There is a lack of elegance, sexiness and mystery missing in photographs of women today, especially celebrities and the overexposed, blasé way they brand themselves and how they are portrayed through the lens.
Social media and fashion have made women seem like untouchable objects, loud, fake and even desperate at times.
The “look at me” culture screaming for more and more attention.
I have always had a more hate than love relationship with modeling and fame.
Yes, I realize that sounds trite.
I was a model, white and privileged.
But I was a young, impressionable girl, who today is a woman with decades away from the spotlight by choice and a fresh perspective.
I wonder when future generations look back at images of women will they be curious, or exhausted by the sheer volume?
I can only appreciate now the mystique of a three am shoot in Milan,
a lost era and the simple gesture of adjusting a dress, caught and frozen in time by the keen eye of a sharp photographer.
Women are magical creatures, real and raw and the most beautiful when unaware of themselves.
They do not need a movement to define their power; they have been beautiful, raw, strong, passionate warriors for centuries and centuries birthing ideals, children, and nurturing souls.
Less is more, so do not ever undervalue or compare yourself to someone else’s million followers.
Find your own unique way, and remember true beauty is forever more.
All I ever wanted was for you to be happy.
Without the clothes, the bling, the boys, all the heavy stuff.
To be deliriously happy without watching the tick-tock of the clock, afraid that your time for bliss had past.
It has not.
You deserve to feel joy, wonder, love and laughter until your heart beat’s quiet.
All I ever wanted was to see you smile wide and large, for you to feel the beats of your most favorite, carefree, wild and meaningful dance songs.
All I ever wanted was to make you a joyful and triumphant playlist to drown out the bullshit, the chatter and the background noise.
All I ever wanted was for you to forget about the world and her woes for a minute, and dance around in your big girl briefs out of the shadows and away from the dark.
Alone, and A-ok on your own, little darlin.’
Happiness is allowed and encouraged, it’s alright to wear your pain on the inside out, like an armor of loud love.
The gospel choir sings and claps jubilee come Sunday afternoon.
You can’t help yourself, you join in, a little lighter than yesterday.
There’s collective faith vibrating in the room.
You and you and you and me, right here and now, feeling free and a hint of happy, touching your fingers while tapping your toes.
Don’t ever let go of the soundtrack of a kind life that fills your heart and replenishes the soul.
Someone recently said to me, “you’re vain,” and I was shocked. I never, ever thought of myself in that way. When I wrote an essay, “You’re Skinny You Don’t Have Any Problems” with Feminine Collective which was taken out of context about how challenging and horrific my life would become, I was criticized and blasted for the title. Duh, did the troll read the piece?
I mulled it over in my head, and guess what I am vain, women need to be more vain. When I was younger I should’ve been proud and more confident with my skinny body and face instead of constantly apologizing for the way I looked. Just the other day, a woman (of course), made a snide comment when I joked about ‘getting older and fat.’ Fat was a poor choice of words, I work hard in the gym and always have. I eat healthy, don’t drink, and don’t smoke. I live clean and quiet.
So, fuck-off I’m done apologizing. And to my twenty-year-old self, I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate your privileged supermodel beauty and all the chaos to come. I wish I’d been happier and grateful with the woman I was trying to keep up with, a fantastical, unrealistic image I suppose.
Today, I’m shooting for vainglorious, and not apologizing for taking care of the fifty-year-old me, free from the critics, naysayers and judges. To be proud of sane mind and body.
When they zapped my brain, I did not recognize the nurse who had been there all along.
I recalled my mother’s face, worry lines and all.
I forget sometimes with all these cells coarsing through veins, tripping up emotions that things came easier once.
Life was uncomplicated, and I took it for granted.
It was the little moments I shrugged off, the nothing less than important.
Vital lessons of joy and exhilaration.
With no electronic distractions and tortoise shell healing, I ventured out.
Creating fairytale landminds of imagination.
Words, oberservations, storytime coffeebook tales and me.
Those were the happiest, carefree minutes I can recall.
Where did the feisty, rebel rouser go?
One bad-seed simple cell becomes a life so jaded, so messy complicated.
Most days I am angry, sad, inconsolable, regretful longing.
Most days I’d rather be dead than carry the weight.
Most days I wish to hurry them along.
Stupid, stupid wild child be quiet and let me think.
Other days I long for a reboot, sunshine and a fresh start.
Palm Springs, majestic mountains and course sandy beaches.
The bloody burden of living.
To hell and back.
Am I allowed to say this?
Surely you’ve felt out of sorts.
No, no, no sour grapes please.
The vines are frozen solid anyway.
To choose life even when it stings.
To follow love.
To take a naked selfie.
And a big, big, big long look in the mirror.
Self-love requires discipline, conviction and a healthy dose of rebellion.
Post it notes are positively lovely.
Dreamy reminders that stick.
Even when all roads feel exhausted.
To choose the smallest room for living and sit in stillness.
That is torture and pain.
That takes courage.
That is patience.
Self-awareness and empathy are no small feat.
One red cell quantifies a fate.
I am not mean-spirited or selfish.
I am too damn honest.
Scribbling words you may not wish to hear.
Few have traveled where I visit.
You have not embodied this small room.
Egocentric, over-eccentric, paranoid, panicked, depressed, suicidal, and manic at times.
It’s all mixed-up.
The ugliest parts housed right alongside the beautiful.
So be it, mind of mine.
Some cells went haywire.
Others did not.
Shock me back to your absurd reality.
Fucking crazy, isn’t it?
To think we are all dying differently.
Call me a rebel rouser.
Insanity feels perfectly normal to me.
Forever Betrothed To The Night
By Jacqueline Cioffa
The rotten apple bobs atop the pond scum drowning and dunking under the sweet, brown silence of murky still waters.
And me, I understand.
In tune with the dark, the death concept softens the breath in an instant. My heart does not skip nor quicken under the harsh white rays of a chilled, September sun. It is calmed and quieted, intoxicated by the still-birth possibility.
The black and grey gravel, foreign misshapen pebbles, and boorish stones stab underfoot. They do not annoy me; I empathize with the rough surfaces and pierced, jagged edges. Bleed, I bleed forest green and dream of Parasol queen ghosts walking beside me. Heart shaped brown and red leaves curl and quiver in the breeze, hiding from the menacing sun discoloring their emerald green envy.
The Goldfinch dances above skimming over tree top branches in a frenzy. Pausing mere fractions of a beat, milliseconds, something I find intoxicating.
The obscure does not threaten, caressing the skin like a careful, thoughtful lover fully awakened and in tune. The dark washes free my sins baptizing the polluted thoughts, brain obstructions. There are no edges, disciples or boundaries in the midnight hour. The world is less loud, less demanding, less everything the soul is expected.
The spirit feels safest alone; there is no need for words, responsibility or white noise complacency. The night and I are very much in love, betrothed and besotted to none other.
For the night and I agree; the light is purest, more radiant, more blinding and most magical undistracted.
Home, the night and I are at home in each other’s company. No false niceties, polite oddities. Solace is fondly found in the sweet dew evening. The sky blanketed by black oblivion. Only a splinter of smiling, silver crescent moon shines lovely in the evening.
Streetlights, the whirring nuisance jolt me back from daydream reality. Children’s raucous, the humdrum beat of the screaming orange basketball as dirty sneakers glide across the asphalt leave me weary and maudlin. The anarchy disappears behind closested shadow curtains and forty-watt, somber, dimly lit yellow bulbs. I don’t mind the absence, longing to fit in. I am enthralled, mesmerized and enchanted by the underbelly.
For the night and I are in too deep, too enamored with the quieting, melodic air wrapped and entwined inside the mysterious respites of the eve.
I am forever betrothed to the night, in love with the moon and the stars as I quietly walk the day’s thunder.
Waiting on Oprah
I close my eyes and can almost see the perfect fairytale life I envisioned in my wildest dreams.
Dear Fantasy (Oprah), “I feel that I am a very fortunate person …”
I was fifteen. Fifteen, gawky, wickedly uncomfortable in my so called ‘model frame.’ Somehow fifteen was the perfect age to concoct wild fantasy adventures and the fastest way out of a stifled, small town. There was a kaleidoscope world waiting for me, exclusively.
Strangers, intoxicating places and new faces I ached to see.
I guess Oprah never received the letter or maybe it got shoved to the bottom pile. There were one billion other worthy dreamers, perhaps more worthy than me. Maybe it got filed away, who’s to say?
I barreled ahead out on my own and concocted the fantastical dream anyway.
I had my picture taken, a lot, wearing expensive, sequined designer gowns. I lived in far away lands. Swam naked in cerulean silk seas with infinite sparkling black diamond sandy beaches. I stood atop glaciers touching the clouds where the landscape was breathtaking white, and the earthly humans invisible below. It was lonely and cold, and I felt nothing but numbness. Decades and decades past, I was stuck bone cold.
I could no longer picture my paralyzed, frozen feet on solid ground. Be mindful, careful, and specific before dreaming.
I woke up. No longer a child, no longer a pretty pawn, no longer me, no longer an identity, just a jumble of misfiring neurons.
I had freedom, for a time. Airplanes, buses, pre-packed duffle bags ready, lavender mister, passport, baby pillow became the two ton heavy, overweight baggage. I could not lighten the load no matter how much stuff I discarded. The heavy barred down on my brain, burrowing deep under my skin.
Change is so excruciatingly difficult when you’re living the dream.
Oprah never told me dreams can shift, that there can be more than just the one.
Or maybe, I wasn’t listening too busy running scared. Maybe I had to live through the dream to get to the here and now. Maybe I grew up, a little. Maybe the dream plain wore out.
Shivering, dizzy from submersing my head in the clouds surrounded by foreign tongues I did not understand, the physical me grew bored and misplaced. I dined on spicy and sweet, savoring cuisines that were taste bud delicious yet soured the stomach.
I was grinding, squirming, picking, pinching awkward, drowning inside the fifteen-year-old expired notion of bliss. I think when one is asking for a dream, one must be specific.
I’m sure being kicked to the curb no longer the prettiest, youngest, skinniest ‘photo op’ of the day did nothing for my already damaged low self-esteem and defunct, busted aspirations.
My life has been filled with love. Looking back and forward, my life has been filled with love.
That must be the first thing I cling to while reminiscing. My life has been filled with heart swelling, shattering, terrifying, emotional, easy breezy, destructive, goose-bump alive love.
The heart is a muscle it cannot possibly feel yet it does. Bizarre but so blazing sun, crescent moon, silly stars, perpetual movement sea elements comforting.
I am loved; even on the days I forget how to love myself.
It has not been easy, my middle, it’s been split open, fractured; please God let me end the crucifying. That, and all that mess that is my life are for a different tale. Perhaps when we have a little more time.
I’m back home now. I’m not fifteen anymore. My dreams are simpler, quieter, not half the screaming loud as before. Home, that’s what I’d been missing all along. Not the physical dwelling perhaps, although that helps joggle the mind.
The giddy anticipation of my mother’s White Shoulder’s perfume, her lips brushing against my forehead, the charms on her bracelet jingling and dancing on her wrist. Giddy elation alive.
“Go to sleep, sweet child of mine.”
I’d pretend sleep, twisting and squirming awaiting her return. Back from a well deserved evening out way past midnight to stroke my hair in the dark. I was sugary five not smart mouth saccharine EMO fifteen, not biting sarcastic know it all twenty, not disillusioned complacent crazed thirty, not even bitter shattered fragmented forty.
I was five.
I was living the dream.
Dear Oprah, “it’s okay.”
I think I’d like to give this living thing a shot, keep the next dream nestled close.
Readily accessible in my front not back pocket.
And me, I am transitioning.
I’m not waiting on Oprah, not this time.
This dream is waiting on me.
I’m over the moon to have J.C. Hannigan here as guest author. I have much respect for the intelligent, gifted, smart as a whip woman, author, mother, wife, colleague and friend… She is efficient, funny and the first to extend a hand to a fellow writer. That speaks volumes about her persona, her willingness to help while managing a chaotic busy life, various blogs and successful writing career. I bet J.C. makes ridiculously long to-do lists and knocks them off with a big smile. She is a human tornado with sweet-scented rain and wind inviting you into her magical world of words. When I first read Waves of Insecurity, I took pause. I almost forgot she lives with Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, a debilitating chronic pain bone disorder. That is not how I see her, I imagine envious endless locks of chestnut hair, inquisitive blue eyes and a bold red lip. It’s funny and not funny at all the (mis)perceptions we are ‘learned’ about ourselves. Ms. Hannigan is not defined by society or the weight of the disability she carries with such grace. She is beauty-full.
Meet J.C. Hannigan. She’ll tell you in her very own raw, real, heartbreaking, eloquent and inspiring words.
Waves of Insecurity by J.C. Hannigan
I have always been an insecure person, uncomfortable in my own skin. When people look at me, I feel on edge and antsy. It’s like their eyes are burning me, making my skin shrink so that everything feels tight. I can’t help but wonder if they are taking in the scars on my body and my oddly shaped limbs and wondering what in the hell happened to me.
I know how harsh and judgemental people can be about appearances. Hell, there are entire shows that are dedicated to ripping individuals down for how they dress. If society judges people so profusely on a silly thing like clothes, I can only imagine how harshly they judge based on scars and physical “imperfections”.
It took me nearly ten years to put a pair of shorts on in public. I used to wear shorts and dresses all the time, back when I was a kid who didn’t know any better…back before the curious stares of strangers made my skin feel tight and unpleasant. In high school, I wore jeans and long-sleeved shirts all the time. I couldn’t imagine showing off the angry raised scars on my arms and my shoulders. I feared that my peers would make fun me the way they made fun of so many others for their differences. I couldn’t stomach that too. I feel naked when I show my limbs, as ironic as that is to admit. I feel stripped bare when my scars are on display. I feel like people can read my struggles and that they will categorize me in some way that I simply don’t want to be categorized. I don’t want the pity; I don’t want to be defined as that girl with the scars and the bone thing. I was defined by that for so long that I started to associate myself as that person. But as desperate as I was to hide those parts of me, they could never truly be hidden. Observant eyes still picked out the misshapen limbs through my layers. Observant eyes still detected the limp and the uneasy way I held myself.
Observant eyes still questioned and probed.
Being sexual when you have a physical disability and an abundance of emotional issues and insecurities is so difficult. I felt naked when I wore short-sleeved shirts – imagine how I felt the first time I presented my body to a boy? Imagine how badly that stung when that same boy decided my bone thing was too gross and freaky? It only added to the abundance of emotional issues and insecurities. It only solidified that the cruel, taunting voice in my own head was right.
Now, ten years later…I know that disabilities and scars do not have any weight in someone’s beauty. I don’t count those things against others when I look at them (and I never did); I see people as people. I define them by their actions and the way they treat others, not whether or not they are marred with scars and carrying the weight of a disability that can feel as if it segregates them from others, from the healthy people.
And for the most part, I have learned to love myself. I wear shorts now, and while I can still feel a lot of discomfort when eyes are upon me – I hold my head high. I know I am beautiful, I know that I am even desirable. Most importantly – I know that physical beauty does not have any weight in my accomplishments or who I am as a person.
But every once in a while, I still feel that suffocating wave of insecurity that crushes my spirit and makes me want to hide within myself…
J.C. Hannigan’s love of reading was spawned from a very early age. She inhaled novels with an unquenchable thirst. Eventually, that love of reading turned into a love for writing. She started to pen stories at the tender age of nine while sitting at her white desk, pencil posed over lined paper, writing countless stories about a girl, her best friend, their horses and the adventures they’d have going on trial rides together. Born with a chronic pain bone disorder called Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, she didn’t get to play sports or run amuck like her siblings and peers. Writing kept her company amid a world of surgeries, bad pain days, and isolation.
She started a blog when she was fifteen-years-old, chronicling the challenges of high school, dating, and coping with her chronic pain bone disorder. That blog went on to win a Bloggie for Best Teen Weblog, and J.C.’s ego inflated quite a bit over it (enough to continuously mention it even today).
J.C. currently resides in a small town in Ontario with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs. When she isn’t trying to wrangle kids and dogs, she can be found writing. In addition to writing new adult romance and suspense novels, J.C. writes a blog for the MHE Coalition, discussing the struggles of living with Multiple Hereditary Exostoses. She also contributes to several other websites, including her personal blog, the OCH Literary Society, and she is the content manager for Stigma Fighters Canada. Through her writing, J.C. brings to light awareness of mental health and social challenges. Her writing has been described as edgy, bold, poignant, and raw.
Other hobbies of J.C.’s include hiking, camping, binge-watching shows like Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries, and The Walking Dead, eating dill pickle chips and daydreaming of travelling around the world. J.C. adores interacting with readers, so don’t hesitate to reach out and say hi! She tries her best to respond to every message. To learn more, visit her on Facebook and follow her personal blog of random ramblings.
Title: Collide (Collide Series Book 1)
Author: J.C. Hannigon
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Re-Release: May 11th 2015
Purchase Link: COLLIDE
Harlow Jones has a troubled past, and a questionable future. Surrounded by death, tragedy, and intrigue, she is forced to mature long before her time. Plagued by anxiety and depression, she hides her inner turmoil with spite and sarcasm. Her thick skin is impenetrable…or so she thought. Until she becomes involved with her grade twelve English teacher. In this exclusive entry into the new adult genre, with raw style that is as dark as it is poignant, Collide presents the ultimate choice: forbidden love or doing the right thing.
Connect with J.C. Hannigan:
Google +: J.C. Hannigan
I didn’t know not exactly, not until this moment.
I never believed brushing aside the possibility of happy.
Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow I’ll embrace the quirks and eccentrities.
Funny time wasted. Not funny.
This end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.
The compost pile is toppling from all the shit dumped over the years.
I don’t know about you, maybe you were born over-confident.
A chest puffer.
Never had to overthink it, actually liked spending time in your own company.
Didn’t fret about how you looked in a full length mirror, crap you never even owned one.
Happy, no worries. Happy, never mind the worries. Happy, because it feels better.
And maybe you weren’t born with a twelve pack but a Buddha belly and when you laughed it was honest from the gut, and your smile was fuchsia electric.
I’ve known people like that, really I have.
Well one that I can think of.
I wonder if Angelina Jolie is a brooder like me?
Angelina was the first perfect human that came to mind.
Let’s see, Buddha belly person is happy for realz, never asking, wanting or needing much of anything.
Seriously, just the jubilee of living and giving are enough.
I can’t speak for Angie but I wonder if she wears Crocs, doesn’t bother to shower or sits in the grass simply because she likes the way it feels against her unshaven, hairy-for-days legs.
I can’t help but wonder, curiosity careens through the wrinkles I now possess,
and the dirt under my fingernails from digging the earth.
I like how my back aches, moss green hands throb and sweat trickles down my neck.
I like that Jeff Buckley is blasting haunting, melodic melodies directly into my brain.
I like that this moment I am absolutely present just him and me, in fifty degrees that is neither scorching nor too cold uncomfortable but smack dab in the middle.
I like to use clichés, that make me happy no matter how incorrect or passe.
I like the physical task of creating something, something real.
That is the closest I’ve come to happy.
To loving myself.
On this end of April Sunday close to May, I stand at the fault line.