crumble into what it is now, you got the hell out of there.

Then the 1990s. Things began to change. More women entered the workforce. Mental illness began to show it’s ugly face. Back in the 1950s, mental illness and anything outside of ‘normal’ was taboo. Mentally handicapped children and adults were placed in state-sponsored hospitals or ‘lunatic asylums’. Nobody knew how to take care of them in a proper manner. Electroshock therapy. Ice baths. Designed to ‘shock’ the body into normalcy, I suppose. There are two great sources of media that should be entertained with this. The first one is the documentary ‘CROPSY’; is about a man who was charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and murdering handicapped children. It begins in a dilapidated mental hospital in Staten Island. It’s 1970’s footage shows how HORRIBLE the mentally handicapped were treated, and the government’s feelings toward the individuals. The other is ‘Glore Psychiatric Museum’ in St. Joseph, Missouri that goes into the history of mental illness and how it was treated. It’s disturbing, yet educational. We’ve come a long way….to some degree.

Then the attack on the single mother began. Remember ‘Murphy Brown’ with Candice Bergen? Remember when she had her son Avery and he didn’t have a father? Remember how Dan Quayle shamed A TV CHARACTER for having a child out of wedlock? Then there was ‘Frasier’ where Roz had her daughter out of wedlock. To me, this was along the same lines as ‘Will and Grace’. Slowly inserting other ideas for society in subtle ways. Nothing TOO dramatic, just enough for progressives to realize ‘hey, lets do this’.

To me, this is where conformity vs the individual starts to heat up.

CONFORMITY tells women ‘you MUST be married to have a child. THAT’S the rule.’

THE INDIVIDUAL tells women ‘if you want a child out of wedlock, go for it. But things WILL be more difficult.’

Well, history isn’t anything to scoff at. Being married doesn’t always make child rearing easier, especially if the woman gets ZERO help from her husband. The only difference is a guaranteed roof over their heads. Because remember, at this point, divorce was unheard of. Not even domestic battery was enough to warrant divorce. No WONDER these marriages dissolved in the later generations.

So it’s 2018. Divorce is more common than before, and marriage has been put on hold for most people under the age of 30. Given the last few generations, I can’t say I’m surprised. However, with change, comes the all-knowing question: conform or the individual? While conformity is still very much breathing, the individual is STILL on the rise, just not in broad daylight. You may wonder ‘where is it?’

Television. Up until the 2000s, TV and radio were the only means of media. The PC was still in it’s infancy. Then YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc popped up. I remember as a kid, before cable, you had four channels. If you didn’t like what was on, you watched it anyway or turned the TV off. I turned it off. Then we got cable. Several thousand more channels….nothing to watch. Again, two choices. I believe this is where conformity begins, to some degree. As a child in the 1950s, you watched Howdy Doody or the Lone Ranger. You watched because it was ON. Programming the brain. As you grew, you wanted to fit in. Continuing to watch because EVERYONE ELSE did. You did it because you felt you HAD to. Conformity. Then other sources of information began to rise. This is where conformity is challenged. You want to watch mainstream TV because it’s on, but there’s nothing to watch. Or you could watch Hulu, YouTube, Netflix because you can see that missed episode of a show you used to watch as a teen. On a side note, when YouTube came out, how many of you searched through it, trying to find the episode you missed of that one show?

Conformity-You’ll watch what we tell you because you must comply with the rules.

The Individual-I see YouTube, Netflix, Hulu. I’ll watch old reruns of ‘St. Elsewhere.’

Sexuality has always been taboo. Mainly because the powers that be fear it. Fear that education leads to better choices. Well duh. We’d rather teach NOT to do it, rather than SAFELY. With the rise of transgender, a lot of women are becoming men and men are becoming women. When I worked at a restaurant not long ago, I saw two people who were getting ready to leave. One, if I remember correctly, was a gay man. The other…turned out to be a man becoming a woman. This isn’t my first encounter. At Walmart, I had the same encounters. I worked the fitting room, and in this situation, it’s difficult to decide which fitting room to place them. Society says they’re whatever gender they were born, and they see themselves as they gender they was SUPPOSED to be. Still, that doesn’t help.

Conformity-You will act the gender you were born as.

The Individual-I’m a man/woman born in the wrong body. I’ll dress according to how I feel. However, if the individual sees themselves as gender non-specific….well, I really don’t know.

Society has ALWAYS told women what they can and cannot do. It’s been horribly unfair and unhealthy. Whether it be religion, family or marriage, women have ALWAYS been given the short-end of the stick. Why? Again, it roots to religion.

Oh hell, I may as well do it.

Mary Magdalene was supposedly the wife of Jesus. The early Church saw her as a threat, thus the smear campaign of painting her as a whore. In the early days, women were held in high regard in religion. But it was literally the men’s fear of Magdalene that started the campaign of women-hating. Blaming Eve and the apple. It snowballed into what it is now. I’ve read how some church doctrine is used to keep women in abusive marriages and give the husbands REASON to hurt them. There was a pastor who had to resign due to this matter.

Conformity-Women. You go to school, maybe college, meet your husband, marry, have children and be a stay-at-home wife until your children move out. Then you cater to your husband until death.

The Individual-Go to college, get a career, if I marry then cool. Maybe have kids. Dunno. Just see what comes.

Change is hard to accept, even if it’s for the better. Especially if it means cutting your strings to what’s been keeping you down. Women, for the most part, have ALWAYS been shadowed by men. I think it’s because men are afraid of what women are capable of when they’re given the opportunity. And rightfully so. The MeToo movement is the best source of evidence. No longer willing to put up with sexual harassment, they’re speaking up. I read a facebook post not long ago that said ‘if you’re now scared to talk to women, good. It means you have to rethink what you’re going to say and any unwanted actions will be reported’. Not verbatim, but along the lines. Good. This means women are slowly able to speak up and be heard. Whether action takes place or not is a different story.

In the wake of global change, it’s safe to say that our old way of life is just another wave. It’s like the civil rights movement, part 2. People are being called out and punished for their misbehavior. Women are finding our voices to speak up against the wrongdoing we’ve continually suffered. The men are getting punished for what they did. Change is here and we’ll be in a new society when it’s all over.

Conformity-Just shut up and know your place.

The Individual-Fuck you.

-Have a great weekend! Love, Ellie V.

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Social Media and Self-Esteem

Before I begin, I want to thank my new followers: Healthy Body Support, Freshstart PCOS and beauty135598637. Erwin for their comment on ‘fat’ and Journey Through The Storm and Cristian Mihai for liking my first post. Lets keep ’em coming!

So, as you can tell by the title, today’s topic is comparison, social media, self-esteem, cropping and selfies. Self-esteem has been around as long as humans. But for those of you who are in their mid-thirties and over, a ‘selfie’ was a yearbook picture, taken with a Polaroid or regular camera. Comparison came from magazines and newspapers. To those of you in the 40+ age range; as teens, how many of you looked at the cover of Vogue, Cosmopolitan or some other fashion mag and seen the ‘perfect’ features of Cindy Crawford, Christy Brinkley, Tyra Banks or Madonna? You may not have cared. You may have cared a LOT. It may have made you so depressed you grabbed something unhealthy to eat, or you were so empowered that you decided to join a gym. There is no right or wrong answer. Your response was often based on self-esteem and comparison. If you felt bad about yourself, you did one of two things; became more depressed or took advantage of the situation and made yourself better. Even if you felt like you were on cloud nine, you may have felt a sting of inadequacy. ‘They look perfect. Why don’t I?’ Simple. They Aren’t perfect. It’s cropping and airbrushing. How many of you have seen a picture of a model or celebrity in airbrushed vs normal? Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr is a good example. In unfiltered pics, she has a freckle or mole on her stomach close to her bellybutton. In photo shoots, it’s gone. I don’t ever remember seeing a face-up of Cindy Crawford and her mole being brushed out. She spoke to NPR about it and said it made her self-conscious. But Vogue didn’t airbrush it out. Needless to say, you can always tell airbrushed from untouched when moles, freckles and other ‘unsightly’ marks are there.

With the advent of social media and our access to the same types of airbrushing and other filters; self-esteem is dropping, depression is rising and young women are getting plastic surgery to match their selfies. I wish this was a joke. The desire to be ‘perfect’ has hit new lows and has no signs of stopping. So, lets begin with social media.

Unless you’ve been under a rock since the early 2000’s, social media is EVERYWHERE. Whether or not you decide to partake is your choice, but I’m betting you all have at LEAST a Facebook account.

social mediaEven though everyone has at least HEARD of social media and maybe have an account or two, I’m gonna run down the list(note that most of them are online with apps, aside from Snapchat):

Facebook- Founded in 2004. An online and app platform designed to allow users to post pictures, video and status updates to followers. Anyone can join and anyone can follow, as long as the recipient has an account and you’re accepted into their group.

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Tumblr-Founded in 2007. Users can share photos and hashtags.

tumblr

Pinterest- Founded in 2009. Users can create multiple boards, pin pictures to said boards and follow others with similar interests.

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Twitter- Founded in 2006. Users can share photos, updates and video with followers. The updates are called ‘tweets.’

twitter

LinkedIn-Founded in 2002. Company and employee-relations. Users can search ideal jobs with specific interests, connect with people in or related to those positions and post photos of their craft.

linkedin

Instagram- Founded in 2010. It’s pretty much like Facebook, only more photo and video-oriented.

Instagram

YouTube-Founded in 2005. More or less ‘personalized TV.’ Users can create their own channels for their own creations and follow others.

youtube

Snapchat- Founded 2011. This one’s a little more tricky. It’s via phone and you can add people only if they have it and accept you. Videos and chats last about five seconds.

snapchat

What does all this have to do with self-esteem? Remember the magazines? Well, it’s diverged into mobile media. Now that we have the same filters(for the most part)as the pros do, we are able to erase, enhance, crop and filter the hell out of anything we deem ‘unsightly’. Which, I’m sorry to say, is a lot. I do not use filters when I take photos. Mainly because I rarely take ‘selfies'(I absolutely LOATHE that word. It insinuates narcissism.) If you ever hear a robotic voice on YouTube say ‘selfie’ it sounds like ‘self-ize. Pretty hilarious. Some people are born naturally attractive, while others aren’t. But you also have to remember that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. When it comes down to it, beauty is relevant. It has no meaning except to the person who perceives. Much like time. It was invented, yet the inventors are a slave to it. Beauty is a perceived idea, yet the creators are slave to it. Take Marilyn Monroe. She was hot stuff back in the day. She wore a size 12. She was not stick-thin. She’s a classic movie star whose life was cut short.

Now, older generations see her as a classic beauty while modern society sees her as ‘not perfect’ because she wasn’t stick-thin. Somewhere between the 30s to 2018, something changed. I think it had something to do with the change in cinema. Does Valentino ring a bell? Apparently his voice was so bad that he was out of work once ‘talkies’ came around. I think it was Joan Crawford who said she’d never make movies again once colorized film came around. I guess she didn’t look too good in color. A LOT of movie moguls lost their appeal once media upgraded. Now that TV is becoming high-definition and Blu-Ray has all but replaced DVDs, the once ‘perfect’ faces are showing signs of ‘imperfection’. I remember seeing Smallville on high-def for the first time and wondered why everyone was sweating. It was just the reflection of the lights. Then I watch stuff from pre-high def and see it’s kind if hazy, like cheesecloth. Things you don’t see at the time, but see upon comparison. Does anyone remember the TIME magazine cover with Tina Fey? I think it was TIME. She has a visible scar on her cheek that TIME airbrushed. She wasn’t too happy about that. Scars are not flaws. To me, they’re a sign you’ve lived your life. Even being in a crash is living your life. Living it isn’t always pretty. And not even the elite are immune.

So with the cropping, airbrushing and the like, what you get is a perfect sense of fake. For example. You see a picture of a fancy meal with silver, wineglasses and a lacy table cloth. Your automatic assumption is a hoity-toity restaurant. What you DON’T see? The dirty surroundings. What you DON’T see is what the brain assumes. You ASSUME it’s a fancy restaurant. You ASSUME there’s a waiter holding a bucket of chilled wine. But in reality, most likely it’s your average joe trying to look cool. Filters to capture EVERYTHING at it’s absolute BEST. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to look better or cooler. Until it begins an obsession or depression. Which is what is beginning to happen. And what’s being done to stop it? More filters.

So what’s the best way to combat? Limiting time is a start. If you want to join the game, ALWAYS be aware that IN YOUR MIND, SOMEONE will be BETTER. Nobody is telling you this, except for your own brain. The photo isn’t telling you this. Neither is the poster. As stated before, it’s ALL assumption. Just remember that there are magazines out there DEDICATED to showing the population how BAD celebrities look without makeup. They don’t look bad. They look HUMAN. With some of them, plastic surgery and too much sun has DEFINATELY taken its toll. But when you’re used to seeing beautiful people constantly dressed to the nines due to paparazzi stalking them, you’re GOING to think they look strange when, in fact, they look NORMAL. Selena Gomez was recently hounded for her weight and her scar. It was a kidney transplant scar. It’s almost as if the magazines are trying to show us that celebrities look like us without their makeup, and at the same time belittling for every little flaw.

My response is this: take a long look at your behavior when you look at this stuff. Do you feel sad? Angry? Depressed? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer. Nobody can tell you how you should feel when you look at something. If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, ask yourself ‘why?’ Take a look at the picture. If it’s an athlete, model, celebrity, ask yourself why you’re looking at it. Are you jealous? A little envy can be a good thing  because it often makes us motivated to fix the issue. But when envy becomes destructive and affects your behavior, then it’s time to close the app. Are you jealous because you think they look better than you? Do you ever think WHY they look that way? It’s their career. They’re sponsored. They put in HOURS of hard work and dedication. However, NOBODY is telling you that YOU cannot follow that lifestyle. All you have to do is make time for it. Remember though, that no matter how hard you work, you’ll never really attain THAT specific body because your genes are different. If you ever look at fitness, NPC and IFBB models; the only thing they have in common are muscle and toned physiques. Some have bigger butts. Some have larger breasts. So don’t let social media bring you down, as it can always bring you up, no matter WHAT the content.

So here we come to a close. I hope you all enjoyed the content and I’m getting better at not jumping around and going in a flow. But that’s just how my brain works. You can follow me on any social media and I hope to see you next weekend!

-Love, Ellie

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The World of Fashion!

fashion
The World of Fashion allows for individual expression.

Hi everyone! I’m Ellie and I will be giving you a tour, to the best of my abilities, in the wide world of fashion and everything that goes with it! This means makeup, hair, shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

Now, fashion IS NOT ‘just’ for the elite, despite what major media will tell you. Whether we like it or not, the media DOES influence our fashion choices to some degree.  All top fashionistas and socialites follow the likes of a Kardashian. But for people like me, we mostly follow those who we identify with. I do not identify with any Kardashian. I, personally, identify with certain models. Miranda Kerr, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, and Jennifer Nicole Lee to name a few. I don’t identify with them in body type, but by their backgrounds. I’m German, so that’s my link to Miranda(Australian), Alessandra(Brazilian), Adriana(Brazilian) Jennifer Nicole Lee(Italian). I’m striving to become a fitness model, and if you’re familiar with Jennifer Nicole Lee’s background, then you know she didn’t always look the way she does. That and she’s super-cool about adding people to her LinkedIn profile. I follow her on all media and have a few of her books.

It goes without saying that how we feel is reflected in how we look, and vice versa. If you feel absolutely INCREDIBLE, you’ll be done up to the nines, making your confidence SOAR! You’ll probably wear something form-fitting, but not ridiculously tight. Cute shoes, minimal makeup, and an incredible hairstyle. Conversely, if you’re having a bad day it’s still going to reflect. You’re probably going to pull on your jeans and an over-sized shirt. Barefaced and a messy bun or ponytail. Keep in mind, this is how I personally see it. You, the reader, will have a different view. But if you suffer from depression or other mental illness and having a bad day, then I’m probably not far off the mark.

Let me tell you about myself. I’m in my late 30s with an artistic flair for art and jewelry. My interest in fashion didn’t bloom until fairly recently. I’m the oldest of four. As a kid, we lived in(what used to be)middle lower class. This was the early nineties. We had enough for basics. That was it. Our clothing came from hand-me-downs from other families and garage sales. Our grandma was a garage sale fanatic and most of our clothing came from her. As a child and early teens, I remember looking in my laundry basket, wondering where the hell half the stuff came from. My parents spent money if they needed to. A large young family on a budget, it needed to be done. Otherwise, we wore it until it could be worn no more. Usually this occurred when it became too small for my youngest sister.

I had just turned 16 when I got my first job. I worked at a local grocery store. It was my first uniform. Khakis and a white button-down. Tie or pin. This was also the late nineties, early 2000s, when all the fashion info you got was from a magazine. Facebook wouldn’t be around until 2000 and the internet was in it’s infancy. We didn’t get a computer until around 1997 when I was in 8th grade. Everyone in their thirties and over will remember there wasn’t high-speed internet and you had to wait the longest five minutes EVER for connection. Routers weren’t available, so the phone had to be unhooked. If you tried o call, you got a busy signal until the person was offline. Online shopping wasn’t available until only very recently.

Kindergarten to 6th grade are the years where outfits were approved by parents. You were still a kid, but slowly becoming independent. I wore whatever I had. In second grade(and in early summer no less) I wore a cold-weather outfit. It was a black and red matching two-piece with red leggings and a red and black striped top. I was absolutely DYING. In 5th grade, I wore overall shorts with a tee, and a windbreaker. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except I live in Kansas where the weather is bipolar. The weather didn’t warm up as I thought.  The windbreaker. It was mainly red with black and blue block design on the jacket. I wore it to school and a classmate said out loud ‘she finally matches!’ It was out of malice, not friendly. Looking back, I realize this was when my ‘rebellion’ began. I certainly wasn’t going with the crowd, so I was to be ridiculed.

My budding fashion sense began in middle school. Got my first tank top as a freshman. This was also in the budding Britney Spears/ Christina Aguilera era where midsections were all over the place, along with the annoying low-rise jeans. Our school had a dress code though. Nothing obscene, no booty shorts and no bra straps. I don’t recall any double standards at my school. I remember a boy wore a shirt that said something obscene with a phallic image on it. He was told to turn it inside out. And he did.

I had modesty. And I still do. I knew a skirt was too short if I had to squat to bend over. It was my first mini-broom skirt. Not long after I got it, I learned it was flammable. I wore it to church and was an acolyte, so I was around live fire. I got rid of it. This was around the time I decided to no longer wear skirts or dresses and wear pants instead. I felt self-conscious and I never knew why. I wasn’t worried about anyone being gross. Our church was highly -respected and very family-oriented. Everyone knew everyone else and our grandparents were part of the congregation. My mom was head of Sunday School and my dad was in the choir. All I’d have to do was say ‘I’m Bill/Sally’s daughter’ or ‘Frank/Daisy’s’ granddaughter and they’d automatically know who I was. That and my last name is hard to miss.

In 8th grade, the depression hit. This was my baggy era. Nothing fit. It was deliberate. Even my bras were sports. I didn’t know my actual cup-size until my early 20s. I just didn’t care. It carried into high school. Looking back, this was also when the mental disorders were at their peak. I didn’t go with the crowd because I didn’t see the point. I follow the trends I want, and even THEN it isn’t 100%. Bits and pieces along the way.

Now that I’m an adult, things have changed. The illnesses are quelled(for the most part)and I’m learning more and more about my suppressed style. Not only that, but online shopping is available from pretty much everywhere and everyone. Gone are the days when you had to physically visit a store to make a purchase.

I hope you liked this post and I hope to see you for the next one!

-Ellie V

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The Journey Begins…..AGAIN

waterfallThanks for joining me!

This blog is not only about fashion, but also mental health and how it ultimately affects how women feel about themselves. Today’s society is absolutely RAMPANT with enough negative imagery to make the most attractive woman feel like crap. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that’s how things were supposed to go. I blame it on a whole bunch of things. I blame society, the elite, diets, plastic surgery, reality TV and medication. Before you jump on me for saying this, please read my other articles first. You will find I only discuss what I KNOW and ultimately leave YOU, the reader, to make your own decision. Being a woman, this is ALSO mostly geared towards women. But certainly not inclusive.

So join me on the woman’s journey through mental health and how it affects her inwardly as well as outwardly.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton