Turning 29 in Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto

Once I heard that the the third annual Su-Style Expo, the premier plus size event for Latinas, would be happening on May 4th, literally the day after my birthday, I took this to be a sign that it was finally time for me to go to Puerto Rico. My mother spent over 4 years there working on her BS in Biology before immigrating to the US and so I grew up listening to my mother call Puerto Rico as her “Segunda Patria” (Translation: Second homeland). Having heard her stories and seen pictures of her adventures there, I dreamed about the day that I would be able to travel to “La Isla del Encanto” myself.

My mother’s birthday is a week before mine and she hasn’t been back since she left in 1987 so I figured that  a mother-daughter trip would also be a great birthday present for her. (And by extension, Mother’s Day present too because that was a week after our trip and I was pretty broke after this, hahaha!) So I bought our tickets, booked the hotel and told her to pack her bags. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so excited.

I had originally planned to do a full-fledged travel vlog complete with a pina colada counter (because there were many, I mean it is Puerto Rico after all), but alas I was having a bit too much fun to take video too seriously. However I still wanted to share a bit about our trip so check it out below!

Day 1 – Travel Day

My mother and I haven’t been on a plane together since 2007 when we flew down to Panama as a family for my great-grandmother’s funeral so it was a nice change of pace to be traveling someplace for fun rather than obligation. The entire time in the airport I caught my mother looking around the airport muttering, “No puedo creer que vamos a Puerto Rico!” (Translation: I can’t believe we’re going to Puerto Rico!)

The face of complete joy at being back.

Even with all the excitement, our first day on the island just consisted of picking up our rental car and settling into our hotel. My mother had to cram three days of work into two in order to get the rest of the week off so she was pretty beat by the time we got to the airport and I had actually stayed up the night before repacking my suitcase for the fourth time so we were pretty tired to do any of the things that I had on the agenda for the day besides getting something to eat. Continue reading

Women Made of Metal

Today marks the end to yet another Women’s History Month and I thought a great way to end the month would be to highlight some serious girl power that is found in my favorite music genre – metal. Yes, the metal community is predominately male, with women treated as a novelty meant to be seen and not heard,  but women continue to make their mark in spite of it all, from leading bands to even being the subject of songs.

So here are just 5 songs sung by (and in one instance about) metal queens that I have had on repeat for most of this month that have inspired as well as motivated me. I know that metal is not everyone’s thing but I invite you to turn your volume up and rock out a bit.  \m/><\m/

1. Roots by In This Moment

American gothic metal band, In This Moment and their lead singer Maria Brink are my current obsessions. (Honestly, the more I read about this woman the more I love her and want to list to everything she has ever recorded.) It started when I put my friend’s Beats headphones on and heard the chorus of their song, Joan of Arc , from their 2017 album, Ritual – a concept album about the Salem Witch Trials. It was amazing and the only reason that song is not on this list is because Roots just has this feeling of compete defiance in spite of every challenge and/or person that attempts to bring you down and that is extremely empowering. Even if metal is not your cup of tea, I highly recommend you at least give this song a chance.

Favorite Lyric:  …I’m stronger than I ever knew, I’m strong because of you…

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I Hosted a Resume Party!

By now it is pretty much common knowledge that 68% of  American women wear a size 14 and over. However, one thing that isn’t included with this statistic is the economic disparities that come from work place discrimination based on weight and size. According to a 2016 study by the Census Bureu, workers who are heavier than the average are paid $1.25 less an hour and over a 40 year career, they will earn up to $100,000 less before taxes than their thinner counterparts.   As you can imagine these numbers just get more complex and disheartening once, gender, race and ethnicity comes to play.

It was with all this in mind that I decided to host a resume party – an informal gathering for the purpose of getting resume feedback and discuss goals, and other career development insights. Originally this was just going to be simple. Just a few of my friends in my living room, probably talking over some pizza, however, once I started writing out the “guest list” I realized that this needed to be a bit bigger than what I was planning. Of the eight people that were to be in attendance, six of us are influencers building and maintaining our own individual brands, be it for beauty and fashion, fashion illustration, food or makeup artistry, while also doing  out best to prosper in our traditional careers outside of that social media sphere.

You can’t have any kind of party without snacks!

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My Two Cents: Body Positivity vs. Influencer Weight Loss?

Back in December, I spent some of my holiday break  going through my Facebook blog page DMs from readers (yes, I actually make time to read and answer those) and this was one of the ones I had received:

I’m not going to lie, the question took me off guard to the point that I failed to formulate an immediate answer. So I simply wrote back that I needed some time to process this a bit, promising that I would cover this topic on the blog as soon as I could.

Weight loss is such a touchy subject. Understandably so as it triggers a lot of difficult memories and emotions for many of us, especially if you are a woman. As someone who grew up being constantly criticized, bullied and even publicly humiliated for my weight, I still cringe a bit when Weight Watchers is brought up in conversation. (For context I was gifted a membership to that program by my Great Aunt when I was 9 years old and subsequently continued to do so until the day I turned 18, but that’s a story for another time.)

I came into plus size fatshion through the body positive movement and I know that for some people its the opposite. This was back in 2009, before it all went mainstream and body positivity, as it applied to plus size bodies specifically, was more along the lines of size acceptance. I was 19 and had a history of leaving the mall in tears for not being able to find anything that I liked that fit and was actually affordable.  I told myself that I hated fashion but the truth was that I hated the fact that the fashion industry just wouldn’t work with my body.  I believed that in order to have things like respect, love and nice clothes, akin to that of my thinner peers, I would have to lose as much weight as possible first.

Me at 19 vs. Now

That’s when I stumbled onto The Big Girl Blog by Cece Olisa. It was purely by accident, as I had been online shopping for plus size club clothes since I had been invited to a party that called for that kind of thing. I kept reading post after post and ended up finding other similar blogs that covered topics such as dating, fashion and, of course, body love and body positivity. Motivated by what I read,  I started to unlearn the negative “lessons” that had been instilled in me and learned to love and celebrate the body I have. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season to… Manage Holiday Anxiety

Its no secret that once October rolls around I get on a holiday high. Yes, Halloween marks the start of the holiday season for me. Call me weird if you must, haha. Typically the holiday season for me is spent cleaning, reorganizing, shopping and decorating with some commitments with friends and family sprinkled into my already busy work schedule. It’s a lot! So you can see why I honestly I roll my eyes when I see articles about “How to Have a Stress and Anxiety-free Holiday” that are published once the season begins because realistically there really is no such thing. The best thing you can do is manage it so it doesn’t affect you as much. Which is why I decided to take some time to share 5 tips for managing holiday anxiety. I hope that it is helpful to those who may be struggling like I am right now.

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