Reality is an Illusion

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Dress: Thrift find, Shawl Vest: Thrift find, Flower Crown: Self-made, Beaded Necklace: Thrift find, Multi colored Beaded Necklace: Old Navy, Elephant Necklace: F21, Jean Jacket: Mogujie.com, Sandals: Nordstrom Rack, Red Lipstick: MAC

 

   What lately feels like no work towards my recovery is quiet the contrary when I start looking at the small things I’ve accomplished. Finally I feel ready to take on the work that needs to be done psychologically and emotionally with my trauma. I’ve found a trauma specialist therapist and have an appointment to see if she’s a good fit for me. Furthermore, I’ve taken the steps to riding myself of some people in my life that are just flat out unhealthy for me right now.

   I guess now that I feel I actually have self-worth I’m no longer blinded to noticing the signs that someone is hurting me and in short stunting my growth. One person in particular called me the Jessa of her friends (Jemima Kirke’s character in the HBO series girls) in the form of a compliment. The old, self-destructive Juanna would have been flattered, honored, even overwhelmed by the “compliment.” The current Juanna sees Jessa as a black hole at a dead end. I may have been a lot like her then and I may still be eccentric and individualistic but I’m no longer a lost puppy seeking its next thrill. As you can see I was instead quiet offended and hurt. I couldn’t believe someone that has witnessed my process of self-transcendence say such a thing. I’m glad it happened because it was the last straw. I drew the line. I can’t have friends that see me in this light. Not to mention people who are willing to manipulate me into giving into their demands. I’m way beyond people pleasing. Right now I just need to work on doing my best to satisfy myself. That’s hard enough of a task all on its own. I don’t need “friends” that are going to remind me to self loathe.

   For this set of photos I went shopping and on an overall rendezvous of admiring street art with my dear friend Nick. He snapped pictures of me by a brightly colored mural and a van covered in art. The weather has come along with a nice breeze so a light jacket can easily be incorporated into my ensembles in the evening. Believe me I’m not complaining. After Florida’s weather I’m beyond ecstatic for cool evenings. They allow for long, contemplative walks.

   Bonnaroo Music and Arts Music festival and Pitchfork Music festival have been keeping my inner flower child load and alive. That is why this outfit screams 1960’s Woodstock. I wore a long, lace, and flowy dress with a brown long vest over it. The detail included a yellow daisy flower crown of coarse, red lips, and three dangly necklaces. It’s sandal season so I threw a pair of aquamarine green sandals with golden studs. It was a very easy outfit. Perfect for walking and fitting in with all the fashion enthusiasts of the Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square areas of Chicago.  

“Every single one of us goes through life depending on and bound by our individual knowledge and awareness. And we call it reality. However, both knowledge and awareness are equivocal. One’s reality might be another’s illusion. We all live inside our own fantasies. It’s exciting to be so much more in touch with myself now that I can actually fantasize and realize my reality isn’t set in stone. I may not think much of myself but I may mean the world to someone else. For that matter I must stay strong when I fall so I can gather it to get back up and keep going on this long and endless journey.”

-Juanna Gutierrez

It’s the Small Things In Life

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Dress: Free People, Sandals: Old Navy, Hat: H&M, Gold Lipstick: MAC, Sunnies: Marcelas Boutique Denver

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Dress: Free People, Hat: Free People, Red Lipstick: MAC, Wedges: Charlotte Russe

    I was reading back on my initial blog entry and I can’t seem to believe I was in that motivated mind space.  It sort of shook me up that I can totally return to that place. I just need to take the initiative to continue investing on my recovery. I’ve been in this avoidant mood that just isn’t taking me anywhere but into a damn hellhole.

   Yesterday was when I prepared the ball and today I got it rolling. I want to be back on track and it shouldn’t be impossible because I have so much support. I’m just, like everything else, avoiding it. I’m avoiding getting trauma therapy, I’m being mild in my initiative to find a job, fearing I’m going to panic and not be up for it. I’m avoiding talking to my family out of reluctance to tell them what is truly going on. I’d rather dodge them, than have to lie to them, and most importantly I’ve been avoiding processing my feelings. This keeping them buried is what is making me feel stuck but I can’t seem find the proper shovel to get digging. 

   When we moved in together, my roommate Bear and I did it for many reasons but one of them was so we could aid each other in our recoveries. Lately, I’ve been failing her miserably and have felt she isn’t there as much for me to rely on. Which is great because she deserves to have a life that doesn’t include a bag of potatoes weighing her down, but she really is my rock. For this very reason seeing her working so hard to kick all her unhealthy habits and moving towards a meaningful life worth living is really getting me down. It’s like a constant reminder of what I’m doing wrong. I feel awful because this is leaving me stripped of a way to be supportive. This only further feeds my thoughts that I’m a bad person and deserve to be punished.

    The thing is, if anything her progress and rigorous and determined battle against her demons should motivate me. Slowly but surely, today that thought has fiercely hit me. If she won’t give up hope for a better future and she believes fulfillment is possible, so should I. Not that I should (look at me constantly thinking of what I should or shouldn’t do) compare myself to anyone, but Bear is an inspiration to me. She’s the strongest, smartest, most empathetic, understanding, and caring person I’ve ever met. Despite her being so obviously beyond me, she doesn’t make me feel inferior. If anything she makes me feel like I’m worth something that should fight for a life that was made for her if willing to go the distance to obtain it. She teaches me so much, words wouldn’t even begin to describe. That’s why I suddenly feel some of her lessons. It’s like my head is less clouded and I can finally see that again.

     Yesterday, before watching the World Cup final over lunch at the Chicago Diner, my dear friend Karina and I had a short photo shoot. I’ve known Karina since I came to Chicago three years ago. She is this charming, passionate, involved, considerate, and shy soul that just had me at hello. I know it sounds cliché but from the start I knew Karina was a keeper. She wouldn’t hurt a fly and she’s so beautiful. What adds to her beauty is her passion for helping others and working as hard as possible to create a valuable and fruitful life. It is such an honor featuring Karina on my blog because she embodies inner/outer beauty, woman and Latina power, and gentle handed kindness. All things I’m working towards.

   I put Karina in a vibrant emerald green dress composed of velvet designs and flared sleeves and hemline. To accessorize I went in an earthy/southern direction, adding a brown leather hat, a silver necklace with a wooden medallion, and some tan wedges. Karina rocks her glasses on the daily so I allowed for them to give the look something extra. We shot around a patch of delightful orange flowers that complimented the color of the dress and her red lips.

    I kept my outfit simple, soft, and comfortable. I’m less hyperaware of my body in loose, chic dresses, which always makes life easier. For that matter I went with a highly sheer off-white dress with buttons going down the middle and embroidery at the shoulders. It’s a very delicate and fun piece to work with. I went with some gladiator like beige sandals and a black Charlie Chaplin top hat. I felt the dress and the shoes paired together didn’t need accessories. It’s so lovely having pieces that are their own accessory. I went with golden lips and orange sunnies in what was loudly hot and humid weather.

   “When Juanna asked me to be in this blog I was both honored and nervous. I was excited because I love the idea behind this blog. I think Juanna is not only doing something beautiful in the fact that she is encouraging us to be vulnerable by standing in front of the camera, but she is also empowering us to celebrate the things that we take for granted—the things that make us unique and beautiful. I was nervous to do the shoot because since a young age I was always a shy, awkward, and self-conscious girl. At one point in my life I found myself in a dark place, consumed on how by the way I looked, and I let food and the number on the scale dictate my life. Thankfully, God helped me realize the path I was taking was a painful, lonely, and self-destructive one, and he was able to help guide me back to the correct one. I am not going to lie there are days, weeks, and months where I find myself slipping again and turning to my old habits, but I have been lucky to find friends that have shown me I am the opposite of everything my ED mind has told me. Thanks to them I am beginning a long road that will lead me to happiness, self-love, confidence, and fierceness. One day not only will I be able to tell myself the following: “I am enough, I am beautiful, and the number on the scale doesn’t define me” but I will also believe these words from the bottom of my heart.”

-Karina Sanchez

Its a Jungle and there are Fairies

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Shawl: Burlington Coat Factory, Skirt: Free People, Bandeau: American Apparel, Flower Crown: Self-made

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Shawl: Thrift find, Shorts: Thrift find, Bandeau: Urban Outfitters, Head Piece: Passage to India Miami, Gold Lipstick: MAC

 

   I fell off the wagon. I fell thinking that the longer I ignored it the higher the likelihood that I would just happen to get back on. Things don’t just happen though. One has to be relentlessly unwilling to settle and instead keep moving forward.  I felt stuck though. It was that same familiar feeling of walking through quick sand that I was experiencing. I couldn’t process my feelings. Instead I was stuffing that immense void I can so quickly switch into feeling with whatever I could get my hands on.

    I’ve been so ashamed of my lapse in recovery I haven’t been able to process what is going on and why it is all happening. For the most part I thought I had recovery on a leash but I’m starting to see that Ed has me on that leash instead. I’m still haunted by body image and personal insecurities. I feel crippled and compelled to punish myself for my shortcomings.

   I’ve sulked enough though. I will not again stand for this kind of meaningless life. It’s just so hard though when you feel like you’re the scum of the earth. I know chemically something is off in my head as well but as punishment I’ve been putting off taking care of it. Instead I keep the blows coming.

    Going to Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival in Manchester and then leaving to Miami for eighteen days really through me off. I went from 12 hours a day, 7 days a week of treatment to no treatment. It really shook me up. I was too high on my pink cloud thinking I was good to handle it. Obviously my demons are more powerful than I thought.

    But enough is enough. No one but me can get me out of this one. So I’m going to start with the little things, the things that bring me joy and deliverance from pain and suffering. Things like yoga, which I’ve been practicing but not as routinely, cooking, and of coarse blogging. I forget that my blog and having photo shoots with women that embrace their body and themselves keeps me motivated and on track. I was just being reluctant to get back on out of fear. Lately feelings of fear to live have surfaced again lately. I need to work through them though and not crawl into a hole.

    Today is a re set, and I’ll start with a set of pictures I took with Julia while I was in Florida. Lately I’ve been into polka dots and loose clothing with lots of movement. Take it that the weather in the summer in Hollywood, Florida is unbearable so I wanted to place her in airy and light textured clothing. I like to think of myself as a flower child so whenever I can incorporate a flower crown I dive into it. For her ensemble I went with a sheer skirt with sequined polka dots. Up top I wanted something sexy and playful. I went with a sheer lace bandeau and an aqua sheer shawl with colorful polka dots. The shawl was flowy and nicely cut. With her hair and all Julia looked like a fairy in a magical land.

    For my outfit I was thinking jungle princess. That manifested itself in bold prints, loose pieces, and a black bandeau. I’m crazy about this new headpiece. It makes me feel like a gypsy goddess. I went with gold lips to seal the deal.

   “Normally I’m very shy and uncomfortable in my own skin especially in front of others but this shoot made me feel empowered and I loved that. I feel as if I met Juana at such a good time in my life. It’s been awhile since I’ve met a real, down to earth chick who’s been through some shit and appreciates life. It was so refreshing for me to just meet such a beautiful and creative person. And so randomly at that. Her creativity inspired me while doing the shoot and while at first I felt shy I quickly opened up. I can’t wait to see what our next shoot will be like!”

-Julia Avenriep

 

 

Viva America

   Happy birthday America! I’m so lucky to live in a country where I have rights and I’m technically free. I say technically because sometimes I can be really good at being my own dictator that oppresses and tortures me. I’ve been on vacation in Miami for fifteen days now and hadn’t really gotten around to having a photo shoot. It was really eating me up inside and even mildly depressing me. Taking it easy and only soaking up the sun can only do so much for me. I’m all rested and want to jump back on the creative and therapeutic train. I mean I miss my routine, my yoga classes, my friends, Chicago summer weather and what I can wear in it, and even the CTA. I know weird right? I just hate being confined to a house when my family is off at work and truth be told Florida rubs me the wrong way. People are outrageous and over the top, the swampy hot weather makes me want to scratch my face off when I’m in it for more than two hours, and the fashion/music scene here just isn’t very me. I feel out of place and it brings up feelings I haven’t been managing too well lately.

     I need to be honest with my followers and myself. I’ve been soothing myself with old unhealthy habits and I just really need to go back to my life so I can plan how to manage my feelings around it. I know I’m not fully downward spiraling because there are days were I manage just fine but there are days where I have no control what so ever. I at least don’t allow myself to, which is pathetic. I’m better and stronger than I think I am and lately I’ve just been selling myself short. Sitting in a couch and going to the beach is not really prompting me to get ready and it has definitely taken a toll. At least I know that about myself now.

   For this photo shoot I snapped pictures of my cousin’s girlfriend, Julia. She’s this sweet as cake, cool girl with baby pink hair that is just such a joy to be around. I automatically felt very comfortable around her and I could sense she feels comfortable in her own skin. It was lovely to be able to play with more provocative, and exposing clothes on her. She was full game for whatever I wanted to dress her up in which gave my creative process no boundaries. I know little about boundaries so this was ridiculously ideal for me. Shooting with Julia was a blast. She has endless beauty that manifested itself through her pictures. She’s that kind of pretty that isn’t aware of her beauty and it makes her all that much more beautiful.

   We shot a fourth of July inspired session. That’s why we played with an American flag and had very retro outfits to fit the interior of Julia’s vintage home made up of wooden walls. I put Julia in monochrome black and white with a black bandeau paired with a black short, high-wasted skirt with white polka dots. I asked her to put her hair up in two buns. I wanted to show off the design of the bandeau. That and the tips of her hair are a darker pink, which make the buns look extra spunky. I merely added black and white Artisan made earrings and added black lace up boots.

   For my outfit I went all 60s acid kid ready to get her rock on and celebrate Americas birthday. I wore a long, psychedelic print skirt with a loose white tee, a sun hat, my John Lennon yellow sunnies, some bangles, and black booties. It was very simple, bizarre, and comfy. Something I definitely find myself wearing here in Florida quiet often. Although I must say it is a little too much clothes for this weather.

The Sun Leaves but the Moon Comes

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Denim Dress: Urban Outfitters, Bandeau: PacSun, Flower Crown: F21, Sandals, Nordstrom Rack, Sunnies: Urban Outfitters, Bangles: Passage to India

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Pants: F21, Top: Target, Sunnies: Free People, Necklace: Thrift find, Hat: Thrift find, Sandals: Charlotte Russe

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Pants: Urban Outfitters, Top: PacSun, Sunnies: City Soles Chicago, Headpiece: Passage to India, Necklace: Nordstrom Rack, Sandals: American Eagle

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   Being in Miami is really helping me come to terms with my body size. I had this thought that everyone out by the beach were going to have these body types I idealize and covet. Of coarse there are those body types but there are also real, imperfect bodies being flaunted without any sort of shame. It sort of is putting me in my place in terms of acceptance. I’m not perfect and me striving to be is delusional. Being here is really just letting me go. I even went and bought two new sets of bathing suits. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be the girl excited to buy a new bathing suit. Gees, one of them is even a two-piece suit! It feels magical to observe myself take steps forward in a direction of self-depleting thought liberation. It really helps that I’m around my siblings and Julia who all seem pretty confident, if not accepting of who they are and what they embody.

    One thing that is tormenting me lately are these invasive and vivid thoughts of me stuffing myself immobile and eventually making myself gag it all out. Of coarse I haven’t acted on these thoughts and images and if anything I’m able to tell myself they are just thoughts. They come and they go, they ebb and the flow, and they definitely can’t hurt me. I mean I can’t control my feelings or my thoughts but I can certainly control my actions. I refuse to go back to the hell I was living in and acting on my thoughts would most definitely set me back there. It helps being around supportive people all the time and it helps to stay busy, but the question sets in once again when I go home…. Can I stay on this path when alone and with my life on my hands to manage? Can I be this person I’m happy being when no one is watching? I surely hope so, and I at least have this outlet to process what is going on in this twisted head of mine.

   For my outfit I wanted something simple, summery, and feminine. I landed on a floral bandeau, with a light washed denim dress, a flower crown, and heart shaped sunnies. I feel the outfit is very easy on the eye and extremely casual, maybe even a lazy outfit I’d say, but for sure a perfect ensemble for a walk along the beach.

   For both Julia’s and Ale’s outfit we decided on something similar. Groovy printed loose pants made of chiffon, a necklace each, sandals, and loose and airy crop tops. For Julia I wanted more of a beach attire sort of outfit, but for Ale I wanted to take a more formal, Roman goddess twist by adding a golden headpiece on her head. It went perfect with the gold medallion necklace that nicely dangled over her abdomen. It was adorable because they both got yin-yang henna tattoos on their wrists and have belly button rings that are apparent in some shots.

   “It’s insanity for me that younger girls are teaching me how to love my body one inch at a time. It’s also madness that I’m no longer torturing myself and instead expressing myself creatively, which has started to give my life some sort of meaning. I wake up with ideas in mind. Positive and creative ideas that make me believe life does have happy endings. It’s just that you are in charge of making it happen.”

-Juanna Gutierrez

Its a Beach Paradise

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Romper: Akira, Hair Bow: Claires, Sandals: Nordstrom Rack, Bangles: Vendors Market Miami, Sunnies: F21, Purple Lipstick: Smash Beauty Lounge Miami

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Dress: American Apparel, Headband: Self-made, Cuff: Urban Outfitters, Sandals: H&M, Red Lipstick: Smash Beauty Lounge Miami, Sunnies: Urban Outfitters

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Dress: Gift, Sunnies: RagStock Chicago, Earrings: Artisans Denver Art Walk, Headband: F21, Flip Flops: Hollister

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   I’m in Miami bitch!! I’m not a fan of the word but I’m a sucker for that saying and now I get to use it legitimately. Today we went for a day of sun bathing and swimming at Hollywood Beach. We ended up getting kicked out because of a terrifying in coming storm. I’m just glad we had some sunshine for the time of the shoot.

   This vacation is very special to me. I’m here with my siblings that I didn’t meet too long ago but it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. They make my life sugar sweet and really make me forget that I’m a mentally sick individual. Like I haven’t had the slightest urge to do something hurtful to myself. They bring out the divine and pure in me. They make me want to be a better sister, and just overall a better person. This photo shoot was a blast. The girls are a lot younger than me. They are still teenagers and they seem to be a lot more comfortable in their skin than I am which is inspiring. They posed silly, quirky poses in our already very hippie, 1970s style clothes. We were a bunch of flower children that love going to the beach for the natural beauty of it. The wind was blowing because of the waves of the beach and it wasn’t God awfully hot so it was if anything ideal for this specific shoot.

   I dressed myself in this new piece I specifically acquired for my paid visit to Miami. It has plenty of 1960s flare to it. It was a romper with excessive fabric for pant legs. It’s very easy to breathe in it and beyond comfortable to be in. It makes me loose track of my awareness. Comfort tends to have that magical power. I pulled my hair back slightly to put a mint green bow on it and wore some aquamarine green sandals with gold studs. The final additions were a wooden necklace, some aviator glasses, and a shade of purple lipstick.

   For Julia’s outfit I wanted her to be in an electric hippie getup. That’s where the flower crown came in and the bright green spandex dress, which was playful and girly. I wanted to keep her simple to I just made her wear a silver cuff, red lips, and silver heart glasses. She’s not your typical hippie, she’s more of a quirky, outgoing hippie that loves to groove to EDC music and really out do herself.

   My sister, Ale’s, outfit was more 70s Go-Go dancer inspired but with a, “I’m going to the beach not the disco” vibe. I wanted yellow on her to contrast with the darkness of her skin and use hot pink to further exacerbate that. The earrings she wore had a groovy and trippy print that I bought from a local artist in Denver that does the print on the jewelry herself. I think they are amazing and go fabulously with bright colors like Ale’s ensemble. The dress had buttons and a bow going on the front so I didn’t want to add to the already amazing detailing. The headband and the earrings did the accessory bit justice.

   We all went with sandals. I mean we were at the beach and sand got on us everywhere. Besides I love the comfort of sandals and how versatile they can be despite the few designs they come in.

“ I am really excited that I’m in Miami because I’ve loved this city since I was a little girl. It’s special to me because I’m from Germany, so it is really different for me because we don’t have beautiful beaches like here. Today I had my first photo shoot and I was pretty excited for it. Actually I am really self-conscious about my body, especially my thighs and arms. That is a reason why I like to hide it and wear pants and long sleeves but today I wore a nice short dress and I felt pretty good about it. I had a lot of fun during the photo shoot and I hope I will do it again soon because it makes me feel more comfortable with my body.”

-Julia Bytomski

“ I have never been that girl who is 100% secure of her smile or body. I used to have braces and gasses that covered my face. But as I have grown and I find myself smiling with my friends and family, I have come to realize self-consciousness comes from being watched by others. Well today I am secure of who I am and who I am becoming. It is inevitable to be self-conscious, every individual has felt like being watched or judged by others. As I posed for the pictures I was aware that I am not a victoria secret model nor do I have a Colgate smile. I am a girl built with flaws, but if I don’t feel confident of what I have, who will? So smile for the camera and pose without hesitation. Just be you.”

-Alessandra Portillo

Flashback to the 60s

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Dress: Gift, Leopard coat: Vintage, Panty Hoes: Mogujie.com, Booties: Nordstrom Rack, Hat: Thrift find, Sunnies: Buffalo Exchange

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Top: Thrift find, Skirt: Thrift find, Flower Crown: Self Made, Sunnies: RagStock Chicago

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   I just got back from the most epic experience. Don’t take me wrong it wasn’t an easy walk in the park. I had to endure urinating in port-a-potties, making my bladder explode, endure sauna like conditions. I’m talking a fierce and relentless sun. The evenings made up for the day though. The moon and the stars were so vivid and the vibes were just peaceful. There was so much love, respect, and kindness around me. I felt I was put on a spaceship to another planet. The art, the food, the carnival features, the clothes and accessories were just to die for. I was so upset that I was on a budget. I wanted everything. I did buy a new piece that I’m sure I’ll style in the near future. I just can’t forget to give a shout out to all those amazing performers that just made my ears orgasm. Music is so beautiful and being around all these people that appreciate it as much as I do is just so a joy.

   Before I left on Wednesday. I never uploaded some ensembles that are very 1969 inspired. You have your flower child, free spirit and your more mod, quirky girl. We used the library in my apartment at our set and just went for it.

   Stephanie is in yellow. It really compliments her skin tone and the black goes with the darkness of her hair. I wanted a comfortable outfit with lots of movement for her and just a simple flower crown. I kept it very bohemian hippie.

   For my outfit I wanted to be that cool girl at a club in the 60s, hanging around all those mod hipsters. I played with warm colors and darkened the outfit to give it some mystery. I can’t get enough of my cat stockings. I’m such a cat lover and they are just so cute. They even have tails on the back. I had inspiration from the people that hung out at Andy Warhol’s factory. I wanted the outfit to say cool, hip, glamor.

     “The self, woman, and love acceptance is not taught by the industrialized school system but through creativity and self understanding that can take a lifetime to develop. As a mixed race individual I have always struggled with my hair texture. “Wear it like this! They tell me. “Press it, heat it, curl it, hair spray it, gel it, perm, press those edges!” Poison it. Recently something novice, something warm, began to develop inside me to question America’s beauty norms and wondering if I, Stephanie Fraga could create new ideals of beauty for myself. The day of the shoot I had picked my hair out and Juanna agreed that it was totally kosher. Juanna even whipped out her afro piece to further the notion that untamable hair is beautiful! After she chose outfits for me I felt not even the media’s standard of beauty could keep me down. This experience has led me to think life, beauty, and time can be molded to your own personal happiness. My friendship with this one groovy chick also commenced over Orange is the New Black and gluten-free coconut flour cupcakes. It’s always good to have close girlfriends to encourage female empowerment and each other’s interests. It’s pronounced POUSSEY!”

-Stephanie Fraga

Stephanie talks about the previous photo set we did. The coordination for posting it was off. Sorry

-Juanna Gutierrez