When I was eighteen years old, I became hyper-aware of my weight. Mainly because I wanted to be a "model." I spent so many years taking in the images of beauty the media threw at me that I didn't even realize how I affect I was by the thin frames of the white women that were imprinted on the glossy pages.
Next thing I knew, I was only eating once a day. Then food became the energy, and I gave up eating at all. Most days I felt like I was going to pass out and the hunger headaches were so painful I could barely function. In my mind, this was the only way to the career I wanted so badly. Since I wasn't losing the weight as fast as I wanted, I moved into taking diet pills. Then, I started throwing up after each meal I ate. The weight came off, but in my mind, I was still "fat" and could stand to lose more.
My eating disorder eventually got so bad, I flunked out of my sophomore year of college and had to move back home. My mom comes from an old school way of thinking, and she'd cook and sit and watch me eat every meal at the kitchen table, and wouldn't let me out of her sight until my food had digested. Now, this did help me put the weight back on, but it didn't get to the root of my issue.
What was triggering my need to be "skinny" at any cost?
As I got older, I realized that much of the time I became overwhelmed with needed to lose weight when I booked a job, needed to take new headshots, or just looked in the mirror after a hard day. I wanted to be perfect which we all know there is no such thing.
In my mid-twenties, I made a choice that I had to gain some control over the way I saw myself.
I threw out the scale. I stopped counting calories. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and I asked people around me not to comment on my weight whether I was gaining or losing it. Any comment could send me into a downward spiral.
Fast forward to now, I have put on some pounds because I have been allowing myself the freedom to enjoy getting to know new places through eating. Y'all I love food, and I'm not ashamed to say it and enjoy it. But, the clothes that I've been able to wear the last ten years don't fit as well as they used to and initially, that made me want to lose weight to fit back into them. But, for what? To say that I can still wear my clothes from my freshman year of college? Am I afraid to hear the comments about my weight gain? Am I letting my jeans' size define me?
All of the above are true.
This week, I made a choice similar to that of throwing out the scale —to give up my size two and four jeans.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking, "This skinny bitch is upset she doesn't fit into a size 2 or 4 anymore?" The answer to that is no. I'm not upset, but I am just like any other woman in the world dealing with gaining weight. We all have, and this has been one long ingrained in me.
I took a trip to Zara on Saturday morning (Pro TIp: Get there around 11 am to avoid the fitting room line.) and picked up two of every 100% cotton jeans in the store in a 38 and 40, which are a size 6 and 8 in US sizes.
Writer Bianca Lambert / xoNecole
In some of their cuts I was a size 6 and some I was an 8. In the classic mom jeans, which I love, I was an 8. Now, a few years ago, seeing that number imprinted on the tag of denim would have sent me into a dieting and workout frenzy. But, this time was different. I looked in the mirror and felt good — not to mention the jeans made me feel like a total babe.
The next day, I went to update my headshots and rocked my size 8 jeans with confidence.
As we age, weight gain, cellulite, saggy boobs, stretch marks, etc. are normal, and we don't have to live up to these unrealistic ideals that women are supposed to be perfect with perfect bodies. That just ain't real no matter what the IG models try to tell you.
Will I still be working out and eating well? Yes, but the goal isn't weight loss. The goal is to keep my mind and body feeling its best, no matter what size denim I'm wearing.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The world is filled with tons of distractions vying for our attention. Our workloads can be demanding, social media chatter can be deafening, and it all makes you wish you could flip a switch and shut everything off.
But since life doesn’t come with a mute button, we have to find ways to turn the volume down so we can reset our mood and fade into the present moment. Interestingly enough, singer Coco Jones knows a thing or two about this.
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In a recent red carpet interview with Harper’s Bazaar, singer Coco Jones was asked by an interviewer, “What was the last song you listened to?” Ready for the R&B starlet to sound off a Billboard-charting banger, we were surprised and humored to learn that the songs to land in her rotation come from a more sonic style of music known as ambient music.
“The last song I listened to was probably ambient music,” she shared. “It be so loud in this world of mine, I just need to listen to a gong.” This had us thinking that maybe we too use a few gongs, harps, and xylophones in our music rotation, especially if Coco approves.
What Is Ambient Music?
Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasizes atmosphere, mood, and tone over traditional musical structure and melody. This vibe-setting, atmosphere-shaping sound is often described as "background music" as it’s designed to create an immersive and ambient sonic environment rather than being the primary focus of the listener's attention.
Ambient music has rich, audio texture while being shapeless in its melodies. Many songs in the genre tend to be minimalist in nature, with simple and repetitive musical elements. It often features long, sustained tones or chords, with lengthy compositions that listeners can get lost in — in a good way, of course.
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Why You Might Love Ambient Music
Taking your first listen to an ambient track, may take some time to adjust to. If you’re used to songs with structure and reliable flows and chords, it could take a couple of listens to ease into the amorphic style of this music genre. Its primary goal is to evoke a specific atmosphere or mood that can be calming, meditative, introspective, eerie, or even unsettling, depending on the artist's intentions.
As TikTok creator and DJ, Lovie shared in her video detailing the genre, “We also go through too much as a people to not be listening to some Tibetan singing bowls and some gongs, okay?” And we couldn’t agree more. Sometimes we need sounds to transport us from reality, even if that’s just for 30 minutes at a time. Life is tough enough, why not allow our music to feed into our escapism just a little?
Exploring Ambient Music
If you’re looking to give ambient music a spin in your playlist, your next question might be where to even begin. You might be pleased to know that as a beginner, you don’t have to venture too far to find that you may have already been introduced to the genre through singer and songwriter, Solange Knowles. Her fourth studio album, When I Get Home, features the atmospheric sounds of ambient music throughout.
Some of the pioneering artists in the ambient music genre include Brian Eno, who is often credited with coining the term "ambient music," as well as artists like Tangerine Dream, Harold Budd, and Aphex Twin.
The sounds of ambient music are unhurried and full of ease, which can provide the perfect momentary escape from the outside noise or as background music for your studies or creative processes. So if you're looking to widen your music taste and tune out this noisy world, take Coco’s advice to give ambient music a try because you can never go wrong with a gong.
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Featured image by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage