Photo-op: Dazey LA

Photo-op is a segment in which I showcase my recent photography work and where I got the inspiration from.

This past Sunday, I went to local public places to take pictures (something out of my comfort zone) of my friend wearing an outfit I styled that was inspired by a small business called Dazey LA. The shirt is what struck me first. Not only is the design super cute, but it shares a message that is near and dear to me: Mental health matters. An instant add to cart moment. I searched further through the online shop and found this metallic silver scarf and knew it would go perfectly with this top. I thought to my current wardrobe to see what bottoms and could pair with it, since shopping for pants online is really hard for me. I thought of the ones pictured that a got at the beginning of the season, but had a similar style aesthetic to Dazey as a whole.

Dazey LA is a (hand)made to order “slow fashion” brand based in, you guessed it LA. Their goal is to empower women and minimize waste. Besides designing and sell their own clothing, they support other female entrepreneurs by selling their products on their site as well. I personally love the vibe of this company, both in their design aesthetic and their do-good attitude. Their photography is also very cool and colorful.

Their clothing carries catchy and inspiring messages while also being sustainable, not to mention being super stylish. I highly suggest checking them out (here), and if you end up buying something, use code JESSE927 for a discount.

*Disclaimer: this is NOT an ad. I just genuinely like their stuff and happend to be an ambassador, so I figured I’d slip in my code for a little financial help.

I was so inspired by their clothing that I planned this whole shoot. I had a friend be my model (forever grateful) and ended up getting some amazing shots and having a lot of fun. The best ones are below!

 

Book Club: Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey

Book Club is a segment where I review and suggest books I’ve read recently. In this post, I’ll be talking about Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey and why it’s a super important and worthwhile read.

A few months ago, I was in my campus bookstore and cafe catching up on some work. On the way out I browsed the books and school apreal, as you do. Then a certain book caught my eye: Because We Are Bad. What really drew me in was the subtitle: OCD and a Girl Lost in Thought. Without even reading the synopsis on the inside flap, I picked up the book and bought it and I don’t regret it. The reason the subtitle resonated with me so much is because I myself have OCD. I’ve been battling it for as long as I remember. So when I saw that someone had written an entire book about it, I knew I had to read it.

24D53271-D318-4FD5-AA80-573C8D7C0071Because We Are Bad is an extremely well written and hard hitting memoir by British model and writer, Lily Bailey. She recounts her experiences with OCD, or the second person in her head, telling her to do or not to do certain things or else “something bad will happen” throughout her childhood and early adulthood. That particular phrase, “or else something bad will happen”, has always been my reasoning for doing/not doing my compulsions, so seeing that someone else used the same phrase to justify her idiosyncrasies intrigued me. I also had this second person, who my family and childhood therapist dubbed “the bully”, becasue that’s what OCD is, a big, unreasonable, bully that bosses you around and makes you do things you don’t want to do. Bailey put these feelings of mine about OCD and more into words that I could never articulate.

Many people misunderstand what OCD actually is, mostly because of the lack of true awareness of the disorder and the push of society’s view of what they think it is. So many people use it as an adjective, “I’m so OCD, I just have to be organized” or “I like everything clean, I’m kind of OCD about it.” While a lot of people with OCD like to be organize and sanitary, they do it in INTENSE fear of some consequence happening if they are not that way, not just because they just prefer things that way. But the way Bailey and I experienced it was having to repeat things, check things over and over, making lists, and repeating mantras to ward off these bad things. When you are not able to carry out your compulsion, you start to panic and it’s all you can think about, hence the obsession part of OCD. If the disorder is left untreated for long enough, it can send you into isolation so you are safe from the dangers of the world and are safe to do your compulsions uninterrupted.

The memoir also talks about learning about the disorder and being diagnosed with it, as well as going to therapy for it. It talks about peers noticing your oddities and commenting on them. It talks about coming to terms with the fact that you’re “different”, so to speak, and it talks about resisting treatment, even though you want to get better but are afraid because of that underlying fear of these mysterious bad things. She really makes you feel the pain that OCD causes a person, and sometimes of the ones they love.

I am currently making my parents read this book so they can get the insight I was never able to give them about my struggles and the struggles of those with OCD. My dad has always been so interested in the inner workings of my mind, but I could never put it to words, so I gave him this book. My mom just plain didn’t understand my weird thought process, but again I could never explain it as well as Bailey has.

If you or someone you know struggles with OCD, heck even if you don’t, please please please, go out and read this book and spread the truth about living with OCD.

You can but Because We Are Bad here.

 

The Power of a Day

Written at 3am, inspired by this tumblr post

June 26, 2014

I’ve hit an all time low. Today was the day I was supposed to empty the medicine cabinet into my stomach and perish, until my plans were foiled. Now I’m sitting in a cinderblock walled, prison-like room in a psych hospital, wondering how I’ll ever come back from this.

June 26, 2017

I’m finally graduating from hell aka high school. While everyone’s looking at the post four years through rose colored glasses, I’m saying good riddance. I have the opportunity to start fresh this fall, reinvent myself. I’ve picked a great school and have a hefty scholarship. I’m going to achieve my dream of being a fashion journalist, I just know it.

June 26, 2018

I’m starting to get discouraged about achieving my dreams. No jobs or internships would accept me, or even respond to me. So now I’m stuck working retail until god knows when. The only plus side is my boyfriend, Josh. We met in March and have been inseparable. Luckily he lives within a 20 minute drive from home. He’s my silver lining.

June 26, 2020

Got my first internship, FINALLY. I’ll be blogging and boosting content for Refinery 29. I’m so so so excited to get one step closer to my dream. Josh is shadowing a therapist this summer. We’ve been taking our lunch break together at random trendy places we find online. It’s the best part of my day. I’m a lucky woman.

June 26, 2021

Time flies! I’m graduating college, leaving some amazing years behind. Now I know how everyone felt at high school graduation. I’m excited for what the future holds. My internship at Refinery 29 turned into a job offer! Starting in August, I’ll be writing articles for the site and featured in vlogs and product trial videos. Josh is going to grad school at NYU, while also working a research job in nyc, so he’ll be close. We’re planning on getting an apartment in Brooklyn when we can afford it.

June 26, 2023

I thought I’d never feel this low again. Josh’s younger sister, Carrie, who I’ve grown really close with over the years, has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I’m treasuring every moment I have with her. I can’t believe she’ll be gone. Life’s a bitch, huh. Just when everything was going well-got promoted, got an apartment with the love of my life, have amazing travel plans-something has to go wrong.

June 26, 2025

Josh just graduated grad school as valedictorian. I’m extremely proud of all he’s accomplished. He has a job lined up at a practice not to far from the apartment. He’ll be working with kids and teens. He’s the kind of person I needed when I was fourteen and suicidal. He’ll save so many young lives. I recently got invited to a show at New York fashion week to document for the website. I am beyond blessed.

June 26, 2027

I’ve been waiting for this day for almost ten years; I’m getting married to Josh! We planned (with A LOT of help) a beautiful wedding. I wish Carrie were here to see it. She’s the one who predicted we’d get married the first time I met her all those years ago. I’m convinced she’s been watching over us and making sure she was right, and I’m glad she was.

June 26, 2031

After nine months, we finally get to meet our daughter. Pregnancy and birth are hard work, but well worth it. Blair is beautiful and healthy and I can’t wait to watch her grow into a beautiful and strong woman. Josh is a natural father; I love seeing him obsess over her.

June 26, 2036

There’s been an accident. My sister was driving late last night and was hit on the drivers side by a drunk driver. She is alive, but in critical condition. They say she’ll eventually be ok, but she’ll might never walk again. I’d take a paralyzed sister over a dead sister any day.

June 26, 2047

It’s our 20th wedding anniversary, and our love is a strong as ever. Blair is sixteen and learning how to drive. Frankly, I’m terrified to have her on the road, but aren’t all parents? I’m just paranoid after what happened to my sister ten years ago. The doctors were right, she recovered fine, besides her ability to walk. Her wife has been really supportive and was her saving grace through the whole process.

June 26, 2070

We’ve retired very comfortably this year. We moved to the west coast to enjoy the weather and to be close to Blair. She’s been working in LA as a celebrity stylist for quite some time now. I’m so proud of my little girl. Even though life seemed bleak at times, there was always a shred of hope that got me to where I am, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Why Hayley Williams from Paramore is My Style Icon

I consider my personal style quite eclectic. I go from grunge, to boho, to retro, and more. I love having versatility in my wardrobe so I can fit every mood.

Hayley Williams wraps all my fashion aspirations into one. When her band Paramore released their most recent album, After Laughter, in May of 2017, Hayley really nailed down her style. The best way to describe it is alt 80s, and it’s incredible.

She has always experimented with cool makeup and bold hair colors, but br74ought it to the next level with her vegan and cruelty-free hair dye company, Good Dye Young (how cool is that name, though?). They recently introduced a temporary hair dye called poser paste, which packs a punch to every stage (and off stage) look Hayley wears.11 Her friend and makeup artist/hairstylist, Brian O’Connor, creates many of these loo

ks. The glitter tears look is a big hit, as well as bright colored eye shadow looks that I wish I could pull off.12

All of these hair and makeup looks are just as awesome and colorful as her wardrobe. As I said, she has a lot of 80s inspired clothes, but they also reach into the grunge/alternative category.

22Hayley rocks vibrant oversize blazers with old band tees or silk button up shirts that are just as bright, velvet tanks with satin skirts, crazy patterned pants with a shirt of a different intense pattern, and everything in between.

1On stage, sometimes she’ll just wear opaque colored tights with an oversize top, and, let me tell you, it. works. Plus, she plays with jackets all the time, which really can add a lot to an outfit (I’m a big fashion jacket advocate). She takes trends and turns them on their head, which is something I really admire.

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I love the fact that her style is “out there” while still being relevant. Hayley really makes every piece of clothing her own by what she pairs it with. The color and pattern combos, the hair pop, the retro spin, all of it is just so impressive to me. She has a taste that can only come naturally to a person.

I love Hayley as a person, I love her music, and I love her style. I wish I could embody the same kind of aura she emits.

 

 

Unhinged: A Personal Visualization Living with Multiple Mental Disorders

For my first post on Ace of None, I decided to be completely candid about a huge part of my life: mental illness. I will include this topic in many posts to come, but wanted to start by sharing how it feels to live with mental illnesses through images and short captions giving some context. I created this project in 2016, at a camp for photography. I spent my full three weeks there thinking up concepts, carrying them out through trial and error, and finalizing them. I put my heart and soul into this project, and I really hope that comes through.

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During the thick of my struggles, as a freshman in high school, there would be night where I would be dreading school so much, that i just wanted to claw my eyes out. School gave me such intense anxiety, that any thought of the work or the people would send me into a panic attack. I felt like I was melting into a puddle of goo.
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I am very sensitive to sensory stimulation, especially sound. I am prone to sensory overload, and when it hits me, it feels like the room is spinning and closing in around me, while everyone else just passes me by and continues on with their days.
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I had, and still have, two sides of me: “depression me” and “hanging in there” me. Depression me is pouting all the time, snippy, and just, well, depressed. That version is very outwardly uncomfortable and unhappy. Hanging in there me, is doing alright, putting on a happy face for everyone’s benefit. On a rare occasion, I am actually happy, but this version is a facade.
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Being clinically depressed literally feels like there is a storm cloud hanging over your head at all times. It’s always looming, threatening to pour rain, and sometimes it does, but sometimes the threat is worse. In addition, people avoid you like they avoid the rain, making everything worse.
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Being diagnosed with a mental illness at a young age, and growing up with it, can make you feel crazy. Whether it’s something you get labeled as from yourself or from others, you feel like an outsider. At some point you just get fed up with the subtext of being crazy even though you are just wired differently.
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When I was suicidal, I didn’t want to ask for help. I was ashamed and embarrassed and couldn’t even fathom how to say “Hey I want to die for real”. I was screaming into the void aka the internet, where I couldn’t get real help. I tried and tried to get help but it is so incredibly hard.
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The shadowy figure in this image represents “bad things”. I have OCD, which is way different than most people think, but that’s a whole other story. However, I am constantly threatened by “something bad” happening if I don’t complete a compulsion. The event(s) are always near and scaring the living shit out of me. It controls my life to an extreme extent.
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My personal physical manifestation of stress, anxiety, and depression feels like a heavy, black light in my chest. It completely takes over my being and stops me from doing anything of worth.
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Sometimes I feel like my mental illnesses are like conjoined siblings. The are literally part of me, but not the whole of who I am. They are different sides of me that like to make themselves known, without my control.
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I either have too many thoughts, or none at all. When it’s too many, it can seem like the buzzing of static in my head. When there are none, I am vacant like a channel that won’t connect.
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As a young teenager, I struggled with anorexia. I controlled my eating strictly and exercised excessively. Even weighing 80lbs at my lowest, I still felt fat. I would grab at “fat” which was just loose skin from extreme weight loss. I still struggle with body image, so this image is still impacts me.
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As someone who suffers from depression and has been for about 6 years now, I can tell you that all you ever want to do is sleep, or at least be in bed. All I wanted to do all day at school was disconnect from life and just sleep. I did my homework at school, came home, napped until dinner, and then went back to sleep. On the flip side of that, sometimes depression and anxiety makes me unable to fall or stay asleep, so I just lie in bed, staring at the wall, thinking away.
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Panic attacks can strike at any time, at any place. I usually try to find a private place, or a place rarely frequented (bathrooms, stairwells, you name it). I sit there and try to calm down to no avail. Eventually, it passes, and I have to continue my day like nothing has happened.