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    Everything I Want to Buy After Binging ‘Emily in Paris’

    A few months ago, I wrote about my current fashion muse and the joys of having a fictional character that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone with your wardrobe. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it has you throwing your plain, grey sweaters aside and filling your cart up with pieces you never knew you’d touch.To absolutely everyone’s surprise, 2020 just delivered us something we didn’t know we needed, yet another fictional fashion icon: Emily, from Netflix’s new Emily in Paris. Played by the fabulous Lily Collins, as our Graphic Designer Kelly said in our weekly meeting yesterday, “She just makes you want to embrace maximalism.” Not only are her outfits made impeccable by the addition of the backdrop of Paris, but they all have the je ne sai quoi of looking like she effortless threw five different colors and patterns onto her body—and more often than not, topped it off with a wild hat—and they somehow just worked. 
    After binging the series in one weekend (naturally), our carts are full of eclectic, out-of-the-box pieces that are, quite frankly, exactly what we need to get out of our quarantine slumps. Get ready for some bright colors, a lot of prints, and hell, even a beret or two.

    Source: Netflix

    Wool Blend Beret

    Emily rarely leaves her apartment without some form of a hat (often a bucket hat, but I’m choosing to respectfully ignore that), and the standout was, by far and large, her series of berets. I bought a beret last year and wore it endlessly throughout winter, and Emily encouraged me to pick up another one to wear this year. Trust me: it’ll make you forget about your collection of pom hats.

    Knit Houndstooth Cardigan

    A good houndstooth makes an appearance a million times in this show, and this cardigan with gold detailing fits the Parisian-chic bill.

    Source: Netflix

    Arin Bouclé Trench Coat

    One of my favorite looks of the series is a quick scene (where Emily meets Camille, who is also a font of chic style inspo), but the coat is perfection. I haven’t loved a bold coat this much since my J.Crew obsession in 2008, but if I’ve learned anything from “Emily in Paris,” it’s that I should work some bright color back in my wardrobe.

    Jeffrey Campbell
    Bourdin Mary Jane Pump

    Emily basically wears only heels throughout the entire series, which in addition to giving me extreme anxiety because she is indeed wearing them on cobblestone streets, inspired me to be more daring about my footwear choices. These Mary Jane pumps combined with tights, a skirt, and a jacket are the makings of a perfectly Parisian look to wear all winter long.

    Faux Fur Jacket

    Emily’s coats are abundant and all statement-making, and I’d confidently state on the record that nothing is more statement-making than a hot pink fur coat.

    Source: Netflix

    Double Breasted Suit Jacket

    While I’m not going to be trotting out any crop tops to work, I do love the myriad of jackets and blazers Emily tosses over them.

    Silky Scarf

    One of the best parts of Emily’s style is that it feels true to what an American girl would wear in Paris (bonjour berets!), and the scarves are no exception. I love how she pairs them under cardigans and jackets for a silky pop of texture.

    Source: Netflix

    Wool-Blend Shacket

    At Emily’s influencer lunch, she wears a green Chanel jacket that, quite literally, took my breath away. Everything from the tailoring to the color was sheer perfection, and while this jacket is slightly more muted than hers was, the structure and pockets are nearly identical—and you don’t need to shop vintage Chanel to own it.

    Textured-Weave Jacket

    Emily wears a tweed jacket (or 10) throughout the series, and it got me thinking “Why do I have absolutely nothing made out of this incredibly chic material” and googled tweed jackets for hours after. This textured jacket screams Emily—especially paired with a mini skirt and heel.

    Source: Netflix

    Houndstooth Tweed Bomber Jacket

    There are several memorable houndstooth moments throughout the series, and it has completely reignited my love of the fabric. This bomber is the perfect mix of classic and trendy—pair with a bright dress or a complimenting pattern for an Emily-approved look.

    Quilted Chain Bag

    Emily has a series of impeccable Chanel bags to match every outfit, and while we aren’t all on a Chanel budget, we can emulate the classic bags with this (much, much, much) less expensive option. Its quilted details and gold hardware will give you the same feel of classic femininity that Emily’s bag collection gives her.

    Source: Netflix

    Jacquard-Knit Cardigan

    A wild print? That’s what Emily lives for (not to mention that H&M literally styled this with a collared shirt and plaid skirt—which is arguably exactly how she’d wear it).

    Source: Netflix

    Ruffled Cotton Blouse

    I was so into the extraordinarily ruffled shirt Emily dons to hide her outrageous hickey that I immediately bought this top. I can’t wait to pair it with that houndstooth bomber or a classic plaid blazer.

    Collared Pearl Sweater

    One of the most joyous things about this series for me was the excessive amount of statement collars that Emily wore—and what makes a collar a statement more than some pearl embellishments? Emily would approve on all fronts.

    Colburne Colorblock Coziest Textured Yarn Cardigan Sweater

    When I wasn’t busy falling for Gabriel, I was falling for all the cardigans Emily is running around in (the girl changes outfits on this show at the drop of a bucket hat). The color-blocking of this one is perfect. Throw on a scarf and you’re good to go.

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    Harry Styles Is My Fall Fashion Inspiration—Here’s How I’m Copying His Most Popular Looks

    Because I’m only going a few select places this fall, my wardrobe is shifting quite a bit, but probably not in the way you’d expect. The “trendiness” of my fashion sense has gone up about ten-fold. If I’m wearing an outfit anywhere, it’s going to be to the nine’s because what other excuse do I have to dress?! I’ve pretty much always dressed with the season’s trends in mind, but I’ve taken it to another level in fall 2020. The icon I’m using for all of my inspiration this fall? Harry Edward Styles. 🥰Does anyone remember that tweet that was like, “Does Harry think we just like the music or does he know that we would actually die for him?” I relate to that a lot. While I obviously fantasize about our adorable children (Xander Styles … is that not the coolest name on Earth?) and the miraculous love life we’d have together, I also just am absolutely enamored with him in every facet. His music? Revolutionary. The fact that he’s socially-conscious and aware? A dream. His sense of humor? Pretty good; I’m still thinking about that Sara Lee skit almost a year later. I’ve never seen a single interview with Harry Styles that makes me be like, “Ah, this guy’s overhyped.” He presents himself in the best way, and that, obviously, includes his style.
    I was a One Direction stan in high school, and I still follow about 10 Harry Styles accounts on Twitter and Instagram just for updates about his whereabouts. But the best account I follow is the Harry Styles Fashion Archive, which shares his exact pieces and outfits. After scouring that account for about an hour on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I pinned hundreds of Harry-inspired looks on my Pinterest board to copy this year. In the name of sharing everything about me on the Internet, I’ve put together Harry’s key pieces to get the look, plus a few outfits of his I’m dying to recreate. Turn on “Woman” and gush over HS with me!

    Key Pieces
    There are a few key items you can add to your wardrobe if you want to Harry-fy it just a bit. There’s no need to go full Gucci model to get inspired by his style; instead, grab a few of these pieces and mix-and-match with your personal style to make it your own. Basically, “There’s a piece of you in how I dress” is about us. It’s our Harry Styles capsule wardrobe if you will. 

    Old Skool Sneaker

    If Harry’s wearing a sneaker, it’s usually these. Pair them with trousers, denim, leggings, and more to make any look more casual.

    Stella and Haas
    Band Ring

    Harry’s always wearing rings, usually one on every single finger. Layer up your rings in your metal of choice (Harry’s a silver guy, which I can appreciate).

    Rayon Long-Sleeve Blouse

    Harry absolutely loves to layer. He almost never just wears a sweater; he always pairs a button-down collared top underneath. This is a super simple way to upgrade your sweater collection with one simple piece.

    Chinese Laundry
    Finn Bootie

    For Harry’s more dressed-up looks, he’s almost always in leather or suede booties. These are a great heel height, so you can walk in them all day long.

    Alice&Wonder
    United We Vote Tee

    Harry is a graphic tee fiend, and I’ll bet he has a few great voting tees in his closet as we speak. Not only is Harry Styles a talented musician, a lovely-looking person, and a great actor (we’ve all seen “Dunkirk,” right?), but he’s a huge supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community and Black Lives Matter. I have a feeling Harry wants us all to vote in 2020—even if he’s not a U.S. citizen.

    Wide-Leg Twill Pants

    You’ll be hard-pressed to find a picture of Harry in a skinny pant since 2018. He lives and breathes wide-leg and flare trousers and jeans, especially when they have a pattern like these plaid ones. If the wide-leg scares you, wear these with a bodysuit to keep your shape.

    LaPierre Cosmetics
    Nail Lacquer

    Harry always has manicured nails, usually in a fun, bright shade (or multiple—he loves rainbow nails!). His nails usually ever-so-slightly match a point in the outfit or the color scheme.

    Sam Edelman
    Notched Collar Wool Blend Coat

    In the fall and winter, Harry always dresses up his looks with a wool coat, often in camel or black. You’ll wear this to death, so we recommend investing if you can!

    Knit Sweater

    You’ll always see Harry in bright sweaters (like the green below!), especially in situations where he can color-block, a major fall trend. But if you’re not quite ready to wear something bright, this sweater also comes in a gorgeous beige I could also see Harry wearing. It’s all in the preppy details.

    Copy His Outfits

    wide-leg pants / green sweater / sneakers / pearl necklace
    The second I saw this outfit, I wanted to compile every piece and wear it myself. This is certainly the most “out there” look on this list, but that’s why I love it. Harry isn’t afraid of mixing colors and styles that seem counterintuitive. The hardest item to source was a sweater—Harry loves his graphic sweaters, but of course, they’re all astronomically priced—but I quickly found a green option that would work just as well. I love how the pearl necklace (a staple in Harry’s closet the last year or so) and trousers dress up this bright sweater and sneakers combo.
    If this outfit was a Harry song, it’d be: “Sunflower, Vol. 6”
     

    black skinny jeans / leopard button-up / gold ring / ankle boots / canvas tote
    This is a classic Harry look circa 2015. At the tail end of One Direction (gone, but never forgotten), Harry sported a version of this look basically every single day: button-up, black skinny jeans, and ankle boots. And even in 2015, I was furiously pinning it to my Pinterest style board. He’s found a way to make even basics look chic, typically by adding a cool bag (I think he’d appreciate this one from Etsy), lots of rings, and unbuttoning the top just enough to see his glorious tattoos.
    If this outfit was a Harry song, it’d be: “Sign of the Times”
     

    black trousers (plus-size option) / organza top (option 2) (plus-size) / black heels / pearl earrings / nail polish
    When I imagined this article, this wasn’t a look that immediately came to mind, but as I kept staring it, I realized this is actually quite an easy outfit to put-together for normal life, just with an added HS flair. Whether you’re going to a wedding this fall (don’t forget your mask!), happy hour on a patio, or just having a pretend girls’ night, this outfit should be top of mind. Tuck the top into the trousers to give the illusion that you’re wearing a jumpsuit, and don’t forget the classic Harry manicure—it truly completes the look.
    If this outfit was a Harry song, it’d be: “Lights Up”
     

    button-up / sweater vest / trousers (plus-size option) / loafers / sunglasses
    I went into our office twice this week, and somehow, I managed to wear a sweater vest both days. I can’t quit. I never thought I’d be so into the preppy style, but staring at photo after photo of Harry Styles absolutely rocking them has convinced me that it’s a must-have. Harry has made this his uniform lately, pairing it atop a button-up with wide-leg trousers and loafers. For a little extra ‘70s the HS way, add big, square sunglasses. Watermelon sugar hiiiiigh.
    If this outfit was a Harry song, it’d be: “Adore You”

    graphic tee / shacket / flare jeans (plus-size + budget-friendly option) / sneakers / cherry earrings
    Harry’s collection of graphic tees make me gasp every time. I love every single one, from the Christopher Kane “Sex” T-shirt (and pajama top!) he wore on SNL to the “But Daddy I Love Him” shirt he was seen wearing in NYC (the same weekend I was there—not saying it’s a conspiracy or anything, but …) to his very own merch while performing with Lizzo (game recognize game), he has mastered the art of the graphic tee, something I cannot say for myself. I love how he dresses them up and makes them look even cooler with plaid jackets and blazers, plus some extra pizazz whether it’s his jewelry, a fun nail design, or a statement pant. For this inspo, I’m head-over-heels for these cherry earrings—they’re handmade in Argentina by artisans using natural materials like glass, metals, and resin. Definitely Harry-approved. 
    If this outfit was a Harry song, it’d be: “Cherry” (duh!) More

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    6 Ways to Be an Advocate for Women of Color in the Workplace

    The workplace can present tricky situations and conversations to navigate for anyone. As we work as a nation towards actual change, it’s important to understand the places and ways where white people can make a difference and implement change, not just internally, but also on an organizational level at work. Being a leader, amplifying the voices of BIPOC colleagues, and advocating for BIPOC in the workplace are just some of the responsibilities of being a white ally. Your BIPOC coworkers shouldn’t feel as though they’re on their own. We connected with Dominique Fluker, Senior Contributor at ForbesWomen, to find out more about some of the most effective ways to be an advocate for your BIPOC coworkers—and why it’s so essential.

    1. Embrace discomfort
    Being an ally is going to come with feelings of discomfort. The conversations have the potential to be anxiety-provoking, like any road less traveled would be. Further, there could be an underlying guilt or shame behind the feeling of wishing you had done more sooner. The term ‘growing pains’ wasn’t coined without reason—with change of any kind comes uncomfortable situations, and embracing that idea will be a part of creating change. Acknowledge that in being an advocate for BIPOC in the workplace, you’re probably going to be faced with conversations or scenarios that you haven’t yet faced, and just because their newness doesn’t provide the same comfort as a routine scenario would, doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Discomfort and advocacy in the workplace are part of the necessary evolution we all need to have an active hand in creating. 

    Source: Bonnin Studio | Stocksy

    2. Amplify Voices
    Amplifying the voices of BIPOC in the workplace means more than posting infographics on social media. While that is a good first step, we asked Fluker the best ways to advocate. “Some powerful ways women can advocate effectively for WOC is to praise their work product, defend, and elevate them to the roles of senior leadership. Too often, you find Black women diminished and silenced within the workplace. Given the times that we’re living in, I encourage women to actively and not passively advocate for WOC and Black women in the workplace. We’re more than capable of making the tough leadership decisions and being visible on strategies and executing them.” Dominique highlighted key words: praising, defending, and elevating BIPOC in the workplace in an effort to make change. These verbs together all lead to amplifying the voices of BIPOC and give people a clear call to action in regards to what to do to be an advocate in the workplace. 

    Source: rawpixel

    3. Learn to Support in Multiple Ways
    We can all say that we support racial equality and that we want to have a hand in the change, but what does that really mean? Having the thought is a good start, but Dominique outlined clear ways to amplify BIPOC women in the workplace, and a lot of that amplification stems from trust. “Trust us to do our jobs well and support our creative ideas, without constantly second-guessing or doubting our abilities,” said Dominique. Trust is essential to teamwork and success in a workplace environment, and would build a solid foundation of support for your BIPOC colleagues.
    With a foundation solidified, other ways of support can come into play. “Elevate our voices, listen to our opinions, and encourage us to speak out more. Advocating publicly doesn’t JUST mean praising our work product and ideas, but it can also look like mentorship, sponsorship, and acceptance. Most Black women in corporate and in the workplace want to be promoted and paid accurately for our work. We’re now looking for sponsorship within the workplace; a sponsor is a senior-level staff member who’s invested in a protégé’s career success. We want senior leaders to be invested in us, just as much as we’re invested in producing quality and innovative work,” Dominique said. Perhaps in your workplace you’re in a position to shine a light on a BIPOC colleague’s work or success that’s going unnoticed by other senior leaders. By the same token, if you have that ability, you probably have the ability to make an effort to mentor a BIPOC colleague. 

    Source: Studio Firma | Stocksy

    4. Actively Educate
    Committing yourself to diversifying the media you consume, the influencers and accounts you follow, the articles and books you read, and the conversations you participate in revolving around white privilege and racial bias is essential to creating change. As an ally, take the responsibility to educate yourself, and don’t rely on BIPOC to educate you. The more you learn and progress, the more you can educate and help other white people to progress, and incite them to do the same.

    5. Be Unafraid
    “Most times, non-WOC are afraid to come forth and protect Black women in the workplace,” Dominique said. “I encourage all white women to be vocal when they know someone is being treated wrongly in the workplace, and if the employee has too heavy of a workload.” Speaking up for what is right can be scary, but allies must be unafraid of speaking up for change. There is a fear associated with speaking up, but as you flex that advocate muscle more and more, it’ll get stronger and you’ll learn and get better at navigating conversations. The work is far from over, which makes evolution increasingly important.

    Source: rawpixel

    6. Create Resources
    At your job, take note of the development opportunities. From my experience in a workplace environment and in graduate school, typically there are professional development requirements or training requirements, but are there opportunities for you and your colleagues to progress in terms of diversity and equality? Does the place you work for offer trainings around implicit bias and fairness in the workplace? If the answer is no, this is an opportunity for you to speak up about putting some of those trainings, discussions, or forums in place, and in turn, do your part of educating more people and spreading more awareness.
    At the end of the day, it comes down to the actual doing. Fluker said it well: “Don’t be silent. Silence is compliance. To be a true advocate and ally, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think of active and helpful solutions for WOC that won’t always serve you personally. It’s not beneficial to pry and be overly involved in their personal lives or make assumptions about their household and career trajectory. You don’t own Black women. They are your colleagues.” Our peers deserve our acknowledgment, advocacy and respect in the workplace, and we must all take on the responsibility to help push the movement of equality forward. For most people, an office or work environment is where a large chunk of their time is spent, and it should be a place where everyone gets a fair shake. We must do our part, as advocates for BIPOC in the workplace, to make sure that happens.   More

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    4 Lessons I Learned From Grief—and How They’ve Changed My Life

    As a child, I remember my friends going over to their grandparents’ homes for the weekend and coming home with mountains of homemade cookies and hand-knit sweaters. Me? I came home from my Grammy’s house smelling of patchouli and incense. I would hop back in the car from East Texas back to Dallas arm-in-arm with a pile of new books from the thrift store, a head chock full of Beatles songs, and lots of stories to chat about on the two-hour drive home.From what you can probably gather, my Grammy wasn’t the typical grandparent that you may have grown up with. She was a nurse dedicated to each and every patient that saw her, an activist for everyone who walked past her, an animal rehabber who took care of everything from chinchillas to possums, and a hippie at heart. When she died in 2017, I was wrecked—and so was everyone else. It wasn’t until I began to deal with my grief in a productive way that I realized something: the people we love leave us with lessons in the smallest, most magical of places—it’s just up to us to find them. 

    1. Life’s too short for boring
    I’ve always been a monochrome girl. I love a nice gray sweater, a fantastic pair of black jeans, and dainty gold jewelry. My room has always been decorated in neutrals (with the exception of an unfortunate satin purple bedspread in the 4th grade), and I’ve always been happy with it. My Grammy, on the other hand? Everything has always, always been an explosion of color. From the tie-dyed peace sign bumper stickers on her red Nissan Cube to the bright shirts and scrubs she wore on the daily to the card she carried as a member of the Red Hat Society, she was a huge proponent of rainbows and color bursts in any and every situation. 
    When she died, I wanted to honor her in little, everyday ways. For me, this looked like adding a rainbow quilt to my bed and a bright-colored tassel to my keys. More importantly, it was a reminder to me that she wasn’t one for normal things—and life was too short to be normal all the time. Loss is heavy, but finding bright spots to remember your loved one by is a way to lighten the load. By finding tangible, small ways to remember the person you lost, the grieving process might just shorten itself.
    My challenge to you: Add a little color to your bedroom with a bright pillow, swipe on some red lipstick, or pick up the bright blue socks from Target instead of the plain white ones.

    It was a reminder to me that she wasn’t one for normal things—and life was too short to be normal all the time. Loss is heavy, but finding bright spots to remember your loved one by is a way to lighten the load.

    2. Spread some love in your loved one’s honor
    As a (sometimes) vegetarian, an animal rehabber, and a seriously political woman, my Grammy did her absolute best to teach my sister, my cousin, and I about how lucky we were to have an Earth that supported us like it did. She also taught us how lucky we were to have animals that roamed the Earth and snuggled up next to us, and she was recycling everything in sight and carrying reusable bags way before it was the cool thing to do. She spent every extra second of her life volunteering somewhere, in some capacity, and I never once heard her complain. From picking up extra shifts as a hospice nurse on top of her normal ER hours and waking up at all hours of the night to bottle-feed injured possums, she never, ever put herself first. 
    In the years that have passed, I’ve become acutely aware of the holes in my community and the world that I could be helping with. Many of us probably understand the dichotomy that often occurs when we lose someone close to us—that balance between honoring someone while remembering they weren’t perfect people—that can add a confusing element to an already confusing time. While I’m sure my Grammy had qualities that were certainly not great, choosing to embrace her love for the world has helped me become a better person in every way. Grief is a messy, convoluted process, and none of it is particularly joyful. However, choosing to embrace and live out the spots in your loved one’s lives that gave them joy is the surest and quickest way to give yourself some spark.
    My challenge to you: Set up a recurring monthly donation to a political candidate that inspires you, go pet the puppies living in cages at your local animal shelter, and rinse the shampoo out of your bottle so you can recycle it, damn it!

    Grief is a messy, convoluted process, and none of it is particularly joyful. However, choosing to embrace and live out the spots in your loved one’s lives that gave them joy is the surest and quickest way to give yourself some spark.

    3. People make all the difference
    After my Grammy died, we had the intensely un-fun job at our hands to go through her things. I found myself near her bookshelves—the exact ceiling-to-floor shelves that had captivated me as a child—picking through the thousands of novels and self-help books that filled out. On the bottom shelf, I found a collection of all of her old high school yearbooks. They were coated in a thin layer of dust, and it was obvious that she hadn’t touched them in a while. I cracked them open, and the inside front and back covers were simply covered with long, handwritten notes about how grateful they were to have met a sweet spirit like her. As a high school teacher myself, I understand how rare it is for any high schoolers to write much more than “have a good summer” in anyone’s yearbook. 
    The truth is, our life is full of tiny little moments and seemingly ordinary encounters that can, quite literally, change lives. Whether we’re in line for an oil change or making friends at work, the same old adage rings true: people will simply never forget how you made them feel. In a world rife with turmoil and heavy with reminders that life can change on a dime, it’s our job to build meaningful relationships and love as well as we can. After all, not a single day is guaranteed.
    My challenge to you: Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, write a thank-you note to a teacher who made an impact on you, or make a point to have a true conversation with someone you love.

    The truth is, our life is full of tiny little moments and seemingly ordinary encounters that can, quite literally, change lives. Whether we’re in line for an oil change or making friends at work, the same old adage rings true: people will simply never forget how you made them feel.

    4. Never, ever stop searching for more
    My Grammy was always looking for something. I spent 23 years as her granddaughter before she died, and in that time I saw her explore transcendental meditation, dabble in Buddhist and Hindu prayers, twist herself into yoga positions, burn incense, and convert to Judaism from Methodism. She was on a constant quest for self-improvement, an understanding of the beyond, and a spiritual view of the world. While her method was unorthodox, it also reminds me of how important it is to never stop looking. While religion might be an extreme example, it’s our job to question the world we live in. It’s our job to look into things, to try new methods for life, and to be unorthodox while we still can. 
    Losing someone is a difficult mountain to climb, and it often opens up questions that weren’t there before. However, taking that heartbreak and sadness and making it into a learning experience? I feel like there’s nothing that could honor those we love any better than that. We’re only on this earth for a short while, and making the most of every single second is the only good way to do it.
    My challenge to you: Go to therapy, download an app and dabble in meditation, or crack open a new self-help book that challenges you.

    It’s our job to question the world we live in. It’s our job to look into things, to try new methods for life, and to be unorthodox while we still can. 

    Perhaps the most vivid memory from the week my Grammy died is getting the call that she had passed away and thinking to myself that it was my job to hold everyone else together. We’re a family of close-knit, like-minded women, and my mom lost her mother that day. The way I saw it, I couldn’t let myself cry or be overcome with grief. If I did, I was letting everyone else down and giving us permission to unravel from the inside out. I held my sister’s hand at the funeral and spoke to everyone gathered without a single shake in my voice, and I never, ever let anybody see me cry. 
    In hindsight, all that stoicism did was turn me away from every single lesson my Grammy had ever taught me. Feelings are there for a reason, and the people we love leaving us is staggeringly painful. Instead of sinking into ourselves, we’re all meant to rise up by loving people deeply, constantly bettering ourselves, sending love out in every direction, and doing it dressed in colorful clothes. After all, what’s left without color, light, love, and emotion? Nothing but darkness. When the people we love leave us with good, we have to carry it on. More

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    10 Books to Read That Remind You Everything Will Be Alright

    Sometimes being an adult means realizing that you have no idea what you’re doing.  A lot of us have experienced moments where we are completely out of our depth and have no idea how or who to ask for advice and/or comfort.Taking care of our health—mentally and physically—should be a priority, but it’s sometimes hard to figure out and balance that with everything going on in our lives. How do we get through the day? 
    A lot of people have different ways of coping, such as praying, watching Netflix, working out, and exploring new hobbies. In addition to doing all of this, I’ve been asking friends to share some books that remind them that everything will be alright. This list is full of books that have inspired and helped people in my life and across the internet. Sometimes the wisdom of others is just what we need to get us through another week in quarantine. 

    Marie Kondo
    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

    Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo swept through American pop-culture with her show on Netflix. Our minds are often impacted by our environment, and with the coronavirus keeping us all inside, this is a perfect time to really declutter your home. Cleaning and clearing your environment will help inspire a calm, motivated, and peaceful mindset.

    Shonda Rhimes
    Year of Yes

    Even if you never watched any of her shows, Shonda Rhimes has become one of Hollywood’s most recognized producer-writers. Her first book is a poignant, passionate, and hilarious book about taking opportunities, looking past failure, and chasing dreams. She writes about how saying “Yes” changed her life and how it can change your life as well.

    Terry McMillan
    It’s Not All Downhill from Here

    “It’s Not All Downhill From Here” is a refreshing story of the strength and resilience of ‘’everyday’ Black women. Loretha Curry’s life is going well until a sudden loss turns her world upside down. Loretha will have to gather all of her strength to keep on thriving and to pursue joy, healing, and life in abundance.

    Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

    I stumbled upon the Netflix movie on a random weekend over a year ago and was surprised by how heartfelt and inspiring it was. Juliet finds a letter from a man she’s never met who found her name written inside a book. The more they exchange letters, the more she is drawn into the eccentric world of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, and learns about their hopes and dreams, their books, and the impact of the German occupation on their lives.

    Michelle Obama
    Becoming

    We often look at prominent women like Michelle Obama as always having everything together and that life must be as perfect as it can get.”Becoming” is a beautiful, inspiring memoir that reminds us that even a First Lady of a country like the United States can be just as human as us—unfinished.

    Cheryl Strayed
    Tiny Beautiful Things

    Hearing other people’s stories and being able to learn from them is one of the best ways to help ourselves get over a slump, or find wisdom and courage to change things in our lives. “Tiny Beautiful Things” is a collection of some of the best of Chery’s Dear Sugar advice columns from “The Rumpus.” Chery’s words are heartwarming, compassionate, and insightful and might be exactly what you need to hear.

    Toni Morrison
    The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

    As one of the most celebrated and respected American authors of all time, Toni Morrison was well-known for her striking imagery and genre-defying prose and unabiding wisdom. In this book, she gives us a collection of her essays, speeches, and meditations where she writes about social issues, such as woman empowerment.

    Leslie Jamison
    The Empathy Exams: Essays

    This book is an incredibly thought provoking essay collection about something we all need more of: empathy. Regardless of where you are in life or what you’re going through, or if the news has you feeling hopeless about the future, learning and actively practicing empathy will help you be able to understand how you should care for the people around you and yourself. More

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    Why Losing Weight Didn’t Make Me Love Myself More (And What Actually Did)

    Every woman has a different story about the relationship she has with her body. Many of these “body stories” are dramas full of ups and downs that could rival Game of Thrones, while others are more like a happy rom-com. But most often, our body stories are individualized, private, and can stop us from feeling true self-love and acceptance. As a health coach, I’ve had the privilege to learn about and help heal other women’s stories. While every woman’s body story is vastly different, here’s mine:I was one of the lucky ones. My mother never commented on my weight or the way I looked. She called me kind, smart, and talented, and never once referred to the size of my body. I grew up with the mentality that who I was defined me, not what I looked like. However, even my mother’s values and limitless support couldn’t totally protect me from how the rest of the world told women they were supposed to be.
    Body insecurities are normalized to the point that we bond with other women over poor relationships with food and putting ourselves down. I still try to channel Cady Heron in the Mean Girls scene where the only thing she could think of that she didn’t like about herself was bad breath in the morning, after the other Plastics picked apart their appearances (#selflovegoals). But the truth is that along with the strong, beautiful, funny, talented, smart women I’ve been friends with, I thought more like Regina George or Gretchen Wieners when looking at my reflection. 

    Each woman’s insecurities look a lot different. For me, my insecurities looked like the occasional, I wish this body part different, or I wish I looked like her, or Sure, I could probably afford to lose a few pounds. I’ve always called myself confident, but I was more confident in my personality than in my body. Bathing suits always made me a little self-conscious, and I was painfully aware of the pounds I gained from cafeteria food and slapping the bag at frat parties my freshman year of college (full disclosure: my freshman 15 was not just 15 pounds, and it lasted much longer than freshman year). 

    I’ve always called myself confident, but I was more confident in my personality than in my body.

    I spent my early 20s eating all the late-night pizzas I wanted and going to daily spin or Orange Theory classes, thinking it would counteract the over-indulgences (it didn’t). I attempted diets here and there, but enjoyed sushi takeout and Taco Bell too much to make any dramatic changes for the goal of weight loss. Instead, I felt a constant underlying pressure to eat better before every formal or felt guilty for “over-indulging,” whether it was dessert at the cafeteria or drinking too many glasses of Two-Buck Chuck.  

    Source: @josie.santi

    The year after I graduated from college, I moved home and started my career. I went to bed early to wake up with enough time to exercise before work, ate dinner with my parents instead of ordering takeout or going out with friends, and my weekend mornings looked like an omelet and coffee at home instead of my usual french toast and mimosa brunch. My clothes started fitting more loosely, and people started telling me I had lost weight. I like to say that I “accidentally” changed because I wasn’t even aware that anything looked different.
    If I had lost weight, shouldn’t I feel better about myself? I thought I shouldn’t have any more food guilt, and I should be happier about my appearance. It’s what I had thought for so long as the missing piece I never had the willpower to achieve, and yet, I didn’t feel any better. Flash forward a few years, and I’m more confident than I have ever been (while being a few–or 10–pounds heavier than that first year out of college). Here’s why I learned weight loss isn’t a prescription for self-love, and what made me love myself instead. 

    There’s always going to be another five pounds
    When I did lose weight, it was not the immediate sense of gratification I had expected it would be. I felt the same amount of self-consciousness, whether it was thinking I still looked bloated, noticing cellulite, or finding a new imperfection. We often think that as long as we hit a certain weight or pants size, then we’ll be happy. But more often than not, this isn’t true. Even if we get a six-pack, we would focus on the size of our thighs, or maybe start hating the bags under our eyes. There’s always going to be another imperfection when weight loss is the ultimate goal.

    There’s always going to be another imperfection when weight loss is the ultimate goal.

    Self-love is a skill, not a circumstance
    I always thought that once I had the perfect body (LOL as if that exists), all my problems would go away. Since I grew up from the 20-year-old girl tracking her calories on MyFitnessPal and light-heartedly laughing with friends about how weak our willpower is when it comes to cheese boards on wine night, I learned that a number on the scale is never the problem. The problem is that we don’t feel like we’re good enough, and that doesn’t change, even if the number on the scale does.
    Just like happiness, confidence is a skill, not a circumstance. It doesn’t come when you achieve a certain weight or pants size, because it’s something that has to be consistently worked, like any muscle. Thinking that you’ll feel more self-love when you lose a certain amount of weight is distracting you from the real problem of not feeling good enough as you are. Practice and prioritize self-love first in order to achieve a body you feel good in, not the other way around. 

    Practice and prioritize self-love first in order to achieve a body you feel good in, not the other way around. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Everyone feels better in different body types
    While our culture trains us from an early age to believe there’s only one type of “attractiveness” we are supposed to strive for, this just isn’t true. It’s marketing, not biology. In reality, every woman does (and should) feel like her best, sexiest self in a variety of different body types. When I did lose those extra “college” pounds, I remember telling my therapist that I should feel better about myself, but something about the weight loss made me feel less feminine and confident.
    Yes, I desperately missed those same curves that I had wanted to get rid of for years. The point is that we all have different body types for a reason. Every woman’s “ideal” body should be totally different than anyone else’s. We’re often so distracted by achieving what society has told us is “perfection” that we don’t stop to think about what would actually make us feel our very best.

    Every woman’s ‘ideal’ body should be totally different than anyone else’s. We’re often so distracted by achieving what society has told us is ‘perfection’ that we don’t stop to think about what would actually make us feel our very best.

    “Weight loss” is not a sustainable way to live
    Although dieters might feel a sense of satisfaction in seeing the numbers on a scale go down, each pound lost likely requires sacrifice and suppressing cravings. The focus is on less, less, and less. Food becomes an enemy and a stressor, not something to nourish us. Restricting food, resisting cravings, and making life changes (like avoiding social settings that center around food, for example) takes a toll on mental and physical health. Yes, I lost weight, but I also dealt with a lot of anxiety that left me with less appetite, and I focused on my career much more than I focused on enjoying time with family and friends. Weight loss didn’t make my life better; it only happened because I wasn’t living my best life.
    Even though weight loss was the aftermath and not the cause, it was the one time I was “successful” at losing weight, and it did not make me any happier. I realized that nothing is worth the price tag of enjoying my life for the messy, happy series of moments it is. Those extra inches on the waistline is where life happens. It’s the extra glass of rosé on a summer rooftop, or a slice of your favorite chocolate cake when you go home to visit your mom. I realized that constantly hoping to lose weight demoted these moments to be worth nothing more than a pants size or number on a scale.

    Source: Felicia Lasala for The Everygirl

    …and 5 Things That Did Make Me Love Myself More

    I changed my goal to be healthy, not skinny
    I used to think of nutrition through the lens of calories, carbs, fats, and proteins. I obviously knew food was necessary for survival, but I also understood and saw food through labels like “good” and “bad,” or “healthy” versus “unhealthy,” because it was all about how it would make my body look. My entire outlook changed when I learned about using plants as medicine and how to eat to change how I feel. Now, my goal is to be healthy for optimal energy, to live a long life, to be my most vibrant self, and to feel happy. When I started eating to be healthy instead of skinny, I started loving my body for what it could do, instead of what it looked like.

    When I started eating to be healthy instead of skinny, I started loving my body for what it could do, instead of what it looked like.

    I focused on strength, not weight
    No, the transformation was not all mental. As much as I believe in screwing the man (in this case, damaging diet culture and societal pressure on women), and as much as I wish this is 100 percent about internal mindset, the truth is that’s just 90 percent of it. The other 10 percent of achieving self-love came from how I felt physically in my body. I’ve always loved exercising and knew I felt better overall when I was consistently moving, but I would also work out for calorie burn. I loved classes that tracked how many calories I burned, as if that’s what made a tough workout worth it.
    When my self-love changed, so did my workouts. I learned there are thousands of reasons to work out, but weight loss isn’t one of them. Now, I work out to make my muscles stronger and to feel more powerful in my physical self. I started eating to get more energy and as fuel for workouts. I became addicted to feeling powerful and strong, rather than hoping to feel smaller. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Actually prioritizing self-love
    This one sounds like a no-brainer (you felt self-love by prioritizing self-love? Revolutionary!). But surprisingly, so often when we are hell-bent on losing weight, we’re promoting weight loss over self-love, thinking that the two don’t conflict. Instead of restrictive eating, calorie counting, and labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” prioritize self-love by being compassionate to what your body wants. Eat intuitively, not restrictively. Prioritizing self-love means you choose to leave behind whatever is unhealthy for you, whether it’s relationships, jobs, or your own beliefs and habits that aren’t letting you be happy.

    Prioritizing self-love means you choose to leave behind whatever is unhealthy for you, whether it’s relationships, jobs, or your own beliefs and habits that aren’t letting you be happy.

    Knowing that the way I looked was not an accomplishment
    I’ve always been a big self-improvement girl: self-help books are my guilty pleasure, and my daily affirmation is always about showing up as my highest self. But perhaps the greatest shift in my self-love came when I stopped associating being a better version of myself with having a better body. Now, when I feel insecurity come up (because it still does, I swear!), I remind myself that my best self has nothing to do with a breakout, a patch of cellulite, or gaining a few pounds.
    When I notice myself looking in the mirror and thinking something negative, it’s a sign that I’ve been too focused on myself. My fix? Call up a friend to see how they are, donate to an organization, or tell my boyfriend what I love about him (you’re welcome for my selflessness, boyfriend). Not only does it help me to get outside myself, but it reminds me that I do like the kind, compassionate person I am. Now that’s a real accomplishment. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    Focusing on what makes me “big”
    I think everything clicked for me when I realized I was constantly trying to shrink myself, rather than feeling justified for the space I take up in this world. Instead, I want to love what’s big: in body, in personality, in love, in altruism, in voice, in confidence, in aspirations. In the end, weight loss is not the secret to success, a relationship, or happiness; it’s an endless goal that keeps us from achieving everything we want in life because we don’t think we deserve it yet.
    I had been so focused on being smaller for so long that I forgot to love what’s big in me. Now, I consistently remind myself to love everything from my loud laugh to my lofty goals. My advice to you, dear readers, is to love your bigness so much, the world can no longer point at you and call you small.  More

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    8 Outdated Rules for Healthy Eating That We’re Ditching

    We grow up learning a lot of food rules that we believe as fact. Maybe you’ve experienced some form of self-prescribed dieting, or you depended on rules to make healthy decisions (I know I certainly have). You try your best to eat healthy because you know you’re supposed to. But imagine a different approach to healthy eating, one that isn’t focused on numbers, news, or the latest diet trend. Instead, imagine knowing your body so well you know what it needs and feel guilt-free eating what it wants. The truth is that a lot of those food rules we have always believed as fact are stopping us from achieving true health and food freedom. Here are eight of them that we’re completely getting rid of (and three that we’re living by instead). 

    Source: Social Squares

    1. Some foods are “good” and some foods are “bad”
    Every food is predefined into labels of “good” and “bad” by our culture. We grow up understanding that a stalk of celery is a “good” food, a slice of pizza is a “bad” food, and there is always an “evil” nutrient we turn into a public enemy (like carbs, saturated fats, or sugar). However, when we put a moral value on foods, what’s meant to nourish us becomes associated with guilt. Of course, some foods have more nutritional value than others. A plate of spinach will provide your body with more nutrients than a Twinkie, but you’re not “bad” when you do want to eat a Twinkie. Rid yourself of food guilt and listen to your body to decide what you need (not what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat). 

    2. You should eat everything on your plate
    As children, many of us were praised for joining the clean plate club and guilted if we didn’t. We had to sit at the table until we finished eating, or we were told wasting food was wrong. As well-intentioned as our parents may have been, this mentality sticks with us as adults. We base serving sizes off of what’s in front of us, instead of what our bodies need. Rather than eating a portion that someone else recommends (whether it’s your mom, a restaurant, or the recommendations on the box), eat until you’re satisfied. Newsflash: we’re not supposed to eat until we’re full, and certainly not until we’re “stuffed” (Thanksgiving dinner is the exception, of course). Eat slowly and mindfully, so you’re aware when you’re no longer enjoying your food and just eating out of habit because it’s in front of you. 

    Source: Social Squares

    3. Avoid fruits and white potatoes (they have too many carbs)
    “Carb” is not a dirty word; it’s actually an important nutrient that the body needs for many crucial functions like energy. Even carbohydrates like potatoes and fruit are loaded with essential nutrients that will help the body to thrive. White potatoes (yes, the kind found in hash browns) are full of vitamin C, fiber, and contain more potassium than a banana. Fruits are one of the most plentiful sources of vitamins and minerals, and offer a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants. Bottom line: you should never be afraid of or avoid any whole foods from the earth. That’s what we’re meant to eat, and our bodies will respond accordingly. 

    4. Read the nutrition labels on everything you eat
    You should absolutely be informed about everything you eat. I do believe everyone should know how to read a nutrition label (and if you don’t, HMU). We shouldn’t be tricked into believing a bowl of a certain cereal is a nutritious breakfast when it has more grams of sugar and artificial ingredients than a candy bar, so that part I stand by. However, the outdated food rule I’m thinking of actually comes from Mean Girls. Regina George asks the other Plastics what percentage fat is from the calories of a food she’s thinking of eating. Even though the line, “whatever, I’m getting cheese fries,” is iconic, this is when we should stop reading nutrition labels.
    If you’re going to indulge, enjoy it without having to see how many calories or grams of fat it will cost. This just leads to more food guilt and an inability to be intuitive. Rather than reading every nutrition label to eat healthier, we should be aiming to eat more foods without a nutrition label at all. Stop worrying about the numbers, and start focusing on nutrients (but more on that below!). 

    Source: @kayla_seah

    5. You shouldn’t eat dessert every day
    Life is short, so let them eat cake! (Yes, I did just combine two well-known sayings that make perfect sense together, thank you very much.) A lot of us have a sweet tooth, or for others, eating something sweet signals that the meal is over. And guess what: both are OK. If you crave dessert but don’t let yourself eat it, or if you eat it and then feel endlessly guilty afterward, this will only lead to bingeing and a bad relationship with food. If you want dessert, eat it (yes, even if that means every single day). The trick is to find things that satisfy your sweet tooth while also giving your body added benefits and better nutrients. Try nut butter and apple slices, dark chocolate, or meal-prep one of these delicious plant-based desserts for the week. 

    6. Have five small meals a day instead of three larger meals (or that you have to have three meals a day)
    I first heard the advice to eat five small meals throughout the day when I was in high school. The suggestion came from a good place; you definitely shouldn’t wait to eat until you’re so hungry you feel weak (or worse, hangry). But thinking that multiple small meals a day would be better for me than three larger ones, I wouldn’t let myself eat as much as I wanted or wouldn’t feel hungry for my next meal if I did eat a “bigger” snack (AKA a small meal). My body was constantly confused and never really satisfied. Since then, I’ve learned that three meals work perfectly for me. I never feel the need to snack, and instead just eat enough filling, fiber-rich foods so I’m satisfied until the next meal. 
    My point is not that you should eat three meals a day. Many people don’t like to eat breakfast and prefer two meals a day. Other people feel best when they’re snacking throughout the day, and some people are more energized when eating five smaller meals. Instead of promoting one over the other, my point is that you should eat when you’re hungry. Find the amount, time, and method of eating that works best for your body and lifestyle. 

    Source: @sivanayla

    7. You should resist cravings
    I always recommend intuitive eating and listening to your body, but a lot of people will tell me that if they “listened to their body,” they would only eat boxed mac n’ cheese, pizza, Doritos, and cookies all day. Even if that’s what you think your body wants to eat, you’re listening to the ingrained food rules that have taught you certain foods are “off-limits” and, therefore, more attractive (it’s true for bad boys, and it’s true for food). But when you forget the aforementioned food rules and stop thinking cravings are the enemy, the truth is that you’ll crave a combo of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and yes, some “less nutritious” food here and there, which–believe it or not–is absolutely OK. 
    Your body is incredibly smart (I promise). Cravings are how your body is communicating with you that it needs something, not an attempt to sabotage your health goals. Whatever you’re craving, get creative and DIY an option that will be more nutritious and make your body feel better. Feeding cravings actually helps give more clarity to what our bodies need—because if we don’t feed them, they’ll only get stronger. 

    8. We need experts to tell us how to eat
    If you feel overwhelmed by which diet to try or which expert to listen to, that’s not on accident. In order to sell you on limitless products and programs, you have to feel like your health is not in your control. The truth is that bodies are not one-size-fits-all, and therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. Every body is different, with individualized nutritional requirements. Just like we all have different personality traits, we all have different food needs. What works for one person (even if they are an “expert”) may not work for you. Get curious about nutrition, educate yourself on how to eat the best nourishment, and talk to your doctor about what diet and lifestyle is best for you, but listen to your body more than you listen to outside advice.

    1. Count nutrients, not calories
    When we count calories, we approach eating from a place of lack and deprivation. But when we’re aware of the nutrients that foods have and what those nutrients do for our bodies (give us energy, boost skin glow, reduce inflammation, etc.), we come from a place of abundance and nourishment. Focusing on eating more plants and whole foods filled with nutrients can also subconsciously crowd out processed and sugary foods (totally guilt-free). Think of adding more foods into your diet (like adding leafy greens to two meals a day or eating berries with breakfast), rather than subtracting foods (like no dairy, no processed foods, etc.). 

    Source: @loveandlemons

    2. Eat your colors
    My entire wardrobe may only consist of neutrals, but when it comes to what’s on my plate, I like to load up on every color of the rainbow. The colors of plants come from the different phytochemical antioxidants they contain. Eating fruits and vegetables in a wide variety of colors ensures we’re getting a wider variety of antioxidants. If your meal is looking as monochrome as your stay-at-home #OOTD, add a little color with fruits and vegetables. For example, if you’re having pasta, throw in some cherry tomatoes (red) and kale (green). If your salad is just a lot of leafy greens and avocado, good for you for getting in your veggies, but consider adding in some sweet potato and purple cabbage for a wider variety of nutrients. 

    3. Make mealtime sacred
    Many of us think we’re supposed to eat purely for health and are cursed by the pleasure aspect that comes with food (lust and gluttony, after all, are two of the seven deadly sins, and things I feel regularly when a truffle mac ‘n’ cheese is in front of me). “On-the-go” is a popular recipe trend, and a rise in fast food over the past 50 years is no coincidence: we want to eat as quickly as possible. But the truth is that we don’t just eat to survive. We eat for enjoyment, for social connection, for meaningful ritual, and these days, we often eat because we need a break (Find yourself stress snacking during work? Your body might be telling you to take a break).
    I get it: sometimes busy mornings call for tossing back a smoothie, or you need to take your lunch on-the-go. But whenever you can, make your mealtime sacred. Turn off the TV, close the laptop (yes, that means taking a real lunch break), and actually enjoy the food you get to eat. Use mealtime as a mindfulness practice, a way to reconnect with loved ones, and a much-needed break.  More

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    Everything You Need to Know About ASMR and Reducing Stress

    I vividly remember my many nights of sinking into the depths of the lounge chair in my sophomore year dorm’s hallway, hoodie-laden and hunched over my computer screen, binging The Vampire Diaries at 2am (team Katherine if anyone asks). I’ve always been a bit of a night owl, but my insomnia had gotten so out of hand that year, even my peers took notice.When Jason (from across the hall) finally decided to be the one to ask me about my many sleepless nights, he recommended I try out this thing called “ASMR.” Having never heard of it, I stared at him blankly before asking him to explain it to me, and proceeded to switch my laptop screen from TVD to a video of a woman making 3D sounds from props in a candlelit room.
    …Cut to now, having Cardi B lull me to sleep on the reg as she slowly waves her freshly-manicured nails up and down my phone screen while delicately whispering okurrr into my (and 41 million others’) ears.
    ASMR, short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, has quickly become my go-to method of winding down at night to help me fall asleep, and has honestly done wonders for my mental health, especially during these past few months. Curious about if this phenomenon—that I’ve often heard described as “oddly satisfying,” “strangely relaxing,” and “borderline erotic”—could work for you? Let’s dive in.

    What is ASMR? 
    If you’ve never heard of this concept before, you might be visualizing me as an alien with some sort of sixth sense that just doesn’t add up. ASMR is best described as a feeling of positive well-being that is usually combined with a physical sensation that simply makes you feel good. These feelings and sensations—referred to as tingles in the world of ASMR— are results of various stimuli, or triggers (audio and visual cues) that heighten all of your senses. The Washington Post described the reaction as “a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head and scalp, shimmies down the spine and relaxes the entire body.”
    Remember the feeling of the slight combing of your hair when you’d have that annual lice check at school, or having a bedtime story softy read to you as a kid, or being annoyed—yet strangely satisfied—by hearing someone smack their gum, or simply watching Bob Ross paint? If you felt ~some type of way~  at any of those moments, those were tingles, my friend. 
    ASMR is not necessarily something you have, but more something that you can be receptive to. Tons of YouTube videos exist to create the triggers people desire to feel tingles and that sense of well-being, but many might notice that when they watch or listen to them, they might not have the same reaction. Some may just feel a sense of drowsiness and relaxation rather than a physical tingle, while some might just not be susceptible at all. It is essentially a scale with various degrees of sensitivity.
    Triggers can take on various forms, such as specific sounds like tapping on a wooden object, watching paint be mixed, or even experiencing a role-played virtual hair salon visit. When listening to an ASMR video or audio piece (particularly with headphones), you’ll notice sounds appearing in a three-dimensional manner around you, creating a very realistic setting. Creators often utilize binaural audio with multiple microphones to achieve this effect and create that illusion that you’re experiencing situations IRL, which is why role-playing-type ASMR videos are especially popular. 
    According to the American Sleep Association, the physical and mental sensations of ASMR have always been around since humans have existed, though it wasn’t until quite recently that there was a term coined (by a woman named Jennifer Allen in 2010) to describe them. The ASA also noted that these feelings of comfort, calmness, and drowsiness are likely caused by our brains releasing certain chemicals (including endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine) as a response to a trigger, leaving us happy and relaxed.
    With it being a relatively new phenomenon, the amount of studies completed so far are quite limited. However, as ASMR has increased in popularity, the research and medical interest has also gone up with it, with this Swansea University study conducted in 2015 being a prime example.

    You might be wondering: Is ASMR “a sex thing?”
    So before we discuss this any further, it’s definitely worth addressing the elephant in the room: is ASMR… kind of sexual? I’ll admit that whenever I describe this phenomenon to someone who’s hearing about it for the first time, we can’t really talk about ASMR without discussing the notion that those not susceptible to it might correlate it to sex.
     “[It’s] more sensual, less fetishistic—that being said, I’m sure if you look at certain [NSFW] video sites, you can probably find some ASMR-related videos,” Ross Miller, a senior editor at The Verge, said on The Verge’s What’s Tech podcast. It creates a sense of intimacy that can technically be considered to fall into the gray area of what is sexual versus what purely involves the senses, but leans more towards the latter. 
    Real talk: as Miller pointed out, essentially everything in this world can be spun to relate to sex in some way or another. So like all else, ASMR is also ultimately left open to interpretation.

    Its rise to fame in recent years:
    From a community of over 216 thousand members on Reddit to W Magazine’s popular video series dedicated to celebrities trying it out to the emergence of in-person immersive experiences like Whisperlodge, ASMR has become a real rising star in pop culture. The hashtag #asmr on Instagram itself has over 9.2 million hits, and people are thoroughly loving discovering this way to retreat from reality into a hypnotic state of calm. 
    For many people who can’t exactly feel the tingles, ASMR has become a popular form of white noise to help soothe them to sleep. “The genre had begun to find broader appeal as a sleep aid, an alternative to guided meditation and a drug-free, online version of Xanax,” Jamie Lauren Keiles wrote for The New York Times in 2019.
    With this new form of entertainment comes the obvious: a new wave of niche celebrities. If you do a quick Google search on top “ASMRtists” (as they’re referred to), you’ll notice YouTube channels that have millions of subscribers. So many of these creators have completely transformed this notion into full-time careers, with a slew of loyal and passionate tingle-loving fans to support them.
     
    How to integrate ASMR into your wellness routine:
    Experiencing ASMR is like going to a virtual spa for your senses, and role-playing instances that make you feel calm, contented, and comfortable. From watching videos of getting a relaxing haircut or facial to listening to positive affirmations whispered to you as you drift to sleep, it creates feelings of intimacy and attentiveness that we all inherently crave—something that’s especially valued during a time in our lives where loneliness, stress, and insomnia are at an all-time high for many of us. 
    There’s no “right” method or time to try and engage in ASMR-related activities, but there are some that have proven to work for me, as well as many people I know. One of those includes making it the last step of your nighttime routine as you’re lying comfortably in bed, trying to fall asleep. Just pop on an ASMR podcast, and notice yourself drift deep into slumber. Another is to utilize it as a meditative mid-day retreat if you want to slow down and recharge your energy (perhaps even take a little nap!) by watching some videos. 
    For some, ASMR has also helped reduce stress and even alleviate pain from headaches. Though it is extremely low-risk, if you do find yourself suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, depression, or any other condition, please note that ASMR should not be used as a substitute for professional or medical intervention.

    Ready to give it a try? 
    If I’ve intrigued you enough, perhaps it’s time to give this whole thing a whirl! Dim the lights, snuggle up with your favorite blanket, put in your headphones, and test drive ASMR through these soothing and mesmerizing videos, accounts, and podcasts that might just be the gateway to your favorite new method of self-care:

    Podcasts: 
    Sleep Whispers
    The ASMR Garden
    Sleep and Relax ASMR

    YouTube Videos:
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    Instagram Accounts: More