Rebranding Me: Learning to Love Myself


Welcome back to Tantalizingly Tasteful! Today I want to talk about something a little bit out of the ordinary for me: body image and self-confidence. Being confident in yourself and your abilities is much easier said than done, but I think the process of getting there is something that needs to be discussed. I want to share my own personal story with you. This is something I’ve been working on for about a year now, and I’m honestly still a little hesitant, but I know that so many people go through the same kind of situation and I want to open up the discussion. So, here goes.

I’ve spent my whole life being overweight. I knew in kindergarten that I was different from the other girls in the class. When I walked, my shorts would ride up my thighs (what has affectionately been known as thwedgie in my family), I couldn’t run as fast on the soccer field, and I couldn’t easily be lifted up. But as a kindergartner, you don’t really understand that having a bit more body fat than the other girls in class is going to make you stand out in a bad way.  I was also one of the only kids in class that wore glasses, and to five-year-old me, that made me “uncool.” I would play a game with my friends in which I would take my glasses off and say “cool Toni,” then put them back on and say “nerdy Toni.” How did I get the impression that a pair of glasses defined who I was?

 

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A shot from elementary school field day, complete with my classic “thwedgie.”

 

 

In elementary school, I was the first of my friends to wear a bra, and it wasn’t because I was the first to hit puberty. And yet, I still didn’t really think anything was too wrong with me. It didn’t really hit me until fourth grade, when a “popular” girl who I considered a friend nicknamed me Jell-O. I didn’t understand why she was calling me that, so I was thrilled to think that I had finally made it into the “cool girls” crowd. When I got home that night, I excitedly told my parents about my new nickname, only to have them explain to me that it wasn’t a very great nickname to have. I was incredibly hurt to think that the people that I considered friends saw me that way and, even worse, seemed to be out to make fun of me because of what I weighed. I dwell on that realization a lot.

 

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This one’s from my cousin Effie’s wedding. I was 11 and a junior bridesmaid. I had gained weight between the fitting and the actual wedding, so my dress ripped during cocktail hour. I was humiliated.

 

Fast forward to middle school, when I just continued to gain weight and started growing facial hair due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. At that point, it had become more common knowledge to me that I was the heavier friend, and while my friends really didn’t have anything to say about my “physique,” it was quite evident that I was just different and sometimes had to be left out. I could never share clothes with my friends, I could never eat as much as my friends, I struggled to keep up with them in sports. I had girls pull my bra strap and laugh at me because my bra wasn’t supportive enough for my chest. One of my best friends pointed out to the entire gym class that I was growing a beard. I started to become ashamed of my body, a feeling that I would never wish on anyone. And instead of combating my issues with an improved diet and more exercise, I comforted myself the only way I knew how: food.

 

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A photo of my mother, my youngest brother and I at a bat mitzvah. Clearly I did not know what a bra was.

 

In high school, I tried to pretend that I was more comfortable with my body. I had accepted that I was just bigger than my friends, but my weight was still a source of contention with my family. My parents have always been super supportive, and when they worried about my weight, it was always for the sake of my health and not my appearance, but it was (and still is) a sore topic for me. My grandmother was notorious for not giving me a second serving of food to keep me from gaining weight. My parents often told me that certain clothes just weren’t meant for my body type. Even my five-year-old cousin told me I was fat. For me, realizing that even my family remarked that I was overweight was heartbreaking. I felt like no one saw me for my personality or interests, but only saw me as the girl who needed to lay off the pasta and hit the gym. This realization brought on a rough time of self-doubt, self-loathing, depression, and self-harm. When I finally got myself out of that slump, I decided I was going to take ownership of who I was and focus on bettering myself and getting healthy, not necessarily skinny. I told my parents that I needed them to support me despite what I looked like or what I decided to wear. I thought this inner transformation would be good for me in so many ways.

Here’s a picture from marching band in ninth grade. I remember loving this picture because I thought my hair looked so long.

But then prom season hit, and two years in a row, no one asked me to be their date. And I couldn’t help but attribute it to the fact that nobody wanted to go with the fat girl. Of course, I was heartbroken, and debated not going to prom both years, but ultimately I went and had a great time. But the idea still remains in my head that no one wants to date me or be friends with me because of my weight.

A picture of me, alone, at senior prom. Luckily I still had a great time.

I had a similar experience at the beginning of college. Before I moved in, I was considering joining a sorority, but at the actual club fair, I noticed that no sorority sisters even considered approaching me. Instead, they were approaching the teeny tiny skinny girls, the girls who were the “populars” that would have made fun of me in elementary and middle school. It was then that I realized that my body weight can sometimes prevent me from achieving everything I would’ve liked to, and it was then that I was inspired to write this post.

This is one of my favorite selfies from freshman year. Before I found my close friends, I would go home every weekend because I felt so out of place.

That was a year ago, during my very first semester of college. I had completely different friends, completely different interests, and a completely different outlook on life. Originally, this post was supposed to be a wake-up call to me and to anyone reading, a cautionary tale that would hopefully teach people that they should keep themselves from getting heavy so they can prevent themselves from getting hurt. Now, I see things very differently.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’m finally getting to the point that I’m realizing I love the person I am. There may be things I want to change and things that I regret doing, but I’ve learned over the years (and especially the last six months) that the only person I need approval, attention, and love from is myself. The only person who can help me is myself. It also helps that the friends I have now like me the way I am, so I’m not forcing myself to be something I’m not.

I wish I could detail how I got myself to this point, but honestly, I think it was just spurred by a sudden realization that if I can’t love myself for who I am, no one else will love me for who I am. I do have some recommendations, though, that I know have helped me feel happier and more confident and empowered.

  1. Read self-help books: Yes, this is corny, but after reading even a few pages of self-help books, I always feel refreshed and inspired. One of my favorites is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, even though I haven’t even finished it yet. I used to read it every night before bed during the spring semester of my freshman year, and it made me feel like I could take on the world just the way I am. Some more on my list of books to read are Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

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    You can get your copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller for $10.96 at Barnes and Noble.
  2. Work out: I’ve been talking about this up and down for the last six months, but working out has made me feel a million times better about myself. Every time I work out, I do into beast mode, and I feel like I can accomplish anything. Find an exercise routine you love and stick to it. Not only is it good for your body, but it’s also good for your soul.
  3. Listen to pump-up music: I literally have a playlist called “I DESERVE BETTER” that’s filled with songs that make me feel better and remind me that I am worth the work and worth being treated well. It’s filled with some of my favorite songs, like Hair and Shoutout to My Ex by Little Mix, Stronger by Britney Spears, and Down in the Dumps by Walk the Moon. I highly recommend putting together a playlist that makes you feel great about yourself and helps pick you back up when you start to fall.
  4. Get motivational wallpapers: Inspirational phone backgrounds and computer wallpapers are my guilty pleasure. I like to change them every month just to get something a little different. I always find it so inspiring to turn on my phone or laptop and get some sort of pick-me-up.

    This is the wallpaper on my laptop right now and I love turning it on and seeing this.
  5. Don’t take things so personally: I’ve always been a very sensitive person, and I always let people’s reactions to me affect the way I feel. Recently, I’ve come to the realization that you don’t always know what other people are going through, so you can’t hold things against them or let them get you down. Like I said, the only person’s validation that matters is yours, so don’t let yourself get down because of a stupid comment someone else said. When I dyed my hair purpley about a year ago, one of my best friends made a comment that if I lay down on the grass, it would look like Barney. His opinion meant a lot to me at the time, and I was upset about it for a while. Since then, I’ve realized that it’s my hair, not his, and if I like the way it looks, I don’t have to really consider his opinion.
  6. Do what you’re passionate about: Doing things that you love to do and are good at are great for a confidence boost. Plus, if you get involved with something you’re passionate about, you can find other people who are passionate about the same thing and you immediately have something to connect over. When I started writing for my school newspaper last semester (even though it was for class credit), I met so many awesome people who were also passionate about journalism. It was really inspiring and motivating for me to get pointers from them and just be surrounded by people who loved to interview people and write just as much as I do.
  7. Journal: One of the best ways to release negativity is to write it down. I find that every time I write down what’s bother me, I can better recognize what the problem is and then find an appropriate way to deal with it. Also, I can write down all the positives in my life and reread them if I start feeling down. I also love picking pretty journals that inspire me to write and work hard, like this one from Barnes and Noble.

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    Be Awesome Today Bound Lined Journal, $9.95 at Barnes and Noble
  8. Find support: The biggest thing that has helped me come to terms with the person that I am has been my religion. I was born and raised Greek Orthodox, but I didn’t really get into learning about my religion until I was 16 and went to Camp St. Paul for the first time. Since then, I’ve become more confident in myself and my abilities because I know that God made me the way I am and only sends me challenges that He knows I can handle. For those of you who are not religious, I’d recommend finding something or someone that always has your back and best interests at heart. I have a handful of really close friends that constantly cheer me on and pick me up when I fall. I’d be nowhere without them. Even my parents are there for me whenever I need them, and I can tell them absolutely anything without them judging me or putting me down. The bottom line is that it feels amazing to know you have people who love and support you all the time and can pick you up if you start doubting yourself.

I hope this post gave you a bit of a look into my life and some inspiration and motivation to start loving yourself completely and entirely. Don’t forget to keep me in the loop as you embark on your journey!!

xx,

Toni
Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com
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Rebranding Me: Beginning A Journey of Self-Discovery


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“Above all, remember to love yourself.”

My hair used to be brown, then it was brassy red, then the color of red wine, then a dark brown that really looked like black, and now it’s a combination of the four. It occurred to me around the time that I started dyeing my hair that I wasn’t really sure who I was. Sure, I had a vague idea of what I liked and disliked, but I began to realize that many of my “opinions” were actually just the regurgitated words and thoughts of friends and family. I had never consciously sat down and decided exactly what it was that Toni thought, admired or despised, I just repeated what I heard everyone else around me say.

The problem with me not knowing was that if I didn’t know who I was, no one else did either. I have friends that are so completely sure of who they are that you can describe them in a nutshell just minutes after meeting them. I, however, was not one of those people. I blurred the lines of fashion styles, personality, sense of humor. And so I decided, it was about time I defined myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues since my early teenage years. I was never pretty enough, never funny enough, never well-liked enough, etc. Throughout high school, I compared myself to my friends and classmates, and drove myself insane. I started college out pretty much the same way, until I got tired of that same old routine. I soon realized that the reason I was always so unhappy was that I was comparing myself to other individuals, each of whom was unique and beautiful in their own way. The issue with that is that I was not seeing any of those people in their own context, or even myself in my own context. In other words, I was failing to realize that what may work for one person in their life does not necessarily work for me in mine, and I was making myself unhappy.

That’s when I decided it was time to make a change. I didn’t want to feel lost or discouraged anymore. I wanted to find out who the real Toni was, imperfections and all. And this blog is the (ongoing) story of how I took my first real steps towards rebranding myself.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my mom. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to focus on my health– emotional, physical and mental. She suggested that, in order to keep myself motivated and accountable, I do what I do best and write about my journey. I’m really ready now to tackle this challenge head on. So here I am. Thanks, Mom, here’s to you.

This is just a little bit of background information to explain my blog’s new look and focus. My hope is to update the blog every few days with inspiration, ideas and plans. I hope that these posts will not only help me stay accountable and motivated, but that it will also help other people get out of their ruts and find out who they are.

 

Just a little motivation I found on Tumblr

 

To anyone reading this: We’re in this together. If there’s something you want to read or see from me, or something you want to share, let me know. I’ll leave my contact info below so you can reach me. If you put the work in, and you continue to love yourself, this journey will be worth your while. Best of luck to you. Looking forward to seeing your progress and mine.

xx,

Toni

Email: tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com

Twitter: @TTasteful

Instagram: @tantalizinglytasteful

Pinterest: @TTasteful

Facebook: Tantalizingly Tasteful

Snapchat: @TTasteful

 

 

#OOTD December 27, 2015 + The Importance of Accessorizing


Welcome back, Tasters! And welcome back to me, too… Major apologies for  being MIA since August! To catch you all up, I finished my first semester of college at Stony Brook University (I’ll write a whole post soon) and now I’m on winter break for basically another month, so hopefully I’ll have plenty of time to actually blog! Let’s get started with my Outfit of the Day from my cousin’s baptism!

#OOTD

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A black and white dress is always classy! Shoutout to my cousin Catherine for taking this shot! Dress: MSK at Modcloth; Shoes: Fioni; Necklace: One Wink at DSW; Clutch: Forever 21
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Couldn’t resist posing with the gazebo!
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Love taking candid shots with my cousin Catherine, especially when we’re matching in black and white!
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Had to get a shot with my cousin Yanna, too!
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Yanna, Catherine and I partying it up later in the evening

Where You Can Get It

 

ootd 12.27.15 where you can get it
Matelassé Contrast Trim Dress – $22.90 at Forever 21; One Wink Multi Flower Bib Necklace – $29.95 at DSW; Chevron Appeal Faux Leather Clutch in Red – $18.71 at GoJane; Wow Platform Pump in Nude – $69.95 at Chinese Laundry

The Importance of Accessorizing

As far as I’m concerned, the accessories you choose for an outfit can make or break the entire look. With my outfit for the baptism, for example, I realized that I needed some eye-catching details to keep my relatively simple dress from being too boring. On the flip side, over-accessorizing can totally destroy an outfit by distracting from the natural beauty of both the clothes and the person. Here are some of my tips for accessorizing:

  1. Let your makeup and accessories work together: If I’m wearing colored accessories, I try to tie those colors in with my makeup as well so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to hard to mesh color palettes. For the baptism, for instance, I matched my clutch to my lipstick, which was NYX’s Butter Gloss in Red Velvet. Matching colors together in a subdued way like this lets your look stand out but also look classic and mature.

    nyx butter gloss in red velvet
    NYX has been one of my favorite makeup brands recently. I bought this color for the holidays and I’ve been loving it! NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet – $4.99 at Ulta
  2. Go bold with a striking color: When I wear all black or a combination of black and white, I always pack a punch with bold accessories, whether it’s an electric blue, a neon pink or a radiant red. The trick to pulling this off though is sticking to one bright piece instead of multiple to keep yourself from looking childish.
  3. Know when to mix metals: For fancier occasions like a baptism, I like to stick to one metal instead of mixing, so the other night, I stayed with gold. On an everyday basis, however, I tend to mix gold and silver for a more urban and effortless vibe. Knowing your intended atmosphere and vibe will help you decide how you should accessorize.
  4. Stay balanced: Make sure your jewelry and accessories are well-balanced to ensure that they aren’t fighting for dominance. If you pair a statement necklace with dangly earrings, they’ll swallow you whole. Decide which piece you want to take center stage, and work around that to decide what other accessories you should pair with it.

Now I’d like your feedback! I hope this post gave to a little bit of a peek into my life and gave you some ideas about accessorizing! What did you think of my outfit and my tips? Do you have any ideas about how you’d execute an outfit like this? Would you like to see more posts like this in the future? Talk to me in the comments below, or send an email to tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com! You can also follow my brand new Facebook page, Tantalizingly Tasteful! Don’t forget to follow my Tumblr,tantalizingly-tasteful.tumblr.com, my Pinterest @TTasteful, my Lookbook account,http://lookbook.nu/tonirose08 and my Instagram, @tantalizinglytasteful! Love you guys, thanks for reading!!! xx

My Last Few Days as a High School Senior!!!


Hey everyone, happy July!! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. This summer is a really exciting summer for me because it’s my chance to transition from high school to (gulp) college. I graduated a week ago and I already can’t believe how fast the time is flying. To start off this summer, I’m going to share some of the details of my last few days as a high school senior with you all!!

Thursday, June 25: Senior Prom

Thursday was the day that started it all. Senior prom is the day that everyone spends their high school years dreaming about. It’s the things that (high school) fairy tales are made of. But no one ever tells you how much work it takes!! I was out the door by 10 AM to get my nails done, grabbed a quick coffee and lunch (to go!) with Torie, ran to my hair and makeup appointments at an Ulta store twenty minutes from my house and got home with barely enough time to get ready before my family was supposed to come take pictures with me. And I was still three hours off from the beginning of prom!!  To spare all the grueling details, I went to pre-prom at my friend’s house (where three of my amazing friends surprised me with a stunning corsage!!!) and then at school, where we climbed onto a super cool party bus that fit 29 of us! The half hour limo ride to Floral Terrace, where prom actually took place, was great, the cocktail hours was nice and the real party was incredible! I can honestly say that it was one of the best nights of my life. I danced all night, took great pictures with my friends, enjoyed delicious food and just got to reminisce about my four years in high school. Looking back at it now, I can’t even believe how quickly it all passed! Shout out to all the incredibly people who made this night possible!! Check the end of the article for details on what I wore!!

Couldn’t resist a selfie!!
Torie and I attempting one of our signature poses!!
My outfit!!
Some of my best friends!! From left to right: Lauren, Me, Dani, Emily and Torie
Posing with props that Torie made! From left to right: Emily, Me, Arianna, Torie and Dani

Friday, June 26: Afterprom

When prom was over, we took the party bus back to Arianna’s house and stayed for the night. We ate yummy mozzarella sticks and pizza bagels, laughed and danced… And didn’t get to sleep until the early hours of the morning!! In the afternoon, we took a ferry to Fire Island, where we spent the day lounging on the beach and going swimming (the water was freezing!!) We grabbed dinner and ice cream, and while most of the crew grabbed a late night ferry back to “the mainland,” four of us stayed overnight in a borrowed house! Back at the house, we chilled out on the back porch and ate late night mac and cheese. It may have been a long day, but it was incredibly fun and enjoyable!

Deliriously happy after prom!!
Emily and I enjoying the beach!!
Emily, Dani and I posing for pictures!!
Saying goodbye to the crew at the ferry!! From left to right: Me, Torie, Dani, Emily, Lauren and Arianna

Saturday, June 27: Return from Fire Island

Saturday was by far the most relaxed day of this particular weekend. The four of us who stayed over in Fire Island woke up at 8, ate mac and cheese for breakfast, cleaned the house and then took a nap. No pressure, no tight schedule. We grabbed pizza and ice cream and caught a ferry back to Long Island. That night, Torie and Emily came back to my house to finish decorating our caps for graduation the next day. Even though they were at my house until midnight, I was glad they came by to keep me company.

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Our finished graduation caps! Mine is on the left, Torie’s is in the middle, and Emily’s is on the right!!
My cap in all its glory!!

Sunday, June 28: Graduation!!

Sunday was THE day… the end of four incredible years of high school, the end of the memories. But it was also the beginning of a new stage in my life, a stage that I am so excited for! It was such a bittersweet day, complete with caps, gowns, selfies, laughter and tears. It all went by in a flash, it was honestly so hard to believe. The only thing that ruined the day was the it was nearly impossible to hear the speeches, which I had really been looking forward to hearing, from the stage. All in all, it was incredibly fulfilling day, knowing that I successfully finished my high school career and have so many awesome opportunities and events ahead of me. I really am so proud of myself for doing as well as I did and doing the different activities that I did, and I am so grateful to everyone who got me there. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me as I go on to college at Stony Brook University!!

Torie and I posing with our honor cords!!
Showing off our caps after graduating!! From left to right: (top) Amanda, Emily, Torie, Dani and Lauren; (bottom) Arianna and I
Some of my closest friends!! From left to right: Me, Emily, Grant, Max and Torie

Now I’d like your feedback! I hope this post gave to a little bit of a peek into my life! What did you think of my prom look?  Did you recently go to prom or have your graduation? Do you think I should write more posts like this? Talk to me in the comments below, or send an email to tantilizinglytasteful@gmail.com! You can also follow my brand new Facebook page, Tantalizingly Tasteful! Don’t forget to follow my Tumblr, tantalizingly-tasteful.tumblr.com, my Pinterest @TTasteful, my Lookbook account, http://lookbook.nu/tonirose08 and my Instagram, @tantalizinglytasteful! Love you guys xx

In This Article:

Prom:

Women’s Poplin Cami Fit & Flare Dress in Multi Print, $25.00 at Old Navy

J Kara Aqua Sequined High Neck Gown, $289.99 at Estelle’s Dressy Dresses

Not Rated Bering Strait Wedge Sandal, $34.94 at DSW

Silver headband, New York and Company (similar here)

Silver stud earrings, New York and Company (similar here)

Urban Expressions silver faux snakeskin clutch, DSW (similar here)

Afterprom:

Xhiliration olive green crochet-top maxi dress, Target (similar here)

Browline Round Sunglasses in Black/Silver, $7.90 at Forever 21

Black and gold crossbody bag, Forever 21 (similar here)

Graduation:

Garden Party Panache Dress in Noir, $41.99 at Modcloth

All supplies for graduation cap, Michael’s