Category Archives: Beauty Around the World

The Inspire Us Project: Kim

June 20, 2016

In February of this year, we introduced you to The Inspire Us Project. We have enjoyed reading the stories of women – stories of strength that have led them to a life of believing in themselves and feeling comfortable in their own skin.

We will be sharing a few of these stories as a source of inspiration. Stay tuned for our very own to be shared in this project as well.

Kim::

Inspire Us

The story behind my smile…

I guess you could say that my life started out as that of most little girls. Days were filled with lots of love, pretty dresses and dance classes. Quite the spoiled little thing, it still tickles me to hear the story of how my maternal grandparents once stood outside “spanking” the rain because the thunder had made me cry.

My parents divorced when I was really young. They had been childhood sweethearts who grew up as neighbors. Now that I’m grown myself, I think they simply weren’t mature enough for true “adulting” at the time. My mom remarried shortly thereafter, and so did my dad. It was my stepfathers suggestion that we needed to move. Unable to fully cope with my grandmothers untimely death, my mom went along with it. So off we went, along with my little sister, to live in Colorado. I’ve always been the intuitive type. So without reason and at the tender age of four, I can honestly say that I had never liked my stepfather. Upon moving across the country, I soon learned why.

For the first time in my life, I was exposed to alcoholism and abuse. As a little kid I wanted nothing more than to escape, but I couldn’t. Since I couldn’t physically escape, I would lose myself in books. From Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, to The Chronicles of Narnia, I would get away to better places through reading. I guess that’s the one good thing from that time that I’ve never lost. We moved around a lot, but wherever we went the story never changed. It was a horribly ugly cycle that was stuck on repeat. Somewhere along the way we all moved back to Alabama. But that didn’t suit the manipulation of an abuser who thrived on isolation to carry out his domination. There were simply too many family and friends here, to not notice all of the battles and bruises on the mend.

There’s so much more to this story, it would take a book to truly tell. Fortunately, my sister and I were able to get away. It took a while longer, but my mom and now three more sisters would eventually follow. It takes a long time to truly be free from the chains of abuse, but I’m happy that the chains have finally been broken. Although there are still some residual difficulties at times, I choose happiness in spite of it all!

I choose to live in a way that shines the light of love in all that I am and all that I do. When you see my smile, know that it is broad and bright by choice. It is the freedom song of a sweet little girl who once didn’t have a voice.

For more stories, visit The Inspire Us Project website.

31 Bits: Eliminating Poverty

June 23, 2015
Sophia Bush in Gulu, Uganda and the women of 31 Bits.

Sophia Bush in Gulu, Uganda and the women of 31 Bits.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw Sophia Bush in a long, white and black checkered skirt surrounded by a group of women in Uganda. I couldn’t help but read what her latest adventure was. She was and is still visiting the women of 31 Bits. She is a part of a project that will be telling the stories of these artisans.

31 Bits is more than just a jewelry company. It is a business that was founded by five women from California who saw a way to eliminate poverty with fashion. One of the founders, Kallie Dovel, returned from a “life-changing” trip from Uganda during her senior year of college. “Kallie brought a box of the jewelry back, and we fell in love instantly. We sold the jewelry to friends and ran out within weeks. That’s when it hit us. These women had a skill, but needed a market,” the founders state in their story.

Green accessories from the Summer Collection

Within a year or so of traveling back and forth and selling the jewelry, they implemented a five year development program where the women of Gulu receive health education, finance training, counseling, and business training. They knew that these women needed more than just a paycheck. “After five years in our program, the women graduate, leaving with an education, a career, social equity, confidence, and a voice.”

The beads of each piece of jewelry is handcrafted and made from recycled paper. 99% of the materials are from local markets in Eastern Africa. “All of our products are carefully crafted by hand. From the first cut of paper to stringing on the final bead, every detail was thought through. You might find tiny differences from bead to bead, but we call those the “perfect imperfections” of having a handmade product. Each piece is unique and tells a story because it was made by a real person.”

Summer Collection - the "Marrakesh" necklace

Summer Collection – the “Marrakesh” necklace

Arach Nighty grew up a child enslaved to the war traveling through Eastern Africa. She never had a chance to go to school, and didn’t think her own children would ever get to either.

Arach Nighty grew up a child enslaved to the war traveling through Eastern Africa. She never had a chance to go to school, and didn’t think her own children would ever get to either.

Sophia Bush sums it up beautifully with these words: “31 Bits was born to help rehabilitate a war-torn region. To help empower the most disadvantaged women. To return hope to families. And these amazing ladies have done it. Their stories will move you to tears, make you thankful for the sheer magic that is the human spirit, and bring so much joy into your heart that you’ll realize you’re clutching your hand to your chest just to feel it beating, and you didn’t even notice that you put it there. Being conscious of what you support, even through such simple actions as buying a bracelet or necklace for a loved one, can literally impact entire communities halfway around the world.”

Impact an entire community by supporting companies like 31 Bits. Every purchase is life-changing.

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Favorite Four to Follow

January 4, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s why we love Instagram. These fantastic four inspire us with their beautiful images from fashion and interior design to powerful and moving messages.

Mary Stackhouse: Laylon Beauty

Based in Birmingham, AL, Mary’s take on fashion in a Southern city is definitely forward thinking. Not only does she have exquisite taste, but she’s also beautiful. What’s not to love?

Mary Stackhouse

Mary Stackhouse

Bethany Joy Lenz

You may remember her as Haley James Scott on the beloved the television show One Tree Hill. We are inspired by her passion for women’s rights, and we fancy her vintage finds as well.

Bethany Joy Lenz

Bethany Joy Lenz

Taylor Sterling: The Glitter Guide

We’ve always been a fan of Taylor. As she embarks on a new journey of motherhood, she makes it looks effortless. Her lifestyle website also features impeccable interior design and every day inspirations.

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Alexis Jones: I Am That Girl

Alexis Jones is an author, activitist and founder of I AM THAT Girl. I AM THAT GIRL is helping girls to transform self-doubt in to self-love by providing a safe space to be lifted up and have honest conversations about things that matter. Of course, we love what Alexis stands for, and we love following her daily postings!

Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones

The Slave Hunter

September 30, 2014

Aaron CohenAn unexpected phone call from Aaron Cohen, the author of Slave Hunter and human activist, turned into one of the most interesting conversations I have had to date. Within five minutes of emailing him for an interview, I was contacted immediately. His quick response is a direct reflection of his fervency to spread the word and get others involved.

Who is Aaron Cohen you may wonder? After hearing his story, you will not forget him. Just by browsing his Web site abolishslavery.org, you sense a passion that does not appear in most people. And when you speak with him, this passion is even more evident. But what is he passionate about? Aaron Cohen’s mission is to free those who have been held captive in the sex trade and other forms of bondage, such as in agricultural and industrial production and in domestic work.

Cohen’s mission didn’t always look like this. Once a drug addict himself and best friend and business partner with front-man of the rock group Jane’s Addiction, his life obviously didn’t reflect his present attitude of selflessness. When asked what began his transformation, he says it was due to his mother’s diagnosis with cancer and “her sincere last wishes for her life.”

For the past several years, Cohen has been known to many as a slave hunter. Going undercover, Cohen seeks out those who are victims of human trafficking in areas such as Cambodia, Latin America, Sudan, and Iraq. Cohen has played an integral role in freeing the lives of abused victims. Currently, he is promoting his book Slave Hunter. This book retells Cohen’s life-risking journey. When asked what memory resonates the most, he recalls a story about a young girl named Jonty whom he encountered while in Cambodia. He appeared in disguise at a brothel where he met her. She was too shy to sing karaoke by herself, so Cohen suggested she gather her friends to help her. These eleven girls, including Jonty, were victims of human trafficking, which included forced sexual acts. The next day, Cohen was able to free all eleven girls.

Aaron Cohen

Cohen speaks with a heartfelt sincerity as he recalls these bittersweet memories. This memory is bitter because Jonty died of liver failure due to the drug abuse she was forced to partake in while held captive. These memories are yet sweet because Jonty and her ten friends were free from a life that seemed inescapable and would have led to death if someone like Cohen had not rescued them. Eight of the eleven graduated from that life and two returned to drugs.

Even more so, the memories that Cohen carries are memories of hope yet urgency to continue his efforts in freeing these innocent children. Cohen says, “ I am one guy with many networks.” He further explains that he and others have come together to help alleviate this dangerously growing problem. You, too, can make a difference. But how?

Cohen offers ways in which you can get involved. The first step is prevention. This can be accomplished by creating an awareness campaign through various social networks such as Facebook. The next step is prosecution. If you know of someone who is a victim of human trafficking, then call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888. The last step is protection. Protect those who have been victims or who are currently.

You may think that one person can’t make a difference; however, it is apparent that Aaron Cohen, the slave hunter, has made a difference in many rescued lives and so can you.

By Brittany Windle. To learn more about human trafficking, visit Abolishslavery.org.

Originally published on SouthernBeautyMagazine  and DIvineCaroline

He For She

September 24, 2014

heforshe

“Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

“Feminism by definition is that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

These moving quotes are from Emma Watson’s speech at the HeForShe Special Event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 20th.

We encourage you to listen to Emma’s speech to gain a better understanding of what feminism is and the importance of gender equality.


Show the world your support of #genderequality as a#HeForShe. Post a picture and tag HeForShe. Join the movement at www.HeForShe.org.

heforshe

 

 

Brittany Windle

Follow Britt on Twitter.

InstaSEXagram

April 9, 2014

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Since the widespread of Instagram, I’m noticing more and more women showcasing their bodies… and their goodies- not just their fit, toned selves in workout gear, but hyper-sexualized pictures. Take the “fitspo” and “fitnessmotivation” trends and the pictures that accompany them for example. Who wears a thong and lace push-up bra in full hair and makeup while doing tricep kick-backs on a bench in the gym ? NO ONE.

What message are women sending these days? Has vanity overtaken our society? What about the girls of future generations? I fear that the answers to these questions are what women have been fighting against for decades.

What message are women sending these days? These risque pictures (in hopes of getting “likes” and “comments”) are leaving nothing to the imagination; they send universal approval to men to lust and sexualize women. Women of today are adding to the over-sexed hype that our culture has set as a standard. As if it hasn’t gotten bad enough through commercial media, we as women are adding to this standard by means of social media. We are counteracting what we have been wanting for years and years to happen-to be taken seriously, given equal opportunities as men and to not be looked at as a mere sex object. Instagram is a sea of semi-nude women in sexually explicit poses, and we are to blame. Women are posting these.

Has vanity overtaken our society? I get it-I love style and fashion. I post #ootds (not with my face in them) and the occasional “selfie” (rare), and some days, quite frankly, I just feel beautiful! However, my first reaction is not to take 100 photos just to capture that one perfect look to post on Instagram. I have a confidence that came from years and years of experience, self-reflection and self-acceptance. Today, women have become self-absorbed; hovering over their heads is an unhealthy pressure to capture how beautiful their hair looks or how amazingly flawless their makeup is or how tight their booty is getting. Very often it’s captioned with a insightful quote that has nothing to do with the fact that they are posting a picture out of vanity just to get approval.

What about the girls of future generations? They are the ones most engulfed by this. I teach freshman in high school. I see girls taking selfies in the bathroom, walking to class, and sadly sometimes in my classroom before the bell rings. It’s a norm for them-to post pictures on Instagram, tweet on Twitter and make videos for Vine. The scary thing is, how will they know when to draw the line between innocent pictures and delving into the more sexualized photos? Which picture would get more likes? I think we all know the answer to that question.

My hope for young ladies and women all around the world is for them to know that they don’t have to post pictures of any kind  in order to gain approval. I want them to know that their beauty doesn’t rely on the number of “likes” or “comments” of social media. I want them to find inner-confidence, self-control and more importantly, self-respect.

So, think before you post. Think before you envy that girl in the tiny black bikini working out at the gym. I just have to giggle at those.

~ Brynlea Cunniff

Follow Brynlea on Twitter.