Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? The holidays are creeping up on us, and between classes and work projects, I’ve barely made a dent in my gift shopping list.

However, those who know me best know that I love buying gifts! Gift-giving is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season, and I love sharing my favorite products and gift finds with friends and readers. For those who still have some shopping to do, check out my latest holiday gift guide for fun ideas (or pop over to my 2015 post for some oldies but goodies). Happy shopping! 🙂

  • IMG_1259.jpgFor your spirit junkie friend:  The Universe Has Your Back 52-card deck!
    I loved Gabby Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back, so when she released this deck of 52 inspirational affirmations, I knew I’d have to order one for myself. These cards are beautifully illustrated and provide positive spiritual mantras that anyone can benefit from. My favorite card reads Joy is the ultimate creator, but you can choose from so many other uplifting messages to help guide your day.
  • For your favorite feminist: This GRL PWR coffee mug.
    Effie’s Paper sells some of the cutest stationery “and whatnot,” but I keep coming back to to this mug. Order yours — or check out their other gift items under $25. (Is anyone else obsessed with the marble Post-It notes, or is it just me?)
  • For the monogram enthusiast: This floral monogrammed wine set from ChicMonogram.
    I’ve written about ChicMonogram before and I will always come back to them! Their store features more than 1,000 customizable gift items, from business card cases to kitchen supplies and much more! Some designs even feature Lilly Pulitzer prints. Check out the entire store here!
  • For the friend who loves Cards Against Humanity: Joking Hazard.
    This game is perfect for your friend who has an inappropriate sense of humor (read: me), especially if that friend hosts a lot of parties. This game is like the comic version of Cards Against Humanity, featuring artwork from Cyanide and Happiness.
  • For the natural beauty: Primally Pure beauty products.
    Primally Pure carries skincare and other beauty products with all natural ingredients that you can actually pronounce. As someone with incredibly sensitive skin, I’m obsessed with their lavender dry shampoo for dark locks and pretty much all of their lip balms, but the beauty brand also carries cleansing oils, spa kits, and more.
  • For the crystal lover: This rose quartz heart necklace from Sinus Finnicus.
    Rose quartz is my favorite crystal, meant to attract unconditional love. The store offers a variety of beautiful crystal pendants with other metaphysical properties as well! These pendants are shipped from Finland, so order early.
  • For the tea enthusiasts: This amazing watermelon oolong from AntiquiTEAs.
    I hosted a tea party at AntiquiTEAs in Winter Garden for my birthday earlier this year, and absolutely loved their watermelon oolong! They sell a variety of delicious loose teas online and in their store at the Plant Street Market. Check out the various flavors on their website — I promise your friends will love you for it!

What are you buying this holiday season? Share your favorite finds in the comments section below!

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Link Love Wednesday: David Beckham and Old Hollywood

026-ginger-rogers-and-fred-astaire-theredlistGood evening and happy Friday to all of my lovely readers! I hope everyone is having a wonderful month of November and getting excited for Thanksgiving next week. 🙂 I’m fighting a sinus infection, but I’ve still had my share of adventures lately — some community service projects, a local jazz festival, and even a couple of items crossed off of my bucket list! What have you been up to?

As always, enjoy this week’s roundup of link love, and share your own favorites in the comments below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

What links are you loving lately? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

We Need to Stop Talking About “Real” Women

slide_333724_3333279_freeNo matter what social media platform I turn to, I am inundated with articles about “real” women. From anti-thigh gap petitions to reimagined portraits of popular celebrities or fictional characters (possible headline: “Artist Depicted Disney Princesses as Real Women – and What She Found Was STUNNING”), the subject of Real Women is a popular and often viral one. On the surface, these articles provide a sense of belonging and empowerment for those who feel otherwise underrepresented in the media. However, at their core, these articles quietly promote a culture of exclusion and bullying that no one is willing to address.

Advertisements and articles that talk about “real women” with “real bodies” don’t often look at both ends of the spectrum. While the measurements of a “real body” aren’t clearly defined, these ads and articles generally focus on women who are overweight or obese. At their core, they disregard those women who are thin or underweight, dismissing them as “fake” or too concerned with how society perceives them. They claim to celebrate all body types, when in truth, they only celebrate the bodies of the women they deem real.

enhanced-32549-1393886616-29Some women are naturally thinner or fuller-figured than others. Some women struggle to gain weight, while others focus all of their energy on weight loss and still face challenges. Some women have hormonal imbalances or other health issues that lend themselves to unwanted weight loss or weight gain. Some women have eating disorders that cause them to be overweight or underweight. Some women eat whatever they want and are perfectly happy with their bodies, regardless of the size. Some women (of all sizes) are unhappy with their bodies. Who are we to judge which of these women are real?

Last year, J. Crew introduced the size 000 to its lineup, and the whole Internet lost it. Instead of considering the fact that this size 000 could satisfy customers’ demands, critics were quick to accuse the label of vanity sizing and contributing to the negative self-esteem of young girls. They ignore the fact that the smaller size allows J. Crew to expand its market and become more inclusive, particularly for smaller women who previously couldn’t shop at J. Crew.

vintage-sexist-womens-ads-18If you met someone on the street who was overweight, you wouldn’t tell her how unhealthy she looks (and if you would, you’re a horrible person and should reconsider your life choices). But for friends of mine who are on the thinner side, hearing comments about their body, health or their need to “eat a cheeseburger” is a common occurrence. Our bodies are our own – should we really have to accept commentary about them from anyone? Is it our business to speak negatively about other women’s bodies?

offending_pearIn a world where feminism is the hot button issue we all cling to, I am especially appalled by the way we speak about women’s bodies on such a regular basis. I have never once read an article that discussed Real Men and delved into their body types or the extent of their grooming practices. We devalue women who place an emphasis on maintaining a  certain standard of beauty that they perceive to be important, because it doesn’t line up with the more “natural” look that many have grown to prefer. We insult an entire group of women whose appearances don’t match a certain nebulous definition of “real” because, in a way, we feel that this places a greater value on the group we deem most worthy.

I absolutely believe in the importance of inclusion, and believe that women of all body types should feel beautiful and admired. In order to achieve that, however, we need to stop talking about real women and disregarding those who don’t match those ideals. Instead of focusing on women’s bodies, let’s talk about what those women have to say. Let’s talk about their accomplishments. Let’s be a little nicer.

The Role of Women in Romantic Comedies

sandrabullockIt has become a widely accepted fact that the plots of romantic comedies are just not realistic (for further proof, see here and here). Growing up with the now often-parodied teen flicks of the 90s and early 2000s, I can attest to the fact that the movies I watched when I was younger played a huge role in the misconceptions that I and so many of my peers had when it came to relationships. If a guy treats you poorly, he likes you. If you argue a lot with another person, it means you have chemistry. And if all else fails, you’ll probably just wind up with your best friend anyway.

I think we can agree that these misconceptions are harmful, but until recently, I didn’t stop to think just how harmful their portrayals of women could be. Most female characters fall into two categories: desperate to fall in love and get married (think of Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You), or too career-driven to ever want or attract a man (Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality or perhaps any other movie she has ever been in). Let’s call this second character Jane.

No-Strings-Attached_240These movies do an incredible disservice to Jane and characters like her because they paint them as cold, out of touch and clearly Missing Something. In fact, there is usually a best friend character prone to “messy” relationships who summarizes this sentiment early in the film by stating that Jane is so set in her ways and afraid of getting hurt that she risks finding true happiness. Also, would it kill her to put on a little more makeup and wear her hair down once in a while?

Never mind the fact that Jane loves what she does for a living and is well suited for it. Pop culture tells us that the woman who focuses “too much” on her career is simply doing so to distract herself from finding a soul mate. Only when she lets her hair down (literally and figuratively) and demonstrates some form of vulnerability, perhaps by crying or getting drunk in front of the male love interest, does she open herself up to a happy life. Only then does she truly become the character we like and root for. After all, what man would want to be with a woman who enjoys her job?

In real life, there are gradients between these extremes. Women who love their careers and enjoy being in a relationship do exist. In addition, there are plenty of men who like independent women. Why do we have to box ourselves into these two very limited categories? (And for the women who don’t ever visualize themselves in a relationship, who are we to judge?)

ginnifer-goodwin-purple-nails-he's-just-not-that-into-you-nubar-pasadena-purpleWe value a woman’s willingness to be in a relationship as a trait to be valued, but not her independence. In the movies, Jane’s “independence” is clearly just a wall she put up after someone hurt her, a wall that is meant to be broken down by the male lead. (Jane’s best friend or love interest in the film may actually use the whole “wall” metaphor in a big speech that makes her realize just how closed off she has been the entire time.)

If a woman rejects a man or decides to put her career first, pop culture labels her as cold. (Tweet this!) What the movies – and the people who watch them! – fail to think about is the fact that we all have different priorities at different points in our lives, and while a woman may hope to marry and have babies someday, she might not be ready for that stage.

There are a few exceptions to the romantic comedy genre that don’t posit relationships and careers as an either/or for women, but all too often, pop culture dictates that we must choose (and that “career” is the wrong choice). Society – and women especially – need to remember that these options are not mutually exclusive, and that they can have both.

Link Love Wednesday: Crazy Stock Photo Edition

What a wonderful week it has been! In the last seven days, I celebrated my one-year anniversary at work, played my favorite arcade games and won a silly mask, visited my family for Mother’s Day, and went on a shopping spree. I’m looking forward to the weekend already, but as always, the Internet has done a great job of keeping me entertained after work. 🙂

What were some of your favorite links this week?

International Women’s Day

wonder womanAs many of you may know, today (March 8) is International Women’s Day! Although you won’t see me belting out the lyrics to I Am Woman any time soon, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on this day and its meaning to me personally. I don’t claim to be a particularly hardcore feminist, but I am prouder than ever to be a young woman in 2013, where I can take control of my own life and decisions. We may be a far cry from total gender equality, but we have come a long way.

In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I said, “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.” Elizabeth ruled without a husband, and it is sad to think that the strength she demonstrated during her reign had to be compared to that of a king, rather than that of a queen. During the present day, women can focus on their careers, on attaining professional success rather than raising families, and I believe that they will be encouraged to do so even more in the years to come.

I also believe that one of feminism’s greatest setbacks comes from the judgments of other women. Being a woman does not mean that you have to fit one particular stereotype, and I hate seeing the rigidity of our gender norms. While some believe that femininity means wearing dresses and taking care of one’s husband, others believe that women should live completely independent of men and that by wearing makeup and “girly” clothes, they are objectifying themselves. Ultimately, as women, we need to respect the preferences of one another and allow each other to express ourselves as we see fit. I love wearing sun dresses, I usually don’t leave the house without makeup and at times I’m a little boy crazy, but I also am fully committed to finding a fulfilling career and balancing that with family life. Other women may feel differently, and that’s okay.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, I hope we can remember to respect one another as women and to stand by each other, even if our lifestyles don’t match up!