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Meet Kathleen.

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Dress–Pacsun. Bag–F21. Shoes–F21. Necklaces–H&M.

Kathleen doesn’t really define her style, and for good reason. “Some days I’m feeling very grunge or urban, and others I go for a more bohemian style. But I think that’s the whole point of fashion: play around with your look and don’t get too caught up in a single style.”

She’s no stranger to variety, finding inspiration from YouTubers from diverse backgrounds and different stories such as Ingrid Nilsen and Jenn Im. “There’s so much diversity [on YouTube] that you don’t see on a lot of other media platforms,” she says. And there’s no denying that–YouTube has become a mecca for progressive thought and widespread acceptance within the past year, with Internet personalities breaking the barriers of social constructs and giving a more personal exposure to the world’s diversity than ever before.

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Kathleen takes joy in empathizing with not only those who share their stories online, but also those around her. This is a strength that she demonstrates everyday, and she urges others to do the same.

Her advice to us? “Embrace who you are. I have always been really skinny and people have come up to me and said, ‘Wow, you’re literally skin and bones. Eat a cheeseburger,’ or ‘Are you anorexic or something?’. It hurts. You’re always going to be too skinny or too fat for someone, but screw them. Focus on how you feel about yourself WITHOUT society’s input. If you want to change something about yourself for YOU then by all means do, but don’t do it to fit someone else’s definition of ‘beautiful’. I love my body, but it’s not because Kate Moss said ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ (did this girl ever eat ice cream?). I love my body because it’s a part of me. I just hope more girls can feel that way about their own unique bodies and features.”

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She brings up a wonderful point. As we fight this fight against a standardized definition of beauty, it is easy to assume that thinness equates to conformity, that changing yourself–whether it be through a reform of image or surgical alteration–equates to “fakeness”. This is not the case, and Kathleen reminds us of that. Some people are naturally thin–and that is beautiful. Some women are naturally curvy–and that is beautiful as well. Some women sport a natural look, and some find joy in strong makeup and daring outfits. Both are an expression of personality, and both are beautiful. So please think twice before shaming the “silicone stick-figure Barbie dolls” like artist Meghan Trainor (who, if you listen closely, claims that self worth comes from meeting the sexual desires of men. Just chew on that for a second.) Stay healthy, happy, and committed to making a positive influence on your community.

“We are all a work of art.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kathleen. Thanks for being you.

And thus starts our journey into the depths of Project Real! Thank you to our first model Kathleen for getting the ball rolling with your words of wisdom, and our photographers Ruel and Bianca for taking these breathtaking photographs (check out Bianca’s work @MadeOfWaves).

Want to know when the next Project Real model will debut? Like the Project Maganda Facebook page (www.facebook.com/projectmaganda) for automatic updates and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ProjectMaganda for the latest news.

I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it a million times again after this, but I really do appreciate all the wonderful feedback Project Real is getting. I’m treasuring every text and encouraging comment. I can’t wait for you guys to see the rest.

Much love,

Erin

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WYSLTWRT: R. Kelly “Ignition Remix” [Giraffage Rework]

Today Marks the first installment of Project Real: an initiative dedicated to promoting body positivity and challenging the standardized image of beauty. My models/peers so graciously agreed to meet me a few weeks ago in Dragon Park in Hillsboro Village to take some photos and to introduce themselves to you, the readers. So, without further ado, let’s meet our Real Girls!

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You know me, and you know all about me, so I won’t waste your time except to say that I’ve worked really hard on this project and so have a dozen other people, so I hope you enjoy the finished product.

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Meet Chandler, Project Real’s co-producer and associate casting director (not to mention top-notch model). Her jobs included keeping me sane, reaching out to some of our models, being sassy, keeping me sane, helping organize events, keeping me sane, and keeping me sane. She has been an extremely valuable member of the team and this project wouldn’t be a reality without her. Her hard work and honesty are qualities I admire greatly. Did I mention she sort of kept me sane? Thanks a million, Chan!

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Abi is probably the coolest person I know. Great taste in music, great taste in clothing, and an inspiring take on what it means to be a forward thinking woman. I’m the president of her fan club.

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If you know Reagan, then you know that she’s cooler than you. If you don’t know her, take my word for it. She’s probably cooler than you. She’s a natural when it comes to modeling, and working with her was nothing short of an absolute pleasure.

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I had the pleasure of becoming friends with Lexi through this project and I can safely say that she is probably one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She has such a big heart and she’s always down to help with whatever she can. Really wonderful girl.

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I cannot find a single candid of Kathleen not smiling. The pictures where she isn’t smiling are when we had to ask her not to. And even then, you can tell it’s a struggle for her not to grin. She was such a joy to have as a part of the project and I’m so proud to call her my friend. Her happiness is infectious :)

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Katherine is always one step ahead of me, both in style and in mind. She’s truly a modern woman and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do in the future! I’m glad to have her on the team.

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Emme has this fun loving spirit and vivacious personality that can light up any room. I’ve never met a person who loved life as much as she, and she has been an absolute joy to work with!

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Chloe is a dear friend of mine from church, and her insightful mind and self confidence are qualities I look forward to seeing every Sunday. Not to mention she’s always willing to help out. Love her to death.

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Kathryn and I have been friends for a long time now, and I’m so happy that she agreed to model for Project Real! Her unique sense of style and individuality are refreshing and reflect just what it is to be your own woman.

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Timid ladies beware! Caroline is a strong woman with a colorful personality and equally colorful hair. This beautiful girl takes the world by storm everyday and always knows what’s up. You rock, Caroline.

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And last but not least, Ashley is one of the strongest women I know. She exudes a maturity that I can only hope to emulate, and her style is reflective of that. It was a pleasure getting to know her through this project.

Let’s take some time to admire these gorgeous ladies’ faces, shall we?

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It’s been more of a journey than I ever imagined it would be, but I’m so thankful for the strides toward maturity I was able to make and the valuable lessons I learned from these amazing young women. Thanks again to Chandler for helping me make this a reality; big thanks to my father Ruel for taking pictures, donating your time, and saving lives; shout out to my other photographer Bianca for shooting with us both at Dragon Park and at Radnor Lake (CHECK OUT HER WORK ON INSTAGRAM: @MadeOfWaves), my mother Robin for helping me come up with ideas and guiding me through it all, and Trey for his help with videography.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Every single one of these girls is getting their very own blog post; I will publish once or twice a week (hopefully without fail) throughout the next couple of months, starting in July. So, expect a lot of content coming your way and a break from seeing my face all the time. 😛

Want to know when the next Project Real post hits? Follow my Instagram and Twitter @ProjectMaganda and follow my page on Facebook for updates.

Thanks again to everyone involved with this, and remember that our generation is in control of how our society defines beauty. Let’s take advantage of that opportunity and effect a change in our media.

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Until next time!

Much love,

Erin

“The mass audience doesn’t want to see you if you aren’t perfect. If you don’t look a certain way, if you don’t have big pecs and great skin and the perfect eyes. And it’s unfortunate, because kids are growing up with body image dysmorphia because not everyone is represented on the screen.”

~Chris Pine, bringing awareness to the vastness of body shaming

“I don’t see myself as beautiful, because I see a lot of flaws. People have really odd opinions. They tell me I’m skinny, as if that’s supposed to make me happy.”

~Angelina Jolie, expressing personal insecurity

“What people don’t understand is that calling someone too skinny is just as bad as calling someone too fat; it’s not a nice feeling.”

~Kendall Jenner, showing the other side of the body-shaming coin

“It can be really challenging in today’s world–especially girls and women–to feel good about their bodies.”

~Emma Stone, speaking for all women who don’t feel beautiful

 

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

~Kate Moss, inspiring anorexia for multiple generations with seven words of complete lies

I have a problem.

Actually, let me rephrase that. The entire world has a problem, and that is that “beautiful” equates one image and one image only, with no room for uniqueness, as shown by the above quotes. Girls from ages as early as nine years old are bombarded with images of what they should look like and who they should aspire to be. This advertising attack on kids escalates into the teen years, telling young women that they are not good enough on their own. That this product will improve them, and that dress will solve their problems, that all it takes is one pill, one operation. Try a little harder. Run a little farther. Eat a little less.

My response to this? Project Real.

Project Real: A movement targeted to embrace body positivity and to fight the standardized image of beauty. Twelve beautiful girls, twelve body types, twelve unique styles, five locations, and a whole lot of fantastic content coming your way.

Starting at the end of this month, you’ll get to meet each and every one of these girls and hear just what they’re all about–I can’t wait for you to see just what we have in store for you. We invite everyone to embrace their bodies, their ethnicities, their gender identities, their sexual orientations, and their passion and drive to fight for acceptance across the board. It’s time to end all shaming, and I’m starting here.

Check out my Instagram @ProjectMaganda and the hashtags #ProjectMaganda and #ProjectReal for more details and behind the scenes shots of the series as it progresses. Upload your own photos and show your support for #ProjectReal and body positivity. Make sure to tag me and to use the hashtags so that I see it!

And as I began with angered quotes, I will end with an inspired one:

“I am allowed to look sexy, feel sexy, and be in love. I am worthy of all those things, and so are you.”

Tess Holliday, plus size model and founder of #EffYourBeautyStandards

Until next time.

Much love,

Erin

 

 

As you guys know, I’m a huge Kpop nerd. And I’ve come to embrace the embarrassment that comes with that. Normally, I would try to stay away from that genre as far as blog content, but I can’t help it this time. You have to listen to Zion.T.

Zion.T is a south korean musician and producer who debuted in 2011 and has been blessing the world of Kpop with quality R&B sounds ever since. I had originally only known his work with Infinite H (the two-member rap only subgroup of Infinite)  in their song “Without You”, but his new work has gotten my attention.

“Eat”

Zion.T’s most recent music video for his song titled “Eat” caught me off guard today. I first heard the song earlier this week and found it to have a nice, somber melody, but didn’t look any further into it. But upon seeing the music video today, I found that there was a lot more to the song than what meets the ear, so to speak. I turned on the subtitles and behold–the first verse brought me to tears. I finally understood what Zion.T’s words meant, and that made all the difference. The tone, the flow, the video–they all made sense in a way that I don’t see too often in Kpop videos. It was refreshing, and the message was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Watch “Eat” here–I encourage watching the video with no subtitles first, then again with them. I don’t want to give anything away and take away from the experience by telling you the plot. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“Zero Gravity” 

Zion.T’s earlier release, “Zero Gravity”, reveals an even more laid back, jazzy feel than “Eat” did. The song is vaguely reminiscent of lazy summer days when you want nothing more but to stay in your bed and feel the warmth seep in through the window. He captures in his lyrics a feeling of joy when with a loved one, as well as the pain felt when that loved one hides their true emotions–hiding things like depression or regret. I recommend watching the video without and then with subtitles again, as previously advised. Watch “Zero Gravity” here.

OTHER WORK BY ZION.T

“Yanghwa BRDG”–Zion.T recalls a lonely childhood and memories surrounding the bridge that crosses the Han River in Seoul, South Korea.

“No Makeup” by GAEKO (feat. Zion.T and HA:TFELT)–GAEKO and Zion.T lament a broken ending to a past relationship and attempt to re-connect with their lost loved one.

“Two Melodies” (feat. Crush)–Zion.T wonders if his love song is too average or too obvious, but reveals that every love story has a second, sadder melody.

“Babay” (feat. GAEKO)–one of Zion.T’s lighter, more upbeat releases; in which he expresses his desire to be publicly known as his loved one’s significant other and to finally be able to claim their relationship.

That’s all! I hope you like Zion.T as much as I do and I encourage you to look into his work. It’s some of the most well thought out stuff I’ve seen come out of South Korea’s music industry in a while.

Big summer projects are in the works as you read this, so stay tuned. Thanks for your patience.

SOCIAL MEDIA

www.facebook.com/projectmaganda

Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, 8Tracks, SoundCloud: @ProjectMaganda

SnapChat: @ErinKaelie

Much love,

Erin

 

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