self-esteem

#HiFelicia

I have not blogged in 16 days because I have been truly tired and uninspired. Quite frankly, I have been busy climbing out of a deep hole of perfection that I dug and then dove right in to. It's been an exhausting, yet beautiful process.

I worked incredibly hard to attain the confidence that I have now. I earned every moment of my self-esteem. While it fluctuates from time to time, it has grown in a powerful manner and wins more than it loses. I am proud of me but must continually monitor myself because while I am a great gatekeeper, I am human and life inevitably makes it's way in.

This is normal. This is life. This shouldn't be denied or disguised but from the moment I started my blog, I felt an overwhelming sense of portraying this perfect existence that is completely unrealistic. Not so much in my words, but in my photos. I started scrutinizing every pixel of the pictures. My weave had to have the perfect wave, never revealing the transitioning curls underneath the cap. My makeup had to be on point, with any unsavory blemishes shopped out. Every piece of clothing was painstakingly pressed because that is how it is in real life right? I was chasing a faux goal and it was making me rot from the inside out.

Enter social media.

The Internet's shallow ways sucked me in. I became a sucka for the gram and started comparing my photoshopped images to other photoshopped images. I was fighting fake battles that created real stress. Bit by bit, that confidence that I fought so hard to attain was crumbling and I blindly blogged right through it.

I started praying about it and God really began to show me in little-big ways how silly I had been and presented opportunities to face the fear that I had created.

One, was taking my weave out. Now listen, I am all about changing your hair. Hair really is another way to express your style. If that means adding to it, or taking away from it, please commence. However my weave was not a form off expression, it was a safety blanket. Instead of a compliment, I used it as a form of completion and that had to stop. I was enormously uncomfortable and had literal anxiety attacks but it was something that had to be done. Taking my weave out and rocking my natural curls has stretched me in countless ways and continues to do. While you will see me change my styles up, I can say that I will not depend on one, nor hair in it's entirety, to define me.

I then stopped aggressively photoshopping my photos. I still play with light and clean up the background but for the most part they are raw. The last 5 style posts reflect this ongoing change.

Dating completely transformed. I realized this perfect blog life had spilled over in to my relationships. How can anyone bond with you, when the real you is concealed in unrealistic expectation? While there were many contributing factors, I pinpointed that even my longest relationship wasn't completely authentic. I was so busy trying to be perfect that it was impossible for him to fall in love with me. No more. 

And then there was Felicia.

Listen. My Felicia appearance this Halloween was a statement of complete growth. I had no makeup on, my hair was braided up in to 4 very shrunken braids and I was picking Friday wedgies out of my crack all day. That's as raw as you can get. To be honest, it all started because I didn't want to do my hair but it ended up being far more significant for me.

Felicia was my second Halloween costume. My first was a chic interpretation of Prince. I walked in to the Purple Rain party with my makeup, curls and curves poppin. She did that! You couldn't tell me a thing. I felt completely comfortable and powerful.

While I was crafting the jacket for the Prince costume with a friend, I was simultaneously air drying my braid out for the curly doo that would polish off the look. We snapped the scene for another friend and when she brought the phone over to include me in her story, she said BYE FELICIA! It was funny but I was lightweight mortified. How could you compare me to this disheveled character? My friend suggested that I actually rock the costume at work on Monday and my immediate thought was you must be out your mind.

But then, like all of the other little ways, God conveyed that this fear of being Felicia in public was also silly and that I had to conquer it. So, I swiftly went to Goodwill and found the costume in 10 minutes for under $7. I washed it, cut the collar, braided my hair up and BOOM...Felicia was in the house.

The reactions were hilarious. A broad spectrum of who the heck is she supposed to be to that is the best Halloween costume I have ever seen. Walking around the office naked was a great feat but that social media realm was a whole other story. With this one Felicia post I would exterminate the perfect existence that I had crafted for years.

So with anxiety in my chest, I did my best Felicia impression, captured the photos and posted them. For all intents and purposes, I was frolicking nude in a field of followers.

And guess what. It got WAY more response than the Prince costume. People recognize real and they respect it. That was the realist Alicia they ever known. Applause.

It all comes down to this: The Alicia on the left is the same Alicia on the right. You must rock with both to be truly authentic. Both portraits are beautiful together and beautiful apart. Neither of them are perfect and it's impossible for them to be. Every unique aspect is an imperfectly picked accumulation of the real you that should never be suppressed out of necessity. 

Those are commanding, true words that I am on a mission to live by. I won't be this strong every day, but with every fear I overcome I get closer to living in my purpose and being the person that God created me to be. The person that God built to be loved in her entirety. The woman that won't let perfectionism block her from her blessings.

You will certainly see pretty photos adorned with variations of hair and makeup on this blog but the most beautiful thing is, there will be absolutely nothing perfect about them.

Say hi to Felicia and all of her gorgeous imperfections. She's here for it. She's here for it all.

#BodyGoals?

Image courtesy of VanityFair.com

Image courtesy of VanityFair.com

I, like millions of other people, watched Kanye West's FADE video on the VMA’s and literally died at the sight of Teyana Taylor’s body. I wanted to pack a bag, run to the gym and live there indefinitely. Her body is a work of art. I mean she is cut, has a great butt and breasts that many women pay great money for. That baby bounce back was all the way real! God has truly blessed her with a beautiful body. Get it Teyana girl!

But I had to check my initial reaction. Why did I want to exchange my figure for hers so easily? And furthermore where did I develop this ideal of what a body should look like?

The answers are vast but at the end of the day, I do love my body. Every inch of my 6’6” was crafted just as her body was, in His image and just for me. This body is specifically mine. I love the skin that I am but that visceral response to the video bothered me.

So I sat with myself for a while. Delving in to my self-image and the word COMPARISON kept popping up. I think we all subconsciously do it…but it needs to stop.

NO MATTER WHAT you will never be like any person that you see because you are tailor made. You are one-of-a-kind and cannot be reproduced. Don’t compare yourself to another soul in this world because there will never be another you and nor should there be. Every single facet of your body is yours. It’s something that can never be taken from you. God has blessed us ALL with beautiful bodies.

The only thing that comparison does is rob us of our self-joy. Spend your time loving you and making your body the best that it can be. And guess what…the definition of the best for your body does not have to be what society feeds you. Let me explain…

Recently I lost 30 lbs. through exercise and healthy choices. I’m not even going to lie…it came off pretty easily. I cut everything out; sugar, meat, coffee etc. I went on a  partial fast and never stopped. While the fast helped me in endless spiritual ways (and I would do it again), I continued it for purely cosmetic reasons. I was noticing a flatter stomach and all of the toning that I was doing started to emerge. I was loving it until I lost my chest and backside. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but I liked what I had!

Then, I really missed food. I am a bonafied #HungryTallGirl. When I post that on social, I really mean it. I love a yummy meal, think that the preparation of it is an art and it just enhances my happy. That is the gosh darn truth. When I took away everything, I missed it and in small ways became depressed. I literally was denying myself of something that I genuinely enjoyed for a body that I wasn’t really comfortable in. Instead of working for the best me, I was creating a “me” that I thought I should be. There is a big difference.

Well what if you want to go out and get plastic surgery? Wear makeup? Get a weave?

Go out and get all of that boo! Just make sure that any addition is something that you want and not something that you need. There isn’t one enhancement on this earth that can make you whole internally. Your body and appearance is yours and you can change it however you would like but please use it as expression, not completion.  

So who do you want to be? Find that and work on her like no other. Do not let agenda setting dictate who are. Admire and applaud the Teyana’s of the world but cherish yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated.

It’s a continual process.

You need to reacquaint yourself with your best self on a daily basis.

Hang out and bond with her. Treat her with respect, pick her up when she is down, cultivate her to be the best that she can be, don’t compare her to others and above all love her unconditionally.

#SelfBodyGoals...now were talkin!

Orange Crush

Growing up, I always thought that wide leg pants would make me look taller and guess what...they do boo. They bring attention to the length of those long legs (especially when wearing a print). Now. my younger self ran from this because why in THE HECK would I want to look taller? However, I now know what a blessing this height is and why not highlight the gifts that God gave you?!?

The Abstract Chevron Palazzo is the perfect pant to accentuate your tall, beautifulness (it's a word in the Alicia dictionary:) They are cut exceptionally well, have a bold vertical print and the fabric flows like a crisp, clean river (too much Alicia). But seriously...these pants are amazing. They are one of my favorite pieces from the latest Taller Than Your Average for Long Tall Sally Collection. They are always HOT and I always want every single piece (winning that for life would be like hitting the lottery). I can't wait to see what's next.

I paired it with a hat, some killer patent ankle boots (that go up to 14) and one of the LTS Basic pieces that I love (and have in multiple colors), The Roll Neck Jersey Top. Just in case you didn't know, Long Tall Sally has amazing basics that are long and will expand your wardrobe in many ways. They enable you to have a proper fitting foundation and that is half the battle in dressing Tall.

Bottom line. Wear what you love, love what you want and leave the self-doubt behind you where it belongs. You are wonderfully made...never forget it!

Hair Matters

Many of you know my story but for those of you who don’t, I used to have little to zero self-esteem. There were years where I was bullied and unbelievably depressed. I hated myself, my height and every part of me. I couldn’t see past what my high school world was telling me and believed every lie they told.

As years went on, I found my confidence and fully embraced that God created every single part of me (including my height) for a purpose. That nothing about me was a mistake and ALL of it was wrapped into a one-of-a-kind Alicia that was the only one who could accomplish the purpose that God had chosen for me…

or so I thought…

until it came to one part of me that nobody had seen in years…

my hair.

Yes. The long tresses that you have seen in every photo of me were not mine. I have been wearing a weave for a little under 9 years now. Almost a decade of taking it out and putting it back in because I was afraid to show my real hair.

Afraid! Alicia…how can you tell me to be me and embrace every part of myself when you can’t show the hair that God gave you?

The answer is…I can’t. And that is one of the reasons why I had to take it out. But before we get in to those reasons, let me give you a little back story…

As you can see, both of my beautiful parents gave me curls.

As you can see, both of my beautiful parents gave me curls.

My mother is Caucasian and my father is African American. That usually equates to what society likes to classify as good hair. You know, the perfect curls flowing down your back just throw water on it and leave the house kind of hair. The expectation of my light skin and light eyes matching the texture of my locks was immense. However, my actual texture is very tight and not extremely easy to style and care for. Thus, pressure set in. Not only for my Mom to style it correctly, but also for me to do everything I could to make it appear to be good. This resulted in many unhealthy hairstyles, fights between my Mom, the comb and my hair and ultimately a series of relaxers that killed my follicles. From the age of 4-18, I was in a losing battle with my bad hair.

My Mom and I would battle every day with combing and styling my hair.

My Mom and I would battle every day with combing and styling my hair.

Enter college. I moved from Beaverton, Oregon to Stockton, California where the culture definitely changed. I went from being the darkest kid at my school to being one of the many beautiful skin tones that walked my campus. It was there that I first saw someone wear their hair naturally. It was a concept that never even entered my mind. It was also something I was not ready to do but it was an option I was now aware of.

Enter corporate world. After college, I began my first corporate job. While natural hair was not prohibited, it was clearly not embraced. I found myself wanting the sleek tresses that everyone else had and got my first weave. The positive response was overwhelming not only externally but also internally. I had FINALLY found hair that would act right and I could make look how I always envisioned that my hair should be. It also allowed me to grow out my perm and safely go natural underneath the tracks (which I will touch on later). To me it was a win-win and up until 2 weeks ago was constantly my hair.  

But what I didn’t realize was that during those 9 years I had completely denied an entire part of me that made me, ME. I had a false construct of who I was. The sewed in hair had somehow really become a part of me and boy did it show the moment I took it out without putting it back in…

First appointment after taking out the weave. The curl pattern is trying it's hardest to come out.  About an hour after this photo it puffed back up into a ball of frizz. It will take time and training to uncover and maintain my natural curl.

First appointment after taking out the weave. The curl pattern is trying it's hardest to come out.  About an hour after this photo it puffed back up into a ball of frizz. It will take time and training to uncover and maintain my natural curl.

I cried, sobbed and immediately got depressed. I couldn’t post a picture on social media, refused to go out, felt ugly and the same feelings of low self-esteem that I had in high school started rearing their ugly heads. It was a very surprising and violently visceral reaction to something that wasn’t even mine to begin with.

First photo I posted on IG. It took me 5 days to get the courage up. As you can see, I am still holding on to dead ends in this photo which can slow the growing process down and hinder your natural curl from forming. I later cut those bad boys off.

First photo I posted on IG. It took me 5 days to get the courage up. As you can see, I am still holding on to dead ends in this photo which can slow the growing process down and hinder your natural curl from forming. I later cut those bad boys off.

2 weeks later, I am still embracing it. Worry filled questions enter my mind; Will men like me? Will they still think I am pretty? Will you think I am pretty? Is it going to be hard? Can I maintain natural hair? Do I have the time to maintain it? Will my curl pattern ever come back? What will my curl pattern look like? Will it ever grow? How long will it take to grow? I mean…I could go on for days.

But at the end of the day…it’s just hair people!  Why do we put so much weight into it and furthermore why do we think it makes us who we are?

In addition to tall fashion and life, I will be exploring these feelings on this blog because apparently hair does matter. It matters to me, it matters to society and it matters to you. This natural hair journey is going to teach me far more than just about hair and I feel like it’s a journey that I need to share.

Now, why did I decide to do it? Here are the main reasons…

1. My 10 year old Niece had never really seen her Auntie. She had seen me with someone else’s hair on my head for her entire life. How can I teach her to love every part of herself when she had not seen me love ALL of me?

2. YOU. I truly believe that you were made for a specific purpose and that God made absolutely no mistake while he molded every single part of you. Who am I to tell you the truth when I myself am not living it?

3. Safely Growing out my natural hair under the weave was going nowhere…fast. While I grew out my perm completely, after 10 years my hair should be down to my butt and it wasn’t. My hair was shredding into a bundle of split ends and my edges are thin and completely damaged by heat. It is natural but far from healthy.

This is after the dead ends were cut off. My hair is very damaged and I can't wait to make it healthy again! This is probably the last time you will see it straight in awhile. I can't wait to see what the curls look like now that the dead ends are cut off.

This is after the dead ends were cut off. My hair is very damaged and I can't wait to make it healthy again! This is probably the last time you will see it straight in awhile. I can't wait to see what the curls look like now that the dead ends are cut off.

4. I was in captivity. My weave options where either down or in a ponytail. When the wind hit, I was constantly covering up tracks. I couldn’t itch my scalp. I had to constantly worry about blending the hair that was out with the weave. There was little versatility in the way I could style my hair and so on and so forth. It was time.

Bring on the hairstyles! I have a feeling this bun will be in full effect while I grow out my locks.

Bring on the hairstyles! I have a feeling this bun will be in full effect while I grow out my locks.

5. I want to abolish the construct of good and bad hair that I have adopted from society. Who started that and why did I believe it? I want to make sure I don’t pass that down to my Niece and Lord willing, my future children.

6. Listen Hunni…you know I am waiting for my husband to find me and when he does I want his hands all up in this hair.

With all of that said, I am not speaking for everyone that wears a weave. Do you boo! I am in no way knocking weaves or any other way of styling hair. I plan to explore all kinds of styling from clips, braids, faux locs, wigs and even weave it up on occasion. BUT for me personally, the time of denying my natural hair is over. I am tired of the fight and let her win. She is me and I am her and I am not afraid to show it. I am the master of this journey, am wonderfully made in every way and am now presenting all of me to you, practicing what I preach and loving every part of me from my hair follicles to my toenails.

Let the journey begin! Thanks for crawling, walking, running and sprinting it with me.