TEEN, V1

Aspiring model and makeup artist Aisha shares her innerstyl

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My major

will be Criminology with a minor in Psych. I hope to one day work for the FBI in the criminal investigation department.

WHO WHAT WHERE

  • Who: Aisha
  • What: Aspiring makeup artist and model
  • Where: Florida
  • Grade: 12
  • Future: Criminology with a minor in Psych
  • Photographer: Virge Simone images
Only I have the power to change my life.
— Aisha

INNERSTYL

MY HERO

My hero is my mother! She is a fantastic woman. I have watched her do it all, and she is an entrepreneur, she works hard while still being a great mom. She is well educated, and she is always pushing me for greatness.

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Introverted or Extroverted?

I think I am in-between. Lol. I have my days and my moments, but I do try to socialize as much as I can and enjoy life. I have days where I want some peace to reflect.

WHAT HAS MOLDED ME TO BE WHO I AM TODAY?

I have learned what characteristics real friends should have. I know I am still learning about life, but I have grown in that department.

If you're being bullied: 

No one has the power to make you feel bad. Never allow someone that much control over them to make them think that they are not enough.

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I want to be remembered as a good person who did good for the world.

Advice to a new high school  student

I would tell a new student to do their best, the crowds are not meant to be followed, but they can lead.

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What should be taught in schools?

Bills, because I am struggling now with managing my money. My mother helps me save, but it would be nice to do it on my own.

When it comes to friends...

Trust and Loyalty. I also want to give the same to my friends and its nice to know they are returning the favor.

MY SPIRIT ANIMAL:

My spirit animal would have to be a stingray because they are free, cute but also powerful.

ONE THING I WOULD LOVE TO LEARN:

Sign language

CURRENTLY READING

The Mark of Athena 

HOBBIES:

 I am a singer. I have been taking vocal since elementary school. I also attend a performing arts school.

OUTER STYLE

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FAVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS

Everything!! But if I had to pick two things, it would be an eyebrow pencil and concealer

MY FAVORITE SINGERS: Rhianna, HER, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill

MUST WATCH SHOWS: Criminal Minds and Greys Anatomy

PET PEEVES: I don't like people chewing with their mouth open.

FAVORITE READS: People and InStyle

Interviews/Features

#GIRLTALK WITH FUTURE COSMETIC DENTIST ISABELLA S.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: NINE FIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Major: BioChemistry

Have you thought about what career you want? Cosmetic dentistry

Who is your hero or someone you look up to? My mama

Would you consider yourself a responsible person?  Yes, because I know if something has to get done, it will get done and be done well.

Introverted or Extroverted? Extrovert. I love meeting new people and talking to people.

What past experiences or choices have molded you to become the you today?My father passing away has molded me into a more independent person, and I work hard to make my mom and him proud, and my father as well. Also, it has made me very close to my family which has made a huge impact on my personality.

How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as a fun, loving person. Also as someone who has had a positive impact on many peoples lives.


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What do you think should also be taught at school? In school, I believe student should be taught how to pay bills, how to choose the right deals, how to pay taxes, more about credit, and money management.

What is the most important quality to have in a friend and why?  Trustworthiness. You have to be able to trust someone before you can even call them a real friend.

Who is your favorite singer, band, group? The Weekend

What are you currently reading? Fashion magazines (Vogue, Elle, etc)

What are some of your pet peeves? When people bite their nails, don’t say please/thank you, or are rude for no reason.

If you won the lottery, what would you buy? I would pay for school, and buy my mom a house and myself a car. And of course a new wardrobe.

What is your spirit animal? A koala

What language do you wish you knew? Or a language you would like to learn?I speak Spanish well, but i wish I was fluent in it.

Teen Entrepreneurs

GIRL BOSS ALERT: SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD HANNAH LUCAS CREATOR OF NOTOK APP

sixteen-year-old Hannah Lucas, a teenprenuer who is changing the face of mental healthcare. She has recently won two prestigious awards: the 2018 MHA mPower Award and the 2018 NAMI GA Young Leader Award.

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Just last year Hannah was fainting so much that she missed 70% of the school year due to a condition called POTS. While she was there she constantly got bullied and even threatened (by a fellow student) that she would be taken advantage of the next time she passed out in school. Being scared was a permanent state of mind. What would she do if she fainted and no one was around? After becoming severely depressed and even attempting suicide, she (along with her younger brother Charlie) searched for apps that would help teens in their times of distress. Nothing was available and together they created something new - the notOK app.  

In just a few months after launch, this inspirational tech teen’s app has been gaining massive attention with over 46k downloads in just 4 months. The notOK app combines self-care with technology and is creating the movement mantra, “it’s ok to say you’re not ok.


Header Photo by Vania Stoyanova

Teen Entrepreneurs, V1

TEEN ENTREPRENEURS REVOLUTIONIZE A $20B SWIMWEAR INDUSTRY

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Just HOW BIG IS THIS? "SURPRISINGLY HUGE," SAY THE GIRLS.

Staying in sports is less likely for girls like Niki Vilas Boas and Becca Segal. The statistic is that twice as many girls leave sports in high school as boys. Niki and Becca are 16 year old swimmers turned entrepreneurs who want to change that statistic by empowering female athletes and inspiring them to stay in sports into adulthood.

In their latest splash, the girls appeared on the season finale of Entrepreneur Media's second season of "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch" where they had only 60 seconds in an elevator to compel 4 prospective investors to invest in the world's only female swim parka.

Dave Meltzer, Executive Producer of "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch" and the lead investor on the show's panel, said, "That is the best pitch I've seen… I see hundreds."  Other investors on the show have included leading world athletes like racecar champion Danica Patrick and Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings.  The show's sponsors include Sprint Business Solutions and Sports 1 Marketing.

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The girls are starting their revolution by redesigning formerly unisex-only swim parkas and making them accommodate the psyche and physique of female swimmers. Swim parkas are worn by most swim athletes to keep warm after practice or between events but until now they were only available in a boxy, masculine "unisex" design.

The girls have named their athletic apparel company Wotter, LLC and refer to their swim parka as a "Cloak of Confidence".  In January, they raised $36,000 with a Kickstarter campaign, attracting the backing of 3 decorated Olympians along the way. One such backer, Annamay Pierse, Canadian Olympic swimmer and 4-time World Record holder said, "My parka was my favourite clothing piece when I was on deck and I love that these young ladies are making something that looks awesome and is super functional for girls."

Niki and Becca's Elevator Pitch segment can be seen on the Entrepreneur Media website. They appear in the 11th minute.

 Pre-orders for The Wotter Parkas have commenced and the girls are working hard with suppliers to ramp up production to meet demand. Their first batch of parkas will begin delivering in September – just in time for the winter swim season.

Wottergear.com

Motivation & Advice

How do I protect myself on Social Media?

With all of the different social media platforms in the world today, it is incredible how far we have come since the advent of the internet in 1991.
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram are some of the more common names.  Best of all, we have them all at our fingertips, as most media forums are available via our smartphones and similar devices.

With all the fun interaction, writing on each other's walls, sharing funny pictures, and tweeting at our favorite celebrities, we still have to keep ourselves safe.  Many predators and people with ill intent remain to lurk who can misappropriate passwords and identity or even tarnish our relationships.  Acknowledging and taking precautionary measures is crucial.

Attached to each social media account, we must have a login/username and correlated password. Albeit keeping the same login information for each account may seem straightforward, the simpler the accessibility you are leaving for someone else. Your best bet is to switch up your login information for each account, even if it is only the password. Also, commit to never sharing your passwords with anyone. An ideal option is to write them down and keep them in a safe place where no one can get access to them.

The same advice can also apply toward non-social media accounts, such as your bank account, whose information can usually access on your phone or online.

Another aspect of safeguarding yourself is protecting your online reputation.  Posting comments and pictures are part of the social culture; however, it is important to factor in your audience.  A great rule of thumb is when in doubt, don't.  While there may be no consequences, some very unlucky people have faced backlash, costing them their reputations. My best advice is not to post anything you would not want your grandparents to see.  Give thought BEFORE you post. 

The World Wide Web is a big area that you do not want to get caught up badly.  Make smart decisions every day, including those online. 

Safe surfing!

Header by  Josh Rose on Unsplash

Motivation & Advice

So what if you are too fat or too skinny! 'Body Shaming'

Image by Jakob Owens

To secure yourself, surround yourself with positive people who will accept you for who you are.

  • Create a no-tolerance of body shaming zone around you. 
  • Keep away from body shaming gossip.
  • Walk away from derogatory body image conversations.
  • Know that you have the POWER to allow or not to allow what is said to you.
  • It is your body learn to LOVE it and accept yourself for who you are. 
  • Encourage others to also be in control. 
  • Body image degradation is a problem, but it does not have to be YOUR problem.  
  • Decide that until society begins to change their views and care about the everyday teens and young adults, be that person who loves themselves.  

As cliché as it sounds, realizing that the media's standard of beauty is unrealistic, it is probably the first and most important step. By allowing this to resonate, we not only have more confidence in ourselves but also have more acceptance and respect for each other. 

Motivation & Advice

How to create a support group with your friends and family when it comes to depression.

When it comes to depression, there is no easy way to discuss it, not even with the closest person to you. For the person experiencing depression, having a conversation takes courage and strength. Depression is a serious illness especially if it is recurring. 

Because I suffer from depression ever since I was a teen I can share some insider steps on how to share with your family and friends if you are experiencing depression and how to create your support group. 

Here are some not so simple yet realistic tips. 

  • Wait until you are feeling better, if possible. You will be less emotional and more likely to share important details which you may otherwise leave out if you are in a depressed state of mind. When you are down, you may be unable to concentrate and relay information clearly. 
  • Make sure your environment has no unnecessary distractions. Keep the TV off and the room quiet. It is best to have this conversation at home or in a place where you are most comfortable. DO NOT have this conversation anywhere in public or surrounded by noise and lots of people. The goal is to avoid distractions. 
  • Talk to one person at a time. If there is more than one person that needs to learn about your illness, schedule to speak to them individually. Everyone has a different personality and may react to matters differently. You want to be able to read their response accurately. They may also have tons of questions. It is best for you to avoid being bombarded all at once. 
  • Talk to particular people and be careful of whom you choose. Only share personal details with people you know that will be supportive and be able to help you during your down time. There are times we may think certain people will be there and they end up disappointing you. Try and keep your support group to a maximum of 5. 
  • Assign a task. At the same time that you have the conversation with the people you choose for support, make sure to delegate a task that you know they can handle. For example, one friend/family member may be great at keeping on top of your appearance. That would be the perfect person to get you out of bed and encourage you to get your hair or nails done. Choosing the right task or asking them in what way they feel they can help is the best way to guarantee support when needed. 
  • Contact your therapist. Once you have spoken with everyone on your support group list, let them know you will provide their name and number to your therapist. Also, provide them with the emergency contact number of your therapist. Make sure you give that list to your therapist as soon as possible. 

Sharing such critical and intimate details about your depression with anyone may be difficult but remember it is about you and getting you the help you need when you need. 

If you ever feel you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911 immediately. Visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for more information. 

Header photo by Aidan Meyer

Fashion

Miss Nevada Teen America proves you're never too young for style.

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Miss Nevada Teen America, Sarah Diebold, struts in her Edgy black heels, classic sunglasses, and some fabulous, printed bottoms have us hollering verified. We can guarantee the perfect amount of black and pops of color will have you living the fashion-forward life you have always wanted, with just a little hint of edge us women need.  She is not done yet, check out her gallery of style where she flaunts her versatility. Photography by Let's Make A Memory

Check out some of our favorites from this shoot. 

Style Team

Photographer:  Let's Make A Memory//Makeup Artist: Paper Bag Beauty//Makeup Artist: Debola Inc//Hair Stylist: Tyler Joseph Beauty//Fashion Designer: Tailor Shop By Larissa//

Girl Boss Alert

#GOAHEADGIRL SHOUTOUT: A future Emergency Room Nurse or Lawyer.

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Meet Stephanie a High School Senior with her options open to either Nursing or Law School. 

In college, I plan to go to nursing school and major in nursing and hopefully right out of college become a travel nurse for the Emergency Room. I am so fascinated with the adrenaline rush that comes with being an ER Nurse and how there is always something going on. If nursing does not work, my backup plan is to go to Law School and become a lawyer.
— Stephanie

Join our team in saying #GOAHEADGIRL to Stephanie for making things happen. We wish you the best of luck.  

Photography by  Dani Nicole Photography / To submit a thriving teen/senior or  college student to us email us at hello@styleverify.com

Girl Boss Alert

#GOAHEADGIRL Shoutout: A Young Visual Communication Design Major

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Meet Gabby a future Visual Communication Design Major with love for drawing, painting, and photography. This year she placed best in a show in the Cherokee County, NC Art Show with a small sculpture piece. Join our team in saying #GOAHEADGIRL to Gabby for working hard in school and pursuing her dreams. We wish you the best of luck. 

Photography by McSween Photography To submit a thriving teen/senior or student to us email us at hello@styleverify.com

Tech

What if you could find your perfect roommate?

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On Diggz, whether you have a room or looking for one, it is not about only posting your room ad and waiting for people to reach out (basically Like those old school bulletin boards). You can browse through hundreds of roommate seekers, and pick the ones that seem like a good fit, whether you have a room or looking for one. “We wanted to enhance the roommate search experience and allow those renting out rooms to be more involved and proactive in the process. They do not have to sit and wait for someone to contact them. They can browse through those looking for a room and pick out the ones they think will be a good fit” says Ben Blodgett, Diggz’s co-founder.

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Advice Alert

What is the the truth about sex trafficking?

While sex can be a magical experience in relationships, there are other experiences not always positive.  Sex trafficking is one. Moreover, then there is the internet. I recently attended a panel discussion at the United Nations Chapel sponsored by the Soroptimist's International Club. One of the panelists was an FBI agent whose career is devoted to rescuing women -- and teenagers -- trapped in sex slavery. These women are forced to generate $1,000 per day in revenues: $100 per "trick," ten "tricks" per day. Day in, day out. Never a day off, even if they are sick, menstruating, pregnant, or recovering from an abortion.

The outcomes of some of those females are they start abusing alcohol, heroin, and other drugs to deaden the physical and emotional pain of this life, and after ten years (if they are still alive), they are "allowed" to retire. By that time, many are too broken physically and emotionally to resume normalcy; if they are not, they often become "Madams" of the brothels or help recruit "fresh blood" into the pipeline.

I learned during the panel, the average age of a female starting in sex trafficking is 13. However, people, not everyone was kidnapped. Some of them willingly entered it because they were inspired by the "pimp / ho" music videos and wanted to live their interpretation of that "glamorous" life.

Some of the panelists suggested music videos glorifying prostitution as a glamorous lifestyle are helping pimps recruit their girls much easier. All he has to do is buy a 14-year-old that "it" piece of clothing, jewelry, or technology, and some are all too willing to perform sexually in exchange for it: perhaps not intercourse, but some sexual favor that doesn't risk pregnancy.

We learned of other introductions into this sex trafficking life wherein older females approach a younger girl to her "boyfriend's friend" so they can go out together. After the younger girl receives some expensive gifts, pressured into giving sexual favors. If she resists, she is intimidated by threats of harm to her family or the family pets. She then enters the sex trade believing that she is now protecting her family and pets from harm.

They say girls get trafficked on websites in classified ads.  Men in NYC can order their sex tour experiences online, catch a flight to Bangkok on Friday, have their weekend itinerary confirmed by the time they land, and return to NYC Monday with stories of 14-year-old girls and boys, or even animals.

Other influences include the internet and all of its exposure changes everything -- how we socialize, how we do business, and how crime perpetrate. It helps feed the pop culture and make videos, photos, and stories "go viral."

Young females now have extensive unedited exposure with so much sexually suggestive content, with or without nudity, alone or with someone else. It is not funny, sexy, or to their advantage. It can be dangerous, in fact. It can be a way to attract those who would target them for sexual exploitation. Women posting photos of themselves are always "advertising" who they are, no matter what. Images posted are depicting our self-images. I understand that feminism gives women permission to do whatever they want with their bodies, but why put yourself at risk?

Real feminism is not about defining how others "should" perceive us regardless of how we convey ourselves in social media. Feminism is not arrogant. Just because "we" know we are fabulous, sensitive, intelligent and talented, it does not mean we can put ourselves in high-risk situations and feel entitled to arrive home safely at the end of the night. Feminism is not reckless. Feminism starts with the self-respect that guides us to share our minds and selves in ways that inspire others to see us for whom we know we truly are: fabulous, sensitive, intelligent, talented, (___fill in the blank!___).

Think about what it is to be a Lady: You may not find the definition here, but it certainly does NOT include attitudes or behaviors that glorify the pimp-ho lifestyle that is the cultural gateway into sex slavery in America.

What to read & Watch?

Indie Films that want to make a Difference

D.R. Tibbits and Elyes Gabel are independent L.A. film directors who wish to use the art of film in ways that benefit society. With their two upcoming films, Pinebox and Grimshaw, D.R. and Elyes seek to donate to charities in need while also shedding light on serious issues that need to be discussed within cinema. 

Pinebox , starring Kevin Breznahan and Ann Magnuson, is a film about a funeral-crasher who, inspired by a teenage boys death, wants to find the right customer for his handmade casket. This short film wants to bring awareness to LGBT teens in crisis and the production team even raised over $450 for the Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention among LGBT youth. The team is currently a little over $4,000 shy from achieving the necessary funds to finance the film for festival submissions, marketing and travel expenses. Their indiegogo, complete with perks for those who contribute, can be found here

The Cast includes. 

  • Kevin Breznahan - known for  Winter Bone starring Jennifer Lawrence / Alive starring Ethan Hawke Superbad most recently : Once Upon a Time in Venice starring Bruce Willis and Billions (Showtime TV) 
  • Ann Magnuson -  known for Panic Room/  Small Soldiers / Clear and Present Danger most recently One More time starring Christopher Walken
  • Brian T. Finney - known for Million Dollar Baby / The Hand that Rocks the Cradle / Twin Peaks: The Missing
  • Cameron Dye -known for The Last Starfigther / Valley Girl starring Nicholas Cage / Men at Work starring Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen most recently Feud (TV Series) starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. 

Producers:

  • Shawn Michael Howard
  • D.R. Tibbits
  • Kel Nelson

Executive Producers:

  • David Moscow & KrisD Mauga

Grimshaw, starring Cornell Womack and Cottrell Guidry, tells the story of two men, one who is trying to come to peace with his past and another who is trying to battle his drug addiction, reconcile their broken relationship over a piece of chess. Following the idea that many people are affected by the pursuits of an addict, this film wants to delve into how addictions can have drastic effects on the addict's loved ones. A film that's created to tell the story of the loved ones. 

Like Pinebox, Mauga continues to use art to promote social change by donating 10% of proceeds to Engage the Vision. Another non-profit that allows young professionals to mentor and guide young boys aged 8-11 at Martin Luther King Elementary School in South Central L.A.  

Grimshaw needs to raise $22,231 dollars in order to completely fund their marketing ventures, festival submissions, post-production editing and pay for their talented cast and crew. Their indiegogo as well as rewards for contributors can be found here

Cast.

Producers

  • Shawn Michael Howard
  • Steve Harris
  • Cottrell Guidry
  • Christian Adkins

Executive Producers:

  • KrisD Mauga
  • Evan Arnold

What to read & Watch?

What should be on your list of movies to watch? Blockers

The Pact

BLOCKERS

  • Release date: April 6, 2018
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Indira Viswanathan, Gideon Adlan
  • Directed by: Kay Cannon

About the movie

When three parents discover their daughters' pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Leslie Mann (The Other Woman, This Is 40), Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors, Suicide Squad) and John Cena (Trainwreck, Sisters) star in Blockers, the directorial debut of Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect series).

The Pact

Photo Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert / Universal Pictures

Parenting

How do I talk to my teen about sex?

Whether you view it from a religious perspective or think of it as nothing more than a natural transition, sex is a huge step towards adulthood. Some teens stumble straight into sex while others approach it with caution. No matter which way teens view sex, inward reflection is sometimes necessary to figure out if they are ready to go all the way.

As teenagers, lots of their decisions can be impulsive. They may reach for that drink after a little peer pressure or dye their hair purple on whim alone. However, just a second of reflection could mean the difference between a first time wish-you-could-forget and a memorable and meaningful experience. Ask the following questions and use them as your guide:

Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

  1. Where do you stand on sex? Suggest they differentiate their views from others. You do not have to view sex as something sacred only because your parents say it is, but also do not jump right into it because your friends see it as nothing. Take the time to develop your feelings on the intimacy.
  2. With whom you are doing it within this situation? Naturally, if you are engaging in sex as a teen, the person with whom you are doing it with most likely will not be yours forever. Realistically look at that person—would you want to look back and remember him/her as your first? Alternatively, do you believe sex is meant solely for your soulmate?
  3. Why do you want to do it? Did someone tell you it is time to lose your v-card or did anyone put you up to it? Do you feel it is time for you to have sex? Honestly, consider if this decision is solely yours.
  4. Think ahead.  Imagine how your decision now will affect you in the future.  Will you look back and regret not waiting, or will you see it as a rite of passage? Ultimately, envision if you will regret having sex at this time, once you go all the way, you cannot undo.

In the end, get across that before you make the decision to do it, think of how you may feel after you do. Teens have a natural tendency to jump into things headfirst, but sex most of the time is a calculated act. A conversation can mean all the difference.  Get them to take more than a moment to figure out what they want the outcome to be. What you will never regret doing is taking the time to process your thoughts and emotions before acting on them.

Advice Alert

Do I love the body I have? GIRLTALK with Haleigh of Michigan

A word on loving yourself no matter your shape, size, or color:

Beauty is everywhere, but it is not always easy to see the beauty within ourselves. Most of my life I spent questioning my value because of my weight; I was heavier than average and felt inadequate in a society that promotes a "skinny girl" culture. In my early teen's people would tell me I was "big-boned," quality I viewed as demeaning. I would constantly compare myself to other girls my age who were more athletic or thin, and the vicious cycle of self-hate, and low self-esteem emerged.

Happiness means loving yourself, and being less concerned with the approval of others.

At the time I was incapable of seeing my beauty and was consumed in comparing myself to the models, and celebrities that were always shoved down my throat through various media, and advertising. In hindsight I wish I could have loved myself through it all; it would have saved me much trouble. All too soon I went from being "big-boned" to undeniably morbidly obese.

I hit my peak at a whopping 285 lbs, which put my BMI over 40 points at my 5'10" stature. Not only did I not appreciate what I saw in the mirror, but I was also feeling the effects medically with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, heart palpitations, and chronic back pain. My doctors were warning me of the dangerous path I was embarking on, and in one moment of clarity, I decided I need to make some serious lifestyle changes.

In September of 2015, I underwent a procedure known as a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) after having a doctor monitor my diet and exercise changes over a period of 6 months. VSG is a type of bariatric or weight loss surgery that removes approximately 80% of the patients' stomach so they can feel fuller faster. By my surgery date, I had already lost over 40 lbs and felt a tremendous positive impact on my health, and self-confidence. I was overcoming an obstacle that had ruled over my life for over a decade! Since changing my lifestyle to incorporate more exercise, and high protein foods - all while cutting out carbs, and sugar - I have lost over 130 lbs.

I honestly feel like an entirely different person. I have overcome all of my health ailments, no longer get winded while climbing a flight of stairs, and better appreciate myself as my confidence has sky-rocketed. The best discovery through my journey was the realization that I was never ugly, it was the society that was. I was beautiful every step of the way.
 

Through this transformation, I learned to appreciate my unique qualities and proved to myself that I am a strong, capable woman who can accomplish anything when she sets her mind to it. There is so much more to people than outside perceptions of beauty, and I was only harming myself by constantly critiquing, and comparing my self-image to my perception of others. Perhaps Owen Campbell Jr. summarizes my story best with this quote:
 

Girl Boss Alert

#GOAHEADGIRL: Taylor stands up for women everywhere!

Meet Taylor, a sweet and giving senior from Utah. This honor student is a future Biology major at Utah Valley University and a future Physician Assistant. Taylor is simply an amazing inspiration to every student and focuses on her goals for the future. She has received several awards in music, sports, and academics and at the rate, she is going, it looks as though this trend will continue through college. Taylor is mindful of her many blessings and serves her community through her church's community interaction. There is so much to Taylor and who she is as a person. Her willingness to help, to connect to those around her and her dedication to her studies are truly inspiring. Read more on Taylors' astonishing advice and inspiration below. 
Photography byJanice Twitchell.

The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.
— C.S. Lewis


Don't be afraid to be good. Don't be afraid to be kind. Don't compare yourself to others. Let yourself to be happy, and choose to be around people who will let you be happy.

It is a far stretch, but solve the world's misunderstanding of Eve in the Garden of Eden. The belief that Eve was wrong in partaking of the forbidden fruit in the Garden affects, even today, the world's view on the nature of women. Women are degraded, in other countries, they are so socially below men. They do not even have a chance to find success in this life. Eve unselfishly, and in equal partnership with Adam helped fulfill the greater commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. Eve partook of the fruit, and Adam was smart enough to follow suit. There was no other way. Attention girls and women everywhere: it is not a sin to be born a female. There is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are precious. You are a woman.

I have every intention of becoming a Physician Assistant. In an interview once, I was asked this same question. I was too afraid to share such a lofty career goal as that of a Physician Assistant, and replied,"a Registered Nurse." At the end of the interview, a member of the panel told me do not limit myself to Nursing - and that he saw me as a Physician Assistant. This comment gives me hope and motivation daily to fulfill my career goal of becoming a PA.

After a semester at Utah Valley University, I want to serve an LDS mission. When I return, I will finish my four-year scholarship with a degree in Biology, and apply for Med School at the University of Utah, and earn my MD. I want to eventually settle down and get married in an LDS temple to the "man of my dreams," have children, travel the world, learn how to play the guitar, and grow old. I feel very pressured when people ask me what I am planning on doing with my life. People, for whatever reason, want to know specifics - and I cannot give them! It does not matter; I suppose it is not any of their business, right?

Standing Strong Against Bullying:

I focused on the things that I could control and change. I could not change them, but I could control my reaction to what they were doing to me. I learned how to be alone, and that that is okay. That way if I always like me, I will always at least have one friend. My advice to the victim: pray to God. So many people deny the existence of a Creator, but when it seems like the whole world is against you, believing in God gives you one place in the universe you can go and not be judged, only loved. My advice to the bully: one day you are going to regret what you are doing, and the only person you are truly going to hurt is yourself. The power you think you have over that other person is fleeting. The real power lies in building, not breaking.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
— Nelson Mandela

Tips for staying motivated:

Gratitude. I am blessed. I was born in the greatest country on earth, into a loving, supporting family. I attend a great school and given endless opportunities to strive to be successful. I would not dream of taking all of that for granted by living in any way less than the best I can be.

Tips on standing firm through peer pressure:

Like all teens, I have had MANY situations where peer pressure has exerted its influence on my choices. One bit of advice, which I have learned the hard way, is know whom you can trust. Ask yourself what motives this person has to get you to do what they want you to do. Because people innately manipulate the situation for their benefit. I always ask myself two questions: what's the worst that can happen, and can I live with it? It leads me to the best choice.

Mom, Dad, where would I be without you? You have been my greatest support, and my biggest fans. Knowing that you believed in me has always been such a comfort, and my greatest motivation. I love you.
— Taylor

Advice Alert

Am I acting like a lady? #RESPECT

With life and all of its responsibilities, its no wonder you may not have ever given thought about what it means to be a lady.  Being female is a genetic assignment beyond our control. Being a woman only requires us to live long enough to escape adolescence. However, being a "lady" is optional at any age.  So, what thoughts should come into play when you think about what it is a woman? That is the question to ponder.  

Consider the age we live in of social media and lives being an open book.  The messages sent are all a representation of who you are and how people should treat you.  The objective is to have respect for your intelligence, sensitive and all around beautiful nature. It is all relative to a life of total wellness and healthy living. 

Wellness includes the things we can do to be healthier like exercise, meditation, and choosing love over fear.  It also requires excluding toxicity in our minds, bodies, and experiences. Much of what is negative surrounding us every day may go unnoticed .if we are unaware of what things represent or relate. 

Some background: possible influences..."I want my MTV!"

Comparatively, kids of the 1980s experienced pop music as almost purely an audio experience. The only visual they had to go along with the music might have been simply album covers and inside photos, or a poster is proudly hanging on the bedroom wall.  Not all lived near a concert venue, where they might have even seen their pop idol perform their favorite songs live.

Then came new things in pop culture; television channels that dedicated itself entirely to showing music videos. MTV was an overnight sensation that captured every teenager's imagination and many hours intended for homework. MTV provided a space for a kind of renaissance in American art forms of film, fashion, style, and choreographed dance performance. 

Rapidly, pop music evolved into a visual experience as it was once only an audio one. Often, music videos secured the song and its singer on the pop charts, even if the song itself was not good. Pop culture now included visual to the audio when thinking about music.

Transitioning into the era that sex sells, here was every singer's chance to display their beautiful, sexy artistry. Suddenly it was almost more important for an artist also to be able to dance and thereby incorporate sexy dance moves. While this has always been true throughout the history of Broadway musical theater performers, it was not always the case for pop stars.

Fast forward to today, and the pendulum just might be swinging back toward a more reasonable place. However, we have had years of pop stars simulating sex acts both on their videos and in live performances.  Lyrics are misogynistic, encouraging males to treat females with disrespect and even physical abuse. Some of the performers' lives imitate their art. Other verses sing the praises of a variety of drugs, a kind of consumption most young people in the prime of their lives can hardly afford to buy, much less risk overdosing.

Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I get it. However, the music scenes of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, as bawdy and wild as they may have been, never imagined the dark elements we have today.  To be continued.

Header Photo by Christopher Ayme on Unsplash

Advice Alert

How do I know if my family or friend is suicidal?

Dealing with depression has made me realize that some people may not know or even realize the signs. In this article, I am sharing personal signs as well as signs from people I have met along the way. This advice should help to assist you in learning the symptoms.

Let's face it; everyone has moments when life can be challenging and can get quite complicated. Unfortunately, managing your emotions during difficult times is not always easy.  It is the coping when faced with difficult circumstances that can lead to feeling helpless and discouraged.  In the United States, teen and young adult suicide are quite prevalent, and unless you know the warning signs, we will continue to lose the fight to prevent this kind of tragedy. 

Recognizing the signs of someone that is extremely depressed or contemplating suicide can be vital in preventing the death of someone you know.  People show signs of depression, but are we paying attention or are we dismissing them or chalking it up to be them being moody?  No matter what the correct answer is, why wait for that dreaded moment when they are at the point of no return?  

HERE ARE SOME SIGNS TO PAY ATTENTION TO:

  • Lack of interest in things they once loved to do  (i.e. participate in their favorite extracurricular activities)
  • Loss of interest in their work and may start having problems with others on the job.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Sudden aggression.  They might start getting into physical altercations.
  • Withdrawal and isolation from friends and family.
  • Change in sleeping patterns.
  • Change in their eating habits.
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and appearance.
  • Stress resulting in pain and fatigue.
  • Lack of focus.
  • If in School: Grades declining.
  • Loss of interest in work.
  • Boredom

How to know if a suicide plan is in effect?

When someone has definite plans for committing suicide, there are some things that he or she might do that could indicate that they are contemplating, or even planning, suicide. It is imperative to know these signs so that you can take the necessary action and establish your approach of support. By recognizing the signs, you can open up dialogue to get them to reveal what is going on.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE INDICATIONS OF A SUICIDE PLAN:

  • Statements like, “I am thinking of committing suicide” or “I want to kill myself” or “I wish I could die;”
  • Verbal hints such as, “I want you to know something, in case something happens to me” or “I will not trouble you anymore;”
  • They begin to give away favorite belongings or promising them to friends and family members.
  • Toss valuable possessions away.
  • Shows signs of extreme cheerfulness following periods of depression.
  • Some actual suicide notes; expresses bizarre or unsettling thoughts on occasion.

Many young people will share their ideas and feelings in a desperate attempt to be acknowledged because most of them want help. It is very possible, a person does not know how to deal with their feelings and problems and is looking for someone to guide them. Acknowledging the warning signs and offering support can potentially make all the difference and prevent a suicide. Suicide is a very real danger, and heeding the warning signs can indeed save a life.

If you are a parent with a struggling teen, get to know your teen so you too can recognize if there are any changes in their behavior. If you are not aware of their habits, how can you know if there are any changes? Being a supportive loved one can make all the difference in the world. 

Want to help someone in your life, here are a few referrals to get help:

1-800-SUICIDE - The Hotline for Suicide Crisis

Suicide.org

YellowRibbon.org

National Institute of Mental Health

Youth Suicide Prevention Program

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Header photo by Allef Vinicius