A Moment of Honesty: Modesty

I had a love/hate relationship with my high school. I switched from homeschool to a private school my sophomore year and it was a pretty big transition. Everybody in private school has this sort of smug, special snowflake attitude. I received an amazing education but my no-holds-barred personality did not make me any friends. On top of that, I often fell victim to the dreaded dress code. Is it out of the ordinary that I feel as if most of the issues I have originate more from that rather than being this angsty recluse with no friends? I think about it often and I'm finally having some clarity.The dress code was simple: loose-fitting khaki pants or longer-than-knee-length skirts and polo shirts with three buttons or less. I was in high school, I was trendy, I was known to bend the rules on occasion. Nothing too risqué though. Regardless, I'd get in trouble quite often. I would keep extra-baggy men's shirts in my locker because I would have to change three or four times a week. The dean of women really seemed to "have it out" for me. She would explain in not so many words that I have the kind of body that is often highly sexualized. I was leading boys to fall to lustful thoughts. I hated my body. I wanted to look like the other girls-- slender, athletic, and safe. They could wear four buttons on their polo shirt with little or no scrutiny. They weren't seen as a risk. They weren't leading young men astray. I was. I dealt with isolation and guilt. I struggled with body image and even came dangerously close to an eating disorder. But why?

Getting in trouble for a skirt being too short or a top being too tight doesn't seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things but as a lot of you who read often know, I am a chronic over-thinker. I'll take it a step further though and note that while the immediate discipline is a "just brush it off" sort of non-issue, the motive and the pervasive pattern of thinking behind it is actually a very big issue. Most of the dress codes that I've inadvertently made myself an enemy of  had been constructed with one thing in mind: "don't be a distraction for the boys." Forcing modesty by way of dress in order to stop the objectification of women's bodies is a paradox in itself. When we tell a young girl to cover up her body, we're placing a value on it. By making it something worth covering up, it is sexualized. It is fetishized. When the overarching theme of any time spent getting ready in the morning is subconsciously, "who would I be leading astray?" one begins to see her body, as this article puts it, through "the male gaze" and that we "[cast] girls as inherent sexual threats needing to be tamed." It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Modesty is so much more than clothes. It's an idea and a virtue. One thing that I learned going to school for art was the difference between "naked" and "nude" art. In the simplest terms possible, "naked" is when the subject is making eye contact with the viewer whereas "nude" is when the subject is looking away. It's the difference between being brazen and being meek. I personally think that so much beauty is to be found in a modest attitude of the heart and soul. I find this attitude summed up perfectly in The Greek Slave, despite the fact that she is wearing no clothes at all. 

"The Slave has been taken from one of the Greek Islands by the Turks, in the time of the Greek revolution, the history of which is familiar to all. Her father and mother, and perhaps all her kindred, have been destroyed by her foes, and she alone preserved as a treasure too valuable to be thrown away. She is now among barbarian strangers, under the pressure of a full recollection of the calamitous events which have brought her to her present state; and she stands exposed to the gaze of the people she abhors, and awaits her fate with intense anxiety, tempered indeed by the support of her reliance upon the goodness of God. Gather all these afflictions together, and add to them the fortitude and resignation of a Christian, and no room will be left for shame." - Powers

Strength, grace, boldness. Modesty is not a bad word. It denotes neither weakness of personality nor lackluster blandness of dress. It is elegance. It is respect, both in the treatment of others as well as what you demand from them. It's not easy to walk the thin line between adamant and tawdry but a good place to start is by having respect for other women and not judging them for how they dress. I love Tina Fey's words in the end of Mean Girls. "You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores! It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores." Such a simple concept, so easily missed.

We can't change the culture overnight but we can try our best to influence those around us. Find what modesty means to you and own it. Remember that you're beautiful and worth more than you could ever know. Keep that in mind as you dress yourself and clothe yourself in confidence and grace. Once you figure that out, you'll feel so much better about yourself. I certainly did. 


Spring Playlist

Spring has always just kind of flown by under the radar for me. Yeah, I love Spring fashion but Spring is usually a mad dash to tie up loose ends before wedding season is in full force, get all of my ducks in a row for tax day, lose all of my winter weight before the dreaded beach trips of early June, and battle allergies and sinus infections. This Spring, however, has been different. I've been experiencing it in a new and different way. Because of my career change, I took less than a quarter of the amount of weddings I've had these past few years. It's kind of bittersweet, really. I love wedding photography but I really feel like my place is in news. While the transition has been harrowing at best, I've been at an all-time-high for optimism these past few months. Other than that, the rest of it is just weird. Springtime is when I fell in love a few years ago. Without that relationship now, I've been getting nostalgic and introspective. The good news is that because of the extremely harsh winter killing everything and keeping it from growing back, my allergies have been better. Also all of the cabin fever compelled me to get a gym membership so I don't have to start at square one to be swimsuit-ready. See? Optimism. There is always a bright side to everything.


Ready for a Festival

I've been dressing like a Coachella attendee lately. I suspect that this past epic winter is responsible. Breezy dresses and gauzy fabrics were necessary once my winter shroud was finally unraveled. I don't even think I'm being too over-dramatic to say that. My almost-translucent white legs are evidence of this. I didn't think it was possible for me to be so pale. Whatever though, more of an excuse to be in the sun. 


dress/ Free People (sold out, but this one is similar), shoes/ thrifted (similar), hat/ Free People, necklace/ ASOS, bag/ Etsy, sunglasses/ ASOS

All Black Everything

I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It's still my symbol of rebellion -- against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others' ideas.” - Johnny Cash 


tunic/ Free People (similar), leggings/ Karmaloop (similar), shoes/ Lucky Brand (similar), Watch/ Michael Kors, Necklace/ Lucky Brand (similar), clutch/ Michael Kors

A Moment of Honesty: Behind the Instagram

Wow, two "A Moment of Honesty" posts in a row. I've been pensive lately, can you blame me? The seasons are changing, I'm headed towards new things... the stars have just aligned. Hope you all don't mind. When Diana shared some of her birthday Instagrams in context, I immediately wanted to steal the idea. Social media makes it so easy to share aesthetically-pleasing moments that give the idea of one having a so-called "perfect life." I don't think we do it on purpose, it's just the way it happens. It's so much more acceptable to share a carefully curated collection of macarons and lipsticks than it is to share one in which you've got mascara running down your cheeks because you're crying about something or other. Who wants to see that? Not me. I do want to get in the habit of sharing more of my heart on social media. Do I love sharing pretty photos of nice things? Yes. Is my life perfect? Far from it. Do I want you all to think that my life is perfect? Aw hell no. We all have struggles and as you may or may not know, my philosophy is that we need to be more open about them because who likes to feel alone?

As a lot of you may know, I dropped out of college after a few semesters. Because of my career path, I often feel inferior to those around me because of this. While deep down I feel that it's one of my greatest "quirks," a small part of me wishes that I had finished because it would make breaking into the world of news media so, so, so much easier. After I dropped out, I vowed to never stop learning. I rely on books to teach me. I've been into Machiavelli lately. At first I started reading his work because it made me look smart (I won't even try to hide it, I was compensating for my lack of formal education) but then I really started to enjoy it and now The Prince is one of my favorites. I shared this photo because I want to encourage others to read through "the classics" and remind them that reading is NOT a dorky way to pass the time. Doesn't hurt that the cover is visually appealing and complements the small part of my blazer that's showing in the corner.

I struggle with body image. To be fair though, who doesn't? My pal Deb was driving to Starbucks after a shoot and I happened to find the ONE flattering angle of my legs. Honestly, that's about it. It's embarrassing to admit but a lot of the photos I post are terribly, terribly vain. 

This may be the most alpha-blogger thing that I've ever said but healthy, colorful foods are kind of a necessity for me. I deal with a lot of anxiety and something as simple as the pink skin of a dragonfruit  reminds me that life can be beautiful. It's reminiscent of Matthew 6:28, "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin..." I always need to be reminded of that truth. Nature is so effortlessly beautiful, and so can life when it's not complicated with needless distractions. 

Speaking of needless distractions... sometimes they're necessary in a moment. Do I regret this purchase? Sort of. They're beautiful and although I did save up, I'm a little bit in debt (not a lot, but nonetheless) and I could have put that cash towards something productive. 

Sometimes people ask me, whether purposely-full-of-snark or innocently, if I ever wear "normal clothes." This was a Spitestagram (I think I should copyright that phrase) to show 'em all that I'm not "above" jeans and a tee shirt. Also to prove how easy it is to take a simple tee and pair of jeans and add a little bit of dazzle-dazzle. It took a lot of courage for me to post it because I really hate my feet. If I hadn't had a fairly fresh pedicure, I wouldn't have shared it. 

This one is a bit much and I almost didn't share the context of it but for the sake of transparency, I'm going for it. On the surface it may seem like a "twee" hipsters drinking cold-pressed juice with fancy straws but those juices were a necessity that morning. I could explain it all, but why would I want to do that when a picture from the night before sums it up so succinctly? 

Ah, Ben Franklin. Growing up in/around the Philadelphia area, this bridge is legendary. I have so many good memories of it. I remember walking across it as a kid with my dad. I remember driving it over countless times in the family car, and then the huge deal my first time conquering it as a licensed driver. It's a rite of passage of sorts. All of these memories make me smile. It's been a rough past few months so I snapped this to set it as my background because not only did it remind me of simpler times, but a lot of my stress is because I'm in a transitioning phase and bridges are very symbolic. They can be scary to drive over but chances are, there's something wonderful waiting on the other side, whether it be home or a new, exciting adventure. 


A Moment of Honesty: People Pleaser, pt. 2

I'm so thankful for the response that I got to part one of my confessions as a people-pleaser. I noted a few little tricks to get you all thinking and now I'm going to share some of the practical things that I do to help me keep these tendencies under control. It's not easy to tackle all at once but if you start small, it doesn't seem like such a daunting task. Keep that in mind for this, and any other vice you may struggle with.

Start saying "no." I can't even tell you how many times in my life I've had to look at myself in the mirror and remind myself that "no" is not a dirty word. Whether consciously or not, it's so easy for others to take advantage of you if you make yourself too available. Of course we're called as decent human beings to put others first but where do we draw the line? It's not an easy task. The first "no" is always the hardest. You'll worry about what this person will think about you, if they'll be mad-- it goes on and on. Try thinking about it in this way though: do you want someone in your life who won't understand when you're being stretched too thin? Take a look at the people in your life, at the things you're doing for them, and how they're being there for you. Make a chart if you have to. I love seeing things on paper and more often than not, it's a necessity for me. I'm not saying that one favor should be immediately reciprocated but if you're seeing a pattern such as one friend only being around when she needs a ride to the airport, you may need to consider saying "no." Someone who truly cares about you will respect a graceful "no." 

Know your priorities. Know who and what is important. Once again, if you need to write it down, go ahead and do so. Sometimes when we try to pander to everyone, we lose sight of what matters most to us. We can effortlessly begin to neglect our families and close friends. Don't let this happen, because they're always the ones who will be there for you in times of need. 

Stop apologizing. I feel as if the phrase "people-pleaser" doesn't fall far from the idea of being a serial apologist. This is a big one for me. I apologize for everything, even for things that are out of my control. It's a pathetic, last-ditch effort to seem more empathetic and therefore likable. At what cost though? Choose your "sorries" wisely. Know when it's your fault and when it is not. If you project yourself as being strong and in control, others will perceive you as being strong and in control and you'll eventually start believing it as well. Which brings me to my next point...

Know it, repeat it. Recognize when you're going against your own character to make others happy and stop that sentiment dead in its tracks with a mantra. Could be something as simple as "no!" The more you affirm yourself through repetition, the more likely you are to react in that way. I find myself saying "you can't be everyone's everything" over and over again in my head. 

Know where it's coming from. Like all tendencies, people-pleasing more than likely comes from a deeply-rooted fear. For me, I'm afraid of being alone. I want to be liked and I want to be surrounded by others who will validate me. I used to be a lot less self-aware as I am now and as I'm growing in that, I'm finding a lot of the fruits of my fear are nearly vanishing. I've been learning that confidence is one of the most important things that I can possess because it shows me just how irrational a fear like that can be. I am not defined by the amount of "likes" on my Instagram selfie. I am simply defined by my character and my ambitions. Cognitive therapy is something that you can practice on yourself. You must change your pattern of thought by taking the negative ones captive and channeling them into positive thoughts and productive actions. If you don't do this, these thoughts can snowball and turn into anxiety and depression. There's a little more about this on this old post, specifically under bullet point #2. 

Remember that you're not alone., because everybody is fighting a hard battle. You're not strange because of your struggles. I feel that we should all be more open with each other about our "quirks," because otherwise, we'd never know just how normal they may be. I wish you all the best, and just like always, I'm available to talk to if you need it!


My Dear Friend & The Rain

There is nothing like a good rainy day. This day in particular personified my feelings on life and other things in a beautifully tragic way. It was cold, the rain started out slow and steady and continued until it was pouring down in torrents. I'm thankful to have a best friend who is willing to wander through fields and forests amidst a downpour only for the sake of a few photographs.  


Just a Blazer and Jeans

I've been really into this blazer lately, if you couldn't tell.


blazer/ H&M, top/ Topshop (similar), jeans/ Jessica Simpson, shoes/ Christian Louboutin, clutch/ Michael Kors, necklace/ Anthropologie (similar), watch/ Michael Kors

My Favorite Spring Scents

Who doesn't like perfume? I wear it even just around the house, especially if I'm having a bad day. It's nice to get a whiff of it every so often. It makes me feel pretty even if I'm just wearing jeans and a tee. Sometimes you need a little something, am I right? Spring is a good time to invest in some scents if you're not usually a perfume person. The weather is nice enough for happy hours on the patio to be a weekly occurrence once more, you're showing a little more skin than you would with all of your winter layers, you're coming out of hibernation to start dating again... ah, Spring. If you're lost and not sure where to begin, here are a few of my favorites:* 

Chanel Chance: This is actually my favorite scent of all time but is especially fitting for spring. It's earthy, citrusy, and a little musky. It's light enough for daytime wear but could also be good for a night out. I always, always get complimented when I'm wearing this. It's a classy scent. Not too overwhelming but definitely noticeable.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh: How could I be writing about Spring fragrances and not include this one? It's fruity, sweet, and a little bit earthy. For as light as it is, it still has a lot of depth. To me, it's the Joan Holloway of perfumes. Lovely at first, until you discover how complex it is, and then you fall in love with it even more.

Jimmy Choo: This one is heavier than the rest and therefore perfect for a date or a night out with the girls. It's sweet but spicy, feminine but strong-- and dare I say a little seductive? This is another that I'm always getting complimented on.

West Third Brand Campo Il Fiore: A recent discovery of mine, this scent has the perfect balance of floral and musk. It's light and not overwhelming. It's the fragrance equivalent of wearing a breezy sundress and walking through a field of white and yellow flowers. 

How about you? Do you have a favorite fragrance for Spring? Let me know because I'm all about trying new things!


*Opinions are my own.


I spent a long weekend in Washington, DC. I've never really looked at DC as some hidden sartorial gem but this weekend challenged that perception. My country's capital is full of women who know how to rock a blazer. Business chic filled the streets. While yes, there were many loathsome tweed pantsuits, I left feeling inspired to find my inner business casual maven. Alright, this one isn't really office-ready but it's a good start.


dress/ Anthropologie, blazer/ H&M, shoes/ thrifted (similar), bag/ Pulicati, necklace/ ℅ RoseGal, watch/ Michael Kors

Simple & Red

I never wear red or a drop waist but something about this dress was calling my name. It reminds me of tulips, which happen to be my favorite flowers. Perfect for Spring.


dress/ Anthropologie, shoes/ Chinese Laundry (old, here's a similar pair), bag/ Louis Vuitton, necklace/ River Island (similar), watch/ Michael Kors 

A Moment of Honesty: People Pleaser, pt. 1

Caught somewhere between cavalier disregard for the thoughts of others and the need to make everyone happy. That's where I am. That is my struggle. It's fun to spitefully say "HI HATERS!" but harder to not let them get under your skin. I, ladies and gentlemen, am I people-pleaser. 

This is such a huge topic that I found it necessary to break it up into two parts. I think we all have people-pleasing tendencies but some have them worse than others. As laid-back as I can be, I tend to have a "Type A" personality. Yes, little bit of a perfectionist. This perfectionism overflows into every aspect of my life. My thought process when it comes to other people is often like this: "Somebody not happy with me? I must have messed up! Always, always blaming myself. For a while, blogging made this so much worse. It's hard to open up on the internet, especially when so much of blogging seems to be "look at how perfect and picturesque my life is!" It's an escape almost. We relish in the narrow perspective that we're given. We forget that human nature is ugly. It leads to covetousness and rampant consumerism. I got caught up in this for a little while but if there's anything that I've learned in my relatively short life it's that people long for relationships. In this ever-increasingly digital world, communication is a lost art. We monitor our friend and follower count and should anybody fall off of our bandwagon, it's an unmitigated crisis. It needs to stop.

I did a reader survey the other day. (Which is still open if you're interested!) It took a lot for me to be able to look at some of the results. It's part of marketing, I know, but it's so hard not to take things personally. Some of the responses were incredibly kind, some made me laugh, some were just plain weird, and some were actually kind of mean. Ah, anonymity. To be one of those who can take anything and everything with a grain of salt... Nope. Not me. Too relationship-oriented. I wish I could share with you all the secret to guarding your hearts but unfortunately, I'm still on my way to learning how to do so. I get upset pretty easily, and although working through the bondage of being a people-pleaser is a long process, I've learned a few things along the way. Hopefully they'll be helpful for you:

1. There is no shame in unplugging and going off of the grid, even if just for a few hours. Put the phone down. Go outside. Walk around the mall. Browse through your local library or bookstore. Come back to center. The advice for computers acting up to "try turning it off and turning it back on again" works for people as well. Get away from the noise and your perspective will shift. Force yourself to think and reflect upon what's really important and everything else will shrink. We have this idea that if we deactivate our Facebooks, stay off of Twitter, and get rid of our Instagrams, we'll somehow miss something. At this point we're so used to being privy to the lives of others that their little moments with no relation to us whatsoever have this level of importance that they have historically never had. It's a LOT to take in. It's the bane of our generation and it will only continue to get worse. Since we have no power against the inevitable evolution of technology, we need to change the way we react and interact. Make it a point to prioritize phone calls over texts, coffee dates over Facebook messages. Once you begin to separate "friend" from "acquaintance" and realize who is important, you'll have a lot more peace in your life.

2. Accept the fact that you cannot control what others think of you. Live without regrets. It's difficult to stick to your convictions, especially if they're particularly unpopular and you don't like to cause waves. I get it, you want to be a generally likable person. Be yourself though and stop worrying about trying to please everybody because let me tell you-- hon, it ain't gonna happen. There will be certain people who just won't like you for no particular reason at all. It's annoying. It's maddening. It's probably one of the most frustrating things for me but it's a fact of life that we can either embrace or spend precious time and energy fighting against. I've been going through this lately with friends. Somewhere along the line, there was a mass exodus of people I was once close to. They didn't give me a reason, they just kind of cut ties. I lost sleep over this. I fell deeper into anxiety and depression. I still don't know how to deal with it because I loved them dearly but I can't force them to like me. I can't force them to be happy for me when I'm happy or to properly comfort me when I'm sad. It's a daily struggle and I have to remind myself of this truth often but when I do, I feel much better. Still sad, but not angry and not hurt. I will cherish the good times for what they were and that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. Seasons of life.

3. It works both ways. Everybody is fighting his or her own battle. This is something that I struggle with because transparency has never been much of an issue with me. Even when I'm censoring myself, there's still not much of a filter there. It's not always a bad thing because it's a "what you see is what you get" situation but I often say things that can bring others down without even meaning to. Before you speak or post or tweet, think to yourself, "am I building anyone up?" "Could this be potentially hurtful?" You have to be yourself and not spend inordinate amounts of time pandering to every single person but you have to realize that through another perspective, the words you speak could seem malicious and once you say them, you cannot take them back. Make it a point to congratulate others on their successes. Replacing the "need to please" with genuine care will make your life more enjoyable. You'll radiate love. Who doesn't want that?

I don't say this nearly enough but I really do love you guys. Thank you for being so supportive of me and this blog. I get excited to share my life and my struggles with you all because it reminds me that I'm not alone. You're all so sweet and at the risk of sounding overtly saccharine, you mean the world to me. Keep rockin'. 


Reader Survey Time!

I've been astonished at how much this blog has grown in the past few months. I'm so thankful for all of my readers and since I've always strived for an open line of communication with you guys, I think a reader survey is long overdue. I don't have any fancy incentives, just asking for a few minutes of your time so that I can better serve you in the future. (There are only 8 questions and most of them are multiple choice, it'll take you two minutes tops!)

Check it out, I can't wait to hear from you all!


Daytime Smoky Eye

I rarely deviate from my everyday makeup routine. Every once in a while though, I get the urge to change it up. Don't we all? I swear by a smoky eye. I know that it's usually reserved for romantic evening outings but I don't see why you can't rock it in the daytime hours. 

Begin by spreading the lightest color (I use an ivory) from the eyebrow all the way down to the crease. Brush the second lightest (I use a brownish light grey) over the lid. Then, add the darkest (I use black) around the edges and blend it into the crease. For the eyeliner, use liquid and bring it all the way from the tear duct to the little "swoop" on the edge. Smudge some pencil liner along the bottom lash line and add mascara as you usually would. 

Lovely, right? Once you get the hang of the smudging/blending, it's pretty simple. Practice makes perfect!

xo, e.m.

Road Trip by iPhone

Sorry (not sorry) for the Nashville overload. In addition to some photos snapped with my camera, here are some iPhonies. If you've never taken a road trip with your bestie, I suggest doing so in the near future. The semi-predictable girl-talk in the car between long bouts of listening to The National while not saying anything at all, the delicious food, beer, hockey, puppy cuddles, shopping, the mystique of the open road and some good 'ole Southern hospitality made it all just right.


p.s. Kudos to you if you spotted Barad-dûr. The joke was "one does not simply walk into Nashville..." Alright, I crack myself up sometimes.