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    Eco-artist Natalia Kapchuk on championing creativity and the causes close to her heart

    What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
    The first 30 minutes of my mornings are dedicated to self-care and setting a positive tone for the rest of my day. I usually start by drinking a glass of lemon water to hydrate my body and flush out any toxins from my system. Then I do a quick yoga routine to stretch my muscles and calm my mind. I find that starting the day with physical activity helps me feel energized and focused. After yoga, I have a healthy breakfast, usually consisting of oats and fresh fruits, or if I’m on the go, a quick smoothie will suffice. I make sure to fuel my body with nutritious food to keep me going throughout the day. And as an eco-artist, I’m also conscious of my impact on the environment, so I try to eat seasonaland locally sourced products, I avoid single-use plastic as much as possible.
    Tell us more about the concept behind The Lost Planet series.
    I’ve always been passionate about using my art to raise awareness about environmental issues and the impact that human activity has on our planet. The inspiration for my series The Lost Planet came from my growing concern about the degradation of our environment and the loss of biodiversity. I wanted to create a visual representation of the beauty of our planet and its collision with the impact that human activities are placing on it. I believe that art has the power to evoke emotions and stimulate change, and I wanted to use this power to raise awareness about the urgent need for us to protect our planet.
    What eco-friendly techniques or materials have you employed in the process of creating pieces for The Lost Planet series?
    I take great care in selecting my materials, blending natural elements like sand, volcanic stone, ash, crystals, fermented moss, dry flowers, tree bark, and more with industrial materials such as resin, resi-crete, paint, metal leaf, and fiberglass alternatives, expressing the interconnectedness of our world. The result in my opinion is a mesmerizing combination of textures, colours, and contrasts. In my piece Plastic Network (2019), for example, I invite observers to reexamine their actions and their impact on the world. This installation was created using single-use plastics, and The Lost Planet series as a whole, highlights the urgent need for change and is a love letter to my adoration of nature and discovery. For all who are able to attend, I welcome you to witness my latest exhibition, The Lost Planet at the architectural marvel that is the ME Dubai Hotel, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. This iconic structure will serve as a fitting backdrop to display my artworks and create a one-of-a-kind experience. The private view of the exhibition will take place on February 28, while public viewing will be open from March 1 to 28, 2023. I am confident that the combination of this stunning venue and the powerful messages instilled within my art will leave a lasting impression.
    What do your artworks represent and what are you hoping for it to achieve?
    My artworks represent my deep-rooted concern for the environment and my desire to raise awareness about environmental issues through my creative prowess. I know that I may often sound like a bit of a broken record, but I am a firm believer that art has the power to evoke emotions and stimulate thoughts, making it a powerful tool for creating change. My mixed media artworks highlight the pressing environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation, plastic pollution, and wildlife extinction – the list goes on sadly, that the world is facing today. I use a blend of materials, such as recycled objects, natural fibres, and re-claimed woods and elements to reflect the harm we are causing to the planet and the need to restore it to its natural state. Through my art, I hope to inspire individuals to act toward a more sustainable future. I believe that by raising awareness and encouraging people to question their daily habits and consumption patterns, we can create a ripple effect that leads to larger-scale change. Moreover, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my artworks goes towards environmental organizations and initiativesdear to my heart working towards a greener future. I aim to use my art not just as a means of spreading awareness but also as a sourceof funding for environmental causes that I am passionate about.

    Where do you draw inspiration from?
    I draw inspiration from the world around us, as I am particularly drawn to the beauty and majesty of nature, and the delicate balance between all living things. Through my work, I aim to capture the essence of the natural world and convey the message that we must all work together to protect it. Whether by the vibrant colours of a sunset, the intricacies of Earth’s flora, or the vastness of the heavens, the world around us is full of inspiration for those who seek it.
    Where do you source your materials from and how challenging was it to refine this process?
    A vast majority of my designs utilize sustainable and eco-friendly materials that I source through a variety of channels. These items include recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, other discarded materials, and more. I find immense love for upcycling and repurposing these materials, giving them new life through my art. I can admit that the process of refining my materialscan be challenging at times, but it is also incredibly rewarding. I say this because selecting materials that are safe for the environment and do not contribute to the ongoing problem of plastic pollution is important to me. This often requires me to spend time researching the materials and their sources, as well as experimenting with different techniques to create the desired effect. I also have to be mindful of the limitations of the materials and how they will hold up over time, especially since I want my art to last for generations. Despite the challenges, I believe that the work I am doing is important and has the potential to make a real impact on the world. It’s a journey that I am proud to be on and I am excited to see where it will take me next.
    What have you learnt in the brand-building process and what advice would you give to those wanting to carve out their own pioneering career path?
    Hmm. Great question. What I have learned throughout my career is that branding is crucial in building a successful career in the art world, or any realm for that matter. A strong and unique brand helps to differentiate you from others and establishes your credibility while setting you apart as an expert in your field. In my journey, I have learned that it’s vital to have a clear understanding of your artistic vision and to stay true to it. This will help you to develop a consistent and recognizable style that is easily identifiable with your brand. It’s also important to actively promote your work, through social media, exhibitions, and collaborations with other artists. This can help to build your network and increase exposure to your work. One of the most important things I have learned is to never stop learning and growing. This means constantly experimenting with new techniques and materials and staying up to date with the latest developments in the art world. It’s important to be open to new ideas and perspectives and to be willing to take risks and push the boundaries of your artistic practice. My advice is to be passionate and persistent. Building a successful career in the art world takes time and hard work. Focus on your art, and never be afraid to take chances or to make mistakes. Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in your vision and never stop striving to improve your craft.
    How have you found social media has supported your brand growth and your advocacy?
    I have found social media to be a valuable tool in supporting my brand growth and advocacy. It allows me to showcase my work, reach a wider audience, and most importantly raiseawareness about environmental issues. Social media has helped me establish a strong online presence and expand my reach through hashtags and tagging relevant individuals and organizations. Through consistent engagement and a commitment to my message, I have been able to make a real impact and reach new audiences. Throughout your career in the art space so far, are there any difficulties you’ve faced? As a female contemporary artist in the art space, I have faced several challenges throughout my career. One of the biggest difficulties has been navigating the competitive and often maledominated art world. As a woman, I have faced obstacles in terms of recognition and representation. Another challenge I have faced is balancing the business side of my art with the creative side. Running a successful art career involves a lot of administrative and financial work, and it can be difficult to find the time and energy to focus on both my art and the behind-the-scenes tasks required to run a business. That’s why I have surrounded myself with a strong team to make this process easier. I have also faced the challenge of staying true to my artistic vision while still appealing to a wider audience. It can be tempting to compromise my style or message to fit into what is currently popular or in demand, but it’s important to stay true to what I believe in and what sets my work apart.
    How did you develop your signature mixed-media assemblage technique?
    I developed my signature mixed-media style through a combination of experimentation, exploration, and intuition. My approach to art is rooted in a deep appreciation for the environment and a commitment to sustainable practices. This led me to experiment with using a range of materials and techniques to create unique and thought-provoking pieces that explore the relationship between humans and nature. I started incorporating different materials, such as recycled and found objects, into my work to create a more layered and textured visual experience. Over time, I honed my technique, becoming more confident in my ability to seamlessly integrate different materials and techniques into a cohesive whole. Through trial and error, I discovered the power of combining different textures and materials to create a multi-dimensional visual experience that engages the viewer on multiple levels. This led to the development of my signature mixed-media assemblage technique, which has become a defining characteristic of my work.
    This is The Style Issue – what does style mean to you?
    Personal style to me is about making informed and responsible decisions in how we present ourselves to the world. It is also about making conscious choices and taking a stand against the fast-paced and often unsustainable fashion industry, recognizing the impact our fashion choices place on the environment. Style transcends mere physical appearance and becomes a symbol of one’s individuality, showcasing who they are and what they stand for.
    March’s – The Style Issue – Download Now
    – For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram
    Images: Supplied More

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    Astrologists Share the Journal Prompts That Can Transform Your 2023

    While a clean, blank slate (read: the new year) brings with it an air of excitement, it also comes with added pressure, leaving you wondering where to even begin (and–if you’re like me–anxiety-ridden that I’m already somehow behind). The good news: Journaling can be just what you need as a jumping-off point to make sh*t happen. If the 4.4 billion views #journaling has on TikTok or the benefits journaling has on your mental health and well-being haven’t already convinced you to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), consider this your sign to get writing.
    I tapped into the expertise of astrologists to kick us off, because writer’s block is real and 2023 is all about doing the most. We’re not talking the “Dear Diary” of the past or cliche prompts, but rather deep self-reflection to (actually) achieve your best life. Remember that there is no right or wrong answers when it comes to journaling, and you won’t get dinged for improper syntax, spelling, or grammatical errors. Translation: Your journal—whether notebook or app—is a safe, judgment-free zone. Ahead, astrologists share the practices they swear by to reach your goals in 2023. 

    Why 2023 is an important year to start a journaling practice
    So you set an intention to take up journaling this year, but your new notebook has been sitting pretty on your desk collecting dust since January 1. Sound familiar? Well, if there was ever a year to channel your inner Sylvia Plath, it’s 2023. “We have lucky Jupiter in Aries this year, so it’s all about being bold and brave, creating opportunities for yourself, and pushing the limits,” said Iva Naskova, a western astrologer at Nebula. “2023 gives all of us a chance to take control and adjust our life the way we see fit and think it’s best. So self-reflection and writing about your future can help you manifest happiness, abundance, good health, and success.”
    Whether we care to admit it or not, we are often our own worst enemies—you know, the harsh inner critic, the overanalyzing, not trusting your gut. All the more reason to jot down your thoughts and create the life you want. “This is a year of understanding what is really going to be there for you, and where you need to become more self-reliant and anti-fragile,” conveyed Jill Loftis, an astrologer and Founder of Nuit Astrology. “It’s time to take responsibility for who you are and where you are going. It is up to you to decide if you are successful; if you are happy. And typically, there is one person standing in your way—you. That should become abundantly clear this year, and instead of scattering your energies, take the momentum of the beginning of this year to get clear and take charge.”
    Journal prompts to start the year off

    What makes you thrive and excites you? How can you make your everyday experiences richer and more endearing? 
    What aspects of your life have always stayed the same and why? What can help you make a change and move forward? 
    How can your life experiences help you expand and grow, and in which direction?
    What one self-defeating habit or pattern do I need to eliminate and how can I focus all of my energy and resources to healing that destructive habit?

    Why you should journal with the phases of the moon
    If you’ve ever noticed yourself in your feels during a full moon, that was no coincidence. In astrology, the moon represents your emotions—your feelings, hopes, fears, moods, relationships. And your journaling practice should vary with it. “Consistent action through the ebbing cycles of life is so key for living your best and astrology echoes that with its monthly moon cycles,” affirmed Julien Elizabeth, astrologer and yoga teacher. “My best tip for staying aligned is reflection and journaling with the phases of the moon. Life is always shifting and so too can our perspective to it.” Elizabeth suggests beginning with the new moon (January 21) to initiate a new cycle, and then staying steady with these weekly (or daily!) prompts to witness your growth.
    Liz Simmons, an astrologer and tarot reader, agreed: “Astrological journal prompts are best used during new moons, full moons, and when a planet enters a new zodiac sign. Depending on the astrological period, we can use the journal prompt to plan, set goals, or reflect. For example, new moons can be the perfect time to journal about new opportunities, manifestations, resolutions, and more. Full moons are more of a reflective period, so this is the time to journal about what has unfolded during this past lunar cycle and what you have gone through.”

    Journal prompts for each moon cycle

    New Moon: great energy for setting intention and orienting yourself for the cycle ahead.

    What dream or vision do you want to stay aligned to this month?
    What negative or unhelpful habits are you ready to transform?
    What actions or practices can you commit to integrate your vision and build upon your intentions?
    Where do you see yourself in six months? What are your top three goals or resolutions that you want to pursue during these next six months? What will inspire you to move forward during these next six months?

    Waxing Crescent Moon: a phase of small actions and building confidence, great for getting organized.

    What do you need to feel confident, energized, and engaged with your life right now?
    What strengths are needed to work towards your intention?

    Quarter Moon: great energy to come back to your “why” and check in with yourself, your actions, and how you’re feeling.

    What hurdles are you experiencing in your vision? 
    Where do you feel yourself out of alignment?
    Where is their pressure or intensity building in your life? How can you lean into the pressure that feels productive and helpful? Where can you lean away from any intensity that feels limiting or distracting?

    Full Moon: a powerful time to release what isn’t working and celebrate progress made.

    What are you learning most about yourself and your circumstances this month?
    What behaviors or patterns can you identify as blocking my progress?
    How can you honor these unhelpful patterns and release them to create more space for growth? (Creating a ritual or ceremony is great!)
    What have you learned or experienced over the last six months? What are three high points and three low points that stand out to you from this lunar period? What can you take away from this lunar cycle?”

    Last Quarter Moon: This is a time to get grounded back into the self and reflect on how you’re showing up this month.

    What are you celebrating about yourself this lunar cycle?
    What routines or rituals ground you and help you feel well cared for?

    Waning Crescent Moon: The days leading up to the next new moon are for reflection.

    Free write on what you feel grateful for and how you feel about the month’s cycle.

    Here’s What Astrologists Say To Add to Your Wellness Routine RN More

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    How I got my job as… Founder of Dubai design firm Concept Me

    Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
    This week we chat with French entrepreneur and architect Nina Parvaresh, founder of Concept Me. The Dubai design firm first launched in 2008, branding itself as a “multi-disciplinary boutique studio” in the emirate. “Creativity is at the core of what we do, being able to bring life and soul to high-end residential projects,” the founder says.
    Emirates Woman sat down with Parvaresh to discuss the making of Concept Me and all of the ups and downs in between.
    What was your favourite subject at school?
    In short, my favourite subject was History/Geography. The way we studied those in France was as one subject. Maps really stunned me I remember. I was fascinated by the layout of cities, the visuals that showcased their constant development and changes. I would go through those plans and feel an obsessive need to know more about them, trace my hands across the different areas and automatically start visualizing how the little, intricate details in those cities of the past actually looked like. I had a tendency for the obsessive! So, I remember very vividly how much I loved that class and the stories I would make up about the maps and plans we were given.

    What was your first job?
    I was a teenager when I decided to get a job! I started tutoring other students when I was 15. I always liked explaining concepts and seeing how people understood ideas in their own ways. So, I continued tutoring different kids my age and younger to make some side money. Tutoring always made me happy because it’s a two-way interaction and because it involves two of my favourite elements: people and concepts! Following that, my first official job was a brief stint teaching Architecture in Saudi which didn’t last very long as I kicked off Concept Me around the same time. I don’t think I would make a very good employee, between you and I.
    What brought you to Dubai?
    I moved to the Middle East (to Jeddah particularly) in 2008, a month after graduating. A couple of years after living there, I believe I wanted to be living somewhere with more flexibility, more openness and somewhere that would ease my way of doing business. I spent some time going back and forth to Dubai, it being the hub that it became during that phase and I found it quite easy to do business, set up the company and most importantly to source and recruit amazing talents. So, yeah, it was about remaining in the Middle East but in a place that I felt more at ease with.
    What inspired you to enter the architecture/interior space?
    I am not sure there was a specific inspiration for me to go into the field. For as far back as I remember, I was busy sketching houses as a child. I learned to draw before I could speak fluently! Even at home as a child, I had opinions on how we should lay out our furniture, how the elements in our space should be, and how decorative items should line up. Most importantly, I was always sensitive to the spaces around me, which unconsciously is why I was always drawn to the field. More so, I have always loved the human scale of architecture. I am not invested in creating landmark skyscrapers, but rather spaces for real people that can leave an impact on them. My love of maps, cities and the way urban grids dictated peoples’ livelihoods is also a contributing factor. As a child, my parents took me travelling frequently which fostered my obsession with cities like New York, Paris, Milan, etc.. The Middle Eastern heritage in me also goes to see the beauty of cities like Tehran, Beirut, Istanbul… So, I guess that’s what curated my directed love for this field.
    Talk us through the inspiration of what Concept Me does.
    As a boutique scale firm, my vision for Concept Me was to handle projects in a very holistic manner that takes the project from A to Z. Whatever we do is always focused on creating a unique personality for any space. Creativity is at the core of what we do, being able to bring life and soul to high-end residential projects. However, we also have a mission to be ‘client-centric’. My aim is to have clients that trust us blindly, tell us what they want and then get peace of mind until we hand over the project they had seen in their mind’s eye. We’ve made this possible at Concept Me with our multi-disciplinary team, their international talent and our empathetic intellect.
    What are the key elements of your role?
    Essentially, I think I am juggling a bit too many roles at the moment, which is maybe natural in a boutique-scale company environment. However, I am working on this, gradually! Primarily, however, one of the key elements of my role is client management. I take it upon myself to understand my client’s mindstate, to reassure them, to direct their vision and to inform them of the rationale behind our design choices and how we can bring their space to life in the best way possible. The second key element is to be the final decision-maker on all design choices. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, one that is driven by creative input, it can become challenging to keep all the creative choices from different people consistent, so that’s where I come in so we can have a final, polished, cohesive space instead of a pastiche. And finally, one of the hats I wear is the business development hat, whereby I keep signing deals while heading the design department! As I said, I am juggling a couple of roles…
    Talk us through your daily routine.
    This is a great topic haha! My calendar is usually locked from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm. I aim to get a workout in as soon as I get up, which is contrary to my nature since I am not a great morning person! Luckily, I live close to the office and I am trying to maximize my steps count, so I manage to walk to the office where I sift through my emails. I then get to the essential part of catching up with the team, organizing what each one’s day looks like. And then it’s a non-stop rollercoaster of meetings between operations, logistics and design meetings. Of course, there are days when I am on site, days when I am at showrooms, galleries and supplier warehouses! In between those, I try to always make time for meetings with my marketing team and my financial team. It sounds much more organized on paper, but it doesn’t feel that organized when I am cramming my healthy lunch in between Zoom calls at the office! I eventually get home, feed my furry babies, get through some more emails, take a good walk, do my stretches and get to my pillow before I get back up, drink my hot water and lemon and do it all over again gladly!

    What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
    The first piece of advice I would have for someone in the field is, ‘Find balance.’ I am someone who sacrificed her 20s for work. I took on quite a big load of stress early on in life. This took away from my health at some point. So, my advice is to prioritize your health, prioritize your personal life at some points, prioritize your best friends’ birthdays or weddings, etc. Keep in mind that sacrifice will come at every step. So, you might miss your trip with the people you love, you might not be there for family reunions and more. So, please, hustle all you can for the business, but find some balance so you don’t look back in retrospect and wish you had done it differently.
    What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
    I will keep this short so it resonates with whoever is reading it, ‘The universe has a lag time, so always be patient to see the result of what you’re planting.’ Now, repeat that to yourself.
    And what is the worst?
    ‘You cannot get this done, just give it up.’ Being the stubborn person that I am, I found strength in challenging all the people (and they were many) that told me to give up what I was doing.
    What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
    This answer is split two ways. The first massive challenge I had to get over professionally came when I was 30. Due to a couple of bad decisions and partnerships, I was left with a business that was bankrupt with 25 people dependent on me. I was abandoned by my business partners with a negative company balance. This was a real defining moment because I had to rebuild the business and grow it better than it was before. The burnout in the aftermath really hit me, but you know, we made it! The second part presents itself as going through a really powerful personal problem and having to live with it, get over it and heal from it whilst handling the complex and overwhelming operations that I run at Concept Me. Thankfully, I was able to get through these difficult situations through patience, self-reflection and a fantastic team.
    What are the future plans for your brand?
    In summary, the future is to work with clients that are connoisseurs of the craft! I want to work with people who inspire me, who understand the powerful value of high-end design, to penetrate a market that appreciates what we do and push the limits of how spaces can really impact the ways we live. The plan is already underway, we have expanded our repertoire into the kind of markets we want to work on and we are taking the company international with aims to find the quality clients that will allow us to leave our design imprint globally! The future looks bright, thankfully.
    – For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram
    Images: Supplied More

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    14 Books Every Woman In Their 20s Needs To Read

    I gotta be honest— as someone who’s about to turn 22, graduate college, and start life in the big and scary “real world”, I’m scared as hell. For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to countless songs (“Nothing New” by T. Swift, “Ribs” by Lorde…if you know, you know), watched what feels like hundreds of movies and TV shows, and had a lot of conversations that all revolve around the same gist: your 20’s really are…well, somethin’ else. However, I’ve decided I don’t want to jump into this decade blindly accepting that it’ll be a sh*tshow—and I think a lot of gals in my boat are feeling the same way. 
    Lucky for us, there is no shortage of books to read that are here to help take this “figuring it out” era by the horns. Covering everything from friendships, self confidence, finance, sex, love, and literally everything in between, here are some must reads to make these daunting years be more a bit more fun and at least a little less dysfunctional.

    Michelle Andrews & Zara McDonald
    The Space Between
    If your 20’s are known for anything, it’s that weird gap between being a teenager and being a, like, real adult. While it’s wildly confusing, kind of lonely, and sometimes embarrassing, there’s also a whole lot of magic to be found in the chaos. Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald, creators of the award-winning pop culture podcast Shameless, are two of the many twenty-something women just trying to make sense of it all. They don’t have all the answers. but they do know that mapping out our place in the world is a little bit easier when we do it together. Filled with comforting wit and brutal honesty, these are their personal stories from heartbreak and mental health challenges to overcoming career setbacks and letting go of fear—but there’s a good chance you’ll find pieces of yourself in there, too.

    Elif Batuman
    The Idiot
    Contrary to popular belief, not every must-read needs to be a non-fiction, self-help moment. In ‘The Idiot’, Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard and signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the confusion of a first love, and with the growing consciousness that she may be bound to become a writer, even though that’s not what she’s envisioned for herself at all.

    Dolly Alderton
    Everything I Know About Love
    I think the cover of this book truly says it all. When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming an adult, journalist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In this memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, finding a job, getting drunk, getting dumped, realizing that Ivan from the corner shop might just be the only reliable man in her life, and that no one can ever compare to her best girlfriends. This incredibly funny and occasionally heartbreaking book is everything we’ve ever needed regarding bad dates, good friends and—above all else— realizing that you are enough through all of the terrifying yet hopeful uncertainty.

    A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing
    Growing up is always hard, but especially when so many think you’re a washed-up has-been at twenty-two. Jena Chung, who was once a violin prodigy, is now a selfish, badly-behaved, full blown sex addict. Her professional life comprises of rehearsals, concerts, and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing family demands, those of her creative friends, and obviously, lots of sex. But then, she meets Mark– and he sweeps her off her feet. Not only that, she gets the perfect internship with the New York Philharmonic at the same time. Thinking that she finally has the life she’s been dreaming of, everything is brought to a halt when Trump is elected and everything about New York, and herself, changes at the drop of a hat. Jena comes to learn that there are many different ways to live and love and that no one has the how-to guide for any of it–we’re all just trying to become the people we hope to be.

    Natasha Lunn
    Conversations on Love
    Love, while beautiful in all its forms, is really f’ing hard to comprehend and navigate. After years of feeling that love was always out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to understand how relationships work and evolve over a lifetime. She turned to having intimate conversations with authors and experts to learn about their experiences, as well as drawing on her own, asking how we find love, how we sustain it, and how we survive when we lose it. And we’re not just talking romantic— this richly layered novel covers the loneliness of loss, the psychology of being alone, parenthood, and more.

    Kiley Reid
    Such A Fun Age
    Alix is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So, she’s taken aback when her babysitter, Emira, is confronted while watching Alix’s toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. Emira is furious and humiliated as it’s caught on video by bystanders, and Alix wants to do everything to make things right. As Emira has no clue what to do with her life, and the video brings forth some baggage from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves and one another. It flawlessly explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone family, and the complicated reality of being a grown up through a story surrounding race and privilege.

    Alice Finn
    Smart Women Love Money
    One rude awakening of my twenties thus far is that I don’t know how to “be good” with money to save my life. If I only buy two $7 iced lattes in a week instead of five, that’s a win. However, this book takes the conversation beyond saving money and budgeting and introduces us to the power of investing. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a successful wealth management adviser, Alice Finn shares five simple and proven strategies for a woman at any stage of their life, whether starting a career, staying home and raising children, or heading up a major corporation. She also provides the tools you need to achieve long-term success no matter what the markets are doing or what the headlines say. So even in the face of uncertainty, you’ll know how to thrive, earn, save, and grow your bag.

    Tara Schuster
    Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies
    There’s no rock bottom quite like drunk calling your therapist, and Tara Schuster can attest to that herself. By the time she was in her late twenties, Tara was a rising TV executive who had made a name for herself in the industry. By all appearances, she had mastered being an adult. But beneath that shiny image of success, she was a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess whose road to adulthood had been paved with depression, anxiety, and shame. In this story of Tara essentially re-parenting herself through simple daily rituals, she shares insight and advice she wishes she’d received in her early twenties: words that are candid, practical, and hilarious, while still teaching the importance of self-love and acceptance.

    Bianca Sparacino
    The Strength In Our Scars
    The process of healing is one that is indescribably hard to work through, but this book gives insight that can make each step of the way feel a bit more manageable. It tackles the gut-wrenching but relatable experiences of moving on and self-love through beautifully written poetry, prose, and compassionate encouragement you would expect only from someone who relates to the exact situation you’re going through. Ultimately, it comes together to show us that the things in our lives that leave scars do not destroy you—they are moments in which we survived, and in that is a sense of hope.

    Michelle Zauner
    Crying in H Mart
    As we grow, it can sometimes be easy to lose touch with where we came from. Michelle Zauner shares her story of growing up as one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon, and how that planted the seed for a need to forge her own identity. She touches on her struggles with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her and on a painful adolescence, yet also on the pureness of bonding with her mother and grandmother during those same years. As she grew up, moving away for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band led her Korean heritage to feel ever more distant, even though she felt like she was finally discovering the life she wanted to live. However, after receiving news of her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis while in her mid 20’s, Michelle had a reckoning with her identity and reclaimed the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

    Mary Ann Sieghart
    The Authority Gap
    As many women enter the “real world” workforce in their early 20’s, being underestimated, under-appreciated, and underpaid is sadly a universal experience most of us will face, especially in male-dominated fields. Despite all of the progress we’ve made toward equality, we still fail, more often than we might realize, to take women as seriously as men. In this fascinating book, journalist Mary Ann Sieghart provides a startling perspective on the gender bias at work in our everyday lives and reflected in the world around us, whether in pop culture, media, school classrooms, or politics. With precision and insight, Sieghart gathers from a variety of disciplines—including psychology, political science, and sociology—and talks to pioneering women from a wide range of backgrounds to explore how gender bias intersects with race and class biases. Through her conversations and other findings, she offers insights on how to counteract systemic sexism and ways to narrow this toxic authority gap.

    Florence Given
    Women Don’t Owe You Pretty
    Say it with me: we don’t owe men sh*t, especially being pretty. Exploring all progressive corners of the feminist conversation from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity, this book really does not miss a beat. It’s an accessible leap into feminism for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or doing way too much, its time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to reshape the structures of our toxic patriarchal society.

    Brianna Wiest
    101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think
    This was actually the first self-help type of book I ever personally read, and I’m not being dramatic when I tell you that it quite literally changed my outlook on life. It’s been almost two years since then, and to this day, I still go back and read over some select essays when I feel like I need to. This compilation of Brianna Wiest’s published work features pieces on why you should pursue purpose over passion, embrace negative thinking, see the wisdom in daily routine, and become aware of the cognitive biases that are creating the way you see your life. You’ll find pieces of wisdom you’ve been waiting to hear for years, and even better—ones you had no clue you needed but are so grateful you found.

    Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman
    Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close
    While figuring out self-love and romance are definitely the big themes of your 20’s, the importance of genuine friendship cannot be forgotten. A close friendship is one of the most influential relationships a human life can contain, but for all the cutesy sentiments surrounding friendship, most people don’t talk much about what it really takes to stay close for the long haul. Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming “big friendship” in this honest and hilarious book that documents their first decade in one another’s lives through all of the joys and pitfalls.An inspiring testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, this book invites you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved, and when it’s time to fight for them or let them go.

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    Andy Warhol’s ‘vibrant and iconic works’ to be showcased in Saudi Arabia


    by Olivia Morris
    2 hours ago

    Some of the most iconic artworks by legendary artist Andy Warhol are to be showcased in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of 2023.
    Arts AlUla is set to present a new exhibition, ‘FAME: Andy Warhol’, starting February 17, 2023.
    Some of Warhol’s most profound pieces will be on display in a specially curated exhibition for Maraya, the stunning and unique mirrored building located in the desert canyon of the Ashar Valley in AlUla.
    Paintings and prints by Warhol, who is known to have a personal fascination with fame and celebrity, that are set to be showcased will include Hollywood stars, sporting legends and musicians such as Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali and Dolly Parton among others.

    Nora Aldabal, Executive Director, Arts and Creative Industries for Arts AlUla has described the exhibition as a “homage to a heritage built by diverse cultural perspectives”.
    “We aim to drive a new era of cultural exchange, including exhibitions that feature the most important regional and international artists from the mid 20th century to the present day,” she added.
    Meanwhile, Patrick Moore, director of The Andy Warhol Museums shared his excitement at having Warhol’s |vibrant and iconic works to this monumental landscape”.
    “FAME is intended to be an introduction to the aspect of Warhol that I believe is most fascinating to many young people, including Saudi youth, as Andy Warhol’s journey, which started as a child staring at the movie screen and collecting publicity stills, is becoming more common through the rise of social media,” he added.
    FAME: Andy Warhol will be on display at Maraya from February 17 until May 16, 2023. For more information visit 
    – For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram
    Images: Supplied  More

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    Your Zodiac Sign Might Be the Secret to Feeling More Confident and Happy—Here’s How To Tap In

    If you know the basics of astrology, you know that your zodiac sign can tell you a lot about your personality traits or who you’re most compatible with. Whether you’re a secret-keeping Scorpio, adventure-seeking Sagittarius, or initiative-taking Capricorn, there’s no denying the insight the stars can give into our truest selves. But did you know that each star sign has a color associated with it? And by tapping into your sign’s specific hue, you can level-up your best qualities, self-awareness, and confidence? “Representing the zodiac sign’s overall feel, certain colors can highlight the most powerful attributes of each sign,” explained Maria Hayes, an astrologer and tarot reader. “Knowing your zodiac color is crucial, as you can feed it to your subconscious energy, further bolstering your inner talents.” Bottom line: Wearing your color can empower you to live your best, happiest life. 
    But there’s more good news: Not only can you harness your power color through what you wear, but also via your decor style and wellness practices. So take this as a sign to go paint the town [insert your color]. Read on to find out which color is best for your zodiac sign and how to bring out its good vibes for optimal energy, abundance, confidence, or happiness–straight from astrology experts.

    How do I harness my zodiac sign’s color?
    Lucky for us, there’s no special formula for activating the energy of the colors written in the stars for our signs. Whether you decide to go the fashion or decor route, you can’t go wrong. “Wearing your power color through clothes, accessories, makeup, and nail polish is a classic choice to channel your sign’s innate energy, but there are many other options, especially for those days when you just can’t get away with wearing bright blue eyeshadow,” said Charlotte Kirsten, a psychotherapist and master astrologer. Kirsten also suggested surrounding yourself with your power color in your home with objects like wall art, flowers, cushions, curtains, or books to help welcome and absorb your sign’s positive energy. 
    Amy Zerner, an astrologer and author of Astrology for Wellness and Mindful Astrology, recommended further channeling your power color through meditation. “Clear your mind, take a few deep breaths, and stare at an object in the color,” she described. “Breathe in the color until you can feel it deep inside of you. Repeat this ritual whenever you feel as if you need to bring healing, happiness, prosperity, or any other good thing into your life.” Sound intriguing? Kirsten breaks down each sign’s inner color below:

    Your Power Color

    Red reflects Aries’ bold and brazen nature and amplifies their natural courage, desire for adventure, and reverence for life. This headstrong ram loves nothing more than being in charge of their own destiny! Ruled by the fearless and feisty planet of Mars (AKA the Red Planet), Aries are strong-initiative takers and aren’t afraid to make risky decisions in pursuit of true freedom.

    Being an Earth sign, it’s no surprise that the color of nature—green—reflects Taurus’ down-to-Earth and practical side. It’s no coincidence that green is also the color of money, wealth, and financial security, which fits this luxury-loving bull sign and its affinity for being pampered and the finer things in life. Green helps Taureans channel their innate prosperity and natural gift for creating and attracting abundance.

    The inspiring and life-giving yellow reflects Gemini’s childlike wisdom and curiosity. Yellow, the world’s happiest color, helps the dualistic twins learn new things, channel their intellect and mental prowess, and keep their spirits high even on the darkest of days. 

    Ruled by the silver-hued Moon, the comfort-seeking crab is deeply in tune with its motherly, caring instincts. Silver not only reflects Cancers’ calmness, serenity, and higher spiritual self, but it also helps them connect with their intuition and effortlessly pick up on the energies in a room. Tied to many mythological stories and tales, the color silver also acts as a guard, helping Cancers ward off evil spirits and malice.

    Orange or Gold
    Lively and vivacious, Leo knows exactly what it takes to be the life of the party. These lovable lions channel their warm, friendly, and infectious energy to inject spontaneous fun into any situation. Ruled by the luminary sun, Leos are incredibly outgoing and aren’t afraid to give new experiences a whirl. Orange and gold help Leos channel their inner confidence, reveal their true selves, and show off their warm and generous nature.

    An earthy, life-giving color, brown reflects Virgo’s practical, grounded, and systematic approach to life. This analytical and data-driven sign prides itself on its ability to act independently and the color brown aids in fulfilling that goal. Virgos can use brown as a symbol of personal growth, helping them work through even the toughest of problems, obstacles, and challenges. 

    Pink reflects Libra’s delicate and soft, yet charming nature. Obsessed with beauty and symmetry, Libras are the true aesthetes of the zodiac. They adore fine art, intellectualism, and nurturing deep bonds with others, and pink helps them tip the scales in their favor. Ruled by Venus, the planet of love, Libras can use pink as a way to strengthen relationships, promote self-love and compassion, and even enhance their diplomatic skills to solve conflict in the lives of others.

    Black represents Scorpio’s powerful, demanding, and mysterious aura. Ruled by shadowy Pluto, the color black helps Scorpios build deep and soulful relationships with those around them, bringing out their passionate side. It also has a guarding and grounding effect for this water sign, aiding it in an emotional and physical rebirth after times of disaster or upset.

    Engaging and inspiring, this wanderlust-driven sign is known for its freedom-seeking and independent nature, and purple only enhances it. A symbol of elegance, royalty, and scholarship, purple helps Sagittariuses tap into their creative energy, allowing their most brilliant ideas to shine! It drives them to venture into a journey of self-discovery and continuously seek new horizons. 

    The epitome of responsibility, this hard-working and pragmatic Earth sign knows exactly what it takes to become self-sufficient in this world, and grey only serves to bolster this energy. Grey enhances Capricorn’s logic, traditionalist views and utmost determination. Some may say it’s a boring color, but sometimes it’s the boring, nitty-gritty tasks that get us to where we want and that’s exactly the energy that grey brings into a Capricorn’s life. 

    Aquarius has a rebellious streak running through their veins, both in action and thought, and blue allows the sign to tap into its imaginative and free-spirited personality with ease. Whenever they feel their innovative side is stifled, Aquariuses can tap into their power color to release creativity and new ideas. Blue helps this eccentric air sign thrive on individuality and uniqueness, allowing them to march to the beat of their own drum.

    Aquamarine or Light Green
    Ruled by dreamy Neptune, the god of the sea, this visionary fish derives its energy from its deeply felt emotions. Aquamarine enables Pisces to tap into their sensitive, intuitive, and deeply imaginative self. Pisces should especially embrace light green when they need the courage to go after what their heart desires.

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    Lili Reinhart Shared Powerful Tips for Managing Anxiety—And We’re Taking Notes

    When it comes to celebs who lay it all out there, it doesn’t get much more real or refreshing than Lili Reinhart. Reinhart isn’t afraid to speak up openly and honestly about topics like body image, diet culture, anxiety, and depression. Sure, she graces our screens and the covers of countless magazines from BAZAAR to ELLE, but she’s also a staunch activist for mental health and body positivity, frequently sharing her own personal struggles with both.
    Reinhart recently sat down with Jay Shetty for his podcast, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, and she didn’t hold back on recapping her 15-year journey with anxiety. In her candid interview, she shared five healing techniques that have transformed her relationship with anxiety. Read on for the breakdown and five key takeaways that you can try to boost your mental health too.

    Allow yourself to feel all the feels 
    Reinhart recounted suppressing her feelings as a child because the messages surrounding showing emotion was to not cry and be brave. Reinhart now proudly embraces shedding tears and breaks down the stigma that it’s a sign of weakness: “Crying is the most beautiful thing you can do… I cry all the time,” Reinhart affirmed. “I think it’s the most healthy expression of how you’re feeling. I sometimes wish I just could’ve been told, ‘You can cry. There’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in how you’re feeling. And also you don’t always need to be justifying it.’” And when she is in the midst of an uncomfortable, painful feeling, Reinhart grounds herself by acknowledging how fortunate she is to have the capacity to experience it.
    It turns out having a good cry is good for your health. Researchers have found that crying releases the feel-good chemicals oxytocin and endogenous opioids (AKA endorphins), which help release both physical and emotional pain. So go ahead and sit with your feelings, acknowledge and experience them, and allow yourself to cry without judgment and justification à la Lili. You just might find that feeling all the feels is a source of healing. 

    Learn to feel whole by yourself 
    It goes without saying that people come and go in our lives, whether it’s the cycle of relationships or losing loved ones. And when we experience a loss, we’re often told to find an external distraction to help with the grief (think: go on a hike or pick up a new hobby) rather than turning to introspection. With the revolving door of connections in her life, Reinhart said she found it hard to identify who she is by herself, outside of her circle and work. On days she had nothing scheduled, her impulse was to plan trips or reach out to friends—anything to fill her time so that she wasn’t alone. Her new goal? Trying to simply exist and sit in stillness, without feeling like she needs to fill a void. “I want to be OK by myself,” Reinhart said.  
    With the rise of toxic productivity, it’s only natural to have the urge to stay busy and pack your calendar with obligations and social interactions. Instead, we should take a cue from Reinhart and work towards discovering the value of solitude and feeling complete with or without outside influences.  

    Create a new identity 
    Reinhart told Shetty that she used to be a pessimist, which served as a defense mechanism for disappointment and getting hurt, and she struggled with parting ways with that person she’s identified with for so long. Reinhart now makes conscious decisions to rewire the “that’s what I’ve always done” autopilot mindset. Recognizing that’s no easy feat, Reinhart explained, “It takes pausing and reflecting and making an active effort to shift that behavior.”
    To take Reinhart’s advice, ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” and reflect on who you are today while actively setting goals and choosing to build new habits to become the best version of yourself (see: future-self journaling). At the same time, let go of attachments to your old identity and any beliefs, patterns, or assumptions that may be holding you back from realizing your higher self. 

    Connect with your higher self 
    As an important step in her healing, Reinhart explored various wellness practices in search of her true self and purpose. “Two years ago the lockdown was forcing me to go through this healing journey by myself and my journey through healing was through spiritual healing,” described Reinhart. “It became an ‘I’m going to look inward’ [route].” After much experimentation, she found Reiki, sound baths, and meditation to be her standbys, crediting living in the Land of Wellness (AKA LA) and TikTok for guiding her to them. 
    Of course, what works for Reinhart (or Kendall Jenner or any other celeb, for that matter) may not resonate with you. But what we can all take away from Reinhart’s soul-searching is to keep an open mind when trying out different rituals to tune in to your higher self. You do you. Find what speaks to you, whether it’s words of affirmation, working out, or journaling, and don’t let any judgments from others deter you from it. 

    Take extra care of your gut
    Reinhart is a self-proclaimed fast-food lover, and she shared how her dietary choices led to not only her unhappiness with how she looked, but also her chronic fatigue. “I spend so much time trying to better my mental health and I don’t put any of that into my physical body,” Reinhart voiced. She also pointed out that recent studies have shown depression is directly linked to the gut, which gave her the main impetus for reprogramming her old eating habits.
    While the approach to gut health is very individualized, The Everygirl has gleaned a few expert-backed, tried-and-true tips on how to show your gut some TLC: stay hydrated, incorporate more natural fiber into your daily diet (hello, fruits and veggies), reach for fermented foods (think: sauerkraut, kefir, and tempeh), drink green tea, and prioritize quality Zzzs. Pay attention to your body’s cues, and if you notice symptoms like bloating, constipation, skin irritations, sleep issues, or constant fatigue, talk to your doctor and determine the best course of action for you. You can’t go wrong with listening to your gut after all. 

    These tips are not meant to serve as treatment for anxiety or depression. If you think you may be experiencing mental health symptoms, please seek help from your doctor, a mental health professional, and/or a trusted friend or family member. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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    The Best Books, Podcasts, and Social Media Accounts for a More Inclusive Wellness Journey

    Wellness has come a long way. While the industry has been criticized for being largely consumption-led (gadgets and wellness apparel, while fun to stockpile our virtual shopping carts with, market an aspirational image of “health”), we’ve thankfully begun to shift our idea of what wellness really means—and, in turn, what it looks like.
    While wellness is our individual physical, mental, and emotional health, it’s also community health. A holistic, inclusive view of wellness requires that we acknowledge the social, economic, and environmental disparities that allow some people access while keeping others out. And while one of the best ways to transform an industry and create a more inclusive world is action, alongside that is the role education plays in informing our worldview. Thankfully, in this era of seemingly-infinite content mediums available at our fingertips, ending body shaming, illuminating wealth’s role in the shaping of green spaces, and amplifying the voices of WOC throughout the wellness community and beyond has become all the more accessible.
    In celebration of the many folks doing the work of investigating these issues and educating all of us Everygirls out there, I rounded up my favorite podcasts, social media accounts, and books that not only inform and entertain but also are sure to fuel your fight for a more inclusive and equitable wellness world.

    In this article

    Podcasts to listen to

    Maintenance Phase
    If you ever come to me for a podcast rec (please do), this will, without fail, be the first one I enthusiastically share. I’ve gotten my friends, coworkers, family members, and even my partner to listen, and they can all attest: The addiction is real. Hosted by writer Aubrey Gordon (the once-anonymous author behind the SELF Magazine column “Your Fat Friend”) and journalist Michael Hobbes, the pair breaks down and exposes the “junk” science behind the dominating wellness trends (re: fads) of our day.
    A few seconds into your first episode and you’ll quickly discover that this is one of the most hilarious and well-researched podcasts available for download. Gordon and Hobbes take a discerning look at topics such as BMI, the keto diet, and plenty of diet book deep-dives. Each episode is conducted through the lens of wellness inclusivity, revealing telling looks at how marginalized groups are kept from these privileged approaches to health.

    Balanced Black Girl
    It was a year or so ago that I officially considered myself done with the misleading idea of balance. Everywhere I turned, social media told me that “balance” meant religiously keeping up with your 10-step skincare routine, waking up at 6 a.m. every day for a workout, and swearing off caffeine for life. Thankfully, folks like Les, the founder and host of the Balanced Black Girl, have spoken up and introduced a new understanding of balance—one that aligns with whatever the word means to you.
    Les has experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach and can speak to the transformative impact of a sustainable approach to wellness. Trust me: This is more than a podcast. It’s an inclusive community and safe space that’s accepting of anyone who wants to ignite their wellness journey.

    I Weigh
    While social media often comes with a host of negative connotations and critiques, it can’t be denied that when a powerful, game-changing idea enters the chat, social media can amplify it in an instant. That’s exactly the case for Jameela Jamil, whose first post on the account @i_weigh went viral thanks to its radical valuation of women’s worth (hint: it’s not the number on the scale).
    Jamil promotes a critical look at the wellness industry and encourages us to adopt a gentler, more inclusive approach. Episodes discuss everything from sexism to navigating the acting world in the face of rampant ableism to the current abortion crisis. The conversations are vulnerable and enlightening. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of empowerment, subscribe now.

    She’s All Fat
    Described as “The podcast for fat activism, radical self-love, and chill vibes ONLY,” She’s All Fat was created to fill the need for a show that spoke to the intersections of fat visibility and the female, queer, and people of color experience. I’m always inspired by projects and initiatives that arise from a lack of representation, and She’s All Fat is definitely it. Even if you don’t exist in a larger body, it’s important that all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds educate ourselves on how fatness has historically been treated in our culture, so that we can shift the script on the anti-fat bias.

    How to Love Your Body
    As someone a ways into her journey of eating disorder recovery, I know very well how an “interest” in wellness can quickly devolve into a full-on obsession. And though I’m doing the work to unwind the diet culture-influenced ideas of what health should look like, I’m always grateful for people who make me feel less alone in this process of unlearning. Enter: How to Love Your Body. The hosts break down key topics in the realm of self-love and acceptance, and they also provide actionable steps for how to adopt a “Health At Every Size” mindset. If you’re ready to dismantle the diet industry and gain a sense of belonging in an appearance-centric world, you’ll find your community here.

    Inspired by the belief that “humanizing people who are different from us is the beginning of connection and empathy,” Lola Ayodele created Explorations to reveal and shed light on the unique narratives that guide our lives. Each episode includes elements of relatability, while also illuminating the stories we couldn’t possibly know the details of ourselves. Start with the third episode, “Being Yourself,” for a roadmap on owning your authenticity and honoring that of others.

    Body Stuff with Jen Gunter
    As a self-described life-long learner, I’m always diving deep into the depths of TED’s many varied opportunities to explore new ideas. Dr. Jen Gunter recorded this podcast with the team from TED Audio Collective, so you already know you’re in for a treat. Similar to Maintenance Phase, this podcast jumps into the science behind some of the world’s biggest wellness trends. If you’re looking for a way to sift through the TikTok trends and get to the evidence and research-backed truths, press play. 

    Social media accounts to follow

    Like many of us on the ‘gram, I first caught wind of Shana Minei Spence’s work when it went viral at the beginning of the pandemic. And I’ll admit, when I came across her posts, I had no idea that some dietitians take a non-diet approach to their work (oh, how the times have changed). Her mostly text-based posts and Reels not only educate her 222K+ followers, but her work also aims to make nutrition less restrictive and more realistic. She often speaks to the emotions tied to what we eat, and how by developing a healthier relationship with the foods on our plate–we can experience true, whole-body health once and for all.

    It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to write that I am truly, passionately OBSESSED with everything Olivia Noceda posts. She’s the sort of influencer whose gentle approach to wellness inspires how I want to spend each and every day. While the motivational “that girl” videos have, IMO, run their course, Olivia’s accessible recipes and easy-to-adopt routines inspire me to create opportunities for more joy and authenticity in my day. Her work is a reminder that while wellness can look like buying into the buzzy brands and trying each and every trend, it can also simply be about finding what works for you and letting that guide your way.

    The handle says it all. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way to understanding self-care as not an indulgence but as a necessary practice for existing in an increasingly stressful world. Their posts offer relatable reminders that your productivity doesn’t define you, change is inevitable, and taking breaks is essential to thriving. If you want an account that tells you exactly what you need to hear, this is it.

    I’m here for any and all accounts that remind me that my worth has nothing to do with my physical appearance and that the time we put into our mental health is the most important work we’ll ever do. This account is a kaleidoscopic array of motivational and joy-inducing affirmations and is also the source of many of my wellness epiphanies. While the advice still stands to take regular breaks from your phone, you have my permission to scroll this page for hours.

    I only recently discovered this account, but my feed is all the better because of it. Twins Lexie and Lindsay (who both boast a Ph.D.) promote a critical look at how our appearance-obsessed culture has led to women seeing their bodies as the primary determinant of happiness and value. And while the body positivity movement has done a lot to rewrite this narrative, Lexie and Lindsay are adamant about getting to the root of the problem. My feelings, frustrations, and concerns about how women and girls are perceived in the world are validated and transformed with every post that comes across my screen. Lexie and Lindsay offer an important reminder that women are not—and have never been—the problem. 

    Books to read

    Aubrey Gordon
    What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
    I can’t write about “Maintenance Phase” without highlighting Aubrey Gordon’s brilliant debut book. This book is the first that I’ve come across that not only illustrates the emotional and physical harm our cultural values of thinness have put on people in larger bodies, but it also reveals actionable ways we can shift our collective mindset and actively work toward supporting fat justice. Gordon’s writing brings awareness to how anti-fatness shows up in our everyday lives and points readers’ attention to the many ways our social systems fail fat people. 

    Alice Wong
    Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century
    When it comes to understanding the experience of individuals living with a disability, first-person reflections offer the most authentic accounts. This collection of original pieces ranges from blog posts to congressional testimonies (and every medium in between). While the stories reveal the bias and prejudice disabled folks often face, it’s adamant about celebrating the triumphs and multi-dimensional complexities of the disabled experience. Disability Visibility is a testament to the innovation, hope, and joy that comes with honoring our differences.

    Bessel van der Kolk M.D
    The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
    This is the book that literally everyone recommended before I finally got my hands on a copy. Though it was first published almost a decade ago, the wisdom, science, and revelations offered on each page endures. Trauma exists in many diverse ways, but regardless of the experience, its impact takes root in both the body and the mind, having an effect on everything from our ability to experience pleasure to our willingness to trust others. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, an expert on trauma, dives into the scientific developments and treatments that support recovery and healing. Personally, this book offered me a new way to process trauma and encouraged empathy for others’ stories. 

    Blair Imani
    Read This to Get Smarter: about Race, Class, Gender, Disability & More
    What does it mean to be socially conscious? In the pages of Read This to Get Smarter, historian, educator, and author, Blair Imani, dives deep into this question, all the while revealing the role that education, awareness, and understanding all play in shaping a more equitable world. As I was reading the book, I appreciated how accessible the content is—the book makes no assumptions about how much you do or don’t know. It takes the intimidation out of diving into topics like intersectionality, gender, disability, and more, supporting you with the language to have the challenging but culture-shifting conversations we need to be a part of.

    Meghan O’Rourke
    The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness
    Esquire said it best when it called The Invisible Kingdom, “a rigorous work of scholarship and a radical act of empathy.” The best books do exactly that: educate while also engaging you in an emotional experience. And often, that’s the root of our ability to connect with others. Chronic illness and autoimmune disease have gained more visibility with the rise of social media, but still, little is understood about the nuances and specifics of the countless diseases that often go undiagnosed. And because many of these conditions present few symptoms, their obscurity is only perpetuated. Meghan O’Rourke’s research sheds new light on this health crisis, giving a voice to the populations and groups whose experiences are often underreported and underrepresented. 

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