T-Rex Craze

Today, the internet blessed the nation with this top trending video:

In the video, a professional dancer dons a T-Rex costume and dances his routines from A Chorus Line. I couldn’t control my happiness watching this video. I am still laughing, as I write this piece. And so, it got me thinking. The T-Rex has been having a MAJOR pop culture impact over the last few years.

Here are some highlights:

What is it about the T-Rex that is so lovable? In the past, we have been taught to love the T-Rex because of its ferocious intimidating nature. Growing up with Jurassic Park, I always enjoyed the T-Rex because it was big, bold, and badass. But, this new trend shows a lighter side of the T-Rex. No longer scary, the T-Rex is now “all of us.” Personally, I most relate to the T-Rex because of its short limbs. Many hilarious memes have been created on that angle:

Even a T-Rex can feel insecure.

Everybody feels insecure sometimes.

So relatable!

We all want what we can’t have.

Well...crap.

Well…crap.

When there's a will, there's a way!

Wishful thinking can conquer all!

I think the T-Rex craze has stuck around so long because of the interesting narrative behind the comics/videos. Being a total dork, I completely relate to a video of a dancing T-Rex in a ballroom. I bemoan the fact that I have “T-Rex arms,” every time I am forced to zipper up the back of a dress by myself. The T-Rex comics demonstrate how I feel every day, as I try to make an impact on our too often judgmental society. I am unapologetically myself. I have learned to embrace the people who love me, flaws and all. The haters don’t matter. The T-Rex cartoons show that even the most intimidating of predators can have insecurities. We need to cut ourselves some slack, because nobody is perfect. I dig that message! As seen in the trending stories tonight, I’m not the only one who’s riding the T-Rex train.

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Face Off Fun

Today, I got a full afternoon to myself, which hasn’t happened in a while. I decided to take advantage of the relaxation time and catch up on one of my favorite shows, Face Off. Since there weren’t any big breaking news stories over the weekend, I’m going to forgo my usual SEO related story and promote Face Off instead!

Face Off is an AWESOME reality competition that features incredibly talented special effects makeup artists. As with many other competition shows, contestants receive a challenge from the panel of judges every week and produce a final product within 3 days. In the beginning of the season, there are some group challenges, but after week four or so, all of the challenges are done on a solo basis. In my opinion, the judges on Face Off are one of the best parts of the show. They are well known special effects artists in their own right:

Ve Neill is a vibrant ball of sass whose work has been featured in such popular films as Mrs. Doubtfire, The Amazing Spiderman, and the Hunger Games, among many others. The mother of the judges, she always does her best to not come off too harsh.

The gorgeous Ve Neill.

The gorgeous and talented Ve Neill.

Glenn Hetrick is the perfect counterpart to Ve, with his edgy goth look and blunt criticism. Known for his former company Optic Nerve Studios, Glenn always tells it like it is, which I can totally appreciate. When you make Glenn happy, you know you did a phenomenal job!

The badass Glenn Hetrick.

The badass Glenn Hetrick.

Rounding out the trio of judges is Neville Page, the sci-fi specialist of the bunch. His work has been featured in the recent reboot of Star Trek and Avatar. Geeky yet intimidating, Neville is the perfect mix of Ve and Glenn.

Ever classy Neville Page.

Ever classy Neville Page.

The judges are fabulous, but what’s a competition show without interesting challenges?! There have been so many fun episodes of this show that have featured incredible work from contestants. Here are some of my favorites from the ten seasons of the show:

Laura is one of my favorite all time winners of Face Off. Even on her worst day, her work stood out from the rest of the pack in a positive way. The theme for this challenge was “Living Art.” She took it in a totally abstract Picasso direction that is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Visual masterpiece.

Visual masterpiece.

During season three’s “Junkyard Cyborg” challenge, Nicole totally killed it with this badass chick. From the red hair to the exquisite metal elements, the entire piece is stunning. In a challenge where it would have been easy to go over the top, Nicole went in an understated direction, to much success. Is it okay to think a cyborg is sexy? Because this is sexy!

Hot cyborg.

Hot cyborg.

In one of the best WTF moments in Face Off history, Roy and Rod created this extraterrestrial creature in season five. Roy appeared on two seasons of Face Off and became well known for his incredible knack for fabrication. That skill set was well utilized here. Is it a baby? Or is it a man with legs? I can’t decide!

So weird, yet so cool!

Out of this world.

In the “Burtonesque” challenge during season five, contestants had to come up with a creation that would fit into one of Tim Burton’s eclectic movies. This bellman piece by RJ was so haunting yet so endearing. After seeing him on stage, I wanted to know his backstory immediately!

Checking in.

Checking in.

Though I loved RJ’s piece above, my favorite creation from the Burtonesque challenge came from Matt. His creepy ice cream man still haunts my dreams (in a good way!) today. From the striped shirt to the sprinkles on the forehead, this entire piece meshes together seamlessly. It would be the perfect fit in Tim Burton’s world.

Do you want a treat?

Do you want a treat?

Anthony and Alam created this beauty during the “When Hell Freezes Over” challenge during season five. This particular piece shows how Face Off challenges contestants to incorporate beauty makeup as well as extreme makeup into their final creations. It’s a tough task to create something that is both beautiful yet terrifying. This piece is a winner!

You know you want me.

Not your average seductress.

I couldn’t leave out Pumpkinhead! This intricate creation was made by Miranda and Tate during season five. The challenge asked contestants to provide a dark twist to Mother Goose nursery rhymes. This piece definitely succeeded. With the intricate detailing in the pumpkin, it’s hard to believe that there’s a real person in there!

Beware the Pumpkinhead!

Beware the Pumpkinhead!

There are too many fantastic Face Off creations to possibly recount in one blog post! I love this show because it provides such a great platform for talented artists to shine. Additionally, Face Off is one of my favorite shows because the contestants truly care about each other. They want one another to succeed. Sometimes, you will even see one contestant help out another contestant who is struggling, which is unheard of on other competition shows. Face Off takes the focus off of the drama and puts the talent at the forefront, which I really appreciate. If you are looking for a fantastic reality program that will open your eyes to a whole new world, check out Face Off on SyFy today!

Confessions of a Bachelor Rookie

Being a pop culture nut, I have enjoyed my fair share of reality TV. In order to stay on top of everything that is hip and current in today’s culture, it is necessary to survey the reality TV scene, to a certain extent. That being said, one legendary reality TV show that I have never truly clicked into has been the Bachelor. That changed last night when my girlfriends convinced me to watch the finale of the 20th season. Of course, Bachelor news was trending like crazy all throughout the last week. Today, with the finale over, the Bachelor is EVERYWHERE. So, it seemed like a good time to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised with my Bachelor experience.

At first, it was really hard to get into the show. It was SO cheesy, my stomach ached. Working at E!, I know who Ben Higgins is. I know some details about the season through reading various articles. But, I didn’t actually watch Ben interact with girls on a consistent basis on the show. My friends had to give me a recap of the entire season, so I could get into the finale. I couldn’t help but get sucked into the drama. Ben said I love you to two different girls?! Isn’t that against the rules?! Did Mom just throw shade at one of the finalists?! Why does she insist on wearing shorty shorts to every outing?! After watching the finale, I can understand why there is a nationwide obsession with this show. After watching one episode, I wanted to start a drinking game where you take a swig of wine every time one of the contestants stares blankly off into the distance.

I have my concerns about the show. Obviously, I’ve seen the horrible track record of long term relationships from the series. I like to believe that people go into the Bachelor experience with an open heart that’s ready for love, but the premise is so extreme, it’s hard to imagine there being a high success rate. In particular, in this finale, Ben says I love you to two separate women! And one of them inevitably will have to get dumped! For the winner, that’s not the best basis to start a relationship off of. Additionally, the Bachelor season runs for 6 weeks. I don’t believe that 6 weeks is anywhere near enough time to get to know someone on a significant level, period. But within Bachelor world, you aren’t even spending 6 consistent weeks with your main man. You’re getting bits and pieces whenever you can manage to steal them away from other women. This isn’t a healthy way to start a relationship either! In the finale, one of the finalists JoJo pulls Ben aside and implies that she’s upset that she has to “compete” for his love with the other contestant. In my head, yes I felt bad for her, but I also felt bad that she had instilled trust in this silly system.

But, all in all, I believe the Bachelor is good reality TV fun. Ben is absolutely adorable, as are all of the other Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants I have ever seen. They get very attractive contestants to appear on the show, which works with the fact that as Americans we love to watch pretty people on TV, period. It’s an excellent formula from start to finish. I can understand why the energizer bunny keeps going and the public interest hasn’t waned. Additionally, watching the show provides a fabulous reason to hang out with your friends and forget about your problems! Last night, my friends and I made a delicious spread of appetizers, drank a fabulous rose, and had one of the best mondays we’ve had in ages. I know we’re not alone in the way we enjoyed the action. Viewing parties took place all over the country! The way that the team behind the show has created “Bachelor Nation” is something that others shows should aspire to do.

Though I don’t agree with the set up when it comes to establishing long term love, I think the Bachelor is certainly an interesting social experiment. Watching the finale last night made me intrigued enough to watch at least the first episode of the new season of the Bachelorette. I can’t say I’ve been fully converted to Bachelor fan status, but I have much more of an open mind towards the show. In the world of reality TV dating shows, I have seen a full spectrum of programs, from trashy to classy. I sat through Bret Michaels Rock of Love on VH1, which was the bottom of the barrel in terms of over the top drama. If I can find enjoyment in that, I am happy to give the Bachelor more of my time in the future.

Shout-Out to the Silly

Yesterday, I bought a Taylor Swift coloring book at the airport. Yes, Taylor Swift coloring books exist. And they are fantastic. After buying my copy, I did some research and found out that these celebrity coloring books have taken the nation by storm. In general, coloring books for adults have become a new craze. These books are lauded for their de-stressing abilities, for people of all ages. After taking one on myself, I can understand why they have had such a positive impact. Working my way through my first piece was a wonderful escape.

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My first masterpiece.

In a similar fashion, since the Internet boom, memes have provided comic relief from life’s troubles. The meme craze that went viral over the last week centered on confusing dogs with food items (who would have thought?!).

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Mind boggling.

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I can’t decide!

My head is spinning.

My head is spinning.

Whenever I stumble upon one of these gems, I can’t help but giggle. These memes provide such a great respite from the pressures of adulthood. I have always embraced the silly things in life. From a young age, I have experienced tough issues that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Because of this, I have always tried to see the good in otherwise dark situations. When the Internet came along, I gained a whole new method of finding laughter and positivity when things get rough.

I have always been a fan of memes, for their ability to capture the attention of people of all ages. Some memes make us think about serious issues. In particular, in this election year, there has been an influx of political memes about the candidates that hit deeper than one might expect. But, my favorite kind of memes are pure fun.

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One of my all time favorites.

So, I’d like to give a personal thank you to memes and all other humorous images on the Internet. I have never come up with one of these viral masterpieces myself, but I would like to shout out the creative minds who make memes possible. Most likely, the creators of memes don’t think that they’re going to have a significant emotional impact on those who click on their images. It’s probable that they just want to get a quick laugh and garner as many clicks as possible, which is totally valid. But, the silly thoughts and expressions within memes often times go beyond a superficial laugh for me.

I’m going through a big growth period right now, filled with change. I have moments when I doubt myself and feel overwhelmed thinking about where I am going next. When I get stressed, I greatly enjoy turning to the Internet for a distraction. Silly memes like “Puppy Bagel” provide the perfect medicine. I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Memes can be more than cheap fun. They are a welcome escape from the trials and tribulations of real life. And for that reason, I hope that they stick around for years to come.

In Defense of Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian has attempted to “break the internet” on several occasions, by posting sexy photos. But, when she attempted to do so this last week, she created the biggest uproar yet. Stories covering her latest nude photo and the public response that followed have dominated the online landscape this week.

It all started when she posted this photo two days ago, with the caption “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL.”

Breaking the internet, again.

Breaking the internet, again.

Working at E!, I am immersed in Kardashian news all the time. When I saw this picture come up, I didn’t think much of it. Tracking Kim’s career over the years, it’s very clear that she loves her body and enjoys using it to her advantage. Her body has driven her career in many different ways, from photo shoots, to fashion partnerships, to the sex tape that started it all. After the sex tape madness, I think Kim tried to hide her body from the public eye for a while and focus on other pursuits. But when some of those projects failed (anyone remember her music video?), I think she realized that her body is an incredible asset that she would be stupid to ignore.

The last time Kim “broke the internet,” it was with this photo:

Break the internet, part 1.

Break the internet, part 1.

When this magazine spread came out, the response was mostly positive. Yes, there were those people who thought it was overdone and tacky. The Kardashians are not everyone’s cup of tea. But, there weren’t any celebrities speaking out and attacking her for the photos. Some people even applauded her for embracing her body and insane level of fame in such a tongue in cheek way. Unfortunately, her latest photo did not receive the same response.

Since Kim posted her latest photo, the response has been insane. Anyone and everyone has had something to say about it. News outlets have been booming with different opinions. More than before, celebrities have spoken out about the photo. Unlike her past scandalous photos, there have been some scathing comments on social media. In particular, Bette Midler’s comment about Kim Kardashian set off a fire storm:

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Bette is not a fan of Kim K.

Now, I love Queen B. I applaud her honesty and blunt attitude towards Hollywood. I follow her on Twitter and I respect her tremendously, for her career and overall wisdom about life. I think she said this in the realm of her usual humor, wanting to poke fun at extreme things in Hollywood. She doesn’t like to keep her mouth shut on big issues in the public eye. One other celebrity jumped in on Team Bette: Chloe Grace Moretz. She sounded off with this tweet:

Chloe Grace Moretz sees a bigger issue.

The tweet cuts off, but I’m guessing it ends with…their bodies.

I don’t think Bette Midler could have expected the backlash that would come from her comment. In response to Bette and Chloe’s tweets, many people felt that Kim had been treated unfairly. Many people saw no reason for the negativity. Celebrities quickly jumped to Kim’s defense:

Rowan Blanchard sounds off.

Rowan Blanchard sounds off.

Abigail Breslin is Team Kim.

Abigail Breslin is Team Kim.

Ariel Winter calls out the double standard.

Ariel Winter calls out the double standard.

Bella Thorne tells it like it is.

Bella Thorne tells it like it is.

Kim didn’t take Bette and Chloe’s comments sitting down. She sent some jabs back at Bette Midler and Chloe Grace Moretz on Twitter, calling them out for their negativity. Kim is very aware of her powerful status within the celebrity world and she isn’t afraid to defend herself:

Throwing shade at Queen B.

Throwing shade at Queen B.

Chloe Grace Moretz is not on Kim's radar.

Chloe Grace Moretz is not on Kim’s radar.

In watching all of this unfold, the unnecessary fighting between women was very disappointing. A proud feminist, I truly believe that as women, we are already fighting an uphill battle in our society. The glass ceiling is still firmly in tact and we need to fight to get what we deserve in and out of the workplace. Because of this, petty fighting sets us back even further. Yesterday was International Women’s Day. I adore this day because it serves to remind women that we are valuable, we are strong, and we are worthy of respect in our society. It’s a wonderful thing. And yet, this Twitter feud was unfolding at the same exact time. When I watch unnecessary bickering between women, I think of this:

Yes.

Yes.

Life is short. We only have so much time to make an impact. We should spend that time loving and supporting each other, as opposed to tearing each other down. Though I am not a big Kim Kardashian fan, I am a fan of the extended response that she posted on her website, about the entire situation:

”I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime – and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body? It always seems to come back around to my sex tape. Yes, a sex tape that was made 13 years ago. 13 YEARS AGO. Literally that long ago.

And people still want to talk about it?!?! I lived through the embarrassment and fear, and decided to say who cares, do better, move on. I shouldn’t have to constantly be on the defensive, listing off my accomplishments just to prove that I am more than something that happened 13 years ago. Let’s move on, already.

I have. I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy. It’s 2016. The body-shaming and sl*t-shaming – it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.”

The Kardashians are completely over the top. Their level of fame is so excessive and off the charts, it’s mind boggling. I know many people can’t respect them for the way that they conduct business. They are “famous for being famous.” All of that aside, no one deserves to be attacked for their body. As mentioned above, women are already at a disadvantage in our society. In particular, Ariel Winter’s response to Kim, which pointed out that Justin Bieber didn’t receive a backlash from his nude photo, really stood out to me. This so true! There is a double standard and as women, we need to life each other up, to reverse the stigma.

Additionally, I think this particular story shows the dangerous side of social media. It can create a mountain out of a mole hill, with everyone showcasing their opinions on such a public platform. Would I have posted a picture like Kim? No. Do I think it’s wrong that she did? No. To each their own! I will always support a woman who loves her body. There is enough hate in the world. In this case, I truly believe that you don’t have to agree with what Kim Kardashian did. But you don’t need to attack her either. As she mentioned in her response “You be you and let me be me.”

My Hair Evolution

This weekend, I dyed my hair pink. Since I first started dying my hair in middle school, I have been every natural color under the sun; brown, blonde, red, black, etc. For the first 13 years of my life, I was scared to do anything with my hair. Even highlights and layers intimidated me! I think this shy nature towards my hair was related to my pre-pubescent insecurities. I didn’t have enough self confidence to do anything eye catching with my look. But, that changed when I came into contact with Carmen Gonzales, head stylist at Stil at the Meridian in San Diego.

Unlike my previous hairdresser, Carmen looked at my hair with complete confidence, and essentially told me what I was going to do. She didn’t ask for my permission. Though this kind of frightened me at first, I have come to love Carmen’s honest approach to her work. She has been in the hair business for over 20 years and she REALLY knows her stuff. Regularly attending Vidal Sassoon training sessions in London, Carmen is always focused on developing her craft and staying on trend. She is SO good that during my 4 years of college in Colorado, I would make special trips to San Diego get my hair done. I wouldn’t “cheat” on her with someone in town.

During our first visit when I was 13, Carmen bluntly told me “You’re going to get a haircut with layers.” For the first time since kindergarten, I was going to have bangs! Though the look felt very foreign, it also gave me a newfound confidence. Fresh and on trend, I felt like a whole new person. The timing was perfect. As I entered high school, I blossomed into a confident young woman, with the help of my stylish haircut. The next time I went to Carmen, I asked for highlights. She gave me a few on that visit, a few more on the next visit, and eventually, I went hyper blonde. Though I was born a dirty blonde, the natural highlights in my hair had faded out. I couldn’t keep them without Carmen’s help. Though the highlights got me hooked, I have gone on to do far more extreme things with my hair while in Carmen’s chair.

Blonde to brown, brown to blonde, blonde to red, red to blonde; I have done it all! The summer before my senior year of high school, my coloring addiction had taken a true toll on my hair, which was severely damaged. Carmen suggested to me that I cut my bob off into a pixie. At first, I was all for it. “I am a chameleon, I can do anything!” But, midway through my haircut, when I could no longer feel the hair on the back of my neck, I completely freaked out. In an embarrassing incident that Carmen and I still laugh about today, I stormed out of the salon crying and didn’t let her finish the haircut. When I got home, my mom told me that I would be going back ASAP to let Carmen finish her work. I dragged my feet back into the chair the next day. Keeping my eyes shut throughout the rest of the haircut, I was convinced that I would be disappointed. But, much to my surprise, when my pixie was unveiled, I was in love!

Now, I have had a short haircut for a little under 10 years. It’s become my signature look. So often, regarding my distinctive pixie, people will say “Oh I love that! I want to do that, but I’m too scared.” Whenever I hear this, I always say in return “YOU CAN DO IT!” The best part about hair is that it grows back. I have found great joy in experimenting with my hair over the years and I always encourage others to do the same! In the years since my pixie transformation, I continued my trend of switching from brown, to red, to blonde, and everywhere in between. But, I had never dipped my toe in the unnatural color spectrum. Friends have taken on extreme colors with beautiful results. On the celebrity side of things, I have been completely infatuated with the lavender hair trend. But, I just couldn’t pull the trigger for myself…until this week!

3 different people told me today that my pink hair reminded them of cotton candy. When these people reached out to me, they had such big smiles on their faces. My unique hair seemed to genuinely bring them joy. In life, it is so easy to go with the grain. It is easy to blend in. But the people who stand out are the ones who often make the biggest impact. I hope that my attitude with my hair can inspire other people to broaden their beauty preferences and try new things. No matter what look you have, confidence is contagious. If you own your look and love yourself, others will catch on too! And that’s a beautiful thing.

Here is a visual look at my hair transformation over the years:

Baby faux hawk with my sister Jess, circa 1990.

Baby faux hawk with my sister Jess, circa 1990.

I would only have bangs and shoulder length hair once in my life, circa 1996.

I would only have bangs and shoulder length hair once in my life, circa 1996.

From 2000-2002, I had a major pigtail phase.

From 2000-2002, I had a major pigtail phase.

If I wasn't wearing pigtails, I was rocking "pigtail braids," as my mom would call them.

If I wasn’t wearing pigtails, I was rocking “pigtail braids,” as my mom would call them.

Hippie Hair, circa 2003.

Hippie hair, circa 2003.

Layers make their debut! Circa 2004.

Layers make their debut! Circa 2004.

Riding the blonde train with Ronald, circa 2007.

Riding the blonde train with Ronald, circa 2007.

Rocking the poof, circa 2007.

Rocking the poof, circa 2007.

I may look like I'm in charge, but Carmen has all of the control. Circa 2008.

Letting Carmen work her magic, circa 2007.

Embracing the pixie life, circa 2007.

Embracing the pixie life, circa 2007.

With a pixie haircut, I stood out within our cheerleading squad. Circa 2008.

The only pixie on the squad, circa 2008.

The more product, the better. Circa 2008.

The more product, the better. Circa 2008.

College red, circa 2009.

College red, circa 2009.

College blonde, circa 2010.

College blonde, circa 2010.

College blonde in Spain, circa 2011.

College blonde in Spain, circa 2011.

21st birthday brown, July 2011.

21st birthday brown, July 2011.

Black bob, New Years Eve 2012.

Black bob, New Years Eve 2012.

Short hair, don't care. December 2013.

Short hair, don’t care. December 2013.

Hawaii blonde, September 2014.

Hawaii blonde, September 2014.

Electric red, December 2014.

Electric red, December 2014.

Blonde mini bob, Thanksgiving 2015.

Blonde mini bob, Thanksgiving 2015.

Back to pixie, December 2015.

Back to pixie, December 2015.

Pink lady, March 2016.

Pink lady, March 2016.

American Body Image

Unfortunately, there have been two trending stories over the last two weeks that have shined a negative light on American body image. Last week, full figured model Ashley Graham was slammed by former Sports Illustrated model Cheryl Tiegs for “glamorizing” unhealthy habits with her recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. Graham’s cover marked the first time that a plus size model had been featured on the cover of the magazine. Tiegs said that she didn’t think it was “healthy in the long run” to put a full figured woman on the cover. Graham received an incredibly positive response from the public for celebrating her curves, but Tiegs went against the grain. After a public backlash, Tiegs tried to cover up her initial negative comments, but the damage had been done. Today, Laura Prepon, star of the mega successful series “Orange is the New Black,” opened up about the fact that she has suffered from poor body image throughout her life. Specifically, she copped to using hormone injections, because she was “so desperate to make herself look a certain way.” Both of these stories made me very sad and reminded me of how impactful body image is within our society.

Ashley Graham busted beauty standards wide open with her SI cover.

Ashley Graham busted beauty standards wide open with her SI cover.

On the positive side, both Graham and Prepon gathered healthy insights from their negative experiences. Graham responded to Tiegs’ criticism by saying that “There are too many people thinking they can look at a girl my size and say that we are unhealthy…you can’t, only my doctor can!” I found this message incredibly inspiring. At the end of the day, your health should be determined by your doctor, but more than that, it should be determined by you! You are in charge of your body. Reflecting back on her past struggles with self esteem, Prepon applauded her OITNB castmates for their positive body image. Being around such confident women inspired Prepon to embrace her body, feel good in her own skin, and overcome her insecurities. We should all hope to have such an uplifting work environment! It’s incredibly important to surround yourself with people that lift you up.

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Laura Prepon found strength in her confident OINTB castmates.

Reflecting on these two stories, I can’t help but think of how much body image has affected me over the course of my life. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up in a household where I was made to feel beautiful, no matter what size I was. From a young age, I was taught that beauty comes from within. It’s more important to be a good person on the inside than superficially “pretty” on the outside. More than that, I have always been taught to embrace my flaws; it’s okay to be different. Even when I was a chubby marshmallow during puberty, my mother and grandmother always made me feel like I was worthy of love. Yes, I had moments of thinking I was “fat.” We’re all human. But, my support system always gave me the encouragement to snap back into place and regain a healthy frame of mind. With a surplus of non-judgmental love, I grew into the confident adult I am today. Sadly, over the years, I’ve realized that not everyone is as lucky.

Since middle school, I have seen many friends cope with eating disorders. It hurts me tremendously to see people I love struggle to love themselves. After diagnosing the problem, I can only imagine how hard it is to rewire your brain and detach from negative habits. American culture circles around superficial standards of beauty that dictate what we should weigh, what clothes we should wear, what haircut we should have, etc. It’s overwhelming for me, and I have a solid foundation of self esteem. For those with eating disorders, the toxic noise must be unbearable. We can all use positive encouragement to properly respect and celebrate our bodies. On that note, here is a list of uplifting body image quotes to help you realize your true self worth and feel your best:

1. “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” -Amy Bloom

2. “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” -Steve Maraboli

3. “This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”- Oprah Winfrey

4. “Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it’s about knowing who you are. It’s about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can’t have it.”-Geneen Roth

5. “The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people.”-Jamie Lee Curtis

6. “Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what size, is trying some system. Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she’s like, ‘I could be another three pounds less; I could be a little taller and have bigger lips.’ Where does it end? You just have to say, ‘It’s pretty damn good. I am right here at the moment and I’m OK with it. I’ve got other things to think about.”-Melissa McCarthy

7. “I’ve learned that if you’re too skinny, they’ll say something about it. If you’re not skinny enough, they’ll say something about it. I just try to feel good in my own skin as much as I can.”-Jennifer Love Hewitt

8. “You’re a human being, you live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damn red velvet cupcake.”-Emma Stone

*Though a lot of these quotes are from women, members of both sexes struggle with body image. Men tend to keep their issues more under wraps. Society too often dictates that men who speak out on sensitive issues are “weak.” This is not the case! We all deserve love and acceptance.

Yes!

Yes.

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Much to my delight, a top trending story in Google News and on Facebook today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss! Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American poet and author who wrote a series of beloved children’s books that have had an everlasting impact for generations. If you have a little munchkin in your life, or if you just want to embrace your inner child, check out my list of favorite Dr. Seuss books:

1. Oh The Places You’ll Go!

A favorite amongst high school and college graduates, this book, though juvenile in nature, touches on a universal theme of how important it is to believe in yourself. I have a copy at home. When I am lacking motivation or getting down on myself, I crack it open and remind myself of my true potential.

2. The Cat In The Hat

Arguably Dr. Seuss’ most well known book, The Cat In The Hat is pure silly fun. Mike Myers was kind of terrifying in the movie version, proving that the characters within this story are best driven by one’s own imagination.

3. The Lorax

Dr. Seuss knew how to deliver a serious message in a lighthearted package. This book demonstrates that fact, zoning in on the importance of respecting and preserving the environment. The Lorax proves that if we don’t take care of the environment, there could be disastrous consequences.

4. Oh The Thinks You Can Think!

Dr. Seuss was a master of creativity and he liked to pass that skill onto his readers. This book encourages people to think outside the box and embrace the unknown. With the message in this book, Dr. Seuss aimed to make an impact with children and adults alike.

5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

This story is timeless. The Grinch is the villain that you can’t help but love. Seuss took what could have been a very conventional story about finding love during the holidays and made it so special. Unlike Mike Myers, Jim Carey, in pure over the top form, totally nailed the role of the Grinch in the 2000 movie adaptation.

6. Green Eggs And Ham

I will always remember this story fondly because of special meals during elementary school, when our teachers would try to encourage us to read by (literally) bringing in green eggs and ham! For that and its impeccable rhymes, this story has left an imprint on my heart.

7. Horton Hears A Who

The central message of this story, “a person’s a person no matter how small,” really struck a chord with me when I was younger. Horton’s message has stuck with me throughout my entire life. I feel bad when I step on bugs and I apologize when I walk into inanimate objects. I am considerate almost to a fault, and I can thank Dr. Seuss for that!

8. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Just try saying that ten times fast! Simple in scope, this book is a great place to start with Dr. Seuss’ collection.

9. Yertle The Turtle And Other Stories

It’s hard to resist a character named Yertle the Turtle! Apart from his childish pursuits, Dr. Seuss also enjoyed writing political cartoons. He combined those two passions in the story of Yertle the Turtle, which has an underlying message that many believe is connected to the ascent of Hitler and his quest for domination. The line that implies this story is about much more than turtles? “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.” In today’s political landscape, this book remains more relevant than ever!

10. And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book explores the imagination of a boy named Marco, who sees remarkable things as he walks home from school one day. Though more simple in theme than some of Seuss’ other works, it set a strong framework for the legendary career that was to come.

The man who inspired countless individuals, young and old.

While you work through the full list of Dr. Seuss books, check out this hit list of Dr. Seuss quotes to get a quick dose of inspiration!

1. Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

2. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

3. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. 

4. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . . get on your way.

5. A person’s a person, no matter how small.

6. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

7. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

8. Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

9. I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.

10. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Thank you for sharing your light and wisdom with us Theodor. Rest in peace.

Bringing the magic to life.

Bringing the magic to life.

 

A Grandmother’s Love

It’s been a year, and yet it feels like just yesterday. A year ago this week, my grandmother, my idol, my mentor, my best friend, received her angel wings. She was 95. Through her life, she set the ultimate example of how to live with compassion, humor, and grace. Making the most of every situation, she always viewed the glass half full. I am everything that I am today because of her. And yet, here I sit, wishing I had more time. I had 24 years of memories, which is more than many grandchildren can say. But, I suppose over those 24 years, I began to view my grandmother in an immortal way. She was so encouraging, so influential, and so impactful on my life; she could never die. No amount of time with her would have ever been enough.

To understand my relationship with my grandmother, it’s necessary to go back to the very beginning. Alexandria Kalchuk Frahm was born in Long Island, New York on February 15th 1920. Born the day after Valentines Day, she had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. She had two older brothers who didn’t treat her with the respect that she deserved. Her parents didn’t stand up for her. The times were very different then. When my grandmother graduated from high school, she went to work as an operator at the telephone company. She didn’t have the option to go to college. She had to help put her brother through medical school instead. Though this seems incredibly unfair to us now, it was a very common practice back then. A staunch feminist, I marvel at how far we’ve come since those times, when so few women were given the opportunity to get an education beyond high school. That being said, with the glass ceiling still firmly in tact, I firmly believe we have a long way to go. But that’s beside the point here.

At this point in her life, my grandmother picked up her incredible love for serving others. She was the most selfless person I have ever known, always going the extra mile to make other people happy. I’ve sifted through photos of my grandmother during the 1930s, and boy! She was a looker. Often times, I feel like an old soul. Listening to the Golden Oldies Pandora station at work day after day, I wonder what it would have been like to live during those times. I love the fashions, the music, and the simplicity of human interaction. My grandma told me that when she was a kid, she could go to the movies for a dime; a nickel for the movie and a nickel for food. It was a simple time, prior to iPhones and so many other distractions. I think that my grandma and I would have been friends.

Vintage hottie, circa 1940.

Vintage hottie, circa 1940.

Not married yet at the age of 23, my grandmother was an “old maid,” as her mother would famously call her. I like to believe that my grandmother was ahead of the curve, regarding her marital preferences. She told me before that she wanted to truly establish herself on an individual basis, before she would get married. This idea was very extreme for those times! But, it’s something that is much more accepted now. My grandmother was smarter than she often received credit for, since she never got the opportunity to go to college. I often wonder where she would have gone in her career if she had received higher education. But, that’s water under the bridge now.

Old maid status be damned, at the age of 24, my grandmother would meet my grandfather, Herb Frahm, and become a married woman for the first and only time. In her twilight years, my grandmother would often forget what she had for breakfast. But, she remembered her journey with Herb like it was just yesterday. She would recount how their relationship started with such promise. They went on to have five children; Barry, Jimmy, George, Paul, and one daughter, my mother, Christine. The Frahm name was something to be proud of. But, unfortunately, my grandfather fell off the wagon, and could no longer provide for his family. During this time, my grandma became the sole provider for her brood. She would pull long hours at the telephone company to make sure that she could put food on the table, while my grandfather hit the bottle and struggled to find purpose.

Though these years were hard on my grandmother, I truly believe that through this struggle, she cemented her purpose in life: serving others. No matter what else was going on, with her children, Alexandria Frahm was a fierce lioness, ready to protect and provide at all costs. Eventually, my grandmother divorced my grandfather. In the years after, my grandmother didn’t remarry. She didn’t really date, either. She seemed to reach a new contentment outside of her relationship status, which I always respected. You can define yourself by who you are; you don’t need anyone else. Growing up around that energy made me a strong independent woman, and for that, I’m very grateful. That being said, with an affinity for younger men, my grandmother was a natural flirt. She flirted with everyone and it was a joy to watch her in action.

Flirting with Woody Allen, circa 2007.

Flirting with Woody Allen, circa 2007.

Flash forward to 1990, when my grandmother encountered one of the biggest challenges in her entire life. Her son Jimmy was dying. Though my grandmother had shown such strength throughout her life, it is during this crisis, I am told, that she truly broke down. Being the fierce protector that she was, I’m sure she would have given anything to save her son. But, sadly he passed away. In a twist of fate, around this same time, I came into the world. I was born in the exact same hospital where my uncle Jimmy died. I can’t imagine the rush of emotions that everyone in my family was feeling at that time. But, I have heard the phrase “god takes one life and gives another,” and I certainly think that applies here. Maybe it was the timing, or maybe it was our matching green eyes. The relationship between my grandmother and I was destined to be something very special.

Matching green eyes in Hawaii, circa 2002.

Matching green eyes in Hawaii, circa 2002.

I was an awkward child. Cross eyed and adorably pudgy, I was not born to be a child model. That being said, looks aside, my grandmother always made me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I went through a phase, nay pretty much my entire adolescence, when I didn’t understand what calories were. I would eat super size McDonalds fries and a Mcflurry as a snack after school. It was a time of blissful ignorance. Though this was highly enjoyable, it was also highly evident in my marshmallow appearance. But, of course, my grandmother didn’t care. When I entered middle school and got pummeled by mean girls, I felt very alone. But in those moments of loneliness, I would remember that no matter what happened, I had a best friend who would never leave me: my grandmother.

Even when I had no fashion sense, she loved me. Circa 1999.

Even when I had no fashion sense, she loved me. Circa 1999.

We hung out like best friends. My mom would drop me off at her apartment for the weekend and we would cruise the mall, just like other girls my age would do together. Some people might find this weird, but it was awesome. Where as other girls my age were so focused on popularity, my grandmother taught me that there are far more important things in life than superficial statuses. As an adult, I realize that the kind of priorities we set as adolescents can impact the adult priorities we will have down the line. I am so happy to have my head on straight and I feel for the girls that started on the wrong foot. Popularity is fleeting. If you put your focus on being a good person, your life will be far more fulfilling.

Our favorite restaurant was Denny’s. For years, we would go there and pig out with reckless abandon. But, in high school, I learned what “in moderation” meant, and I tried to modify my gargantuan appetite. Around this time, my grandmother and I went to Denny’s. The waitress came over and asked “What would you like to drink?” Instead of my usual milkshake or sugary soda, I said “Water,” and my grandmother exclaimed “What are you anorexic?!” Our whole side of the restaurant laughed. Eventually, she would come to understand my new eating habits. But, it wasn’t easy for her at first. We still got an ice cream sundae at the end of that meal. Life is about balance.

I will always remember my grandmother for her love of food, especially dessert. She had the biggest sweet tooth I’ve ever encountered. In recent years, I would pick her up for lunch and we would get dessert at the restaurant, then stop at the ice cream shop afterwards. One of my grandmother’s famous phrases was “Eat, you’re on vacation.” When we were actually on vacation together, this was completely true. She hated when someone she loved ordered a salad at any time, but when we were on vacation, salad was a punishable offense. My grandmother consistently preached positive body image to me. She had a way of making everyone feel like a million bucks, always encouraging others to enjoy life 100% with no regrets.

When I had those moments of complaining that I was “fat,” she would be the first person to tell me otherwise and promote my positive qualities. She instilled in me a great sense of self-esteem that I carry with me to this day. When I encounter other friends who didn’t grow up with this positive influence, I feel so fortunate. To succeed in life, self-esteem is incredibly important. As Ru Paul famously puts it, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love anybody else?” My grandmother was my icon of self-esteem, giving me the foundation of confidence to achieve my goals. If I ever feel self-conscious, I hear her voice in my head telling me otherwise, and I push through my insecurities to get to the finish line.

With her one true love: dessert. Circa 2011.

With her one true love: dessert. Circa 2011.

As I shed my baby weight and propelled through high school, my relationship with my grandmother became even stronger. My parents went through a nasty divorce during high school, the aftershocks of which are still felt in my family to this day. In my darkest moments, when I needed pure love, she was always there for me. I am known for being a positive person. That being said, though I wore a happy veneer during high school, my internal emotions were very different. I could not have traversed the different challenges in my life without my grandmother’s love. Additionally, during this time, she would shed new light on my challenges by telling me about her life experiences. Being in her 80s, she had far more knowledge to share than anyone else in my life. I found it incredibly comforting to listen to her stories.

Celebrating my high school graduation, circa 2008.

Celebrating my high school graduation, circa 2008.

The knowledge of seniors is such an underutilized resource among kids today. Having worked at convalescent homes in the past, I can say that all too often, seniors feel forgotten about. They want someone to talk to, they are ready to share their wisdom, but few people open the door of communication. Through my relationship with my grandmother and other seniors, I have experienced the incredible benefits of talking to older generations and getting the senior perspective on pressing issues. A life’s goal of mine is to show younger generations the power of interacting with members of our senior population. I greatly benefited from my relationship with my grandmother and other seniors in my life. I want others to benefit too.

Granddaughter love at my 17th birthday, circa 2007.

Granddaughter love at my 17th birthday, circa 2007.

When I graduated high school, I went off to college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I decided to pursue a journalism degree, in part because my grandma and I would always discuss our trashy tabloid magazines over breakfast at Denny’s. She had a part in all major decisions that I’ve made throughout my life. While at school, over the phone, I would update her on my classes, love life, sorority, and extracurricular activities. When I told her that I was going to pursue a broadcast news emphasis within the journalism school, she exclaimed “Oh great! You will be so much better than those other talking heads on TV!” When my first relationship ended, she comforted me by saying “You know I never got to marry Humphrey Bogart either. You’ll find someone else!” She had an incredible ability to relate to everyone in her life, always providing the perfect words of comfort in times of stress.

Four years flew by in a flash, and my grandma, 92 at the time, flew out to Colorado for my graduation. Showing her around the college town that I called home for 4 years, I could tell that she felt regret that she didn’t get the opportunity to go to college. Since she didn’t get to continue her education, my grandmother found an immense love in reading. I never saw her without a book, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical. She always wanted to be learning about something. But, even with her feelings about not going to college, when I graduated, she expressed sincere happiness that I experienced everything that I did.  Never jealous, she always applauded the accomplishments of others. Her selfless demeanor never ceased to amaze me.

"Don't bother me, I'm reading." Circa 2011.

“Don’t bother me, I’m reading.” Circa 2011.

Following graduation, I debated where I wanted to go next; New York or Los Angeles. New York offered mysterious allure and a booming editorial scene. Los Angeles offered a comfortable home base near my family and a plethora of media opportunities. I ultimately chose Los Angeles, and I’m so happy that I did. From 2012 to 2015, I got three amazing additional years with my grandmother close by. For many Los Angelenos, driving to Santa Monica from downtown LA is “so far,” but I’m different. I regularly drive down to San Diego to see my mother and brother, and when my grandma was alive, the mere thought of seeing her (and the delicious ice cream we would consume) would motivate me to get out the door.

Life is short. Too often do I hear the phrase “I’m so busy” when I ask to hang out with friends. With the convenience of iPhones and other technological advances, we have been hardwired to be lazy. My grandmother had a love hate relationship with technology. On the one hand, she loved selfies, and was amazed at all of the things iPhones could do. On the other hand, though we tried several times, she could never adjust to having a cell phone herself. For her, the most valuable interaction was always done in person. My mom and I would joke all the time that no matter how often we visited her, when we picked her up, my grandma would always exclaim “why don’t you ever visit me?!” My grandmother cherished face time with the people she loved, and I have adopted the same perspective. Life could end tomorrow, and I never want to have regrets that I didn’t enjoy enough time with my friends and family.

"Can we take a selfie?" Circa 2014.

“Can we take a selfie?” Circa 2014.

My grandmother never stopped giving to others. Outside of her own family, she contributed money to several charity groups over the years. When I would look at her fridge and see the magnets from all of the different organizations that she supported, I couldn’t help but be in awe of her generosity. She was a celebrity within her assisted living center. She would walk through the lobby like she was a presidential candidate in a parade, waving her hand at everyone, and I loved to be a part of the action. Among the many things my grandmother taught me was to enjoy life, period. Life is too short to worry about what everyone else thinks of you. If you love yourself and be yourself, the right people will love you back. The wrong people don’t matter. Once you adopt this attitude, it is very empowering.

Party animals, Cinco de Mayo 2014.

Party animals, Cinco de Mayo 2014.

In the fall of 2014, my grandmother started showing signs of dementia. I assumed that she would be the first person to live forever. She maintained an overall healthy profile for most of her life. She belonged to an adorable age 50+ organization of women called “The Red Hats Society,” which kept her very active. The only recent hiccup, due to her intense love of sweets, was a “borderline diabetic” diagnosis from her doctor, but she laughed that off and continued to eat ice cream whenever she pleased. The dementia diagnosis caught me off guard because my father had been diagnosed with dementia a few years prior. For the last two years of his life, he couldn’t create full sentences. Once being a successful trial lawyer, his existence must have been torturous in those final years. He was only 73 when he passed away in 2015.

On a beautiful weekend in January 2015, my mom, grandma, and me had one of our classic girls outings in downtown San Juan Capistrano. When I picked her up, I asked “So grandma do you want to go get ice cream today?” and she said “No, I want a glass of wine.” So, we went to a nearby Italian restaurant, and ended up getting wine, pizza, and an ice cream sundae! Life is short, right? We just didn’t realize how limited our time with her was. The next weekend, my grandma landed in the hospital. Apart from my dad passing away the previous October, I hadn’t directly dealt with any other big deaths in my family. I’ve been very fortunate. And this was the one that I had always dreaded. So I rushed over to the hospital and dedicated the week to being by her side, as she had always been there for me. Thankfully, my company was understanding and let me work remotely from the hospital for a few days. It was agonizing. She would have good moments, when it seemed like she was 100% present. Then she would have bad moments when we were convinced we would have to say goodbye at any moment.

Three generations on one last date, January 2015.

Three generations on one last date, January 2015.

Eventually, my grandma made it out of the hospital and back to her assisted living center. It was her birthday month of February and we were doing our best to be optimistic, even with her recent health scare. She had a little over 2 weeks left at home, celebrating her last Valentines Day and most importantly, her last birthday. My mom had a special visit with her on her 95th birthday, bringing cake and making her feel like a princess. My grandmother’s last meal was cake, which is incredibly fitting.

Out of the hospital and happy to be home, February 2015.

Out of the hospital and happy to be home, February 2015.

They say that when it’s your time to go, especially in old age, you will see signs. When my grandmother was in the hospital, she kept asking us for specific details from her life. She was reminiscing constantly, which they say is a sign. One night at the hospital, while she was sleeping, she started putting her hands up in the air, doing the motion of what she did with the chords back at the telephone company, so many decades before. Once back at her assisted living facility, ever independent, my grandma had insisted on walking to dinner, even though she had her walker, which she loathed. Unfortunately, this final stand was her last. She took a bad fall and ended up in hospice care.

Though it was a time of immense sadness, there is a moment from my grandmother’s final day that stands out from the rest. My mother leads a busy life as a successful lobbyist. She had to keep up with her work responsibilities as my grandma’s health deteriorated. On the day that my grandma passed, due to the diligent work of our hospice nurse, we had an idea of the time frame in which things would happen. Tears streaming, we had faith that my mom would come through the door in the nick of time. When she finally did, she held my grandmother’s hand and said her final goodbye, moments before she took her last breath. It was one of the most tragically beautiful moments of my life, and everything about it was so indicative of my mother and grandmother’s character. Though my mother is one of the busiest women that I know, she always makes herself available for the important things. I have never felt that she isn’t there for me, even though she has a million other things going on. She knows what matters most is family. My grandmother’s compassionate nature shined through until the very end, as she waited for my mother to get the goodbye she rightfully deserved. They had been best friends too, and it gave my heart immense comfort to see them together one last time.

The two best women I know, circa 2008.

The two best women I know, circa 2008.

So, it’s been a year. And yet, it feels like it was just yesterday. So many things make me think of my grandmother. She was such an integral part of my life and over the last year, I have realized how much I am like her. I am her walking legacy and that brings me joy, but it also makes me miss the woman who made me who I am today. In an effort to carry on her legacy, I am currently in the process of legally changing my last name to Frahm, so her name will be with me forever. When we thought about her memorial, we decided to do a “celebration of life” versus a “funeral.” She celebrated every aspect of life as long as she could and she made it very clear in her final years that she didn’t want people to mourn after she was gone. She wanted her loved ones to rejoice, because now the woman who was an angel on earth had become an angel in heaven.  So, we put together a celebration of life worthy of royalty, because she was regal in spirit.

I created a playlist for my grandmother’s celebration of life, so our guests who loved Alexandria Frahm could go home and connect with her through music. She loved Hawaii and came with us on many of our family trips to the islands. Her happy place was on the balcony, overlooking the ocean, with a book in hand, and a glass of wine on the side. On this note, I included one of her favorite songs “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole on her playlist. One of my best friends Yurie, who also grew up with my grandma, had her brother play the song live on ukulele at the event. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, because her spirit was so present, it was overwhelming. Since then, I have had many moments where I have felt her spirit beside me. Whether one of her songs comes on Pandora at work, or I get a free dessert while out at dinner, so many different things make me feel her, and connect with her. Though her physical body is gone, her spirit is stronger than ever. So, I suppose in that way, she is immortal after all.

Soulmates, Maui Hawaii 2011.

Soulmates, Maui Hawaii 2011.

 

For the Love of Leo

Being Oscar weekend, it’s not surprising that Oscar related stories are dominating Google Trends. We have made our way through awards season and this is the big event! This past week, every news outlet was abuzz with stories on the nominees. Without a doubt, the standout nominee for the 2016 Oscars is Leonardo Dicaprio. Leo has had an illustrious career, ranging from humble beginnings on Growing Pains up to the unadulterated brutality within the Revenant, which he is nominated for this year. I am a lifelong Leo fan. I have seen all of his movies and I can honestly say, he rarely missteps in his choice of roles. He is a one of a kind gift to cinema, with his devotion to his characters and movie star good looks. After Titanic, he could have easily played the pretty boy role for the rest of his career, but he went off in a different direction and explored his craft with a wide variety of characters. In preparation for his big night ahead, I’ve ranked every Leo role, from the very beginning. Let’s step into our time machine and remember the incredible acting evolution that led Leo to (probably!) win his first Oscar today:

27. Total Eclipse

You probably haven’t heard of this movie. You aren’t missing much. Leo plays 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud, who embarks on a passionate relationship with a fellow poet, Paul Verlaine. Leo is the only good thing about the movie, which is largely bogged down by a clunky script. But, if you are craving more Titanic era Leo, it might be worth a watch.

26. Critters 3

Leo?! In a Critters movie?! Yes, even Leonardo Dicaprio had to start somewhere. He didn’t always have the ability to cherry pick all of his roles. These movies haven’t aged well, but Critters 3 does provide a wonderful opportunity to see Leo in his pre-Titanic days. Skip watching the entire movie and just look up Leo clips online, to experience the throwback glory.

Campy Leo.

Campy Leo.

25. Celebrity

People get so caught up in Leo’s work with Martin Scorsese that they forget he has also worked with other legendary directors. This forgotten movie paired him up with Woody Allen. Post Titanic, being a part of an ensemble cast in a movie that covers celebrity culture probably mirrored Leo’s real life ascension into the spotlight, which is kind of cool. But, at the end of the day, this film is pretty forgettable.

24. The Man in the Iron Mask

A lot of people hate this movie, but I can see why Leo chose to take on a role like this, post Titanic. He was determined to prove that he wasn’t merely a pretty boy. Taking on the dual role of Louis XIV and his brother was quite a challenge! With a strong supporting cast (Jeremy Irons, John Malcovich, and others), and a plot that’s centered on royal betrayal and intrigue, The Man in the Iron Mask is worth a watch.

23. Don’s Plum

Many people consider this to be Leo’s worst high profile movie. His face was prominently attached to it, and it fell flat. But, I have an appreciation for it because it united Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire on screen. Since Leo and Tobey are real life BFFs to this day, I’m a softie for the sentimental aspect of this movie. Leo and Tobey went on to have a golden era as members of the “Pussy Posse,” where they gallivanted around town bro’ing out and picking up chicks. Tobey has since gone on to get married and leave the playboy lifestyle behind. As seen in the media, Leo has not. But, if you want to revisit their glory days, check out this movie.

A bromance for the ages.

A bromance for the ages.

22. Body of Lies

Leo and Russell Crowe was an interesting matchup that I didn’t see coming. They star together in this overly dramatized spy thriller. Though it’s fun to watch Leo take down terrorists, this movie is never quite believable. It’s a conventional espionage thriller, and as a viewer, you would expect much more from Dicaprio and Crowe. It’s definitely not Leo’s worst movie, but it’s far from his best.

21. The Beach

Widely remembered as one of Leo’s only missteps in his career, many people are quick to dismiss the Beach as a movie that tries to do too much. This was Leo’s first movie after Titanic. People had out of this world expectations! I put it up higher on this list because people need to respect this movie for what it does well. Leo plays a young American backpacker who travels to Thailand with adventure on the brain, but he gets into far more trouble than he expected. This role foreshadowed where Leo’s career would go in the future, showcasing his affinity for playing emotionally tortured characters. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Most importantly, with his shirt off for a large portion of the film, Leo is total eye candy. Revisit it today and give it a fair shot.

Leo on the Beach.

Leo on the Beach.

20. Marvin’s Room

With such a great cast (Leonardo Dicaprio, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton) you think you would hear more about this movie. But, it’s often forgotten about when people discuss Leo’s work. Covering a relatable theme of strained family dynamics, this movie packs an emotional punch. Streep, Dicaprio, and Keaton deliver. It came out the same year as the far more flashy “Romeo + Juliet,” so my guess it that is just got covered up by the press for that. With 3 incredible actors serving all the feels and more, it is definitely worth your time.

19. This Boy’s Life

Grab the tissues, because Leo will break your heart with this movie. In the film, Ellen Barkin matches up with Robert De Deniro. Now, Barkin’s son Leo has a new father figure, but he proves to have far less of a positive impact than anticipated. This film shines a light on the issue of domestic abuse within families, sharing an important social message. Leo fully commits himself to the role, going toe to toe with Robert Deniro, which is not an easy feat! This movie truly shows how incredible Leo’s talent was, and how far his career would go.

18. Growing Pains

I know, it’s not a movie. But, any reflection on Leo’s career deserves a mention of Growing Pains, the adorable TV sitcom on which Leo made his big debut in the public eye. Playing homeless teenager Luke Brower, Leo first captured my heart. And I have never let go. Though his recent movies have shown his dramatic intensity, this role showcased why he is also the epitome of a charmer. If Leo wants to teach me important life lessons, I will listen!

17. The Basketball Diaries

As mentioned previously, Leo has made a name for himself by playing emotionally tortured souls. But this is one of his first roles that proved how far down the rabbit hole he could go, in terms of psychological distress. I absolutely adore his portrayal of Jim Carroll, a once promising basketball star who succumbs to drug addiction. Leo was still a rookie when he took on this project, but it is widely considered to be one of the standout movies of his career.

16. Revolutionary Road

Kate and Leo! Kate and Leo! We want more Kate and Leo! Fans finally got their on screen reunion of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio in this stunning period piece about a 1950s couple struggling to make their relationship work. Myself and many others have hoped that Kate and Leo would just “get together already” and be a couple in real life. Though that has never happened (*tear), this movie gave us an inside peek at what their married life could have been like, warts and all. Any time that Leo and Kate are together, I can’t control my happiness. Seeing the two of them united on screen again was pure magic. Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe for her role and the movie won over many hearts in America.

Golden Couple.

Golden couple.

15. Blood Diamond

This movie got mixed reviews when it came out. Critics of the movie said that it failed when it came to storytelling, even though Leonardo Dicaprio was in fine form. I beg to differ. Though Blood Diamond is a fictional story, it is based on important real life facts, among them being the extreme way in which the diamonds in our jewelry stores are acquired. Leo, accompanied by a stellar Djimon Hounsou, does an incredible job bringing this story to life. Watching the film, I became invested in how much one rare diamond could change lives. In the process, I gained a whole new perspective on the world. If you haven’t caught this movie, I highly suggest you seek it out.

14. J. Edgar

Leo has a way with biopics. Throughout his career, he has proven that he has an incredible ability in honoring real life people with sizzling commitment on screen. This movie is sometimes overlooked. It’s not as flashy as some of Leo’s other roles. But, I think it’s one that should be remembered. The story of J. Edgar is fascinating on its own. Head of the FBI for 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was one of the most powerful men in America, going to extreme lengths to keep his country safe. Fiery and bold, J. Edgar was the perfect role for Leo to put his stamp on. In particular, the chemistry between Leo and Armie Hammer, who plays J. Edgar’s secret lover, was quite moving for me to watch. On this particular movie, I stand firmly against the critical response. It deserves far more credit.

13. The Aviator

Another year, another biopic. This one, unlike J. Edgar, was very well received. As mentioned previously, Leo has made a name for himself by playing off kilter human beings. The more messed up, the better. The role of Howard Hughes would become one of his best and most lauded performances. Hughes was immensely successful in many arenas, romancing Hollywood leading ladies, producing big budget movies, and revolutionizing the aviation industry. But, beneath the surface, he suffered from crippling depression and several different phobias. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Leo took this role and ran with it, showcasing a level of depth to his acting that had previously been unseen. Since then, he has played other eccentric billionaires driven mad. But this was the first time he truly lost it, and I loved every minute of it.

12. Inception

Whenever a Leo movie launches a million memes, you know the cultural impact has been great. Armed with a tremendous cast and an exquisite vision by Christopher Nolan, Inception has left an indelible mark on cinema. The grounding concept, that we can get lost in our dreams and lose track of reality, though extreme, is something that many of us of can sink our teeth into. The entire movie was a mind fuck of extreme proportions, and it would not have achieved such great success without the emotional power of Leo at its core. One of my favorite aspects of this movie is that it proves Leo can excel in an ensemble cast; he doesn’t have to stand alone. And that is the sign of a phenomenal actor.

One of many incredible Inception memes from the Internet.

One of many incredible Inception memes on the Internet.

11. Django Unchained

This is a true Quentin Tarantino film. Violent and over the top, Django profiles life in the south two years before the Civil War. Tarantino created an incredible film that brings the South to life, not shying away from brutality. Leo, playing flamboyant slave owner Calvin Candie, takes a different approach in this movie, playing a true supporting role. By no means is he the star, but he steals every scene that he is in. It’s been made clear time and time again that Leo can carry a movie on his back. But with an incredible cast led by Jamie Foxx, he didn’t have to do double time here. His performance, though short and sweet, is SO impactful. And more humorous than his usual fare. I will pay good money to watch Leo camp it up.

10. Shutter Island

Digesting this list, there is a common trend of Leo playing tortured souls. Arguably, Shutter Island gave Leo the biggest platform to showcase his penchant for psychological madness. Playing US Marshall Teddy Daniels, Leo ventures to an insane asylum to track down an escaped murderess. Though he enters the asylum with his sanity in tact, he leaves a broken man. Watching his character unravel throughout the film is a harrowing experience. When Leo goes crazy, I can’t help but lose my mind right alongside him. Though this film wasn’t universally praised when it came out, I still think it’s one of Leo’s best roles.

9. The Wolf of Wall Street

I had the pleasure of watching The Wolf of Wall Street alongside my grandmother. I would not suggest that anyone do the same. Jordan Belfort made a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors. As he accumulated his wealth, he took on a ludicrous lifestyle defined by an excess of sex, drugs, and thrills. When Leo stepped into Belfort’s shoes, he utilized his affinity for playing charmers, but amplified his persona ten fold. Once again directed by his old pal Martin Scorsese, Leo brings Belfort to life, in all of his disgusting glory. With Leo in the role, Belfort becomes somewhat of a greek tragedy. In this movie, Leo elevates the material and gives a greater depth to the frat boy lifestyle. Though it was mortifying to experience that hedonistic journey alongside my grandmother, I can respect Leo for his honest portrayal.

8. The Great Gatsby

First off, The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book. The themes that it covers are so relatable that now, decades after it was written, the book still resonates with readers. Baz Luhrmann had a great story to work with, and he made a very wise decision in casting Leo for the role of Jay Gatsby. Playing yet another eccentric billionaire, Leo makes you invest your love in Gatsby. Through his piercing blue eyes and seductive stare, Leo brings Gatsby to life and elevates the original source material. Close to 20 years after playing Jack Dawson, Leo proved that he could still play the pretty boy, but he could take it to the next level.

7. Gangs of New York

Marking the first time that Leo worked with Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York depicts a revenge story in 1860s New York. Acting alongside legendary actor Daniel Day Lewis is never an easy task. But, Leo rose to the occasion, and provided a terrific foe for Lewis’ “Bill The Butcher.” Emotions run high in this film, which depicts messages about immigrants that can still be relevant in present day. Leo went toe to toe with one of Hollywood’s most awarded stars, and picked up invaluable tips on what it means to be a true “character actor.” Since then, Leo has only gotten better.

6. The Departed

I love this movie for so many reasons. Featuring Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and many other talented actors, Leonardo Dicaprio is the icing on the cake in this ensemble. It would be easy to get lost in such an impressive cast, but Leo shines. He loses himself in the role of South Boston cop Billy Costigan, showcasing a brutal honesty in his performance that shakes me to my core every time I watch it. Once again, this character is quite tortured, but in a different understated way. Unlike some of Leo’s flashier roles, you feel like you could really meet Costigan on the street, and you can relate to his internal struggle concerning his work. This movie is universally lauded, and rightfully so. It stands the test of time as one of Leo’s best.

5. Romeo + Juliet

Marking the first time Leo worked with Baz Luhrmann, Romeo + Juliet is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Being a Shakespeare fan, I get excited any time a movie adaptation is announced. Coming out right before Titanic mania, this movie put Leo on the map, and established him as a hearthrob worthy of attention. His chemistry with Claire Danes is so on point, you can feel the sexual tension through the screen. I first saw this movie when I was 8, and therefore couldn’t relate to many of the deeper themes. But, watching it as an adult, I have a whole new appreciation for Leo’s scintilating performance. Taking on a role that has been played a million times before, Leo brought an approachability and sensuality to Romeo that is very special. Whenever this comes on TV, I always stop to watch and enjoy the magic.

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The perfect Romeo.

4. Catch Me If You Can

I ADORE this movie. Once again proving that he can work for directors other than Scorsese, Leo teamed up with Steven Spielberg for this charismatic tour de force. Leo’s portrayal of infamous con man Frank Abagnale Jr. is so spot on, you forget that you are watching a movie. It feels like a documentary. Paired up with Tom Hanks, an incredible actor in his own right, Leo shines throughout the entire movie, growing up before our eyes on screen. In particular, Leo’s relationship with his on screen dad Christopher Walken is one of my favorite father son dynamics in cinema. As he has done many times in his career, Leo draws sympathy from the audience for his performance, even though his character is severely flawed. You shouldn’t feel sympathy for the con man, but you do. And that is because Leo gives him so much heart.

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Leo will (hopefully!) win his first Oscar tonight. But, many people believe that he should have won an Oscar for this role, which came together at the very beginning of his career. Portraying a mentally impaired boy with a knack for trouble, Dicaprio establishes himself as a young actor who is worthy of immense respect. In this movie, he goes toe to toe with Johnny Depp, who went on to become a highly accomplished actor. But, Leo steals the show. A certain sensitivity is necessary when portraying the mentally disabled. Leo approaches this role with so much respect and genuine personality that you can’t help but become invested in his character. This movie was a true sign of the greatness that was to come in Leo’s career.

2. The Revenant

For the highly talked about “bear scene” alone, this movie is worth the cost of admission. But, it’s so much more than that. Taking on the role of fearless 1800s wilderness adventurer Hugh Glass, Leo redefines what it means to be a character actor. Far from the pretty boy roles that he’s had in the past, Leo’s turn as Glass is a cinematic tour de force. For a large portion of the movie, Leo’s character is unable to talk, something that many actors would be terrified to take on. But Leo accepts the unique challenge with gusto, driving the majority of the movie with only body language. In the process, Leo proves that he doesn’t need to rely on a script to give a powerful performance, ascending into a new stratosphere of acting talent. I knew this movie was a Western. I knew it would be long. I knew it would be a journey. Backed by remarkable cinematography and direction by Alejandro Innaritu, this movie is a rare gem of emotional and technical achievement. I fully committed to Leo’s journey, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you haven’t witnessed the cinematic majesty of the Revenant, I highly recommend that you seek it out.

1. Titanic

I knew who Leo was prior to Titanic. I watched him on Growing Pains and I enjoyed Romeo + Juliet in the theater. But, there is a reason why so many industry professionals separate Leo’s career into pre Titanic and post Titanic sections. Leo existed before Titanic, but he never would have become the monumental pop culture icon that he is today without Titanic. Titanic is my favorite movie of all time. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, there are multiple continuation errors throughout (I learned that through my special edition DVD). But all flaws aside, it is a cinematic treasure, and it changed the way that movies are made. With Titanic, James Cameron busted the movie making industry wide open, with state of the art special effects and a love story for the ages. And he enlisted the perfect leading man in Leonardo Dicaprio. This is the role that put Leo on the map. This role made you want to care about Leonardo Dicaprio. And I hope that Leo will reference this iconic role when he gives his long deserved Oscar speech tonight.

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My heart will go on.