As someone who has always considered themselves beautiful at any size, I can't say that I have always loved my body. Sure, there have been moments where I thought I was the sexiest thing walking. But for the most part, all I saw when I looked in the mirror were flaws. My thighs were always too big. Butt full of dimples from cellulite. Boobs always in the way. And my arms too jiggly.
I never saw the same things as others when they looked at me because I was too focused on what I felt needed changing, which caused me to become insecure with my body. Feeling like it wasn't good enough.
At first, I thought that maybe if I lost weight, then I would finally be pleased with what I looked like on the outside. But no matter how small I got, I still couldn't see past my imperfections. Which led to years of comparing my body to countless models and celebrities, wishing I had what they had.
Abs like Janet Jackson. Thighs like Serena Williams. Arms like Angela Bassett. Booty like Melyssa Ford. Legs like Tina Turner. With perfect, perky boobs like Rihanna's that didn't require me to wear a bra.
To associates and the people closest to me, no one ever knew that I was dealing with these insecurities because all they saw was confidence when they saw me. I walk with my head held high, wear whatever I want, can be the life of a party, and have no problem with catching the eye of potential suitors. But on the inside, it was the total opposite.
I was always overly concerned about something falling out, feeling like I had to cover some part of my body or put on shapewear for a smoother appearance. It even got to the point where my body insecurities began spilling over into my relationships. I didn't want to be seen naked with the lights on. Sex had to be done in total darkness or at max, by candlelight. And the thought of wearing lingerie made me even more uncomfortable.
Even though, as a former Victoria's Secret Angel Card carrier, I, like many women eagerly anticipated their semi-annual sales so that I could rack up on all things satin, silk, velvet, and lace. But when it came time to wear it, I felt discomfort like no other. Resulting in a lot of those items being pushed to the back of my drawer only to never again see the light of day.
My body insecurities worsened over time, especially when I began to put on weight. I found myself wearing more black, turning down opportunities to go out, and shying away from cameras. It was bad enough that I knew I was gaining weight, but I didn't want others to notice it either.
However, at some point last year, shortly after I committed to a new fitness journey, I started to become comfortable in my body. Maybe it was because I needed to reach my heaviest size to appreciate the body that I had been given, or maybe I just reached the age where I stopped giving a damn. But something in me caused me to find my confidence.
And this newfound confidence made me want to invest in lingerie once again. But this time, with the intent to actually wear it.
So, I began purchasing pieces here and there. Trying them on while admiring my body in the mirror. Marveling at just how perfectly each piece adorned the areas that I thought were my ugliest. How the strings were strategically placed on various parts of my body. The lace seductively covered my most intimate parts. The cups lifted my breasts, giving them that perfect look that I had always strived for.
Even the way each item enhanced my God-given curves.
The way I looked when I saw myself in the mirror wearing my lingerie made me feel sexy, confident, bold, and beautiful. It forced me to see what others had always seen in me and to love my body in ways that I never thought were possible.
Nowadays, my drawers are filled with lingerie because I never want to lose sight of this feeling. I never want to revert to the days of feeling insecure in my body. Nor do I want to see flaws whenever I look in the mirror.
Because for me, wearing lingerie is more than just something to entice my partner or to spice things up in the bedroom. It is now a tool to help me feel sexy and remind me of my beauty. A way for me to fall deeper in love with my body. A symbol of how far I have come in my self-love, body-positivity journey.
Featured image by Racquel Coral
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.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images