BACK TO BLACK {AND WHITE}

Today I want to talk about body image, media, and the culture of ideals that we live in.  It’s something that weighs heavy on my mind always, but that I’ve been struggling with more lately.  I’m seeing an acupuncturist and an Ayurvedic doctor to treat some health issues I’m contending with (more on that another day, but please don’t worry all will be well!) and they’ve advised me to eat exclusively cooked foods, to eat an abundance of protein via nuts and seeds, and to generally just incorporate more fat into my diet to gain strength.  So I have. And my body is doing things, it’s changing. With these changes have come an extra 5 or so pounds that I’m carrying around to prove it.  I’ve been dreading shooting style posts because I can be very cruel to myself when I’ve gained weight.  I’m human, we gain and lose weight.  It happens, right?  And when I see it happen to those around me I recognize it for what it is- life.  And harmless.  But with myself, I beat myself up.  I say things to myself that I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS say to someone I love.  {more on this after the jump}

SHOP THIS OUTFIT:  shirt: Robert Rodriguez, shorts: Finders Keepers, shoes: Zara (old, similar), clutch: Clare Vivier, bracelets: Young + Frank, Giles + Brother, ring: Jules Smith

I can be ruthless.  I know I’m not the only one that does it.  I hear girl friends doing it to themselves all the time. I’ve seen them struggle with their freshman 15 bodies, their post-baby bodies, their post-holiday bodies.  The underlying message we tell ourselves, that we spread in conversations with each other, that gets repeated over and over in the media, is that we’re not good enough UNLESS.  Unless our skin and hair looks a certain way, unless our bodies fit a certain standard, unless our clothes, makeup, home and LIFE look a certain way.  I fall into this trap WAY too often.

But I’m calling Bullshit.  I’m no different today, this curvier version of myself, than I was three weeks ago.  I still love my husband, my family, my friends, my dogs with the same abundance.  The things that are truly important about me- my character,  my heart, my values, my talents – none of those things change with the number on the scale, the numbers in my bank account, the current state of my home.  Yours don’t either.  Next time you catch yourself chastising yourself for not living up to some ideal, if you can, go easy on yourself.  Change the negative thoughts into a positive,  give yourself a compliment, the way you would a friend who is suffering.  Try to see yourself the way your loved ones see you, with a heavy focus on all that is good and barely any time to notice the rest.  It’s the least you deserve, the very least, I promise you.  We’re all in this together!

Let’s be kind to ourselves and kind to each other.  Let’s be proud and loving of our bodies, in whatever shape they’re in.  Let’s be gentle with our thoughts, and forgiving of ourselves.  We’re not all meant to be the same. We’re absolutely not meant to be perfect; we are all, EXACTLY AS WE ARE, inherently good and right where we’re meant to be.  Let’s challenge the perceptions and beliefs we have that are based on absolute craziness rather than let them dictate our happiness and self worth.

It’s so important to me that this site not perpetuate that madness!  I will be working on the above myself, I see these new curves as a way to remind myself every day to move towards more love and less struggle.  I hope they can serve as the same for any of you who also wrestle with these issues.  If I were a betting girl I’d say it was most of us.

And finally, just for the record, this is absolutely terrifying to put out there.  Like being naked on the internet/Times Square terrifying.  Which is how I know this conversation is so important.  Every time I’ve been scared to hit publish but gone through with it I’ve been rewarded by your words that remind me that it’s really important for me to share the hard stuff, that I am SO not alone in my challenges.  After all I think what we’re all looking for here on the internet is to connect with eachother and ourselves.  Conversations like these allow us to do it.  More soon.  Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing yourselves with me, thank you for the supoort- it all means so much to me.  xx- Sarah

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Reader Comments

  1. Becky|

    Good for you! Thank you for saying this. I hope people take it to heart and change their perceptions, attitudes and words for the better.

    Reply
  2. caitlin|

    what an amazing post, sarah. thank you for sharing it. i have the same exact problems, probably like most other women, and what i've realized is that no matter what i weigh or what size i am, i will always have something negative to say to myself. i'm that girl everyone hates, who puts herself down constantly, but secretly. i don't express my feelings about myself to others because i don't want anyone to know my struggles. but they are definitely there. and i'm working on them. thank you so much for letting me know i'm not alone.

    Reply
  3. jamie levine|

    Tell it, sista! Body image, especially with women, is such an issue and it's kinda sick what the media has created. I just learned the other week that a friend's niece is in a facility for anorexia (at 14) and it is just too sad. I know with myself, it's just not letting it go from caring to obsessive. Kinda like when you cut your hair- it will grow back. Weight fluctuates, it just does. Thanks for sharingyou look beautiful!

    Reply
  4. sarah yates|

    thanks everyone!

    @caitlin- keep at it! try to see yourself the way the people that love you do, i'm pretty sure they'd tell you you're insanely amazing!!!

    @jamie – i know, it's especially heartbreaking to see how this plays out with young women and girls. someone close to me struggles with anorexia as well and it breaks my heart into pieces, i would do anything to heal her and just want so badly for her to be able to see herself the way i see her.

    @fashionablecollectives- yes! you'll gain weight and you'll lose weight and neither matters. embrace the curves! focus on health and making loving choices for yourself (that's my mantra these days!!!)

    Reply
  5. Carelia|

    Life is about embracing changes! but sometimes it's a hard thing to do. When I was in my early 30s, I used to be so hard on myself, now I'm in my early 40s and I have learned to love who I am and be so much confident about my look and my life (hey, I'm blogging). You look wonderful to me and I bet you all your followers will agree with me and btw, your hair color is amazing!
    Xo
    Carelia

    "A Sunny Black and White" Blog post on:
    MySmallWardrobe.com

    Reply
  6. amanda|

    love this. and you look fantastic! being healthy and fit and happy is so much more important than being svelte. confidence and swag is what makes an outfit work!

    Reply
  7. Krissy|

    Really good post. I, too, have gained a few pounds from eating more nuts and attempting to get more healthy fats in my diet and I've been beating myself up about it! Thanks for sharing! You look fab!

    Reply
  8. Alicia|

    The hardest lesson that I have had to learn and will continue to learn for my whole life is how to cultivate and hold onto self love. And really learning that "I am not my body".

    Reply
  9. Karman|

    Sarah, thank you for this post! I have been seeing an acupuncturist for a few months while trying to get pregnant, and have been put on the same diet. I too have gained a few pounds (likely that in combination with the holidays) and have been feeling very vulnerable about it. It is so easy to get tunnel vision and forget about our larger goals for the sake of our own standards of beauty/vanity/keeping up, but it goes to show there are a lot more important and lasting things than a number on the scale. And you look great, BTW!

    Reply
  10. me.|

    sarah, you are the bravest most courageous person i have ever known. you inspire me everyday to be better and go further. you are perfection in every way. i love you!

    Reply
  11. Cate|

    "I'm calling Bullshit!" I think this might be my new slogan. I know this to be true, but boy is it hard to feel the truth, to truly believe it. I've never been a thin girl, but as I've gotten older, I've learned to be healthy. That doesn't mean I'm thin–I now hover slightly below the average sized American woman. But I (mostly) eat well and am (usually) active. About a year and a half ago, I moved across the country from LA to Providence. Upon moving, I found a new doctor, who during our consultation, bluntly told me my BMI indicated that I was obese. Not just overweight, but obese. I was crushed. Like, couldn't stop crying devastated. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and frustrated. She hadn't asked me about my eating habits, my fitness level, my health history–she just dropped this bomb on me and told me to lose a few pounds. That was six months ago and I still feel resonance from those words. Ultimately, I don't think my BMI determines my level of health. I think my actions speak much louder than the calculation of a few numbers. But even then, accepting my body is not easy. It's so easy to covet the bodies of the actresses, models, and (yes, even) bloggers who grace our screens and magazine pages. But I'm reminded of the Roosevelt quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy." If I can just look at my choices, my blessings, and those who love and care about me (and I them), I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. So maybe to my new bullshit slogan, I will add "I choose joy!" Thank you for such a beautiful and important piece.

    Reply
  12. Kimberly|

    First of all, you look amazing! Second, I completely understand your struggle – having successfully recovered from an eating disorder in my teens, I thought all that was in my past never to resurface again. Until I recently had my own health issues and have also been forced onto a medically-required diet. All of a sudden, those old patterns and ways of belittling myself came rushing back. But I love what you said here – we are the SAME people, no better & no worse. And we have to make a conscious decision each day to love ourselves just as we are. :)

    Reply
  13. chelsey|

    thank you so much for this post and for being so brave to share things that are so hard! I get nervous every single time I post a fashion post because I am the same way and just criticize the way I look, but I know we are our own worst critic. You are gorgeous and I love your style and think you always look amazing so keep doing your thing girl;)
    xoChelsey

    http://westcoastcapri.com

    Reply
  14. kimmy|

    Wise words. 5 pounds is worth it if you can feel healthy again and enjoy life more. It can feel like a lot more weight emotionally, than it really adds up to physically. I gained 7 pounds this year because of health issues, and while I don't feel any different as a person, frankly I don't fit into a lot of my clothing anymore. I feel your pain (literally, this muffin top is killing me! ha), but I also know that it's a waste of time to wallow. You look beautiful and healthy and if I hadn't read your post I never would have known anything had changed.

    Reply
  15. Ashlee Spear|

    Keep reminding yourself of these encouraging words you posted, Sarah!

    I came across your site a few months back, have cooked several of your recipes, and am always excited to see what new healthy dishes you come up with!

    Hope your new eating plan gets you healthy and feeling well again soon. I have two friends with Crohns, and have seen what a tricky, nasty beast of an illness it can be.

    Reply
  16. Laura|

    Sarah, I admire you for many reasons. The two biggest reasons are your bravery (see post above) and the fact that through your blog you are teaching people how to take care of themselves. (Myself included.) You make healthy, plant-based food look yummy and that is no easy feat.

    It is really hard to be brave when you/we/I (temporarily) don't feel good in your/our/my skin. Even harder to post about feeling that way. Thank you for pushing publish on this one because we're all feeling the same way. We just don't know how to say it. And you said it so well.

    Reply
  17. Lauren|

    Once again…didn't think it was possible to like you more than I already do and then… You, of course look AMAZING, but I think EVERY woman can relate to what you just wrote. Thanks for keeping it real

    Reply
  18. Stephanie Rose|

    You are beautiful inside and out. Truly. Thank you for being so generous with yourself x

    Reply
  19. courtney|

    This post is the reason you are my favorite blogger. You are beautiful inside and out. Thank you for your honesty & vulnerability. Your struggle is like mine. I beat myself up until I lost the baby weight this year & seriously I JUST HAD A BABY. But, instead of being kind to myself & knowing this, I beat myself up. 2014 is about learning to love myself.

    Reply
  20. Rachel|

    This is such an important topic, I thank you so much for sharing! And that's why this is my favorite blog.

    Reply
  21. Guest|

    You look absolutely stunning. I love how raw and personal this post was. Thank you for putting your struggles out in the open like that. You're an inspiring lady.

    Reply
  22. Krishaun|

    I love this post! Media and society tends to make people (more specifically girls) feel as if they have to have the perfect hair, body, and clothes to actually be beautiful, and that is completely wrong on all levels. I applaud you for calling it out for how it is because I feel as more of us need to start recognizing our beauty, regardless to what dress size we wear, or if our hair is curly and not pin straight. That type of stuff doesn't matter! It's how we treat ourselves and look at ourselves that matter. Once we all can see the beauty that we possess, we will be able to hold our heads up high and exude confidence. And just to note, generally we see our own flaws, while others are totally oblivious to them. With that being said, we shouldn't beat ourselves up about what we think is "ugly" or "needs to go." If we see something that we want to change, then that's fine, but I don't think that we should do it based off of what the media and society deems "beautiful."

    I've struggled with weight gain over the past few years. And since I am still in high-school, it seems worse because of the judgement peers give. Lately, I have learned to not care. I KNOW that I'm beautiful and that's all that matters.

    P.S. Sorry for my little rant. ;) haha. Your post just sparked something inside of me. I love it! And btw, I love your outfit. :)

    xx, Krishaun

    Reply
  23. christine|

    WOW, thank you so much for this post. It was exactly what I needed to read when I woke up this morning. Your outlook and insight is inspiring. I cannot thank you enough. Oh and PS, you look amazing, per the usual.

    Reply
  24. Monica Beatrice Welburn|

    Sarah you are beyond gorgeous! I've been reading your blog for the past year or so after having found it through Gal Meets Glam – I literally tell EVERYONE about A House In The Hills – "there's an amazing blog you have to check out" "you HAVE to try these recipes" "just LOOK at her style" etc (for fear of sounding like a super fan!). The fact that you share your personal stories is so inspiring, I know how frightening it can be but I am so happy that your readers give you a big "right ON" for doing so – it's your bravery which encourages others to be brave too.

    I hope that your health troubles clear up soon. Keep being kind to yourself also.

    To reiterate: You ARE gorgeous, you look gorgeous, but most importantly you've reminded us all about checking in with our core values – the true gage of how happy we should feel within ourselves.

    Thank you for sharing! I can't wait to see your next style post – I know you'll rock it.

    Love from London,

    MB x

    Reply
  25. Spy Garden|

    I am size 6. But I feel amazing when I'm a 4. But it takes no effort to be a 6 and lots of effort to be a 4. I try to find humor in the struggle and make light of it, because it won't go away (even with the lovliest of pep talks). It's 10lbs. It means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things, except me feeling just a tad more "proud/comfortable" of my body. I DO embrace the little wrinkles starting to appear on my face and want to write a letter to my 40 or 50 year old self (I'm 31) that is: Age gracefully, don't have "work" done, ever, no botox. Embrace the lines and don't ever dye your hair. Because so many women I admire (over 40/50) don't do any of those things and I find them beautiful. But most of them always want to lose 10lbs. Hahahhaha I guess I feel that its OK to have the weight struggle as long as you realize those 10lb fluctuations are no more significant than the "struggles" of having to wait on hold or unexpected delays or other tedious/insignificant things in life. So long as the weight gain is not enough to cause health problems, we should try and view the ebb and flow of a few lbs a little less obsessively, for sure!

    Reply
  26. Davia|

    Hi Sarah! It's Davia! It's been awhile:) first off, I normally do not comment on blogs but this post really got my attention. I'm so impressed with your honesty. I love it! As you know, being a makeup artist I'm around this sort of stuff ALL the time. (Too skinny, not enough skinny, Botox? No Botox? Wrinkles etc) and frankly, I'm sick of it! I've been laying off of Instagram lately because of all the "selfie" "look how perfect me and my life are" when in fact, NO ONE is perfect. Don't get me wrong, I too love pretty makeup and a great outfit, but I feel we've ( me included) have lost perspective. After all, We are all in this boat together of fears and insecurities. So I agree, let's put more focus on the things that matter. When we die (which all of us will one day) no one is going to be talking about how skinny or wrinkle free we were! So here's to being real and honest and having a balance in this crazy and fun world we live in! Whew! Ok , I'm done! Lol! Thank you again Sarah for the inspiration! Sooo refreshing! Ps . Tell Lou hi!

    Reply
  27. Jenna|

    I really respect how you are changing your lifestyle in order to prioritize your health, regardless of the difficulties and repercussions on your image. Thank you for talking about this… I realized something similar in December: when I shift my view of myself to align with how my friends, family, and God see me, I can actually see myself much more clearly. It's a bonus that the clarity brings more love, caring, and acceptance into my life! Looking forward to reading more about your journey!

    Reply
  28. kelsey|

    hearing this from a blogger that is so beautiful, so perfect to the reader's eye, is really really refreshing. in a weird way – like i don't want you to be going through the same struggle, but if we all are experiencing it, then something's totally wrong. if so many ostensibly perfect people are feeling utterly imperfect then we need to challenge our ideas and standards.
    Ladies in Navy

    Reply
  29. Alex|

    What a breath of fresh air! I find that I have such compassion and kindness for others, but when I feel my jeans a bit tight, or the house a bit messy, I have no such compassion for myself. I think this is something we all need to rebuff. We can't do it all and can't be it all.

    I just read a great book, along this continuum, by Brene Brown called Daring Greatly. Think you would like it!

    Reply
  30. allie|

    GIRL.. you look fabulous. & you know, sure, a style blog is about how well you wear the clothes, but i look at style blogs to see HOW you wear the clothes. how you put outfits together, how you mix & match prints & patterns, how you rock leggings under shorts.. shit like that makes me coming back for more! excuse my french.

    either way, i can agree that you are your worst critic.. i am a perfectionist to a tee. but style blogs are about style, not pant size.

    wishing you the best!

    allie at alliewears.com

    Reply
  31. Katy @ All Sorts of Pretty|

    Sarah, I just love you and your blog. You are my food hero. I went through (literally) every single recipe you've ever posted this past weekend and added about 80% of them to my Flipboard. I love the beautiful and imaginative ways you come up with healthy recipes. This site is truly such a source of inspiration, I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoy coming here. Also – and this is, in no way meant to offend or cause upset – but you mentioned above that you're dealing with some health issues and have been advised to get more protein in your diet…but have you considered reintroducing small amounts of meat in to your diet? Even just once or twice a week, pasture fed and humanely raised of course. I was listening to a podcast recently of Michael Pollan and he mentioned that it's very difficult for some vegans to maintain optimal health for long periods of time because of the lack of protein among other things. I read a similar blog post from a vegan blogger too, who decided to start adding some meat back in to her diet for health reasons. Anyway! I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think anyone here would blame you or be upset if you did. You gotta take care of you. Okay, I'll wrap it up with this mile long comment, but I just wanted to put that out there (but please, again, no offense was meant so I hope I haven't stepped on your perfectly polished toes :) ) xoxo

    Reply
  32. Rebecca Scott|

    Love this post. I stumbled upon your incredible site via pinterest and after re-blogging one of your beautiful photos, I came to explore your blog. Thanks for sharing the tough stuff. I agree that this is an issue we all struggle with and it does wonders to have a blog like yours open up this conversation – that's really the beauty of blogging and sharing!

    Reply