Book Review: Body Positive Power

Megan Crabbe runs a popular Instagram account, @bodyposipanda, that I’ve been an avid follower of for a while now. Megan’s insta is bright, colorful and fun, but most importantly, it is focused around the body positive movement and self love! Crabbe encourages the acceptance of all body types and pushes for the dismantling of our culture’s fat-phobia.

As a woman who has struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember, Megan has become a true inspiration to me. I finally took the time to read her book, Body Positive Power, and I truly found myself radiating with self-love. Personally, my favorite part of the entire book was her dedication to explaining why diet culture is so problematic. She discusses things like intuitive eating and reminds you that it’s really okay to just eat pizza and not feel guilty about it [treat yourself, girl]! 

Megan’s book redefines what ‘flattering’ clothing is and encourages you to dress how you like. After reading this I found myself online shopping for clothes I would’ve never dreamt of buying a week prior. It’s important for women and girls to wear what they like, feel confident in their own skin and express themselves through their own style. She breaks down the limitations you might have on yourself and your clothing style. Seriously—you’ll be reconsidering everything in your closet and having a ‘screw it’ mentality. Wear what you want!

An important theme in Megan’s book surrounds exercise and why we should do it. Should we do it to get skinny and have a ‘summer’ body? Absolutely not! Exercise is meant to bring you happiness, health and keep you active. It is not meant to guilt you and make you feel like something is wrong with your body the way it is right now. Go to that cycling class because it makes you happy, don’t go because society told you being skinny is equal to being perfect.

Body Positive Power will leave you second guessing everything you used to know and present you with a new perception of the world and it’s incredibly empowering! After reading this book I’ve found myself telling everyone I know to follow Megan on Instagram, buy this book and toss out everything they think they know about dieting and exercise. It’s time to change your life, girl. Go read this book!

Six Chicago Artists to Add to your Playlist

Chicago is known for its great strides within the Jazz and Blues industry. In today’s Chicago music scene, many up and coming artists try to pay homage to this history through their music, while adding their own unique style it. After realizing that more music exists other than what is repeated on Top 40 radio stations, I began to explore deeper into the music that’s created right in my backyard [metaphorically speaking]. Here are my top bands and solo artists [as well as my song recs] from the Chicagoland area. [Bonus: listen to all of my top Chicago music picks here.] 

 

Manwolves

Manwolves has to take the cake for my absolute favorite Chicago band [and one of my favorite bands of all time]. The six-piece, which even features a trumpet, has a great mix of jazz and R&B with a sprinkle of pop in its sound. The trumpet, an essential jazz instrument, adds such an interesting flair to each song that Michael Werner plays. Werner and his bandmates,  Julian Freeman [drums], Henry Wolf [bass], Eli Cohen [guitar], Ari Garfin [keyboard] and Jamie McNear [vocals]. are from a suburb outside of Chicago and have known each other since high school [where they first played as Manwolves] and have been best friends ever since. Their genuine friendship is seen both on and off stage and is contagious within the crowd. Whenever I’m home, I make it a point to go to every Manwolves concert I can. [PS: pls play in Athens.]

Top songs:  “You,” “Fisherman’s Friend,” “These Days,” “Fear and Loathing”

 

Ric Wilson

If you ever need to feel empowered, listen to Ric Wilson.  His sound is an electric hip hop that exudes feel-good vibes. At every concert, he does a ‘soul train’ which allows anyone in the crowd to show off their dance moves. He is very much into singing / rapping about the issues the Black community in Chicago are facing, like police brutality and incarceration, while also singing about black empowerment. We love a woke and empowering man.

Top songs: “Powerful,” “Hang Loose,” “We Love Us”

 

The Slaps

The Slaps are what I would consider to be a traditional “indie” band [though, what does “indie” even mean anymore?]. While two of its members originate from Kentucky, the band found its drummer, Josh Resing, when they all attended DePaul University. While in school, Resing, Rand Kelly [vocals] and Ramsey Bell [guitar] created The Slaps, thus making it acceptable for them to grace my top Chicago music blog post. Though the band is quite small,  unique vocals and minimal instruments create a sound that boasts an upbeat energy [with the occasional slower songs and ballads scattered throughout its discography]. The Slaps are still a pretty small band [less than 5000 followers on Instagram] but with the help of their friends, Manwolves, they are slowly climbing up the ladder of Chicago music and who knows, maybe they’ll be selling out The Aragon and Ravinia, two of Chicago’s most iconic concert venues, before we know it. 

Top songs: “Song for a Friend,” “Houses” 

 

Tasha 

Tasha is a solo artist who mainly creates dream pop music. Her beautiful voice mixed with a chill, groovy type of music will calm anyone [the perfect finals week soundtrack]. While her music is amazing, her social media presence is just as important. Extremely passionate about Black female empowerment, she uses her music [much like Ric Wilson] to empower black women and talk about the hardships black women face in their day to day life. 

Top songs: “Something About this Girl,” “Lullaby,” “Kind of Love”

 

Kaina

Very similar to Tasha is another solo artist, Kaina. She exudes the same dreamy and chill pop vibe in all of her songs and definitely isn’t afraid to play around with a synthesizer. She mixes Latinx sounds with the classic Chicago Jazz and Blues sound to create a one-of-a-kind sound. As a first-generation Latina [her parents immigrated to the US but she was born in the US], Kaina sings about her cultural identity and her detachment from it since she didn’t grow up living around a good majority of her family. 

Top songs: “La Luna,” “A Song to Sing” [a collab with Manwolves and Ric Wilson], “Honey”

 

Burns Twins 

I discovered the Burns Twins in a different way than all the previous artists. I was playlists deep on Spotify when I’d finished yet another Spotify Discover playlist. The next song that started playing was “Day by Day” by the Burns Twins. I’d heard of them through the Chicago music scene and from collaborations with Kaina, however, I’d never listened to any of their own music. Burns Twins collabs with a variety of artists, playing to their strengths in the technical side of creating music [usually a pop / hip hop mix]. With the twins as the driving force and the vocals of a talented lyricist, it’s hard for a great song to not be created. 

Top songs:  “La Luna” [a collab with Kaina], “Day by Day”

Influencer Spotlight: Melissa Tatti

Sustainability has become a hot topic in today’s culture due to the evident positive effects it has had on our environment. Young adults especially have started to take action in protecting and preserving our environment in various simple initiatives that already fit into our daily routines. Replacing single-use plastics with reusable ones, not consuming as many meat and dairy products [even going as far as being vegan or vegetarian] and even shopping for clothing and other material items at second-hand stores. Thrifting has become incredibly popular the past five or so years, and last summer I found myself watching various Youtube creators thrift their wardrobes and turn well-loved pieces into something fresh and trendy. 

Melissa Tatti, aka “ThreadsObsessed” on Youtube [as well as Instagram] is one of the only thrifting, fashion-based channels that I subscribe to and continually watch because she puts so much effort into what she is creating, from showing viewers when she initially thrifts the item, to transforming and styling an outfit. Melissa does “Thrift with Me” vlogs which allows viewers to see what kind of pieces she looks for in a thrift store, what older brands have a growing value in today’s fashion world, and she even puts looks together while she shops. 

Not only does Melissa thrift clothing items for herself, she also sells and transforms them on Depop, a popular [usually second-hand] retail app. Before checking out her Depop page, I didn’t expect much from it, I just thought it would be a place for her to post simple photos of what she was trying to sell from her thrifting journeys. However, Melissa beautifully and uniquely, transforms her thrifted clothing pieces into styled looks that no one else has. 

As she mentions and depicts on her Youtube channel, Melissa spends countless hours thrifting items from various thrift stores [in Canada, where she lives], transforming the pieces, and then photographing them for her Depop page. She also does all of this from her home, including packaging Depop orders. Melissa has a room dedicated to her booming Depop business and even a studio style set-up for photographing her pieces. Needless to say, Melissa is extremely hardworking and it’s inspiring to see the amount of success she’s achieved in such little time. 

Her own personal style, as showcased on her social media, has developed over the years, ranging from Nascar and Harley Davidson ‘90s style jackets, to Y2K baby blue eyeshadow and low-rise jeans type looks [the early 2000s are definitely back]. Regardless of her ever changing style, Melissa’s “girl boss” attitude remains the same, and it’s empowering to see a woman of her age as successful as she is, yet still eager to achieve more. Melissa is one of my favorite social media creators and her passion for fashion is contagious! 

Bonnaroo Music Festival: A Community of Love and Music

“We are all connected here tonight. Don’t let anyone tell you this feeling isn’t real, because we all know it is.” These words were spoken by Childish Gambino on Friday night of the Bonnaroo Music Festival, and I couldn’t think of a better phrase to sum up my first experience. Anyone lucky enough to find themselves at the farm this year would agree. Bonnaroo isn’t only a four-day music experience, but a chance to disconnect from the outside world and submerge yourself into a community of love, acceptance and happiness and that is exactly what I did.

Bonnaroo is located on a 650-acre farm [It’s seriously HUGE] in Tennessee. It features six main stages, with many more tents for smaller performances. This year, headliners included Childish Gambino, Post Malone, Phish and The Lumineers. Although music festival ticket prices can be intimidating, I knew I couldn’t pass up a lineup like this one. 

The first day, I was determined to see many small bands like Peach Pit, Caroline Rose, and Magic City Hippies. I had been playing them on repeat during the weeks leading up to the festival. I figured their crowds would be more intimate since their music was less known. I was incredibly wrong. Unlike what I expected, every band at Bonnaroo came with an energetic, passionate crowd. I assumed people attended the festival for the headliners or certain bands they knew and ignored the smaller ones. I had been so accustomed to opening bands at concerts never receiving the same energy as their headliners. However, at Bonnaroo, people made an effort to learn the music of every band they planned on seeing. Not only was I surprised, but the artists were too. Many performers were happily shocked with a crowd that sang every line of every song.

Friday evening,  Childish Gambino took the stage. I’ve seen Childish in concert before, so I knew I was in for another amazing performance. I was even lucky enough to secure a spot only a few rows back from the pit, so I had an amazing view. When he finally came on I felt myself in awe of the atmosphere. I truly felt connected with the crowd around me. Childish Gambino’s energy was unlike anything I had seen before. I could feel the passion he was putting into the show, putting every single bit of himself into each song. 

Childish Gambino’s Bonnaroo performance outdid the time I had seen him before by tenfold. Just as I was questioning if everyone else was experiencing the same level of pure joy as me, he said it was time to rate the crowd [he does this at every show] and gifted us with an unmatchable score of, “unreal.” The crowd was awestruck by his energy and he said the feeling was mutual. I feel confident in saying I’ve seen one of the best shows Childish has ever put on, all thanks to Bonnaroo.

I assumed my weekend had peaked at the Childish Gambino set. Once again, I was wrong. Post Malone’s set was the following night and I was blown away. In fact, it’s difficult for me to explain just how amazing his show was. I had another amazing view of the stage and I was surrounded by three of my favorite people in the entire world. Post Malone gave it his all, he truly sang his heart out and the four of us chanted back every line of every song. During his set I had the realization that I was flooded with nothing other than pure joy. The image of me and my friends [with huge grins across our faces] watching one of the best shows I’ve ever seen will be happily tucked away in my memories for the rest of my days, and I am so thankful.

Bonnaroo offered up so many experiences I thought I would never have. When checking out a booth owned by Good Dye Young [a hair dye company] I was lucky enough to meet THE Hayley Williams [lead singer of Paramore and founder of Good Dye Young]. I would’ve never guessed I’d be meeting such a lifelong idol of mine at Bonnaroo, but all of my other expectations were exceeded, were they not? Aside from meeting such an amazing person, I had to get my hair done up with their temporary color products. For those of you who love fun hair, but don’t love permanent, I highly recommend Good Dye Young’s poser paste! 

Sitting here reminiscing about my Bonnaroo experience already has me counting the days until I can get back to the farm. I was incredibly moved by the atmosphere at Bonnaroo, I had never felt so safe and accepted among so many strangers. It felt good, really good, to be in such a state of happiness. Even when I accidentally missed a set by a favorite band of mine, Hippo Campus, I found myself brushing it off much faster than I thought. Although I didn’t get to see them live, nothing is ever really that bad when you’re at the farm. If you find yourself unsure of making the leap to attend Bonnaroo next year, I urge you to just do it. You’ll find yourself immersed in a haven of love, friendship, and best of all, music.

Laurelive Music Festival Offers New Kind of Fest Experience

It’s already mid-June, the end of the semester has come and gone and college students have either returned home for the summer or are taking advantage of every travel opportunity they can manage. The one thing that tops most summer destination bucket lists? Music festivals.

Between Bonnaroo’s four-day camping festival, Hangout Fest’s beachy experience and Lollapalooza’s usual star-studded lineup, each festival is unique in its own way. But, the festivals I’m most interested in are those that haven’t yet reached A-List exclusivity.

COIN

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed by a lot of the festival lineups this year [due to my own personal tastes] but Laurelive’s was one that instantly intrigued me. With headliners Hozier and Sheryl Crow and other artists like Misterwives, COIN and AJR, how could I resist purchasing a weekend pass? I hadn’t heard of Laurelive prior to stumbling across this year’s lineup, but after looking into it, I could tell this was a legit festival worth the investment [I think we can all agree on thanking Fyre Festival for causing any apprehension when buying tickets to a festival we’ve never been to before].

So, Hannah [our very own media director!], my boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb about 30 minutes from the festival [trust me, the affordable price and Laurelive’s complimentary parking made the drive worth it] and made the four-hour drive from Cincinnati to Cleveland. The festival is held at Laurel School’s [an all-girls K-12 private school] 150-acre Butler campus.

Handmade friendship bracelets are a must.

The two main stages are positioned at both ends of the school’s track and field with food trucks and vendors outlining its circumference. The short walk from the gates to the main festival area is lined with local artisans and other crafters [think handmade jewelry, unique art prints and a locally-based wine slushie vendor; an obvious favorite amongst festival goers]. A third, smaller stage is also set up in this area where local and regional bands show off their talents.

When I entered, one thing immediately stood out to me: Laurelive is much more family-friendly than most music festivals. [There was even a kids’ area, complete with bounce houses and face painting, set up on the school’s tennis courts.] Blankets and lawn chairs dotted the large grassy area between the two stages as parents mingled with friends and barefooted kids ran around with bubbles and balloon animals. I noticed that most people just picked a spot for the day, set up camp, and enjoyed the music from a distance; a refreshing and laid-back atmosphere in comparison to the usual chaos of fans rushing from stage to stage in hopes of being barricade for their favorite artists.

While a variety of musicians took the stage over the course of two days, attendees couldn’t help but continuously browse the many local food vendors. From Asian cuisine and Thai bowls to barbeque and Italian, there was something for everyone’s taste. My favorites, though, were two local food trucks: Wild Spork and Cleveland Cookie Dough Co.

With a tagline like #SporkNotPork and a bright red truck, it’s hard not to stop at Wild Spork. The truck’s menu is 100% plant-based, but still has all the flavor of your usual, greasy, fried food [I mean, isn’t that the kind of comfort food we’re all looking for at this kind of event?]. Wild Spork’s menu is ever-changing, but the staple of the weekend was the buffalo ranch tots [the perfect blend of spicy and creamy atop crispy tots that keeps you full all day long].

Cleveland Cookie Dough Co.

Of course, how can you attend a music festival without treating yourself to some sort of sweet treat? Cleveland Cookie Dough Co.’s multi-colored, pastel truck mimics the aesthetic of a quaint cafe that you’d expect to see in some trendy part of New York City or Los Angeles … except it’s on wheels and it’s based in Cleveland so … better. The rich cookie dough has the consistency and flavor of what you’d expect of freshly made dough, but does not contain eggs so it is completely safe to eat. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, try CCDC’s signature dough-daes [equal parts cookie dough and ice cream that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth].

The atmosphere and experience that Laurelive provided is one that I haven’t yet experienced at any other festival in the past. I felt relaxed all weekend and the leisurely vibe seemed to make time stand still — it was like we were completely disconnected from the world beyond the campus.

Book Review: You Are A Badass

I’ve never really been into self-help books. All of those cheesy, usually religious-based, ideals of the books I’d seen before just never seemed like they would actually be any help to me and my life. But one day, while I was taking my weekly stroll through Target [if you know, you know], this tiny yellow book told me I was a badass …  and I almost believed it. So, I bought it. Since then, Jen Sincero’s relatable and comical writing style has begun to convince me of my true power as a female badass.

“You are a Badass” isn’t your typical self-help book. Using personal anecdotes and easy-to-follow steps, Sincero makes the harder, bigger obstacles in life seem easy to overcome. One of her main tips to becoming your best self focuses on connecting yourself with the universe. By connecting with the universe, you’re able to clear your mind from the daily nonsense and give it the room it needs to focus on what’s important. Sincero even goes one step further and lays out how she personally connects to the Universe through meditation and explains some ways to ease yourself into meditation if you’ve never tried it before. The fact that she actually goes into detail on not just the “what” but the “how” of changing your life is what really pulled me into this book.

Another huge tip that Sincero focuses on is that you have to “believe before you achieve.” You can’t just sit around and want something and hope it finally comes to you; you have to take the initiative to get it.

“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities,” she says. It all begins with the simplest thoughts inside your mind. If you don’t truly believe you can do it, then you can’t. You can still be anxious and scared and worried about what’ll happen or what people will think, but if, in your soul, you believe that you can do it, then you will. If you believe that you’re a badass, then you’ll be one.

Every chapter in “You are a Badass” ends with a list of steps on how to do or achieve what that chapter is about, whether it be meditation or money. However, a few chapters in, I noticed that every list ended with the same step: love yourself. In the end, this is really all Sincero is trying to teach us. If you don’t love yourself all the way down to your soul, and aren’t strong enough to admit it to the universe, then you will never be at your most powerful and most capable. If you know that you’re a badass, instead of just telling yourself that you’re one, you will hold yourself to a higher standard and stop doubting your greatness.


“You are a Badass” is such a unique and impactful perspective on how to take a hold on your life and I’m so glad that I pushed past my usual “that won’t help me” attitude toward self-help books. I’m someone that usually lacks confidence in my skills, both social and tactical, and it has caused some missed opportunities for me. Jen Sincero has shown me that it’s not bragging or showing off if you truly believe in yourself and your abilities. If you’re like me and you need a push to change your life for the better or a boost of self confidence, then I highly recommend taking a chance on “You are a Badass,” too.

Influencer Sptlight: Margot De Riemer

I’ve been watching beauty influencers on YouTube for at least 10 years. I would sit at my mom’s desk at home for hours watching Bethany Mota make DIY hair bows, Blair Fowler give a tour of her outrageous closet filled with Abercrombie graphic t-shirts, and Amanda Steele, the same age as me, giving an “everyday” makeup tutorial to her audience. I’ve continued following the beauty community, giving more attention to the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle community, because that’s what I love. I love seeing people do their makeup, show you their outfits and take you along on their day. However, the beauty community has begun to feel like a competition between beauty influencers about who has the most followers or who’s making the most money. The fame has now taken over their once creative outlets and turned it into a cycle of  never-ending brand deals, instead of what used to be influencers doing what they love for their fanbase

Recently, James Charles has been “outed” for abusing his fame, amongst other questionable actions, which garners the question, who on social media really are great role models and are in it for the right reasons? You can only tell so much from an individual’s social media presence, but I’ve always felt that I’ve had a good sense of who has good character and intentions, and who doesn’t.  With that being said, when it comes to Margot De Reimer, known as “margotlee” on YouTube, she fits my idea of an influencer with that good character and intention that we should all be looking in for who we follow.

Margot has been on Youtube for years, and with the growth of social media, she has created a rather large community on Instagram, Twitter and even VSCO, a photography app. I discovered Margot’s videos when I was preparing to leave for college, as she has several videos depicting her journey to Syracuse University, where she studies. What I find most compelling about Margot is her ability to balance “real life” such as school, friends, family and even college life with her online personality.

Margot’s YouTube content ranges from makeup tutorials, featuring brands such as Glossier, known for giving you that “no makeup” look, to vlogs, and even fitness routine videos. Before attending Syracuse University, and even after, Margot made videos for her viewers like “what you should and shouldn’t bring to college,” and even a tour of her dorm room. Margot also chronicles her involvement in her sorority, Tri Delta, in her videos, which further gives us viewers an all encompassed look at her life.  As a college student myself, I love seeing how other individuals are enjoying such a pivotal time in their lives, and how different college is for every single person.

These past few months Margot has shared her study abroad experience on her social media that showcases her journey across Europe, while still dominating the fashion game. As a college student myself, I find it inspiring to share that much of your personal life with people you may never even meet, and I believe there’s something quite vulnerable in doing so. She’s giving up so much of her privacy to let us in on the moments of her life, which people often do judge and make assumptions.  

I truly think Margot is the future of the beauty community. Her work is genuine and showcases the life of a real student who does real things and lives their life, while sharing it with thousands of followers. Even though she’s only a few years older than me, I truly look to Margot as a role model and inspiration for my own social media presence.  

Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso was one of those books I casually picked up while scanning the book section at Target. The book caught my eye with its oh-so-trendy blush pink cover that features Amoruso in the most badass Superwoman stance. I’m sure we can all relate to the notion that you walk into Target looking for one thing and leave with ten other things. But, little did I know,this book I picked up on a whim would become something I really needed to help light a fire within me.

The book, written from Amoruso’s perspective, opens with her in her early 20s with no stable income and struggling to make ends meet. The book closes with the fashion empire that Amoruso created through her vintage clothing business, Nasty Gal Vintage [now commonly known as Nasty Gal]. Throughout the book, Amoruso addresses working painful minimum wage jobs, working out of her small studio apartment, the ups and downs of an online retail business and so many other steps that she had to take before Nasty Gal could succeed.

One thing that absolutely astonished me about Amoruso’s eBay business is how dedicated she was when building Nasty Gal. She did everything completely on her own when she first launched the business. From spending hours sifting through thrift shop clothing racks, to refurbishing or modernizing dated items and taking photos and writing product descriptions; Nasty Gal was a one-woman show. She paid special attention to detail [there are multiple pages in the book dedicated to how to craft the perfect product description, something I never would have thought could be so important] and made the shopping experience the best it could be.

While sharing her experiences, Amoruso also touched onwhat she’s learned throughout her journey and offered tips for any #GIRLBOSS out there, including resume writing and job hunting. Some things she talked about in the book that really stuck out to me were to “be who you are and do what you want” and how a #GIRLBOSS is someone who is in charge of her own life and gets what she wants because she works for it. Hearing this from someone who built her own business from the ground up absolutely inspired me to do the same.

I’ve never been super interested in working a 9-5 office job. I’d much rather build my own schedule and do my own thing. It is a goal of mine to one day build a brand of my own, whether it be film, fashion or social media related [or who knows, maybe even all three]. I want to create something of my own that others will enjoy.#GIRLBOSS

From all the lessons Sophia talked about I made notes of what I learned and what it inspired me to do. I encourage any woman to pick up this book and give it a read. It has inspired me on a whole new level and it has showed me that I am a #GIRLBOSS.

Under the Ink

Recently, I’ve noticed how hot the topic of tattoos have been amongst my friends and their families, and even within my own. So many times, I’ve heard friends say that their parents don’t agree with their decision to permanently ink their skin. That it would prevent them from being hired in the future, it doesn’t look “classy” or whatever the reason may be. Every time this comes up in conversation, I can’t help but get a little bit worked up — why should the way someone expresses themselves alter their respectability or worth?

Growing up, I can admit that I was judgemental of tattoos. I wondered what could be so meaningful that it is worth having it permanently inked into your skin. I saw common quotes, hearts, stars and other shapes and wondered how someone could deeply identify with random drawings or words. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I had a revelation and got my first tattoo, in honor of a memory that I wanted to relive every day.

After I got my tattoo, my judgement for others that have them instantly disappeared. I realized that another person’s understanding of your ink is meaningless. The fact of the matter is that if it has meaning to you [even if that meaning is something as simple as the fact that it makes you smile], then that’s all that matters. I’m now realizing how it is important to appreciate the art that you may not understand. When you look at my tattoo, you’ll see an ordinary airplane and a standard, inspirational quote — but it’s so much more than that.

My grandpa has always been someone I’ve looked up to, and continue to look up to every day. I remember the days spent outside, listening to him name off all of the different birds, and frantically trying to memorize the names just so I could be like him. He knew so much that I wanted to know, and did so many things I wanted to do. He was a pilot, amongst several other careers and endeavors, and most importantly, he was inspiring.

The inspiration for my tattoo came to me when I was almost asleep. As soon as the words came into my head, I was wide awake and coordinating the day that I could go to a shop.

One day, my grandpa took my older brother, Tyler, and I to fly in his plane. I remember walking up to see a big, red plane on a long runway. Teddy-bear gripped tightly in my little fingers, and brown pigtails flopping on either side of my head, I knew I was about to go on an adventure. I would finally get the chance to touch a cloud — maybe even take one home. That’s what I thought, at least.

I don’t remember much else before take-off, but I’ll never forget cruising through the cotton-candy like clouds for the first time and being so captivated by the concept. Naive, I told my grandpa that I would love to take a cloud home, and instead of assuring me that it would just be a gust of water vapor, he told me that I could certainly bring one with me, if it’s what I wanted, but it may not be what I expected. We flew straight into a cloud, and he opened the vents in the plane. Much to my surprise [but hopefully not yours], it was just clear, normal air.

My grandpa went out of his way to give me something intangible and valueless, but his willingness to advocate for having nearly impossible goals was priceless. I never imagined that a cloud could become a metaphor to encourage me to chase my dreams, nor could I have fathomed a spontaneous adventure would turn into one of my most valued memories.

When you look at my tattoo, yes, you’ll see an ordinary plane with a quote, and most would never guess the inspiration behind the words. I’m confident that I’m not the only one with a story, though, and will forever be an advocate for the body art that doesn’t easily present it’s meaning. We need more mystery, optimism and a stronger desire for the little things in life. It is forever ingrained in my mind to “catch the clouds,” because I know that’s what my grandpa would want me to do — a tattoo is the perfect reminder.

More and more, I’m seeing people my age on social media advocating for the freedom to express yourself, whether that be through hair dye, fashion statements or tattoos. I can’t help but think that maybe we will be the generation to change this stigma. Do you have a tattoo that has special meaning to you? Share with us on Instagram!

Getting Curious About Jonathan Van Ness

I’ve been thinking about the question, “If you could have dinner with any famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?” a lot lately. I’ve never had a consistent answer to this question — in eighth grade my answer was Justin Bieber and in high school it would’ve been One Direction, so we see what that says about me. However, recently, my response to this age old question has unwaveringly been Jonathan Van Ness.

I was first introduced to Van Ness during the debut of Netflix’s “Queer Eye”. Immediately, I admired his charisma and outgoing, unapologetic personality. When I began listening to the Van Ness’s podcast, Getting Curious, I realized just how much there is to the “Queer Eye” star than just fabulous outfits and flawless hair flips. Van Ness embodies everything that I aspire to be and has quickly topped the list of celebrities I’m fascinated by.

Van Ness, a culture icon, first found the spotlight in 2013 with his web series parody, Gay of Thrones, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy award in 2016 and 2018. Two years after the web series started, Van Ness debuted his podcast, Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness. Every week, Van Ness interviews an expert regarding  something he is curious about [my favorites thus far have been How Do You Ignore Haters & Learn to Love Yourself with Jameela Jamil and Did Social Media Make Artists Need to be Business People Too? With Austyn Weiner]. Even in today’s polarized social and political climate, Van Ness is a prime example of how to maturely approach controversial topics [heard in podcast episodes like Have We Lost the Capacity to be Civil? With Sally Kohn].

Since the revival of Queer Eye in 2018, Van Ness’s social media presence has quickly grown — especially on Instagram. There, his 3.4 million followers eagerly await his frequent ice skating training updates, yoga flows and, of course, his iconic looks while he poses in stiletto heels with the rest of Queer Eye’s Fab Five.
Although Van Ness’s fame provides him with a platform to use his voice, his A-List celebrity status is just a side result of the activism work he was already doing. That’s what makes him so inspiring to me. Van Ness uses the platform he has been granted to continue to stand up to adversity, advocate for the LGBTQ+ community as well as other minority groups, and works to educate society on relevant topics … all in a entertaining way. Without intimidating his audience, Van Ness controls a room and speaks with so much confidence and assurance that you want to listen to him. He is so unapologetic in the way he defies preconceived social norms that it’s hard to not be inspired by him. I believe, no matter what field you’re in, what your political or social views are or how you choose to live your life, we can all learn something from Jonathan Van Ness.