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Stop Saying ‘No’ to Living the Life You Want

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. […] Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” – Helen Keller

“No.”

It’s a powerful word. One I’ve heard many, many times. Still, for whatever reason (maybe because I’m a typical, stubborn Taurus or because I’m determined as hell), I never ever ever give up. Never in my life have I let the word “No” stop me. I’ve been laid off, told I didn’t have enough experience, reminded of my lack of qualifications, dumped, pigeon-holed, misjudged, misunderstood, shown the metaphorical “exit,” not been granted entry, and I haven’t always fit in. There’s really no one, simple road to success and my winding career path is an example of that. But, lately…lately, thankfully, I’ve been hearing “Yes”…a lot.

As you may (and hopefully) know, in a couple of weeks, I’m throwing myself a party to celebrate the launch of this very site. (Yes, you’re invited.) You see, I’m determined AF, but in the past I allowed “perfection to stand in the way of good enough” as they say. I’ve never thought twice about taking risks when I didn’t have much at stake and I didn’t care about the outcome. But, I’ve definitely let my fears and insecurities hold me back from achieving what I want most. I have big – huge – dreams, but I stood in my own way for far too long, living small and playing it safe. I’m so over that! And the party I’m throwing will be to celebrate this transformation.

Since I’ve moved out of my own way and become laser focused, I’ve seen so much success. In just a few months, I’ve gained nearly 10,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve secured about one dozen brand partnerships, including sponsorships for my launch party (my gift bags are killer, y’all!), and I’ve received interest from several news outlets who want to share my story with their readers. I’m really just getting started, but I’ve seen so much growth in such a short period of time because I Decided (with a capital D) to be Brave (with a capital B) and get serious about making my dreams a reality. As a result, I’ve found support from my friends, family, followers…and I’m so very grateful for you. Thank you.

I may not know you IRL, but I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve held yourself back before, too. If so, I have one question for you: WHY!? Why are you sabotaging yourself from having that thing – whatever it is – that you want most? Seriously, there’s a reason and if you’re honest with yourself, you probably know what it is. Name it and stop it! Life is too short and you’re too incredible to live a mediocre life (whatever mediocre looks like for you).

What big dream do you have that you’ve been struggling to reach? Share it in the comments. Maybe I’ll have some suggestions.

May the fierce be with you, babes.

xo

Outfit details: Top: Forever21+ | Skirt: Torrid | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

A Low-key Patriotic Look in Slink Jeans

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“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” -Diane Von Furstenberg

Because I’m a person of color and particularly because I’m Native American, I have a complicated relationship with the federal government. Nevertheless, my grandfather proudly served in the Army and I am grateful for the rights and privileges I receive as an American, many of which are thanks to the sacrifices made by our armed forces. That said, rather than decking myself out in Stars and Stripes this Independence Day, I opted for a low-key patriotic look. As such, it was the perfect opportunity to show off my new Slink Jeans.

I’d heard so much about SLINK Jeans (which stands for “Sexy Lovable Intelligent Noticeable and Kind”) and their denim on Instagram. It seems a lot of plus size models I know and recognize have shot with them. And, best of all, they carry sizes 0-24. I love brands that carry straight, bridge, and plus sizes, so no one is left out. So, naturally, I wanted to check out their jeans.

They sent me their frayed hem high/low (also known as “distressed step-up hem”) “Dorothy” jeans ($98) and a high-low short sleeve scoop neck t-shirt in red ($48). As soon as I took them out of the box, I could tell the jeans, in particular, were super high-quality. They’ll definitely last a long time. And, they’re made with 2% spandex, so they’re not only stylish, but they’re comfortable, too. (2% spandex seems to be the sweet spot for me with denim.) Sturdy enough to hold its shape, but stretchy enough to fit these thick thighs I’m working with.

The shirt is made of the most comfortable rayon/spandex blend, but it feels like a stretchy, loosely woven cotton. It’s so comfy, I could sleep in it! It truly is a great basic piece that can be worn in a variety of ways. (I’ve paired it with a pencil skirt twice — once tucked in and once belted and worn out).

If you want to jump on the frayed hemline trend, you should definitely try a pair of SLINK jeans! They have several styles that feature distressing on the ankles. Best of all, both Nordstrom and Macy’s carry the brand, if you’d like to try them on before buying. It might be a good idea given that their clothes have so much stretch, you may want to size down. I wore my usual size in the jeans, but could have worn a smaller size shirt.

So, what are your plans for the 4th of July? I’ll be baking funfetti cupcakes to bring to my family’s BBQ/pool party.

However you decide to enjoy the long, holiday weekend, please be safe.

Clothing was provided at no cost by Slink Jeans in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.

Outfit details: Jeans & t-shirt: Slink | Jacket: Charlotte Russe+ | Shoes: Forever 21 | Jewelry: The Limited

Photographer: Steven Means (IG: @stevenmeans67)

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)

We Are All Wonder Women

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“The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.”Mohadesa Najumi

The story of Wonder Woman’s origin is an interesting one. “Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. “Aside from Superman and Batman, no other comic-book character has lasted as long.” The strong, athletic and bad ass, crime-fighting Wonder Woman remains a feminist superhero that little girls and women alike look up to and aspire to be.

I felt like Wonder Woman as soon as I put on this fab floral dress from Forever 21+. If you know me, you know I love pieces that are multi-functional. This particular piece can be worn as both a dress and a duster that gives off a sweet, vintage vibe with a lot of high-fashion fierceness. And when it catches the wind…*swoon.*

I paired this gorgeous piece with dark wash denim jeans from The Limited (I’m praying they come back!), a basic black tank top, and adorable, pale pink ankle tie heels from Forever 21. It’s a look I hope would make the mythical Wonder Woman proud.

Outfit details: Dress/duster: Forever21+ | Shoes: Forever21 | Necklace: Rue21 | Watch: Michael Kors

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)