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Letting Go of Worrying About Other People’s Opinions

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“People will judge you. People will whisper about you. People will hate you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Learn to make peace with this, and you’ll be free.” – Aletheia Luna

Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time worrying about other people’s opinions of me. I used to be a huge people pleaser and I wanted so badly to be well-liked. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, this need to please has dissipated quite a bit and I like to think I now have a much healthier and balanced way of thinking and feeling about other people’s opinions of me.

What absolutely hasn’t changed, though, is how many opinions people have and how strongly they feel them. More specifically, how badly they need to express those opinions about other people. Even more specifically, about people they may or may not know…and their weight and presumed overall health.

It’s undeniable at this point that “plus size,” is having a moment. Whether it be an article about plus-size model, Ashley Graham or a think piece on body positivity, It seems the whole world is contemplating the possibility that larger, curvier, thicker, fuller-figured…fill-in-the-blank-term-that-suits-you…women are beautiful and worthy of a platform, love, praise, clothing options, respect…(and anything else their thinner counterparts receive on a daily basis). With all of this positivity more voluptuous women are receiving, there has also been quite a bit of hate.

Just last month, model and plus-size beauty, Natalie Hage courageously stood up for herself when she confronted a man sitting next to her on an airplane. He’d been sending rude text message to a friend about Hage’s body size. Once confronted (Go, Natalie!), his response was typical…first denial, then an excuse, and finally, he asked why she was sitting in an exit row when she knew she clearly was unable to assist in case of an emergency. *eye roll* Besides being completely rude and offensive, what he said was just plain ignorant. But fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture, we can’t separate what we believe to be fact from what is actually reality. This man knew nothing about her health, stamina, strength…Hell, he had gray hair, so by using his logic, maybe he wouldn’t be able to help much either.

What I see over and over again everyday on social media and in the comments under body positive news articles are comments that are nothing more than cyberbullying. Everyone’s a doctor with a diagnosis all of a sudden. The way we hone in on and scrutinize larger bodies and ignore the health risks of being too thin or average size, but not eating well, working out, etc…is infuriating. Moreover, the fact that we as a culture judge other people solely by what we see on the outside is just maddening.

I want to be clear that I’ve been really lucky thus far. I honestly haven’t had a single person leave me a mean comment or send me a rude message about my body/size possibly ever (not counting family – *sad face*), but especially since I started my @ChiefofStyle Instagram account and this blog. Everyone has been so supportive and kind. I certainly hope it stays that way, but I can imagine that it may not.

In any case, should the mean messages start rolling in, I’m going to do what I want you to do: Not give any f*cks. One’s own opinions are the only ones that should count.

On a more practical note, should you receive rude comments, here are three things to help you get through it:

  1. Step away. Take a break from the app, or at least the comment. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re an incredible human being worthy of love and kindness. Don’t let the opinions of others – especially people you don’t know – affect how you feel about yourself.
  2. Consider the source. This person is probably a stranger who has nothing better to do with their time than to be mean. Keep their comment in perspective and don’t take it personally. They’re likely projecting their own issues onto you. Don’t take on their “stuff.” Remember that no successful person is without a hater or two. Also, consider that they may not know that they’re being mean given that fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture.
  3. Decide whether to respond or not. If you decide to engage (for a teaching moment?), make sure you’re not jeopardizing your own self-care. What works for me with criticism is being as straightforward and calm as possible. Don’t let the person get to you. Better yet, if you can shrug it off with a joke or something relatively funny, do that. If comedy isn’t your forte and you’d prefer not to engage, simply delete the comment. Also, having friends who have your back in these situations is really helpful. I’ve seen other people’s followers come to their rescue when a trolls come through. Know who will have your back and reach out if you need support. Then do the same for them when they need you. Look out for each other.

And, don’t forget, you have the option to report and block trolling comments and direct messages on just about any platform. Do it if you need to. Here’s a great post by Bustle that gives even more great ideas for dealing with body shaming comments. And, the advice can be applied to any form of cyberbullying.

Take care out there, babes. You’ve got so much fierceness in you, some folks just can’t handle it. Never let their opinions change how you feel about yourself. For some of us, it’s taken years to get to where we are in our self-love journey. Let’s not let anyone steal that with a mean comment.

Sending you so much love always.

xo

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, Louis Vuitton neverfull tote bag, iPhone, trendy glasses, and coffee.

Shirt: Target | Skirt: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Bar III (Macy’s)

Photographer: Trey Jones (IG: @cjonesphotog)

How to Love Yourself + 10 Things That Happen When You Do

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“It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.” –Denis Waitley

It has taken me years to get to a point where I can truly say I love who I am. I’m happy with where I am in life, I feel good about how I look, and I enjoy waking up each day being me. Yes, some days I struggle (as everyone does), but, in general, I have more good days than bad. And, overall, I am (finally) comfortable in my own skin – not because I lost 50lbs or because I had cosmetic surgery or found the love of my life. But, I’m finally happy (and finally free) because I made a radical decision to stop picking myself apart and start finding things (big and small) to love about myself. It truly was a choice – a come to Jesus moment, if you will. I wish it happened overnight, but truth is it took a lot of work and required me to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

The first step was making the decision to start changing how I speak to myself. When something went wrong, I stopped blaming myself and I changed my internal dialogue when it became negative. Instead of berating myself after making a mistake, I started looking for the lessons.

I then limited my Facebook use and created a new Instagram account and vowed to no longer follow people I compared myself to (often super thin or ridiculously fit influencers) and I started following women who had bodies like mine and/or who were after similar goals. And then, I stopped comparing my “chapter 1 to their chapter 5,” as they say (a way of looking at things that I really love).

Next, I set some new goals (small ones at first) and as I achieved those goals, I set new, loftier ones. And I made sure to celebrate my achievements along the way!

Most importantly, because I truly believe we are the company we keep, I stopped hanging out with people who brought me down. I sought out friendships with people who work hard for what they want and don’t make excuses…people who inspire me to be my best self. Folks who give as much as they take and I can call on when I really need a friend. As such, I ended toxic relationships with people who didn’t have my best interests at heart.

I also started eating better (including adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet) and I drank more water. I got more sleep, began following a realistic workout plan, and kept conservative body goals. And, I began taking vitamins and I made sure I took my medications every day.

But, first and foremost, I had to say “enough is enough” with living a half life where I picked apart everything I did and everything I said. Instead of being my own worst enemy, I had to be my best friend, choosing self-love at every turn. And, as a result, I’ve learned a lot along the way. This blog only came to be because I decided to stop standing in my own way and I made the choice to be happy.

That said, here are 10 things that happen when you make the decision to love yourself:

One. You’re no longer afraid to show your knees (or whatever body part you’re most insecure about)

I used to only wear skirts, shorts, and dresses if the hemline fell below my knees. I thought my legs were too chunky for the world to see and I wished for a day when I lost enough weight to wear something short. (Summertime was brutal!) Now, IDGAF. I wear what I want and I don’t think of it as an “Oh well for you, you have to just deal with my fat legs being out.” Instead, I think, “Lucky you. I look fabulous and you get to see me!” LOL 

Two. When you catch yourself walking by a mirror, you admire yourself instead of cringing

You may experience that same feeling of disgust when you see your reflection in a storefront window or in a group photo. Well, so did I. But I’ve decided to consider that no one else looks at me that way, so why should I? They don’t see what I see, so why can’t I try to see what they do?

Three. You start living in the present instead of “When XYZ happens”

I think this is one of the biggest rewards that comes from loving yourself. Instead of saying you’ll wear a bikini to the beach once you’ve lost 20, 30…50lbs(!), just f-ing do it today! Besides the fact that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow and you may never get to your goal…(whether you do or you don’t), just do it today. If you start living into your dreams, you’ll be shocked to find that they may happen. I truly believe the Universe takes cues from you. If you say you want to find love so you can travel the world together, for example…just start traveling now and you may bump into the love of your life in the process! 

Four. You begin attracting better people and new opportunities into your life

This is possibly one of the greatest benefits to loving yourself, in my opinion. Confident people want to be around other confident people. In other words, when you feel good about yourself, you’ll begin attracting other people who feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work in the reverse. (It’s hard to make and retain friendships with folks who love themselves if you can’t stand yourself.) So, get to work and enjoy the new people who become a part of your circle. 

Five. You stop feeling sorry for yourself and take control of your life

This is key. Feeling sorry for yourself, blaming others for your failures, and not taking ownership of your past, present, and future is not something someone who loves and values them self does. If for no other reason, self-love requires valuing your time and your energy resources. Spending time on regret or self-pity is not the way one expresses self-love. And, someone with a solid sense of self and rock solid confidence owns their mistakes, knowing only they can fix them.

Six. You don’t put up with bullsh*t and start expecting better from yourself and others

You’ll stop with the excuses and start getting real with yourself and others. If a friend hasn’t been much of a friend lately, you’ll hold them accountable. You, basically, start living more authentically and with more integrity than ever before – and you expect the same of those you keep around you.

Seven. You take better care of yourself and you’re not afraid to say “No”

The best way to love yourself is to take care of yourself. If you don’t feel like going out with your friends because you need 8-hours of sleep to function, you’ll stay in. Loving yourself requires treating yourself with care, whether that be with your own, personal self-care practice or simply getting enough sleep and eating right. And sometimes that’s at the cost of displeasing others. You can only go out and get what you want in life, if you take care of your mind, body, and spirit. 

Eight. You stop worrying about what other people think

Once I began to love myself more, only my opinion really mattered. Sure, I appreciate the advice and opinions of others, but when they conflict with my own, I take what feels right and I leave the rest. So long as my choice(s) feel good in my gut, I’m good to go. 

Nine. You truly appreciate others and see their beauty

When I started loving myself more, I criticized myself – and others – less. I saw my beauty, talents, abilities (etc.) and, as a result, was able to recognize wonderful qualities in other people, too. Because I no longer hated my body in a bathing suit, I was able to appreciate the beauty of women (some who were larger than me) in their bathing suits, too. I no longer felt the need to pick apart my flaws or those of others. Self-love truly is a gift that keeps on giving. 

Ten. You know you’re not the only one

You’re comforted knowing you’re not the only one who struggles with this thing called life. No one has it all figured out. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. When you truly love yourself you forgive yourself and others when you/they have a misstep, you dust yourself off, and you keep it pushing.

These 10 things are just a start. When you love yourself, your entire world will transform – guaranteed!

What have you done to love yourself more? How has your life changed as a result? Share in the comments below. 

 

Outfit details: Shirt: Forever21+ | Jeans: The Limited | Shoes: Forever21

Photographer: CJ Edwards-Acton

F*ck Skinny, Get Fit – a Trip to Indian Alley

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“Perhaps, we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.” – Rudy Francisco

This was the very first photo shoot I did for The Chief of Style. As you may have gathered by now, the word “Chief” in my name means more than just the boss (i.e.: CEO), but I’m also Native American. Essentially, it’s a play on words.

For this inaugural shoot, I went to Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles. Very few people know about this particular street. It’s actually gated on both ends, but if you’re lucky, you can get in. Along the walls are incredible street art murals – most feature Indian empowerment-type images and many are political. I felt so badass posing with them. (It’s not everyday you see Indigenous culture represented in an urban area and in a modern way.) The murals, to me, say “We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.” I love the juxtaposition of the Indians on horses, spray painted with a stencil. Where past and present, urban center and the rural plains meet.

I chose to do a fitness-style shoot because working out makes me feel strong, like a warrior. And, I’m renewing my commitment to a eating clean and moving more. For the shoot, I wore my new favorite workout tank that says, “F*CK SKINNY, GET FIT.” That’s truly become my mantra along this self-love and acceptance journey. When it comes to my fitness routine and overall lifestyle, I’ve adopted a much more loving way of looking at things. I’m done punishing my body and ‘hating the weight off.’ I truly want to be health, plain and simple. Fitness is what I’m after, not a stick thin figure (as I once would have killed for).

Many communities of color value extra meat on the body, mine included. It’s possible to be healthy and curvy and that’s what I’m after. So, there’s no more fat and body-shaming going on over here.

You should really check out Indian Alley if you’re ever in Downtown LA. The murals are constantly changing and they’re just glorious. Enjoy!

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Amy Stretten, Chief of Style, plus style blogger modeling Forever 21 Plus and Nike in front of the murals on Indian Alley in Downtown Los Angeles.

Shirt: SquatLife Apparel | Leggings and jacket: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Nike

Photographer: Trey Jones (IG: @cjonesphotog)

That Time I Skipped Coachella and Went to Joshua Tree

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“I’m not a woman, I’m a force of nature.” – Courtney Love

I said this year would be the year that I finally go to Coachella. If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me declare this every year since the festival first began. And, once again, I did not go to Coachella this year because of scheduling…but also (mostly) because of the price tag.

Still, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to head to nearby Joshua Tree for a Coachella-esque photoshoot!

I did a few different looks with some of my favorite, fabulous festival-worthy rompers by Forever 21+.

I have always loved rompers. Always always always. There’s just something about how comfortable they are while looking so put together. But,.I never used to wear them because I hated my legs. They were always too big in my opinion and I felt uncomfortable showing them. It was at Philadelphia Dyke March when I finally wore a romper. I walked in the streets and I didn’t care what anyone thought about it…Actually, to tell you the truth, I felt sexy AF and assumed anyone seeing them agreed. (Look who’s grown!) So, yes, this shoot was more than just wearing cute summer outfits, but about owning my body, and being proud of it.

That said, I love how still the desert looks behind my vibrant outfit picks.

Here’s hoping I make it to Coachella next year and can take some photos at the festival! For now, these will have to do. <3

Plus size festival fashion

Joshua Tree in the Coachella Valley

Plus size festival fashion

Plus size festival fashion

Plus size festival fashion

Joshua Tree in the Coachella Valley

Plus size festival fashion

Outfit details: Romper, shorts: Forever21+ | Shoes (brown): Merona | Shoes (black): Vince Camuto | Jewelry: The Limited

Photographer: Ivy Stretten (IG: @xenalovebug)