As most of you know, every story in my past is a direct result from disordered eating.

Up until I was 33, my life was a constant mental battle of self-hatred, projected towards my body. Even after being crowned “Woman with the world’s deadliest thighs” by ‘the’ Stan Lee, I still found a way to obsess, hate, and despise my body on a daily basis. Primarily my legs.  (Ever notice how many designs at GRRRL are around embracing legs?)

But now all of this gets to change.

At GRRRL, we aren’t just selling a few t-shirts or squat proof leggings, we are solving a public health crisis.
We get to create a new paradigm. We get to stop the cycle of dieting, chasing thinness, and whatever used to be or currently is, the “ideal beauty”. Because as we know, society and what we nowadays call ‘influencers’, are ever changing what that ideal is.

In the 1500’s women wanted to look robust because it was a sign of wealth, as they could afford to eat.  Thinness was a sign of poverty.  Similar to wanting to have ultra-white skin, as that was a sign of elite wealth.  A tan was only a working class ‘thing’ because they spent the day outside… working.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st  century, and we see a similar trend with curves coming back.  Then in the 1920’s, curves went “out of fashion” with the flapper-style and boyish figure appeal. Back to curves in the 1950’s with Monroe, to back out of style again in the 60-70’s to the androgynous look dominating the scene and loathing over ‘Twiggy’.  Into the 80’s we embark back into ‘fullness’ and big hair, then flip back around in the 90’s to Kate Moss, Bongo Jeans, Calvin Klein and being a size 0.

It’s like we’re constantly chasing something we’ll never hold onto for more than a few moments.

So just how do we create a new paradigm of acceptance and freedom? We do this by first creating awareness.  Without awareness of a problem, then there is no problem to solve.  We must get real clear that we are in a state of emergency globally, with the number of eating disorders drastically on the rise, and kids as little as 4 years old wanting to diet. We’re not even discussing the number of suicide attempts, completions, or self-harm incidents here either – almost all of which can be traced back to having poor body image

We take daily actions like #ThePledge where we vow to stop talking negatively about ourselves, as well as others grrrls. This is where our hashtag of #notyourcompetition comes from.  When women belittle and tear down other women, it’s simply because they are not happy or content within themselves.  Furthermore, women are programmed from birth by society, (through TV, movies, books, etc) to believe that we’re ‘born this way’ and that other women are our competition.

(Of course until now)

No more standing in the mirror, in front of your kids saying how fat, old and disgusting we look. We might still be thinking that internally, but in order to break the cycle of false beliefs, we have to sometimes ‘fake it till we make it’.

We start by creating new conversations.

We stop complimenting little girls on how pretty they are, and instead say: You are so Strong. Resilient. Brave. Intelligent. Clever.  After we start working on ourselves, we get to learn practical, affordable, and effective tools to help the Next Gen learn a new narrative. Learn to accept their body. And to learn that:

Their value is unrelated to the exterior.

Recovery and this journey of “self love and radical acceptance” doesn’t happen over night.  It often doesn’t happen over months, or even years.  It’s a daily act and sometimes it’s off the charts amazing, and others, it’s right back to where you started.  But the important thing is, is knowing that you’re not alone, there is hope, and collectively we are ALL pioneers in this new world.

As we know, prevention is so much better than cure.

We are doing more than prevention, we are CHANGING the entire landscape for humankind.  Imagine a world where you didn’t have worry for a second about how you looked, and if you’ll be judged.  But instead, all you had to think about was the level of gratitude you have for owning a functioning body.

You don’t need to go out and start your own charity to make change. The power you possess to help one person, will have a massive ripple effect in the fabric of society, and multiply out exponentially.

Whether you aim to be at one of NEDA’s walks with us, or are planning on coming to our first pilot training for the GRRRL Project, we’ll help you find a way wherever you are in your journey, to make change. Our first organized NEDA walk will be in Phoenix with size Heather and I, March 17th, and our first GRRRL Project pilot program facilitator training will be May 30th in Las Vegas

Our first fundraise for NEDA started with a presale of our new Freedom Fit bamboo line of t-shirts, with 15% of proceeds going straight to NEDA.  These shirts are a unisex style fit, and we encourage ALL people to get into it.

NEDA awareness week starts today, so get involved any way you can via our Instagram page.

To learn more about ED, visit NEDA.

Please share this if you’re done with the old paradigm, and ready to storm the front lines with us!

 

Recently I’ve been going through this thing where nothing in my life seems to be working for me anymore. It’s been so much fun! Sarcasm intended. Obviously this sucked at first but, after a few weeks I came to the realization that it needed to happen. I’ve had basically the same schedule and training routine for the last two and a half years. I rush here, rush there, rush rush everywhere trying to get it all done. I wear a lot of hats and juggle a lot of different jobs.

Anyone who says that “a stay at home mom has it easy” needs to be strung up by their toes and smacked with a wet noodle or worse but, for the purposes of this blog I will keep it PG. I dont have the luxury of set working hours where I can punch in and punch out. I’m basically on the clock ALL of the time and when I lay my head down to sleep at night, Im already running through the list of things that I didn’t get done that day and piling those items onto an already booked up tomorrow. Now if that’s not setting myself up for success, I don’t know what is.

This should have been my first clue. Being busy ALL OF THE TIME is not being productive, it’s actually the opposite and in my case it was avoidance not productivity. Ever feel like you are busy all the time and never get anything done?  Have you stopped to explore why that is and why you’re doing what you’re doing?

Have you ever taken a second to list all of the things that you do? All of them, even the things that seem unimportant or small?  It’s kind of crazy when you see it all laid out on paper. No wonder we are all running around feeling stretched, thin and overwhelmed. I recommend that you try it one day, you will be amazed! Especially if you’ve been hard on yourself for “not getting anything done” or not “getting to that goal” of yours fast enough. It will certainly put things into perspective and give you a new appreciation for your capabilities and strengths instead of your shortcomings. We always focus on our shortcomings don’t we?  If you try this exercise feel free to contact me and let me know how it went!

I’ve always known that if you don’t listen to your body and just keep pushing through stuff  eventually your body will go on strike and make you tap out. Your body will find way to slow you down and by then it’s not usually not a good thing or personal choice. It will manifest itself into some health issue. But, knowing this doesn’t mean that I used wisdom. It was actually quite the opposite. Like most people, I chose to ignore my early warning system and just kept trudging on. Because we all think we are superhuman and the rules don’t apply to us right?  If only I would take my own advice sometimes. Much facepalm.

In my case this crash and burn manifested itself in the form of a pretty major relapse. Depression/anxiety/ ptsd/ binge eating and emotional eating along with some major GI issues. Oh, and we can’t leave out the rapid weight gain from all that excessive mindless eating!  And of course that triggered my old body image/dysmorphia issues . I have always been an overachiever even when I crash and burn.

But, jokes aside, I got to the point a few weeks ago where I didn’t want to get out of bed anymore. I didn’t care about my powerlifting gains or setting foot in the gym or counting my macros. I didn’t care about coaching or taking care of my clients or maintaining my social media accounts. I didn’t even care about writing. Forget about being a wife and parent, Homeschooling my son or even basic needs like hygiene and keeping a house clean. I was done. I was burnt out. This was extremely frustrating, It’s not like you can just get off the life train and quit life.

I decided to try and figure out where I went wrong, I mean looking at it from the outside everything looks great right? To anyone else, I am inspirational and motivating. I have my shit together and seem to lead a pretty fantastic life. After several weeks of self reflection the answer I came up with was quite simple. I wasn’t willing to admit defeat. My shit had not been together and I had been overwhelmed for quite some time. I didn’t want to see it because I was too busy being all of the things and doing all of the things. My identity was in the things I was doing. I lost myself somehow and my direction and passion in the process. Talk about humbling…

I have this thing where quitting is never an option. It’s a survival mechanism from my past and it has served me well. Call it what you want. Stubbornness, tenacity or just plain grit and “spunkyness”. It comes from a lifetime of having to fight for every little thing. It comes from childhood abandonment, severe bullying, being a teenage runaway and a recovering drug addict. Surviving rapes, yes that’s plural and more loss than I can express. It comes from being morbidly obese and having to fight through serious illness. Illnesses that were almost successful in ending my life. It comes from always feeling like I had something to prove because I felt that I didn’t start out with the same advantages as others. I considered quitting as a weakness and it kept me alive. That stubbornness and tenacity made me into the woman you all know and love today. It had its purpose.

However, this mentality no longer serves me. I’m currently in a phase of my life where I no longer need to be in survival mode. I have a family and a home, I am not sick with an illness that is threatening my life  and there is no impending threat of doom lurking in the shadows. I’ve established a career as a personal trainer and I’ve also become a writer. Out of the wreckage of my past I was able to salvage compassion and forgiveness and from this came my purpose. I am not the same person. It was another lifetime ago.

With that said, I didn’t realize that admitting defeat over my current life struggle is not the same as quitting. Its not.  Admitting defeat happened to be one of the most liberating things I’ve done for myself. It took away my need for constant control over every tiny little detail. It took away my need to prove myself and keep performing. It opened up my mind to the fact that while my current situation was no longer working for me it didn’t mean that I was weak but, only that I needed to approach things differently.  It gave me the freedom to breathe and let go. It seems so simple but it was completely transformational. Quitting doesn’t leave room for hope. Admitting defeat creates freedom and room for possibilities.

The action of admitting defeat created more room for growth. I was not growing anymore. That is the root of what happened to me. That’s why I felt lost. I had OUTGROWN something that I was still trying to hang onto and had become stuck. There is safety in clutching onto what is familiar. Change rarely happens in the absence of fear. I had to let go of the rigidity of my schedule and my own expectations because they were now limiting me. I’m not the same person that I was when I started my weight loss/powerlifting/body acceptance journey years ago but, I was still living my life like I was and not allowing any room for personal growth.  I had become stagnant and there was no joy my “grind” anymore.

As women regardless of the reason, we all struggle with being busy these days. Your past and your current situation may not be like mine but, I’m pretty sure that many of you can relate to something that I’ve shared here today.  Don’t be too proud to admit defeat, it just may save you a lot of useless energy and help you re focus on why you started in the first place. What’s the point of living if you are just going through the motions but you aren’t truly alive. I don’t know about you but I want to live a passionate joy filled life and I’m going to do my best to help you live yours too.

Much love from your #mentalgrrrl

Kelly aka Spunky

.

 

It was an amazing thing to be in the room watching all the GRRRLS  unite in freedom, movement and power.  The atmosphere changes when power like that is released. We explored our inner sexy without reservation during the chair dancing portion of the body confidence workshop. It seriously was a great time. Here is what Irys had to say about her experience as she led her portion of the class – Spunky 

 

Attending GRRRL Live was an opportunity that has most definitely changed my outlook on life as a whole. It changed how I see others but more than anything else, it changed how I see MYSELF!

                My nerves were a wreck because I had never been so excited to be part of something so great.  A revolution  among women that are changing the world, starting with themselves.  The keynote speakers  were there to wake us up and it worked! I have never been around so many women that welcome strangers with open arms, without judgement. There really aren’t enough words to describe the breakthrough I had emotionally. Kortney warned me that this experience would be life changing, but I never imagined HOW life changing it would be! I learned so much about myself and my new friends as well as the friends that accompanied me from home. Jessy De La Vega and Brendalyn Romero. It changed our friendship and made us so much closer. I was able to shed tears that for so long were suppressed deep down inside of me, because I have been through so much alone and I didn’t have time to cry! I was vulnerable but safe and that is why I loved being at GRRRL Live so much. I was safe! I am forever humbled by this experience. I am anew and with so many goals that I am  now about to crush with the support of my new GRRRLfriends.

                When I was asked to teach a workshop at GRRRL Live, I was more than honored and jumped at the chance. I would be crazy if I didn’t! The day my section of the workshop took place, I literally woke up from dreaming about the song I was going to present and doing counts in my head to the rhythm of the song.  As I showered, I played the song over and over and even did the dance in the shower ( so glad I didn’t slip).  I was so nervous! Nothing, I mean NOTHING can compare to the pride and overwhelming emotions I felt when I saw all of the GRRRLs in the workshop class. It was maybe the biggest class I had ever led! It was breathtaking to see all of those gorgeous ladies ready to experience something new. Once that warm up song came on, it was on and seeing the confidence in the ladies working their cat walks and diva turns and “touching their goodies” was a blessing. Everyone was so free. Sexy. Happy and in  ove with their bodies. My experience was sublime and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Vegas Stiletto Fitness with Irys, Ladies Night Out Events is all about self-love and confidence.  I try to do that with everyone that comes in and trys a class. One stiletto at a time. This experience turned me into a butterfly on more levels than one!

Melinda Ramirez 

“Dear younger me, 

I’m not going to tell you to smile…to keep your chin up…because life is full of difficulty, struggle, and pain. But what I will say is this:  Keep.  Going. 

You may feel like nothing will ever go right for you.  You’ve been traumatised by your 6th grade crush responding to the question of if he liked you with “No that’s f***ing sick.” You feel like no one will ever love you or want you. Rest assured that this is not so.  You have the love of an incredible man, who against all odds, married you. 

You hate your body, but…let me tell you that health is so important…and while you might hate the pain your body causes you sometimes later in life, you think you’re fat and ugly…it will also provide you with such pleasure, in so many different ways. 

Chase after your dreams.  You can do anything, literally ANYTHING you want to do in life. 
There will be snags.  Hangups.  Loss of friends.  Pain.  Heartbreak.  But there will also be love.  Love from your husband, from your family, from your friends, and from your sisters that you will come to know over time.  Love, acceptance, joy, passion, laughter, dancing, reading, knitting, movement… As much as you love music, you’ve found your passion in dance! You are exceptional at it. Enjoy falling in love with it.

I know it seems hard right now.  But trust me.  Even the hard times are worth it.  Keep going.  Push through the pain.  You’re more beautiful and more powerful than you realize right now.  You’ll come to know it at the right time.  When you do, have no regrets for the path or the length of time it took you to find your power…but rather, revel in the gloriousness that you found it, and have it…and go out there and change the world. “

@yasminadlv

 

“Dear baby Kar,

what a little pistol you are. There will be times when the world will try to dull your smile, but keep powering through. There will be some really tough times right ahead, like your parents divorce, your brother’s freak accident, high school in general and college.. but you’ll be okay.

Stay true to yourself always. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you’re doing something that doesn’t make you happy, stop doing it. Quit the job you hate, end the toxic friendship that’s providing you nothing but heartache, quit trying to make things work with people that don’t put in any effort.

So go out of your way to visit your loved ones, especially your Grandparents, they won’t be here forever. Don’t ever lose your drive or determination, it will carry you further than you know.

Always remember, if you ever feel like you’re living a life you’re not proud of, you have the courage to start over.. I promise you that”

@brokentobarbell

 

 

 

“Dear Michaela, 
You’ve had a rough time growing up. Kids were not kind to someone so different from them. You were bullied for simply being who you are and how you looked- for being tall, for having red hair, for being smart, and for being overweight. I wish I could tell you that it won’t have lasting effects on you, but it will. You will struggle with the damage that did to you into your adult life but it will not break you. You will one day learn to love and embrace being different, I promise you this.

But, with being torn down so much in life by others, you don’t see your self worth. I wish I could shelter you from all the pain this will cause you by letting others take advantage of you- mainly men in the “relationships” you find. They will use you for money, abuse you physically and mentally, and treat you like just a piece of meat- and you’ll start to believe that’s all you are. These men will make you feel bad about your body more than you already do to manipulate you for their own personal gain. It’ll bring on some really dark times in your life but you will find the light. 

I want you to realize most of all, that even though there were awful things done to you, it all happened for a reason. Every time you were bullied or every man that treated you horribly, there was a lesson to be learned and girl, you will always learn from them and be a stronger woman for it. These are the things that make you the bad ass woman you are. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, baby, don’t give up hope.

Finally, you will make the decision to change your unhealthy lifestyle and get out of that 314 pound body you find yourself in. I want you to know it will be a damn struggle but it gets easier every day. But sweetie, let me tell you about how much joy you will find when you step foot into that gym. For the first time in your life, you will finally feel like you belong somewhere

So be patient, know your worth, and LOVE your body because it’s the only one you get. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to just be yourself because she’s amazing 💛”

Love,
Michaela💋

 

 

“Dear Younger Ashley – 
Your life will be hard. You will be faced with many hardships and you will struggle, but you’ll come out on top. I promise. Your struggles will make you strong. Your struggles will keep you kind and humble. You’ve always had a good heart, but you will sometimes make STOOOOPID decisions. Don’t fret.

Stupid decisions leads to great changes and those changes will make you a better person. Experience is the greatest teacher and you’ll experience a lot.

Remember who you are and try hard not to lose yourself. It’s easily done. Remember what daddy always told you, “The world meets nobody halfway.” & you’ll be good to go. Be strong. Don’t take anybody’s shit and what shit you’re handed, you throw right back. “

Love – Future Ashley 

 

 

“Dear Jenn,
You were in some of the darkest days of your life here. You were so good at putting your head down and putting on that fake smile. So much so that now you refuse to smile unless it’s really from your heart. You binge on food to the point of purging when you feel guilt and shame realizing you couldn’t really control those feelings or fill that hollow spot. Your past sexual abuse from your chilhood affected all your relationships. You made poor choices in partners because You wanted all the control. You wanted to die period end of story. No One Would Notice Right? WRONG! You were so wrong on so many levels. Your depression felt suffocating to the point that you sought help and your village came forward because you are loved. You were 21….a baby really….You had so much to live for. Those were your darkest days. You still struggle with all of the above but you cope you are so STRONG! You fall down but you get back up. Remember to give yourself the kindness you have always so readily given to others. You deserve love…..do you hear that young one! You are Beautiful Outside and Inside…your body is a fucking powerhouse. You have built it to carry yourself and fight through this life. You still struggle with eating and how you feel and think about food but you work through it every day. You have a little boy watching you….thats right you gave life to an amazing kind hearted child that loves you even when your not at your best. You found a partner in every sense of the word that lifts you up and tells you that you deserve the world and more…..sometimes you even believe him…. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Stop treading water young one….start fighting. You Are Worth It. You have made it…..and still you have so much more to learn and that is ok. You are OK. Keep your eyes up you got this.”

Sincerely 36 year old
Jenn

 

“Oh my darling girl,
If you could see the way the stars will shine you would never doubt your reason for being here. You’re family loves you. You are worth more than you could ever believe. You will be a Mama one day, to an amazing little man who sees you with no faults. “You’re my Mama,” he will say, “you are beautiful every day and I love you.” You will survive the emotional and physical abuse of your peers. You will survive the rape. You will survive the death of your Father, your first love and you will grow beyond measure. You will be someone people look to for comfort and counseling, sometimes even for inspiration. 
You will NEVER be defined by society because you make your own music and march to the beat of your own drummer. 
You will find love, when you least expect it. Someone who treasures your heart and weird mind. 
You cannot allow your past to ever dictate who you are.
Be brave. Be kind. Be responsible. Never take any shit. Know your limits. Be open to possibilities. Take a chance on the guy. Go to school. Ride rollercoasters. 
Love hard. 💜 M”

 

 

“Dear Younger Kristen,
Your body is starting to change. Some things you will like, some things you won’t. Embrace both. Love both, because the body is powerful and beautiful. I know it’s difficult to love your body when you see all the beautiful women in movies, magazines, and social media. But they don’t actually look like that in real life. They have been digitally altered and photoshopped into creating a fake image. They too have stretch marks, cellulite, and body fat just like everyone else. Seeing these images will make you think that your body isn’t perfect. Making you feel like you’re fat. But don’t compare yourself to anyone. Other women are not your competition. It will only make you think you’re not skinny enough or pretty enough but you are enough. You are beautiful and just the right size. Remember you are smart, funny, caring, brave, stronger than you will ever know, special, loved, and worthy of everything. So instead of focusing on being “fat” or “skinny”, focus on being healthy. Focus on being happy. Real beauty comes from within.  It comes from talking positively about yourself and others. It comes from standing up for yourself and others. From being kind and caring but not lettings others push you around. So stop talking to yourself with hate and disgust but talk with love and compassion.

Because you grrrl, are perfect. Love, future Kristen “

 

 

“Dear Jenn, where do I begin baby grrrl. 20Years ago this month you were getting ready to walk across the stage for one of the most proud days of your life and start your own journey. It was your turn to shine and walk away from all the heartache , bullying, trauma, violence,insecurities you had encountered by this age. But I wish I could of told you then it wasn’t gonna be that easy. I wish I could have told you to be prepared for even harder times and that you were gonna abuse yourself with drugs, attempt suicide multiple times that you where gonna have experience more trauma of your pops being shot and killed, you where gonna lose yourself looking for love in all the wrong places, you where be diagnosed with depression and ptsd. Oh baby grrrl there’s so much more, but I will tell you this. It never got easier but got so much better. Eventually you start to find yourself and started giving yourself the love you needed that you longed for. That you started to love what you thought where flaws. That you started given zero fucks about what society thought you. That you let god lead your way. That you become a powerlifter and eventually will become a barber when schools over and be your own boss. That your learned that you still make bad decisions but learning from the and keep going and growing. That your learning to be proud of yourself. That you’ve been off drugs now for 8Years and have become the healthiest and strongest you’ve been this far and are getting even stronger. No you haven’t met prince Charming yet but the love you long for from him your giving your self. That you turned your Ls into lessons. Baby grrrl you’ve always been a fighter and your winning. It took a while but that’s OK. You got this. And one more important thing your part of a world wide #Grrrlarmy who’s goal is to be the inspiration you long for and making a difference in others lives. Your absolutely amazing,beautiful, loved and doing the damn thing baby grrrl. You still have faults but that OK..just continue to grow from them and love yourself and you’ll get there”

#DearGrrrl  from @butchtalk

 

“Dear lil’ Whitney,
What a rad tomboy you are! I know you don’t see it now because you’ve been struggling with self-esteem issues since 1st grade, but you are truly one-of-a-kind. Despite all the family struggles, harmful cult-like church camps and retreats, depression, anxiety, physical and verbal assault for being gay you have already dealt with and will face in the future, you are strong and a fighter. You learn that asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s strength, and you learn to hold your head up high and walk your truth.


You’ll try to dress more feminine and put on makeup to fit societies expectations of girls and women, but you’ll eventually fully embrace your female masculinity and stop dressing in drag. Sidenote: you’re fucking smokin’ in your butchness. Own it grrrl!
As much as your brain tells you that you’re the worst, you’re not. No one beats you up more and harder than you do, but you know what? It lessens with time, lots of therapy, medication, and retraining your brain. It’s a shitton of work, but so worth it.
You are absolutely, 100%, exactly who you’re supposed to be, lil’ Whitney. A gem of a human.


In time you’ll believe it.
Be kind to yourself.
As much as you love others, give that love to yourself. You deserve it.
Love,
Whitney”

Welcome to our #deargrrrl project inspired by Dr Carolyn Becker. We’re asking you to write a letter to a younger you. It’s a process to promote self love, self esteem and forgiveness. To share your knowledge, help heal the scars of childhood, and help others that need encouragement right now. PLEASE join us & #deargrrrl 


Dear Kort
Wow. I’m not even sure where to start. I hate to tell you, but you’re about to experience the most challenging years of your life. You grew up with family who were sick from alcoholism. You need to know that they aren’t bad people who need to get good, but sick people who need to get well. Be mindful that you’ll walk straight into their shoes if you don’t watch your behaviours.

Everything that you are about to experience is an opportunity to grow stronger. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be in your journey, of every second that you are experiencing life.

You simply cannot fail – you are merely learning. Know that you are fully responsible for your life. You are not a victim.

You’ll make bad decisions from time to time, but as long as you take responsibility for your part, make amends, and do the next right thing, you can never truly do any wrong. Also, if you have to lie about something, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

You have spent your life hating your body, but I want to tell you that you are a masterpiece. I commend you for continuing to get up every time you felt like dying. While you fumble through these awkward years of your life trying to “figure it all out”, just know that you don’t have to know what your purpose is, ever. It may be big, it may be small. But trust the process.

Know that there is a God, and you aren’t it my dear. Ask for guidance from The Universe, our ego-centric minds will never be able to navigate this world on our own.

Know there are 1000 ways to do something, and the only one that is factually ‘right’ is the one that works for you. Trust your intuition.

Slow down.
Forgive yourself.
Remember that the present moment is all we truly have.
Finally, we operate from either 1 of 2 places: Fear or Love.

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 GRRRL’s Hey, it’s Spunky. I’ve made it my mission to catch up with as many of you ladies who attended GRRRL Live as possible over the next few weeks! GRRRL Live meant many different things to each of us. We loved, we hugged, we cried but most of all we GREW. We grew so much we came home different. I know I did. That’s sisterhood. That’s what happens when you create a space for women to step out in freedom. It’s a beautiful thing.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Leslie Parker who opened up the first part of our Body Confidence workshop on day 2. Leslie Parker is the creator of the TWERKXING PROGRAMM she is also a fitness and boxing instructor. This woman possesses such incredible soul and energy. She’s next level in the BADASS department! It was hard not to feel comfortable while attempting to shake my own ass! That says a lot because twerking and I were not friends before this workshop. Here’s what Leslie had to say about her experience:

 

I had an incredible time in Vegas last weekend with all those amazing GRRRLS.

I discovered a spirit where it’s more about how can I use my difference as a strength. Where one doesn’t judge the other because she doesn’t answer to the society code about how a female body has to be to be great.

During our workshop, I really enjoyed seeing freedom in all those women who had suffered with their appearance or body-weight.  

They really played the game. They were shameless and had a lot of fun. I love seeing happiness when I teach a class and I could feel a huge positive energy in the room during my workshop.

Some of the girls came over to me at the end of my twerk & fitness class to tell me thanks!

The energy with Yasmine and Iris was super cool. We motivated and supported each other. Our goal was to give our best to make the group feel comfortable. I could feel what we call “sisterhood”

As a badass as I am, I’ve had a hard time with people in the past. But with these GRRRL’s, I could really feel a support and a validation of our deep talent.  We are all different. We all have a talent and this spirit helps highlight our greatness.

I hope you will understand my text I’m French and I have to improve my English!!

Big thanks to Kortney and her super team. Long life to GRRRL”

Leslie Parker.

 

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….