A few years ago, I made an Instagram post announcing and celebrating my entry into womanhood, an experience that I feel should be had without shame or embarrassment - I got my first period! This post resonated with girls, who began DM'ing me about their situations. Some even asked for my advice. Ever since then, I have been receiving a variety of questions that I have happily been answering. This inspired me to start my own advice column, Ask Booch.
Got a question? Ask Booch!
I'd love to hear from you!
Lately, I've been inspired to learn about new ways to live naturally; through experiences and emotions, but also through simple things like food choices and cosmetics. I was so glad to have discovered j’enessence at this time because going back to the simplicity of nature is always helpful for the mind, body, and spirit - even through something in our everyday routines, like skincare. Jennifer Woytovich - the company's founder has a truly inspiring story about how she went from homeless to the business-owning boss she is now. Keep reading to find out how she did it.
Share your story with me. Tell me about yourself and your path to j’enessence's conception.
j’enessence was born from a desire to launch a woman-owned business focused on an all-natural product line that protects and treats the body in the best way possible. It was also born from my very challenging life story that inspired me to show others who might be in my position that even the toughest obstacles can be surmounted and turned into purposeful and meaningful life work. I'm often asked about my journey, so here it is very briefly.
I was born as an American citizen in 1986 and raised in Taiwan. There, I faced terrible poverty against the backdrop of a country that was in constant turmoil and made life feel additionally precarious. My hardest struggles, though, were caused by mental, emotional and physical abuse that I endured from my family and life experiences. I had no one to turn to, so it was then that I started to learn to fend for myself.
When I was thirteen, I thought things would turn around when my family immigrated back to the US, to New York City. In fact, things somehow spiraled even more. We became homeless and lived in NYC shelters. In spite of this, I managed to stay in school and had a few people who really cared about me, including my math teacher, Mr. Reich, who pushed me to apply for college scholarships.
My big break came when I was awarded a Seinfeld scholarship through Jerry Seinfeld and his family's generosity, which granted me 4 years of tuition support. It was with this that I was able to get a B.A. in finance from Baruch College.
Other support systems have included Dress for Success, which has kept me focused on staying motivated and pursuing my dreams. I'm beyond thrilled that j’enessence has been so well received and I'm looking forward to introducing it to more and more people. I am gratified to have created something that works so well! And also excited and hopeful to have the chance to give back to others both in my community and beyond, one day.
What made you pursue skincare and body products? Natural products, specifically?
Truthfully, this journey stemmed from a hobby I had for artisan soaps over two years ago. It was through the encouragement of friends and potential customers who told me that I should really take that hobby to the next level, and so I did. Then, I discovered the goodness and powers of natural ingredients and essential oils. And when people come to me to say how much they love the products or that their skin has improved, that brings me joy; I truly love to help people.
Why should people make the switch to natural? Do natural products improve our overall health?
If you're the kind of person who pays attention to your body closely, you'll realize how much gentler natural products are on your skin. You'll see how the healing benefits differ from the use of harsh chemicals. You can't put a price on health. I realized how little people are educated about their skin and how many skin troubles exist for both women and men. People forget that your body's largest organ IS your skin. Your skin accounts for over 10% of your body mass. There are studies out there showing that your skin's absorption rate is over 60% and others that have found that your face is even gentler and absorbs at a higher rate than the rest of your body. It's also been found that your underarms have an absorption rate of 100%.
Yes, all of this includes the typical products we use every day, like perfumes (I love them), deodorants, body care products, makeup, and so on. We don't realize how great a function our skin actually has; we take it for granted just because it is on the outside of our bodies.
It's even listed on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website that chemical agents are the main cause of occupational skin diseases & disorders. Personally, I believe it isn't just occupational. I want to also share this link on the CDC website to bring awareness to skin exposures and effects.
Wow! I didn't know that! So how about the environment? What do natural products do for the planet?
Believe it or not, even in something as simple as body scrubs, the ingredients do have an impact on the environment. There are lots of brands that use 'microbeads', basically little tiny plastic balls that are washed down your drain that obviously can't be collected to recycle. We all know plastics don't degrade on earth. These little tiny plastics are harming the environment and it's called microplastic pollution. It's causing major water pollution and the government is currently trying to regulate it. Try using biodegradable or natural products and ingredients. Some of the big, popular brands you see around stores still use these harmful ingredients.
What advice would you give to future businesswomen?
Persistency is key. Remember nothing worth having comes easy and I think that applies to all aspects of life, professionally and personally. Bodybuilders don't bulk up overnight, musicians produce beautiful sounds because they put endless hours of practice into their work. Most importantly, you have to believe that it will work and be positive. Be smart with your decisions and don't give up. Find something you're passionate about and make it a priority - then, keep going. I would also say cut off the people who laugh at you and, instead, take in constructive criticism (there is a difference between the two). Always ask for valuable feedback and rise above the nonsense. Smile and never stop learning. Don't just look beautiful, be beautiful.
To shop j’enessence, go to jenessence.net and use my code BOOCHNYC10 for 10% off your first order and FREESHIP75 for free shipping in the U.S. on any order over $75.
Hello lovely people!
Wait… that's not usually how these articles start… what's going on? Well, this month I decided to change things up a bit and do something different. I'm answering a sort of widespread question that's on all of my peers' minds which is: "How can I make my voice count? How can I make a change?"
As teenagers, we begin to care more and more about our place in the world, the world itself and its injustices, communities outside of our own, and so much more. As new problems are brought to our attention and we learn more at such a fast rate, we can feel disempowered or like there are too many problems and not enough solutions that we can create as only one person… Let alone as only one teenager.
Recently, I discovered a movement that really resonated with me. It's called 18 (#WeAreAll18). It brings young people together, in spite of our differences, while recognizing our similarities. I have the privilege of conversing with the movement's founder, Jonathan Pillot, who will be answering my questions about 18.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am a storyteller/director/writer/producer/idea incubator, and a former entertainment attorney. I am a native of Manhattan, I currently live in Brooklyn, and consider myself a citizen of the world. And, the most important part of my life, and what I have done in the world is being a father to two great humans - a daughter and a son.
Wonderful. It's great that you have so many creative pursuits, I do too… so what exactly is 18?
18 (#WeAreAll18) is a trusted source content studio/lifestyle brand that is driving an intergenerational, youth-focused, nonpartisan empowerment movement dedicated to reversing civic apathy and community attrition through media that entertains and elevates. 18 's national movement incubates and accelerates civic engagement, disrupting civic apathy and community attrition, empowering youth and igniting the "18" in all of us.
We deliver authentic content and connection through an innovative interactive intergenerational social impact platform. We are an intergenerational approach to empowering youth. Not just this year, or for a particular issue. 18 is an unparalleled partnership between "youngers" and "olders". We all win by focusing on the future, and giving young people the tools that they want and need to step into their dreams, see their own power, and express their voices in all respects - including as an engaged citizen. Our goal is to have people see that voting and civic engagement is simply an outgrowth of being committed in one's life to craft a future that (you say) you want.
How did you conceptualize this movement? How was the idea born?
In 2008, I launched My First Vote, which was my first youth empowerment project, inspired by my daughter's first vote that year. It culminated in a road trip through four states in the South and Midwest that were then neither red nor blue. I branded them as the purple states, and we went around speaking to first-time voters on campuses, on streets, and asked them what they cared about. I learned so much about the power of youth voices and that young people often feel that their voices do not matter or count. So it started a journey to try and help motivate young people to be engaged, and inspire them to speak out and embrace their power.
What do you want to tell today's teenagers?
Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Don't give away your power. Be informed. This is YOUR future. Take responsibility for making the world a better place.
What similarities and differences do you see between today's teenagers and your peers when you were growing up?
Great question. Similarities are that we are at a crossroads in the country, as we were in the sixties and seventies, when many people want to disempower youth, when people in power want to dictate what the future will look like, based on outmoded paradigms that are not working. Youth has the power to change things like we did then. However, life is more complicated now, EVERYTHING is interconnected in the world we live in, especially because of the power of social media, which is a game changer. With the Vietnam War, it was a primary focus, one issue. Now so many things are intertwined, it's not so simple anymore to solve different crises.
How can people get involved with 18?
We are building a national movement and we are seeking to get brand ambassadors wherever they are, anchors in communities, to help bring people together, we need to listen better to each other, and we encourage healthy discourse, so we can all work together. So wherever people are, we want to connect with them. We want to come to people's communities and create events, where we help focus on common connectivity, more than differences…
What is your ultimate goal with the project?
To create a sustainable brand that holds the space for youth in each and every year, to step into their dreams and power. To stand for authenticity and truth.
To get involved and learn more about 18, go check them out.
Facebook: We Are All 18
Every year I dread Valentine's Day. Everybody receives their gifts and they gush over their cute relationships while I'm alone. This holiday kind of sucks and my usual routine of watching romance movies and eating ice cream by myself is getting kinda pathetic. What can I do to have fun instead of wallow in self-pity?
Hey Eff V-Day!
I think everyone can relate to this feeling. Valentine's Day can bring nostalgia and longing for a proper connection and if you don't have that right now, this holiday might put you even more in your bag.
But why be in your bag when you could be having FUN? Take the holiday to rally up your girlfriends and have a Galentine's Day with your favorite people. Bake some treats and blast some throwback jams that will ensure a fun time. Then get comfy and watch some chick-flicks with adorable Valentine's decor dazzling up the little get-together. It'll be fun and even feel kinda fancy all without the stress of impressing anyone. On the flipside, you could dress up and go out with your ladies on one big group date of friendship! Whether it's chill or extra, you will have the best time if you're with people you love.
Even as a hopeless romantic, I must say that sometimes you are better off being on your own. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Other people don't have it so much better than you, even if they get roses and chocolates and you don't. They could be unhappy and getting themselves into lots of messy, frustrating feelings even though they get that one nice day and you don't. While you're young, it's nice to just have fun, take it easy, and not take yourself too seriously.
Hope this helps!
I start to feel tired and sad around the holidays. The end of the year (particularly this past one) leaves me totally worn out. I want to begin living my best life but I know that this is the time of year where everyone makes goals that they don't stick to - myself included. How can I stop getting jealous of the things that other people have and actually make a change in my life instead of feeling unaccomplished when I see the great things that others do?
Dear Holiday Blues,
It's completely natural to feel this way, especially with the information overload that is the world we live in. Before you focus on what you want, be grateful for what you have. Acknowledging even the basics like food, water, health, shelter, and education make you realize how lucky you are when you put them into greater perspective. Consider your accomplishments and hype yourself up. Be gentle with yourself at this time of year and do things that will recharge you for all the wonderful things you will achieve in the new year! Whether that means watching The Office with a facemask on or going on for a run, do things that will make you happy!
It can be difficult but look to take out the "trash" of the past year. Friends who don't make you happy, exes, bad habits, unhealthy behaviors, doubts, negativity - these things are all toxic waste. Dispose of them accordingly, ladies and gents!
Instead of telling yourself you're going to pump iron at the gym every day in 2019, you can start with a goal of working out comfortably every other day or even just a few minutes a day. A manageable five-minute workout that can be accomplished every day is better than unbearable sporadic workout sessions for the first few weeks of the year.
Happiness is a state of mind. Try to come up with some positive affirmations to tell yourself to start your mornings off right. Change your state of mind when you're on social media. Instead of sighing and being upset that other people have what appear to be such cool lives, use social media to set your own goals. I get lost on Pinterest for hours making boards where I plan out all the fun things I want to do. You can find so many tutorials, recipes, outfit ideas, and hair & makeup looks to try out that will pick up your mood. If you live somewhere cold and you're looking forward to warmer days, make a swimsuit board with all the cute bikinis you wanna wear come summertime.
Needless to say, there are so many ways to feel happier. These solutions come from making changes in areas of your life that you have power over and they don't rely on others. You don't need your resolution to be single-handedly reversing climate change or curing cancer, but there are a lot of things you can do to kick the holiday blues where the sun don't shine!
Hope this helps!
Can you recommend a holiday look that can transition from a day at school to the evening when you don't have too much time in between?
Dear Holiday Cheer,
No time in between, huh? Sounds like what happens to me all the time! The most important part of a look is a solid base of face makeup, especially in the winter. And we all know that perfecting that can take a while. Since you're getting ready in the morning for school, use a very moisturizing primer and let it set while you get to your brows. Now, apply your foundation to really get things started. Then, cover up blemishes and dark circles with concealer, while also brightening the high points of your face, like the bridge of the nose, forehead, and chin. This will add definition and make you look wide awake (winter blues who?).
Set all of this really well with powder (and lowkey apply more powder than you normally would just to ensure that it stays put for a long time).
Contour your face with a contour powder on a fluffy angled brush. Build up the color gradually instead of going crazy with a lot of product at once, so that you aren't stuck trying to rub it off (which would be super stressful when you're already against the clock). Contouring can be difficult sometimes, so I'd say that you should pay the most attention to the hollows of your cheeks and then brush some on to your hairline and jawline to keep things looking natural. While you're at it, dust a little bit on the sides of your nose if you'd like!
Now, if you're doing a full-coverage look, you might want to get some color back on your face, so gently apply some blush to the apples of your cheeks to ground your look.
At this point, you can move on to the eyes. Use an off-white shadow all over your lid to brighten and prime. Now, just blend a caramel‑y, light brown shade into your crease for definition. Throw a champagne shimmer onto your lid to make it pop! Now, hold your breath, say a prayer and go in for the cat-eye. Start out small in case you need to smooth it out and fix uneven lines. Rest your elbow on a solid surface and use the tail of your eyebrow as a reference point when determining what angle to draw your line towards. Load on tons of mascara for huge lashes… (oh, and don't forget the setting spray)!
For the daytime, you'll notice in the first photo that I've chosen a gingery nude liquid lipstick to keep things clean and simple for the whole day. As for my hair, I tied two ponytails and clipped in glittery barrettes for some extra sparkle and cheer.
At the end of the day, as I transitioned from day to night, I just swapped the gingery nude lip for a festive red and bumped up my whole look by going over it again to make everything was a bit bolder for the nighttime. Also, I love big hair, so after letting my hair down, you can tell by the second photo that I gave my roots a spritz of dry shampoo and did a quick curl-and-spray for extra drama.
I hope this helps!
Happy Holidays! I'm sure you'll look fabulous, darling!
I share a room with my sister. It's not a big space but we try to make it work. The problem is that we have a lot of stuff and that my sister is very messy. Her mess often spills onto my side of the room. What advice do you have for me to be able to keep the room tidy?
Hey Tidy Kat!
Although I don't share a room with a messy sister, I have two brothers who drive me nuts with their gadgets and things they leave lying around. Being that I live in New York (born and raised, baby!) I know all about small spaces, too. I totally feel your pain and this is something that my brothers and I have problems with all the time, so I thought it would be best to hand your question over to the pros. I was able to get the scoop from Katie McMenamin of PixiesDidIt! - a dynamic duo made up of her and her sister, Kelly McMenamin, that took their dilemma (and expertise on personality types) and wrote the game-changer organizational book, Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality. Enjoy! These are some amazing tips!
How to share a room with a messy person
By Katie McMenamin
This is the exact conflict that started our home organization business, PixiesDidIt! We use personality type to help people get and stay organized. Getting different types to peacefully coexist in the same organized space is our bread and butter!
The bane of sharing a bedroom
My sister and I shared connecting rooms when we were young and my side always had stuff strewn on the floor while hers was pin perfect, complete with stuffed animals lined up on her bed in military precision. In fact, one of our worst fights happened while sharing a room on vacation. It is known in family lore as "the fight" and we shudder to remember it.
We've come a long way since then, built a business based on our differences, helped countless others with theirs, and written a fun book, Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality.
So from a messy sister to a neat one, I can offer some sound and well-researched advice that won't annoy her and hopefully not you! First, tell her about the Pixies and how we were just like you until we found a way to help messy people get and stay organized and helped neatniks like you learn to live with them! Next, offer to help your sister implement our advice. This is what you both need to do, together.
Purge. Purge some more!
If a room is messy, then chances are it's got too much stuff in it. Go through everything... clothes, books, paper, memorabilia, jewelry... You've got stuff to ditch too. Do it together and reward yourself with a sister lunch or Forever 21 splurge afterwards.
The Container Store is best but you can cobble this stuff together on Amazon or just use our Shopping Guide. Get tons of hooks—utilitarian and decorative. More than you think you need. Ditto for huggable hangers. If she doesn't have a double hang in her closet, pick one up. Also, make sure she has a bookshelf. Or get at least six shelves to hang. Plus get a large, attractive hamper. Also bulletin boards and jewelry trees & tray for her jewelry. Then get six to eight attractive matching bins no more than 3 inches high, preferably see-through, but no lids, plus some attractive labels so you can interact with her stuff when it's driving you crazy.
Install the organizing infrastructure
Now you need to install the infrastructure to hold the stuff that's left. Hire a handyman if you can, if not make sure to use anchors for shelves and hooks. Utilitarian hooks go inside the closet, pretty ones on the back of the door. Hang shelves near the desk. Hang bulletin boards near the closet and mirror and find a surface for jewelry tree. Try and keep makeup out of this room and into the bathroom!
Hang as many clothes as you can
Matching huggable hangers allows you to fit more stuff, creates a clean line and less stuff falls off hangers! Have a few drawers for underthings, accessories, and sports stuff. I'm a mess and I still put jeans and pants in a drawer but I fold them and then fan them out so I can see all my pants when I open the drawers. When short on space, the pants become vertical in the drawer.
If you can afford an Elfa closet from The Container Store then go for it! If you can put the dresser in the closet that works too... less mess for you to see. Put the hamper where she usually undresses and do not keep a top on it. The top-less hamper and hooks are for your sister to unfurl onto instead of the floor and bed!
Go through her piles
Deal with papers and books and tchotchkes. Do an archeological dig of her papers and instead of file folders, use the bins. The idea is to come up with categories and then label them so you can help her keep things in the right bins (in a nice, encouraging way!)
Don't forget jewelry and the bed
Put away jewelry and get rid of the stuff you never wear... maybe even trade with each other. Lastly, see if mom and dad will reward you with matching Nova Bedding from from Crane and Canopy. They're pricier than Target but high quality and most importantly, they look like you've made the bed with sheets with one flick of the wrist!
Creating easy homes is the key to organizing
By creating easy homes for all her stuff, you'll make it easier for her to keep things neat. Mess is created by not knowing where to put it AND by making it difficult to put away. Whenever you get stuck just think: "how can I keep this task as close to one step as possible?"
Chances are she is an Organic or Smart organizing pixie which means she naturally leaves things out in her visual plane so she won't forget where it is. So by giving her homes that are easy to retrieve and easy for her to see at one glance, it will make it easier for her to keep tidy. And if you come home and are annoyed by her unmade bed, then a flick of the wrist is all you need for quick peace of mind!
Katie and Kelly McMenamin of PixiesDidIt!
How do you keep your hair looking so shiny and healthy, especially after a summer of swimming in saltwater and chlorine? Can you give me some tips on how to fix up my hair for fall and some tips for the beginning of next summer so that I'm prepared next time around?
Rinse and Repeat
Hey Rinse and Repeat! Thanks for your question.
My hair is fine but I have a lot of it. In the summer months especially, my technique is to condition all my hair, focusing mostly on the ends, and then shampooing it starting from the scalp down. I listen to the "needs" of my hair so I use products according to how my hair is acting. I like to use conditioning and leave-in treatments when necessary. During the summer, my hair certainly gets a lot of wear and tear from swimming. I maintain hair health amidst these activities so that I have minimal damage come fall. But still, I'm no expert on hair! So I thought I would take your question to a professional to see what they think. I spoke to Jose Manuel of Eruan Salon and Spa in New York. Here's what he's gotta say:
1. The shampoo and conditioner you use regularly has to be adequate for your hair type. If your hair is virgin (that means no chemical has ever touched your hair), then a regular, basic shampoo and conditioner will do.
2. If your hair has been treated with any kind of chemicals (highlights, ombre, hair color, relaxer, or a perm), your hair could be especially dry and damaged. Luckily, hair salons nowadays have many great products and solutions to offer you. They have several options to help you look your best.
3. Ask your hairstylist, who already knows your hair, to recommend you a good, professional brand name shampoo and conditioner suitable for your hair type, preferably containing UV screen. (Pssst… side note from Booch: if your stylist's shampoo and conditioner recommendation is a bit too much of a splurge, don't fret, just search for a good dupe!)
4. A deep conditioner (mask) is something that everyone should do once every week, especially during the summer days to avoid sun damage and dry hair.
5. Haircuts must be done every 8 weeks to avoid split ends. Have one at the end of spring, right before summer hits so your haircut will last throughout most of the summer.
6. A leave-in conditioner is ideal for everyday use during this season. Just run it through your hair everyday after shampoo.
7. Avoid the straightening iron, blow dryer, or curling iron and just let your hair dry naturally. Limit the use of hairbrushes and too-tight accessories as well, which could pull on hair excessively.
At Jose's salon, they also recommend that you do a hair smoothing treatment at the beginning of the summer to help eliminate hair frizz without using any heat tools. Check out his link for more info on that: www.eruan.biz.
Jose's tips are the bomb and I know that I learned quite a bit from what he had to say. Let's all step up our hair game!
Hope this helps!
Let me begin by saying that I really love my mom. She's great. She's awesome. Unfortunately, these days, all we do is bicker about politics. I am a progressive democrat and I used to think my mom was too until recently. How can I have a civilized conversation with her and help her understand where I'm coming from?
Red, White & Blue
Dear Red, White & Blue,
I understand where you're coming from. Sometimes you think that people you have so much in common with are going to share the same political views as you. It can be shocking to hear opinions come out of their mouths that differ so greatly from yours, whether they are friends or family. No matter how much pushing and explaining you do, you may still never be able to change people's minds. Discussing politics is always a controversial move, especially when you are talking to someone that you know disagrees with you. With that being said, here are my two cents:
If you have to talk about politics with your mom, try to speak to her about the facts that you have researched and know to be true to ease into a conversation of your own personal views. Making statements based on facts instead of feelings can be a good stepping stone to further conversation that can be eye-opening to her without it seeming like you are looking to instigate arguments.
Avoid talking down to her when trying to prove your point and try not to allow the conversation to take a confrontational tone (even though this can be a little difficult to do when you are riled up over something you are passionate about). This will only strain your relationship with her and you still won't get her to see things your way. No one likes talking to someone who is condescending, especially parents! If non-political issues arise as a result of your tone, you may be getting yourself into more trouble than just one disagreement!
Politics are in a constant state of ebb and flow. Some of your mother's opinions could have been formed long ago and it's hard to change someone's mind once they've been living with certain perspectives for years- even decades. Ignoring unchangeable, outdated beliefs and focusing on the parts of your relationship with her that you enjoy will be better in the long run. Times may change but she'll be your mom forever. Instead of dwelling on the things that you two butt heads on, bond with her by watching the news and talking about the obvious shitshow that is playing out right now (excuse my French). No matter what your views are, there is so much immaturity and absurdity that most would find ludicrous and I'm sure you could find a common ground there.
Even though heated political arguments seem monumental in the moment, they don't actually change anything. Most of the important decisions have nothing to do with whether or not we lost our voices yelling and trying to get through to someone. That is not to say you should be silent. To fulfill your need to discuss issues you are passionate about, try to meet with likeminded people through clubs, volunteer work, social media groups, rallies, and protests. With big numbers, you can actually create change without the conflict at home. That's what I'd do. Hope this helps you out.
I follow you on social media and love seeing all of the things that you are working on. You always seem so busy! I was wondering what you enjoy the most about your career and what you enjoy the least about it?
Thanks for keeping up with what I'm doing! I want to begin by saying that I love everything that I am able to accomplish in my career. No matter the turn-out of the project I'm working on, I am always grateful to be able to be involved in it and learn something from the experience. After all, how else would I be able to grow and become better at what I do? I think it's important to have both success and failure and make it my mission to learn something from every situation.
Anyway, when it comes to acting, I really enjoy reading scripts and trying to understand the characters. I love working with directors who have a strong vision and can direct me into portraying what they need me to bring to the scene. Being on set while filming scenes makes me feel immersed in my environment and connected to the characters no matter how different the circumstances of their lives are to mine.
In music, I love the writing and recording process. One way to grow is to be able to express yourself through music. It's crazy to look back at lyrics I've written that are even just kept tucked away in my phone. It's like flipping through a melodic diary. With how fast-paced life is, it's easy to forget about certain situations and how they felt at the time. Lyrics to me are like keeping records of important moments and emotions. Watching a track come together in the studio is a magical and exciting experience and there's truly nothing like it.
Modeling is a lot of fun, too. On some jobs, it can be like an acting gig without a script, where you still have to express the right attitude to match the product/company that you are working for. With modeling, I get to do hair, makeup, and fashion looks that I may not have done otherwise, which I enjoy and sometimes even start mixing into my style rotation, so to speak.
With that being said, what I love the most is anything and everything creative. That's what it's about for me. What I like the least is probably other people's perception of me and my family even though they don't really know us at all. People that don't know how passionate I am about my work assume that my mom must be some kind of horrible stage mom who is pushing me into show business, whether I like it or not - even without ever meeting her! The truth is, if you are a minor who is interested in pursuing any type of career in "the biz", you cannot do it without the support of a parent. People mistake my mom's commitment to me as her trying to live vicariously through me because that is the assumption of any young person's family life if they are in the entertainment industry. They are totally wrong, yet I can't show people who she really is. That's very frustrating.
People also think that since there are cameras involved in what I do that I must be stuck up, prissy, entitled, and pursuing my passion for the most shallow reasons imaginable. I know that all of this couldn't be further from the truth so I've learned from a very young age that other people's perceptions of you are misguided and count for nothing in the grand scheme of things. If you know truthfully that you're living kindly, authentically, and for yourself that is all that matters. I am so grateful for lessons like these that come with the territory of what I do. It's a great feeling to know, in your youth, that frankly, what people think of you really doesn't matter. There is no real reason to be too inhibited to dance in the grocery store aisles, say dumb things on the street, and laugh loudly with friends. Living life to the fullest is far more worth it than trying to be perfect and what you think everyone wants you to be.
Whether it be my mom, my dad, or my brothers, everybody does what they have to do to accommodate what's going on with my unpredictable career that requires more flexibility and short-notice availability than one would expect. If we all have to get into the car and drive for 3 or 4 hours to get to Pennsylvania from New York early in the morning because I booked a job- then so be it. That's what we do. I can't ever make an outsider understand what kind of love, loyalty, and commitment that takes. Especially, someone who has clearly made up their mind about me and my family so that's where the "no Fs given" mentality comes to play. ;)
Another thing that I like the least is the fact that people always want something from you. Since I've been in this biz for the past 10 years, I've had to learn a few lessons early on. Many times, it's the same conversation- different person. They want to know who my agent is and if I or my mom can arrange a meeting. After that topic has been handled, they couldn't care less if I live or die. Nice, huh? Well, that's human nature, I guess. I just had to learn that from a very young age, that's all.
I am eternally grateful for how much real-world experience I've had through working and interacting with people in a business sense because I have learned many valuable time and trouble-saving things that I can spot with my eyes closed during the not-so-fun parts. It's the more-than-fun, incredible moments of working with spectacular people, discovering new parts of myself through projects I work on, and watching it all come together that makes it all that makes my heart happy and makes it all so insanely worth it.
I consider myself to be a good friend. I am always there when someone needs me. Lately, though, I think I'm being taken advantage of… and I don't like it. My best friend is always asking me for advice and help with everything from makeup to boys to finding a summer job. I constantly lend her things and am always there to guide her. Every time she is complimented on a look that I styled for her, or congratulated for something that I helped her with, she takes all of the credit! I've tried talking to her about it, but she just never wants to admit that I helped her out. At times, I feel that she is literally copying and living my life! This is an annoying situation. What can I do to feel better about it?
I know exactly what you mean! It is an annoying situation because I'm sure that you two are really great friends, most of the time. Unfortunately, when she copies you or takes advantage of your help it makes you feel bad and I totally understand why it would. Well, my dear, you're not alone. So the way I see it, here are your options:
1. You accept the things you can't change and decide that your friendship is far more valuable than her ungratefulness. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe she truly admires you and wants to be exactly like you in every way. Some people take a longer time to mature. As teenagers, we don't have ourselves figured out at all and can practically become new people within the span of a few months. If you stick it out, she could grow out of it and realize that her behavior wasn't the best. We all go through phases where we do things that we aren't proud of. If she only does this a fraction of the time, you might just want to let it be and look past it since you've already addressed it before.
2. You can have a heart-to-heart with yourself and make a mental checklist of the pros and cons of having a friendship with her. This may sound a little clinical but it can really help you reflect and see for yourself if this relationship is worth having. What does this friendship do for you? Is it almost always good times with this being the only downside or does she only bring negativity and bad feelings to you? Consider this. Then, act accordingly.
3. You can decide that you are not interested in continuing your friendship and proceed to distance yourself from her. There is no need to have a fight or create drama. Sometimes, it is better to let go of someone silently.
4. You can keep her as a "part-time" friend. You don't have to completely cut her off but you also don't have to view her as your absolute best friend. You can lower her ranking on the totem pole, so to speak, by placing less value on this friendship while trying to develop other friendships that will bring your life more enrichment and growth, in which there will be a more even give and take, as well as an aspect of grateful understanding.
No matter what you decide to do, don't forget to always check in with yourself. Be in touch with your needs to be sure you are respected and happy. That's what I would do.
I really like this guy in my class, but don't know how to talk to him. I'm kind of shy so it's hard for me to move forward. Every once in awhile, I catch him looking at me. Sometimes he smiles and sometimes he turns away. What can I do to try to get to know my crush?
Dear Shy Girl,
I often find myself to be quite shy at times when it comes to this kind of stuff and I have to say that the feeling of overthinking to the point of inaction can be paralysing. The best way to combat this is to give yourself a dose of confrontational therapy. So here's what I would do. Try to get closer to him in proximity. That way, it may be easier to gently say hello. He will most likely respond, unless he's been raised in a jungle and hasn't learned anything about common courtesy. At that point, maybe you could ask him about something to do with the class work. As you're speaking to him, be mindful of the tone of his voice, body language, and facial expressions. Those three things will probably let you know if the conversation is heading in the right direction. From what you said about him smiling at you and turning away, it would appear that there he's already got some kind of interest in you- yay!
You're probably thinking that there's no way you can get yourself to make this move because you're so shy. I get it. However, using the circumstances and surroundings to ask a question is not a marriage proposal. Take a question that you could've asked anyone else but instead of asking anyone else, choose him. That way you broke the ice and can keep up a conversation, or get more of a feel for his personality by observing how he responds to you. Also, take it easy if he doesn't make a major move on you after you approach him. Even though guys are expected to behave like a knight in shining armor, they are just as nervous as us girls.
If you are painfully shy, simply talking to someone can feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders at times. A good way to fight this is to take a step out of your head and put things in perspective. Thinking about it is worse than actually doing it. Now get out there and talk to this guy! Good luck!
Although I am single, there are two boys that are currently in my life. We are just friends who are getting to know each other bit by bit everyday. One of the boys I have more contact with through social media and texting. With the other, it's the complete opposite. All of our conversations happen in real time, face to face. We do not text or follow each other on any social media platforms. These two scenarios are showing me that I like spending person to person time much better than relying solely on texts or likes/comments on each other's social media accounts. I like the fact that someone is taking the time to really get to know me - for real!
What can I do to move things along with my "in-person" relationship and distance myself from investing more of myself in my digital relationship with the other boy?
Dear Digital Distance,
I know exactly what you mean! It's not fun having people see you as a JPEG who doesn't have true intelligence or feelings. I would bet that your in-person relationship makes you feel liked and appreciated in ways that you just can't feel through technology, which is a superficial way of interacting most of the time. It's been my experience that people who have love relationships (or even friendships) that are dependant on texting and social media will often say things as though they have nothing to lose. It's as if them contacting you is a substitute for an iPhone game, quick amusement and a way to pass some time.
In a situation like this, you might feel like some virtual girl that they can depend on to make them laugh or to receive feminine energy from through emotional support and ego-boosting. The weight of their words can appear non-existent. They expect too much too soon and never really look for substance in anything. Of course, this is not always the case but as much as it sucks to admit, this is usually the reality if they never seek to make concrete plans with you in real life.
I would keep talking to the boy that you see in person. Try to engage in activities that will allow you to spend more time together so that you can get to know one another. Don't rush anything. Just enjoy getting to know him. Eventually, you can both decide together if you'd like to go out on a date. As for the other boy, if you would like to get to know him better, try asking him if he'd like to spend time with you in real life. Tell him that you'd like to lay off the texting and social media for a while. Then see what he says. His answer should be telling, for better or for worse. If you've already been able to identify the major differences between these two relationships, I think you're already ahead of the game. I'm sure you'll keep figuring things out and finding what makes you feel best. Always be true to you.
I have always been interested in modeling but don't know where to begin. Could you please give me some pointers on how to get started?
Dear Striving Strutter,
This is a question that I get asked quite often and I'm glad you've asked it, too! Here are a few tips:
1. Have someone take photos of you. Be sure to get good, clear shots of your face, as well as full body ones. For these photos, stick to a relatively natural and simple look. The idea is to show your best self without looking too drastically different from your everyday appearance.
2. Look around to see who your local modeling agencies are. Send them your photos as well as any other information they require. If they are interested, they will reach out to you and you'll take it from there.
3. Beware of scams. If you get people who contact you promising you the world, run the other way! Please know that any agency who is interested in representing you won't ask for any kind of membership fee. When they have go-sees to send you on that you're suitable for, they just will. When you go to your go-sees, it's your responsibility to show up on time, look presentable, and do your best. If the company or fashion designer chooses you, well congrats! You've booked a job! When you get paid for a job, the agency takes their commission. It is usually between 10-20%.
4. If you're a minor, please make sure that your parents are on board with what you want to do since they are your legal guardians who must accompany you. Also, you will need a work permit that must be signed by a school official. In order to get a work permit, you have to keep your grades up or your school might not sign off on it. The purpose of this permit is to guarantee that you are academically successful enough to take on work outside of school.
5. You should consider the commitment factor. Sometimes, you're sent to places that aren't exactly local. Are you willing to wake up early to drive 3 hours to get to a job and 3 hours to get back home? More importantly, if you are underage, do you have an adult who is able to travel with you? It's a huge commitment and only truly looks glamorous when you're flipping through the pages of your favorite fashion magazine. You really have to love modeling to accept the drawbacks and still keep smiling through it.
Hope this helps you out, Striving Strutter.
I'm a 12-year-old middle school student. I got my period and none of my friends have yet. They tease me and make fun of me during gym class and in the locker room. It makes me feel bad about myself and really embarrassed. What should I do?
Dear Dreading Gym,
Thank you for your question. If their comments are not jokes gone too far and their intention is to hurt you, try to distance yourself from them and find kinder, more understanding friends. That may sound like a drastic move, but friendships with people that purposely jab at you do not tend to grow into anything better than how toxic they are to begin with.
If you suspect that they are kidding around but you don't find it funny, mention it in a calm way and tell them how you feel. If that doesn't work, assert yourself and tell them to knock it off. You can also remind them that just because you were the first to get it, doesn't mean that they're exempt from it. The classic: "how would you feel if I were saying that to you?" line is always a good choice, too.
Psychologically, asking a question forces the brain to search for answers, even if it is just subconsciously. By you asking them this, they are pretty much given the opportunity to look at the situation from your perspective.
Just to let you in on a little secret, it's more likely than not that these girls are actually jealous of the fact that you have your period and they don't. It sounds crazy, but at this age, growing up and having something that everyone is curious about could fuel jealousy. Since you actually have it, you're probably wondering why anyone would be jealous of that burden but considering how many kids are in a rush to grow up, they could be envying you for that very reason.