Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Princess No More

Hey Brainiacs,

Sorry it's been a while, again, but I am finally done with finals!  And with the completion of finals comes the completion of my undergraduate career.  This means no more late nights stuck in class, no more studying material I couldn't care less about, and no more pretending to listen to professors who bored me half to death.

To celebrate the end of this little slice of hell, I've been doing basically nothing.  I'm literally sitting on my patio and scrolling through the websites of Vogue, WWD, and Bazaar.  However, this brought me to my writing topic of the day: Princess Mako of Japan is giving up her royal title.

While studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Mako met Kei Komuro, a paralegal (not a royal).

As is Japanese imperial tradition, in order to marry Komuro, Mako would have to give up her official title and role as a princess, which she has decided to do.

Initially, I wasn't sure how I felt about this.  Giving up her entire destiny for a man?  However, lately I've been softening up to the idea of love.

Why should Mako have to marry someone she likely doesn't care about in order to keep her title?  And what exactly does the title of "Princess" do for a girl anyway?  Free tiaras?

I think it's bold of Mako to follow her heart and pursue the man she truly loves.  Connections like that don't come around frequently, and you can't just throw them away.  If she has met someone she wants to spend every day with, wants to share her secrets and quirks with because he will love her at the end of the day no matter what, then she should be happy.  She should be with the paralegal, crown be damned.

What do you think about this?  Does this matter to you at all?  I'm not sure why I care so deeply about Princess Mako of Japan's love life, but it's a slow Wednesday.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

May 4

Today is a special day, and not because it’s May the Fourth. I’m not a Star Wars nerd, so frankly I don’t give a shit.  Today is May 4, and that marks two months of recovering from anorexia.

I could tell you that this has been a miracle, that this has been a happy sixty days, but that just wouldn’t be the truth.  The truth is that this has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through, and the only thing pushing me along is the knowledge that this is the right thing to do.

The truth about recovery is that it isn’t pretty.  You don’t start eating three balanced meals and suddenly become normal again.  You have to go through hell—payback for the hell you put your body through all those years.

When I first began recovering, I thought I was dying about fifteen times a day.  It begins with the increase in metabolism, which is sudden and dramatic and you are just not ready for it. 

Starting out, I couldn’t eat like a normal person.  Based on the danger my body was in, I had to eat like a teenage athletic boy just to make any semblance of progress.  No matter how much I ate, it wasn’t enough.  My metabolism, which I had so cruelly ignored for three years, was back and vengeful as hell.  My eyes would glaze over, in desperate need for food almost every hour on the hour.  I would shake until I got something in my stomach.  My heart rate would rise and fall drastically throughout the day, a reminder that I was still at risk for a heart attack (and still am).  I went through a period where I swear I could literally feel my food metabolizing and disappearing before I had even finished swallowing it.  I had to keep eating, eating, eating, but don’t forget: I have a disorder.

“Have,” because even though I’ve chosen to recover, I’ll still live with anorexia.  The experts say you can never get rid of an eating disorder—only learn how to manage it.  “Have,” because even though I want to get better, I want to be happy, I want to be healthy and normal again, there’s a voice in my head that will never stop telling me to put down the food.  The voice in my head will never stop telling me to exercise longer, to run faster, to drink more water instead of eat.  The voice is getting duller, but it’s still there.

After the metabolism began to regularize, I noticed another wonderful (note: heavy sarcasm) side effect of recovering: it all goes straight to your stomach at first.

A doctor explained this phenomenon to me: when you starve yourself, the first thing to break down is your muscle.  Next, your bone density.  Then, brain chemicals are messed with.  Eventually, your stomach lining begins to deteriorate, causing your organs to sag.  When you begin to refeed, your body isn’t sure whether or not you’re going to put it through a deficit again, so to protect itself, the fat all goes straight to your stomach to protect those vital organs.  After you’ve been eating regularly for a while, it begins to redistribute and you have a normal, balanced body again.  But this can take months—even a year. 

Beyond the fact that I’ve been wandering around the past two months looking slightly pregnant, I’ve been experiencing a resurgence of hormones.  Another thing that happens when you starve yourself—your body stops producing enough hormones.  Get down to a low enough body fat percentage and you lose your period, too.  This sounds like a dream come true, but it’s a nightmare.  Imagine not feeling like a woman anymore.  Beyond just the loss of sexuality is the loss of feelings in general.  Happiness, sadness, anger—it’s all numbed.  You’re not really a person anymore.  You’re not really living.

Recovery is the exact opposite.  About a month in, I began to feel thirteen and raging all over again.  Mood swings, random fits of anger/sobbing/hysterical joy.  Deep depression for what I put myself through, followed by delirious happiness that I’ve been able to pull myself out.  And then, after three years without, I got my period.

As of today, I am the minimum “normal” weight for my height, gender, and build.  I am menstruating again, I’m experiencing life, and I’m eating enough to make it through the day without collapsing mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

I know I still have a long way to go.  Shit, I haven’t even really gotten past the stage of looking slightly pregnant at all times.  I have a lot to learn, a lot of fears that remain to be tackled, and a lot of physical and emotional damage to repair.  But two months ago today I decided to live my life again, and I’m really proud of myself for sticking to that.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Met Gala 2017

Hey Everyone,

It's a shame that the Met Gala was last night while I was stuck in class.  However, the beautiful thing about social media is that it was so widely covered, I was practically there anyway.  Except, you know...not at all there.  Like not even slightly close to being there.

But it's okay! That small detail doesn't stop me from compiling a list of the best dressed at the Met Gala, OR from judging the people I deemed not good enough.  In no particular order, here is my verdict:

1. Rihanna

It's tough for me to admit this, but someone beat out even the queen (Lady Gaga) this year, and that someone is Rihanna.  As far as I'm concerned, Rihanna won the red carpet. 

If you follow my blog or have any sort of interest in the fashion world, you know this year's theme was Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.  Kawakubo is known for her wild, imaginative, textured designs.  She is also known as the designer to create clothes that no one would actually want to wear. While most guests last night stuck to safer ensembles, Rihanna wore Comme des Garçons and truly paid homage to who the exhibit was honoring.  And she looked fantastic.

2. Joan Smalls

Nowhere near as daring as Rihanna, but still gorgeous in Alexander Wang.

3. Lily Collins

Not sure how I feel about this one.  She does sort of look like she belongs on a wedding cake...but maybe a really bad ass Gothic wedding cake.  It could work.

4. Kerry Washington

I barely recognized her in this look, but she really pulled it off.  The daring new bob paired perfectly with the multi-textured (nod to Kawakubo) gown and choker.

5. Cara Delevigne

Not exactly sure what's happening here. She's wearing Chanel and that's usually enough, but I'm not crazy about the tailoring of the jacket.  Also, she's shaved her head and painted it silver.  This would have made more sense last year.  Maybe she's forgotten the theme has changed.

6. Katy Perry

The co-host of the night.  This a little much. Maybe next time leave the headpiece at home.

7. Adwoah Aboah

One of my favorite models and she NEVER gets it wrong. A fun fact about Adwoah is that she started gurlstalk, a website devoted to making women feel empowered, loved, understood. Not alone. She's pretty fantastic for that.

8. Lupita Nyong'o

This color against her skin is absolutely breathtaking.  Lupita tends to wear bright colors and they work so well for her.

9. Grace Hartzel

Okay, now that's Comme des Garçons. Thank you Grace. 

That's my list of favorites, whether that be because they did it well or did something just...sort of wrong.  What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think I'm a moron? Comment about it!



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rei Kawakubo: Costume Exhibit

Hey Brainiacs,

I apologize for how long it's been since I've been regularly posting, but I've had to sell my soul to my university's newspaper this semester and it's really taking me away from my true calling: fashion.  Tragic, isn't it?  Anyway, I'm back!

I figured I'd come back with a bang, so let's talk about Rei Kawakubo and this year's Costume Exhibit at the Met.  Maybe you know exactly who that is, or maybe you're thinking to yourself, is that a person? A type of animal?  An innovative new bathtub cleaner?  You're so confused, you're embarrassing yourself. Allow me to explain.

Starting to make sense? Of course it isn't. Rei Kawakubo is the designer behind Comme des Garçons, French for "like the boys."

Comme des Garçons was started by Kawakubo in Tokyo in 1969 and has been defying fashion rules ever since.  The label is known for its imaginative work with texture and fit, rendering audiences speechless during runway shows.

(Comme des Garçons Spring RTW 1993)

Here's how the Met ties into the whole thing: if you're a human, you're aware (I'm hoping?) that there is a Met Gala every year on the First Monday In May. Fashion editors, writers, actors, politicians, and artists of all creed gather to celebrate the opening of the exhibit, each strategically dressed to match the theme.

This year, the theme is Kawakubo.  While most of the costume exhibits of years' past have been centered around a broader theme, such as last year's "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,"this one is dedicated to the designer and her womenswear label.

(Comme des Garçons Spring RTW 2000)

Kawakubo has never been afraid to do what she wants to do in her designs and the presentation of her models, and her shows are always widely received.

(Comme des Garçons Fall RTW 2014)

Her fearlessness has paid off, earning her this honor which will be on display May-September at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue.  Kawakubo is the second designer to have only her designs on display in the Costume Exhibit (the first being Yves Saint Laurent) and the first female designer to do so.

In honor of this milestone, here are a few of Kawakubo's most imaginative designs.  What are your thoughts on them? Would you wear them? When putting the designs on your body, would you know where to stick your limbs properly?  Is it possible that all these years, Kawakubo's models have just been putting the clothes on backwards?



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Done Hiding

The problem with anorexia is that it’s almost glamorized.  It’s a gorgeous model skipping lunch, it’s a bombshell in a bikini eating a stick of celery.  In reality, anorexia (and eating disorders in general) is hideous. 
I’m guessing your first question is, How did this happen?  Or perhaps, WHY did this happen? 
            Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, Doesn’t this only happen to people with really low self-esteem? Teenage girls with a history of abuse, daddy issues, depression?  But it’s not that simple.  I started out a normal girl who wanted to get in shape, and anorexia turned me into something I wasn’t.  It made me that teenage girl with all the issues.
            At first, cutting the calories felt really good.  The weight, which I was convinced was “way too much,” shed very quickly and the compliments came flooding in.  This encouraged me to keep going, not seeing how much I was restricting myself.  I guess I figured, if I can look good on this amount of food, won’t I look even better with a little less?  It seems simple enough to tell that version of Taylor: No, dumbass.  Less food doesn’t make you feel better.  It breaks down your muscle, results in hair and nail loss, puts your fertility rate in danger, lowers your blood pressure, and eventually messes up the chemicals in your brain, causing a body dysmorphia so crippling that even death sounds better than getting “fat.”  But I didn’t know.
            I kept going, and nothing was good enough.  All of the aforementioned symptoms happened to me and more.  My social life came to a screeching halt.  I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere or do anything.  Simple conversations exhausted me.  Everything either made me angry or completely apathetic.  I couldn’t even feel anymore.  All I could think about was why I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, why my stomach wasn’t completely flat, why there was a layer of fat around my biceps.
            Although I devoted all of my energy to my body, I never felt good enough.  The goal was to be skinny, but that goal was NEVER fulfilled.  I guess that’s what makes it an illness, right?  Most of the time I felt huge.  When I wasn’t feeling huge, it was because someone was telling me how horrifically skinny I looked and how I should get help.  Then I felt even worse than huge: I felt unattractive.  I felt unappealing, frail, and unwomanly.  I felt like my body was offensive, so I covered it up with large clothing so I could keep starving in peace.
            I mentioned before that my social life came to a screeching halt.  When I say screeching, I mean screeching.  People would ask me to go out, get dinner, have a drink, but the anxiety that came along with the thought of going out for a meal (I didn’t want people to see me eat) was enough to make my head spin.  I spent most nights at home, so bloated and in so much pain from the torture I was putting myself through that I couldn’t even think about seeing anyone. 
            They say the people who develop anorexia develop it because they’re perfectionists.  They need everything to be in order and in control, including their eating.  I tell my stomach when it needs to be fed, not the other way around.  Because of my perfectionism, my need to always be on top of things and to excel at everything I do, I never let anyone know I was struggling.  I never even admitted it to myself.  Instead, I became mean.  I was very cold and distant from people who are dearest to me.  I didn’t want to talk about my emotions because I didn’t have any.  I couldn’t empathize anymore because I couldn’t remember what it was like to feel sadness, happiness, love.  I didn’t even want anyone to touch me, let alone be part of my life.
            I was cold all the time. I stopped wearing makeup, stopped caring about my outfits. Stopped going to parties, stopped laughing, rarely smiled.
            I hope by now I’ve answered those initial questions that I basically forced you to ask.  There are many reasons eating disorders can happen, and they’re developed in a twisted, cruel way unique to every victim.  I’m not proud of what I did—the people I pushed away, the damage I did to my family, and the damage I did to myself.  I didn’t allow me to love myself anymore, and that’s something I am determined to get back.
            Almost two months ago I decided enough was enough.  Or rather, it was decided for me.  I began to notice trouble with my breathing but I ignored it, thinking it would go away.  A few days went by and things only got worse.  Eventually I was in the passenger seat of my friend’s car when I realized I couldn’t see straight.  There was a strange, throbbing sensation throughout my body and it felt as though ice cold liquid was running through my veins.  Later that night I noticed my heart rate was unusually slow.  I looked it up—a side effect that can result from being severely underweight. 
I went to urgent care that night.  Thankfully, everything was fine.  But it so fucking wasn’t.  I realized that this, my life, my health, wasn’t something to play around with.  Before things got fatal, I needed to stop. 
            The first thing I noticed when recovering was that I could see colors again.  It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but I remember going to school one of the first days in my recovery and looking around in wonder.  There were actual people around me, going to class and living their lives and eating enough calories to get through the day with a real smile.  Reality wasn’t a dull blur anymore.  I was no longer living in the fake world my eating disorder created for me—I was actually back on Earth.
            When eating disorders develop, they’re not taken seriously.  A man or woman decides to skip a meal here and there or reduce their calories a bit.  Most of the time, it’s okay, but sometimes, it gets out of control.  It keeps going and going until it’s consumed you, changed you, taken over your entire life.  But this is a serious issue and I’m sharing my experience not because I WANT anyone to know, but because I want to be there for anyone else who might be struggling. 

It’s not easy to talk about and it can feel impossible to overcome, but I understand that.  I’m done hiding, and I’m here.