That feeling when you go away but it’s just like coming home. That’s what reading Lydia Valentine’s story about what GRRRL Live meant to her reminds me of.

“Ever since I became aware of GRRRL Live and it’s inception in 2017, I knew I needed to go.  I had already followed GRRRLS from all over and I wanted to meet them all. Rarely do I stay interested and passionate about things in the “fitness” industry. But, I have only grown more involved and intense about this brand and what it’s about.

I work a full-time job on a college campus that prevents me from leaving town during the school year. But when the opportunity came up for me to attend GRRRL Live 2018, I did everything in my power to make it happen.

I had had a long few weeks before the weekend of GL and found out last minute that I could get coverage at my job, so I made a decision and did it. I was so tired from the week when Friday rolled around (my flight was at 10pm) I almost wasn’t excited about it; I just wanted to sleep. But I’m so happy I made it happen.

Through the GRRRL Facebook page I was able to find one of my GRRRLS who was landing around the same time as I was. We took an Uber to the Golden Nugget together.  She ended up being my closest friend for the weekend and we always knew we had someone to hangout with. Shout-out to Krystal Schmidt for being my airport buddy! We finally got to the hotel. But, sadly it was after the pool party had finished and we hadn’t seen any GRRRLS until we went to the lobby to check in. Who was the first person we saw? None other than Kortney Olson herself!! There may or may not have been some crying. I was exhausted but, I’ve never felt more comfortable around a group of women.

For 2 days I forgot about my other worries. I let myself feel completely free and comfortable in the company of these amazing women. They were nothing but welcoming, friendly and loving. All things good. I tend to get caught up with how I look. I’m afraid of doing things that I want to do in fear of looking stupid and I worry about what others might think.  At GRRRL Live I was entirely free from that feeling. I learned about myself, and how to be a better person for the people in my life

You know when you get so accustomed to something and you figure that’s just how it is? But, then you try this other thing and it’s so much better? and you’re like, “this is how it’s SUPPOSED to be.” That’s how I felt when I was surrounded by these women. I was accepted for me exactly as I am. I normally surround myself with supportive people but this was a whole new level!

GRRRL will always be a part of me and I couldn’t be more thankful that I had the chance to attend GRRRL Live 2018.”

Changing the game one GRRRL at a time

Spunky

 

I had a lot of fun in the body confidence break away session at GRRRL Live and I know all of you GRRRL’s did too! There was so much energy and freedom in the room that day.  Here is what Yassmin Diab  had to share on her experience with teaching us all about the beautiful art of belly dancing:

 

“What an absolutely incredible opportunity this was, not only to be present for GRRRL Live 2018, but to be a part of teaching a workshop with 2 other bad ass women.

When I approached Kortney after GL17 about teaching a belly dance workshop, I was really doing so on a whim.  Kortney didn’t know very much about me outside of being a part of the GRRRL Facebook group, and that I live in Vegas.  But she was all for it!  How thrilled was I?!  A few months later, she emailed me about combining dance workshops to create one MEGA workshop, and that sounded like WAY too much fun to pass up!!

I’ve been a student of Arab Dance for 15 ½ years.  I’ve taught various classes and workshops over the past 10.  This was by far the most challenging, and the most rewarding.

I say challenging, because I’m used to teaching for an hour to an hour and a half.  The structure of this workshop allotted myself and the other two GRRRLS about 35 minutes each.   Who doesn’t love a challenge?

Preparing was hard.  There is SO much material that I wanted to cover, I overwhelmed myself a bit.  I’d go off on crazy tangents, I had well over 3 hours of music to sort through and select.  However, with the help of my amazing GRRRL Supporting husband, I got the structure, the material, and the music laid out and ready.

I loved the concept of the workshop, too:  Body confidence through movement!  Leslie and Iryss both brought incredible classes!  Leslie’s twerkshop was super high energy, and had GRRRLS dancing on the walls!!  Iryss brought the super sexy chair dancing, strutting, and hair tossing!  It was amazing to share time with them.

GL18 was incredible.  There were so many important topics discussed over the weekend, I can’t possibly describe all of them with the attention and accolades they deserve. One that did have a profound impact on me was the Intersectional Feminism talk and the Panel. This tied directly into my portion of the workshops the next day:  as a white woman who studies, performs, and teaches Arab dance, I am always conscious about cultural appropriation.  I don’t want to pick and choose bits and pieces of the dance, leave the rest, and claim it as my own.  I have the utmost respect and love for Arab culture.  I study with Arab musicians, dancers, and teachers. This dance is someone’s culture. I have a responsibility to educate my students about it. Even if it’s something as brief as making a statement about where the dance originates from before diving into movement, or using as many of the Arabic terms for movements as possible. 

Having the opportunity to not only educate the incredible GRRRLS who took the class about the origins of one of the oldest dance forms in the world. And also sharing my passion, and hopefully help impart a bit of the confidence that studying dance has granted me, has been an incredible experience.   Every single GRRRL present did an amazing job picking up the minute and a half routine I presented.  I couldn’t be more proud and more humbled to have been a part of this incredible event.  I hope there will be opportunities in the future for me to do this again, and again, and again!! ”

 

Changing the game one GRRRL at a time

Spunky 

Hey Kortney,
I just got my first ever item from Grrrl. I visited the mailbox, tried on my bomb as FUCK new jacket, and read the tags pinned to it at just the right moment !
I have spent the last year doing wonderful things with my body (trail running, rock climbing, playing Division 1 rugby with a team of killer ladies in Denver, and skiing). I have also spent the last year fighting an eating disorder fueled by PTSD and a lifetime of a shitty body image. Today was especially hard,like sit-in-the-grocery-store-parking-lot-for-20-minutes-before-I-got-up-the-courage-to-go-the-fuck-inside hard.
It sounds ridiculous. It was. Walking to the mailbox, my logic was bargaining with the destructive side of my mind, trying to keep my dinner in my body. Putting on a piece of clothing that fit me perfectly was a good first step to turning the evening around. Then I read the pledge on mtge tag. There was a part that made the bitch who lives in my head (the one who is never pleased, the one who said “15 lbs gone? Now 10 more? More.”) sit down and shut the fuck up for a few blessed moments. “I am having a POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE WORLD”.
My worth is not tied to a meal, a number, a size. Every time I step on the rugby pitch, or run, ski, and climb, I am building my body and giving my mind the fucking break it deserves. If my mind and body are taken care of, I can take care of those around me and leave the earth better than it was before I arrived. I can’t do any of those things if if I’m actively working against my body and constantly degrading myself. I read the pledge again.
Then I got up and made my lunches for the week. And you know what? I’m going to eat them too. Its just food. It’s not something to control – it’s fuel, plain and simple. I will put this pledge on my bathroom mirror. I will continue to move on and up. I will learn to love myself. I am going to achieve my goals. I’ve always known all of this, but it has been buried deep.
Thank you for what you’ve done with all that is Grrrl and GrrrlArmy.
Reporting for duty

Most of you probably caught my IG story about visiting Julie . I initially put the call out because I was looking for a photography studio to simply borrow someone’s white seamless canvas and shoot some leggings. Bridget was going to be traveling with me. But plans changed, and all of a sudden I was asking Julie if she could shoot the leggings. It also happened to be my husband’s birthday and I wanted to do something ‘special’ for him since I have been away. His favorite color happens to be red. I just so happened to have red heels and a red thong body suit. Hahahahahaha!

Long story short we shot the leggings and got straight into a mock boudoir shoot. It was the first time I’ve ever done a shoot like this and I can’t tell you how amazing of an experience it was. When I arrived at Julie’s studio I was blown away by her level of detail. I can only describe it as a “woman’s touch”. For example, she had a sign that said ‘welcome Kortney’ sitting on the table. She had sultry R&B playing at the right volume. The lighting was amazing and she offered me a drink straight away.

We quickly started talking and she told me about how she got into doing boudoir. A lot of her clients are rape survivors or escorts. She explained how the photo shoots are empowering experiences for both herself and her clients. She struggles with body image on a daily basis and experiences healing through other women. She can still remember back in junior high and high school how her dad used to say “God you have the body of a linebacker” and her mom saying ” you’ll never get a husband if you eat like that”

Of course by time I was ready to leave I had her hooked in with some local Virginia GA members. Like K.P. to help her get started with Powerlifting! I mean Julie has THE PERFECT body type to lift some MASSIVE numbers. Thighs to DIE for. She’s just adorable, So personable and easy going. We both had a lot of fun.

So here’s the crazy thing. Since I was 21, I’ve been doing some kind of modelling. Back in my younger days I used to do a lot of implied nude and shooting with dudes to build my portfolio before social media had really become a thing. Model mayhem was the end all and be all. Over the years I’ve only worked with maybe 2 female Photographers. Even then it was just to shoot clothing for GRRRL and years back the odd shoot here and there. Like the iconic shoot with Jessica Frint in Humboldt County. But, ultimately it’s always been with male photographers. However over the past 4 years I’ve only shot consistently with one of my best friends who goes by the name “Tchalla Hawk” in the public eye. We’ve been shooting for a decade now and he’s one of the only Photographers who doesn’t see “flaws” as “flaws”. I’ve decided our goal by the end of this year is to release a semi-autobiography pictorial book that showcases our work and growth over the past decade without the use of photoshop or airbrushing.

Today was a radical change in experience. Having a woman direct me on how to pose in a sensual way was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Having modeling experience, I’d get into position and she’d tweak it ever so slightly then yell out “oh YES! That’s brilliant! Perfect hold that right there! GORGEOUS!”

Hearing compliments from another woman is life changing. It’s an energy that I cannot really explain. Those of you who’ve utilized the pledge cards and written a compliment to complete stranger which resulted in some kind of experience will know what I’m talking about. In the past I’ve taken A LOT of risque and racy photos in tiny outfits to show off my muscles. I always flexing and showing some kind of definition. But today was very different for me. I felt soft, and overly feminine. I almost felt strange. My entire life I’ve felt like I’m not worthy or sexy if I can’t see actual muscle definition. It’s a long-story as to why.But I’m acutely aware of it.

While traveling here in the United States I’ve worked out 3 times in the past month. So feeling like I’m not ‘ripped up’ and putting myself into poses that didn’t involve me flexing muscles, felt rather odd. However, when we went back and looked at some of the photos I was truly mind blown! It was like seeing myself though another lens. And this is exactly what I believe boudoir photography is designed to do. It’s not vanity, but more of an avenue to self acceptance. You get to see yourself in a powerful position (because lets face it Darryl Hall & Oats were singing ManEater with conviction in the background!) of sex appeal that you can chose to use, or not to use. Finding yourself exotic, enjoyable, desirable, fabulous.

I’m still having a hard time with the concept of where you draw the line between being a “good role model” for the NextGen and showing them that we have a power that needs to be harnessed and used at OUR will. Why do we sexualise women’s nipples but not men’s, when in actuality ours serve a function? They feed tiny humans. And also show them that there is nothing wrong with sexuality. Naturally humans (kids primarily) want to do what they’re told “not to do”. So if you’re exhibiting yourself in a position where you’re making a statement. This is me loving me. I’m not here for your approval. I’m not here for the likes on the pictures. I’m here to say goddamn I’m a stunning goddess and when shot through the eyes of another woman I can get a glimpse of my underlying power! Whether that power is rising up your masculine energy or feminine! Whatever your journey is you can find it whilst doing a boudoir shoot.

So. Much. Love.
Feeling content, accomplished, unafraid, and unstoppable with the GA charging forward.
MFCEO

It’s interesting, this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve gone more than 3 days without working out.  I’ve been in a gym since I was 17.  I’ve been taking some form of a stimulant like ephedra (when it was still legal) or pre workout, since 1999.  For the entire month of March, and the first week of April, in total, I’ve worked out 3 times in a gym.  I’ve had pre-workout once.  Usually, I could go 2 days, 3 at most, without working out before my body image issues would start to raise their nasty heads.  (I say head’s plural because I have a lot of fun voices in my head)

But for whatever reason, I’ve found that I’ve been ok being ok in my skin.  I’m not sure what’s happened, but I can tell you what has definitely helped: Being around a deaf person for the past couple of days.

I’ve been fine in general without working out.  But over the past two days, I’ve really started to notice how self-centered and insignificant my negative self talk is due to the fact that I’m staying in someone’s house who is deaf.  My wing-women is Tori.  She’s married to a gent who lost his hearing completely around the age of 7.  He can read lips and ‘had’ a cochlear until it died a few months back (costs $10,000 to replace since they have a monopoly on it). I didn’t realise how privileged I am, until I see (no pun intended) how much of an impact not being able to hear has on a person’s life.

Tori and I have been talking about how many people have been shot by the police for not responding to commands like “freeze” or hearing sirens, and have been blatantly shot in the head.  Speaking about it gets me all fired up, and my wheels turning, like what could we do to help identify people who are deaf?  But when you do that, it makes deaf people a target.  ….. 

Here is this man in his late 20’s, who walks around smiling, and is so pleasant all the time, not dwelling on his situation.

I’ve decided that when I get to Vegas, Thursday evening April 26th, I’ll be standing on Fremont Street in a bikini holding a sign saying “will flex for a cochlear”.  Stay posted and stay focused on moving forward.  Our body does not dictate our worth.  Be grateful for what we have, and not what the media programs us to feel like we “don’t” have….

It’s time to call attention to why GRRRL Clothing exists. It’s time to look past the clothing and truly understand the heartbeat of GRRRL and what can be accomplished through our Self Love Rebellion Campaign.

GRRRL clothing exists to create change for a generation of struggling young women who are currently and will eventually be leading this world. The struggle is so real that our youth are dangerously crippled and lost. We need your help. Our clothing is the vehicle we use to get the message out. It’s the flag we fly and banner we raise to rally the troops who will stand for change in a marketing world that would rather look the other way and profit from female dysfunction. Our vision is much greater than the clothes on our backs.

To quote Ceo of GRRRL, Clothing Kortney Olson, in her emotionally moving video for the self love rebellion project, “History tells us that we need HERstory. A stronger female influence. But how can that happen when women are consumed by an epidemic of self-harm, self-doubt, self-hate, fear, and prejudice? The annual healthcare costs for eating disorders globally is 1 trillion dollars. One in 3 women will experience domestic violence. One in five will experience depression. One in 5 teenage girls will suffer from body image related mental illnesses. What is the answer? Self love. All the research shows that self love is the personal pillar that underpins the achievement of potential. It fosters unity, disengages prejudice and fosters equality. It is the key that unlocks potential and personal happiness.”

1 in 5 teenage girls will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family members.
Over 70% of girls aged 14–17 years avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks.
Eating disorders are the 3rd most common chronic illness in young females.
Self-harm hospital admissions have increased by more than 68% in the last 10 years, with teenage girls 50% more likely to self-harm compared to teenage boys.
The incidence of eating disorders has DOUBLED in the last 10 years.
75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities such as cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating.

We didn’t create the the Self-Love Rebellion Project because we want to sell clothing. Yes, our clothing is award-winning and awesome. Plus, when you support us by contributing to our growth, you will receive amazing GRRRL gear in return. It really is a win-win situation. Your contribution will enable us to visit 5 cities in America to provide access to our life-changing self-love event absolutely free of charge. You will be changing lives and rocking amazing gear.

Based on the eye-opening statistics I shared above, chances are that if you’re a woman reading this, you’ve been directly or indirectly affected by one or several of the issues mentioned. If you’re a male reading this, there is most likely a woman in your life right now who is silently struggling. You can make a difference.

We can help. We want to arm women with the tools they need to conquer their inner demons and rise above. It’s alarming that we live in a culture where self-love is considered rebellious and that standing up against mass media marketing to normalize all body shapes, colours, and backgrounds is considered courageous.

Ask yourself who you have allowed to influence your beliefs. Have you ever thought about how your thoughts have been influenced by the media? We typically accept our thoughts as truth without thinking about where they came from and why. Companies profit from negative self-images while women destroy themselves. Hating yourself is considered acceptable and normal behavior. What is most alarming is that these behaviors are expected and encouraged. Can you imagine how many companies would go out of business today if women simply started loving themselves? There is so much work to be done, and it starts right here with The Self-Love Rebellion and you.

This is our pledge. We intend to change the world one pledge at a time, one woman at a time.
I solemnly swear to the best of my ability to refrain from talking negatively about myself as well as other Grrrls.
I am an equal amongst my peers, and see myself as neither better than nor less than them.
Through this pledge of non-judgment, I understand and embrace that I am having a positive impact on the world and furthering the global revolution of body acceptance.
I take this pledge.

It’s time to change the game. It’s time to change our inner narrative as a society. It’s time for healing to begin. Come read our story. We invite you to become a vital part of the rebellion. We invite you to help us mobilize an army of change.

Remember as Eleanor Roosevelt said. A woman is like a tea bag-you cant tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
Keep fighting the good fight
SpunkyCanuck