How To Activate Your Inner Activist: Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot

Community WANT Women

Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. What might make one person fired up might make another person want to run for the hills. Activism can be portrayed as complicated or extreme – but it doesn’t have to be either.

After the election last year, I started to think about ways I could make a difference that were in alignment with who and where I was: sure I’d go to a protest or march here or there, but I was more intrigued by the ways I could make a big difference, every day, in small ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. I think it does a disservice to whatever cause you’re fighting for to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. Which is where it all starts: with those powerful first steps.

The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.

And this is why I’m starting a new series on WANT called How To Activate Your Inner Activist. Inspired by the live event series we kicked off earlier this year in NYC, I’ll be talking to WANT Women who are making a huge difference…in ways of all shapes and sizes.

Through this series, you’ll get inspired, have epiphanies, and learn how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. Right here. Right now.

To kick off this series, I’m chatting with powerhouse strategist, artist, and activist Jahan Mantin.

project inkblot jahan mantin

Jahan Mantin is the co-founder of Project Inkblot, a media, service, and program design consultancy that uses their unique Design For Diversity approach to build inclusive campaigns for organizations and companies. She is also the co-creator/executive producer of Fit the Description, a video interview series between Black male civilians and Black male officers.

The coolest thing about Project Inkblot – and what makes it different than other strategic agencies or consulting firms – is their Design For Diversity” model. Instead of merely working with the perspectives already present, Jahan and her co-founder Boyuan Gao (who you may or may not meet soon on the WANTcast, hint hint) help brands expand their worldview by discovering overlooked touch-points and reframing them as breakthrough opportunities.

Start where you are. Make sure it’s rooted in something you really care about - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

From what she loves about the world right now to her best advice when it comes to handling the haters, I’m so stoked to have Jahan here kicking off this important series. Here we go…

WANT Jahan

Name: Jahan Mantin


How you’d know me (occupation or role): Founder of Project Inkblot and Co-creator/Co-producer of Fit the Description


What I love about myself (and why): I have a good sense of humor and I’m able to laugh at, and make fun of myself.


What are some causes you feel strongly about? Women’s issues, racial equality, creating a code of ethics around technology development – way too many to list.


When did you start to identify as an “activist” – or just realize that you had something to say? Don’t’ know if I can pinpoint a “time.” I’ve always had a lot to say – being opinionated and outspoken runs in the family.


What was your first PDA – Public Display of Activism? I remember writing a letter to The Village Voice as a teenager. I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the neighborhood had started descending into hipster/yuppie gentrification. This was during the late 90’s – I was walking into a new/gentrified bar, with all white folks listening to hip-hop with my then boyfriend and brother.

We weren’t allowed in.

There was no probable reason. I actually remember the bouncer, a Black man, apologizing. I can remember the frustration and resignation from my brother and boyfriend, both men of color. We felt rejected, as if we didn’t belong in our own home. It was a microcosm of what was happening, on a larger scale, in our neighborhood. I was frustrated and angry so I wrote this letter, and it was published. I remember feeling like I had been heard and had stood up for something.


I wish that people realized that activism… doesn’t have to be a scary word, it can take on many different definitions and forms.
I wish people realized 'activism' doesn’t have to be a scary word. -Jahan Mantin, @projectinkblot Click To Tweet


What I love about the world right now:
I love that historically identified marginalized people are making their voice heard. Truthfully, we never stopped – but I do love that folks are using their voice. It’s a weird time to be alive. I feel like something is bubbling to the surface, about to implode. It’s scary but also a bit exciting.


What I’d love to change about the world right now: Our dependence on technology and some of the insidious ways technology is being used to collect date and eradicate privacy. It’s gotten to a level I think is supremely unhealthy; for our nervous systems, state of mind, energetic levels etc.


The coolest thing about women is… women have some kinda profound well of innate strength that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.


Finish this sentence: Social media… is dos muchos.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Masssssssssages.


My top female role models: Basically all of the women in my family, Frida, Toni Morrison.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Massages, massages, massages.


Fave self-love ritual: Massages!


If people want to activate their inner activist, they should read/watch/listen to… Read anything by James Baldwin. Watch Moonlight.


My best advice when it comes to haters or people who disagree: If you don’t like it, make it better.
If you don’t like it, make it better. -Jahan Mantin, @projectinkblot Click To Tweet


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Having Fit the Description make a positive impact worldwide! Traveling to Iceland, Rwanda, South Africa, Italy, Cuba (all places I want to visit).


My best tip on activism: Just start with where you are. Make sure it’s rooted in something you really care about.


Right now, I am most excited about… summer being around the corner – meeeeh to the cold.


Three words to describe me: optimistic, curious, silly


What is your definition of “positivity?” Being around good people who really know you and lovingly call you on your bullshit, being kind to yourself and others, having enough self-awareness to not take things too personally.


Current mantra: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

project inkblot activist activism
WANT Yourself:

What is ONE way you “activate your inner activist” and make a difference in your own way? Nothing is too small – I want to hear! Leave a comment below and share your ideas…


photos by Seher Sikandar



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Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration WANT Women

I don’t often post about the events I do or the places I speak. I feel like, for me, it borders on self-indulgent and sets a precedent that I’ll write something about every event I do or place I speak. But I do like sharing with you the ones that spark something new inside me…the ones where I can sense a shift happening. The ones that offer up more than just a recap and some fun photos. The ones that blow my mind.

This weekend, I had the immense honor of speaking at The GOOD Festival, an all-day wellness festival in Philly for anyone wanting to live well and “make choices that are in alignment with their body, their career, and their lives.” Basically, the GOODfest focused on all of the things I love about the wellness industry: the community, the curiosity, and the small choices that end up making a big difference in the long run.

But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t love everything. A couple years ago, I felt my relationship with the “wellness” community starting to shift. Because wellness was shifting as well. And I didn’t really like much of what I was seeing: elitism, ego, judgement, and a focus on the external WHATs instead of the internal WHYs. Leaders and “gurus” encouraginig spiritual bypass, the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with hard things, was becoming just as if not more common than encouraging spiritual growth.

I felt torn. The wellness world had introduced me to some of my very dearest friends, launched my career, and helped me realize my through line. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the wellness world, I would have never started sharing my writing publicly or be even close to the person I am today (fun fact: my first blogs and first freelance jobs circa 2008 were all in what’s now considered the wellness realm). I owed so much of who I was to the wellness community – and yet I felt like I was watching a genuine and loving best friend get lured in by a Mean Girls-esque squad of crystal-carrying, sage-burning, side-eyeing Regina Georges. All aspiration on the outside and very little inspiration on the inside.

It broke my heart.

~

I’ve been very vocal about ways I feel the wellness world can shift, and every single WANT Woman that’s been featured on the site or the podcast is a shining example of what wellness can be if we lean into the parts of us that make us unique and let them lead the way. Literally, every single one of them. 

But still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parade and charade of the opposite end of the spectrum when you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading an article and then all of the sudden it’s 12:42am and you’re paralyzed by fear that you’re not only doing everything wrong, but that your idea of what leadership means in the wellness world is no longer relevant.


One of the reasons GOOD was such a reaffirming experience for me was that it reminded me why I fell in love with wellness in the first place. Wellness, after all, isn’t just about the “well.” It’s not just about the adjective – or rather, the noun we’ve created from the adjective.

It’s about the verb – the “LIVING” part of living well.

“Well” is subjective. We cannot possibly know if what works for one person will work for someone else.

 

But living? Living is action. Living is experience-oriented.
And living well is…well, it’s moving forward fearlessly into the you you know you’re meant to be.

 

The GOODfest team blew me (and everyone else there, ps) away with their thoughtfulness and attention to detail. They’d carefully curated the day to reflect their mission and their values, and it showed in not just every single speaker and sponsor, but in all 300+ people who chose to spend their day with us. Deep conversations happened within a matter of seconds – real, no-bs, walls-down conversations – and each time a speaker walked onstage it was like they were being greeted by a room full of old pals.

Speaking of the speakers – the SPEAKERS! Oh my god the speakers. Being a part of this group was a dream come true. Some people were old friends (Jessica Murnane, Katie Dalebout, Jordan Younger), some were new friends (Gianne Doherty, Kristin McGee, Cassandra Bodzak, Sara DiVello, Kimmie Smith), and some I met specifically because we were both speaking at the GOODfest and then one month later we were the best of travel buddies (hi, Talia Pollock). In an industry that can sometimes seem so cliquey and elite, the GOODfest was anything but. It revived my love for wellness; for how *I* view living well. Which is all about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. All-around. Mind, body, soul.


Living well is about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

This post is obviously about the wellness world, but I think this disconnect between aspiration and inspiration applies across industries and even life stages. Maybe your thing is fashion. Maybe it’s academica. Maybe it’s music. Maybe you’re just starting a family, or have been single for a while, or are just about to graduate college or enter empty-nestville. There are so many opportunities for us to doubt that what we’re doing is right or where we are is where we’re supposed to be (yes, social media is a big way we can get triggered into self-doubt).

But what the GOODfest reminded me is that those people who seem to have everything perfectly manicured and are “too cool to care” are in the minority. WE are in the majority. Side by side. No one has it all figured out, but if we join forces in our curiosity, we can explore the options together.

And that’s what I love about wellness: I love the CONNECTION. The community. The willingness to open up and move forward fearlessly…on the same team. We might not know anywhere near everything, but each of us knows something – and when we all work together to both hear and be heard, we’ve got a whole damn lot of options on the table.

Thank you Kate, Jess, Jen, Sienna, Brea, and the rest of the GOOD team for creating a space for women to unlock themselves and fully exhale. To my fellow speakers, I adore every single one of you and am honored to have been in your presence.



When we all work together to both hear + be heard, we've got a whole lot of options on the table. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet


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The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

WANT Women

No matter what, the future is based in my reaction. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years of building a career, birthing a business, quitting a job, moving across the country, and getting engaged (it’s been a busy few years.), it’s that no matter HOW far you think you’ve gotten, there is still so much more to learn. And moreover, you don’t have to go at it alone.

I recently started working with a coach to help gain clarity around a few big-time goals of mine (more on that in the future – both the coach part and the goals part). After unpacking stuff like my alternative definition of “accomplishments” and my love affair with structure, she asked me about role models. And after listing people like Jenny Lewis and Glennon Doyle Melton, I told her about one of my first friends to truly show me what I was capable of. That friend is today’s WANT Woman: Nicole Sciacca.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably at least heard of Nicole if not experienced her Force Of Nature-ness firsthand. Nicole Sciacca is a yoga teacher, professional dancer, actress, host, personal trainer, and (most importantly) a mother to her three year-old son Beau. She is currently the Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga in West Hollywood, where she spearheads their programming and works with teachers to turn each class into the kind of unique, music-driven experiences that have earned Playlist the nickname “The SoulCycle Of Yoga.”

This LIFE business is scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So let's just laugh. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

Backstory: Nicole moved to Los Angeles from Birmingham, Alabama over sixteen years ago. After suffering a horrible back injury in 2006 that changed the trajectory of her dance career, she needed to find an outlet for her energy and genetic disposition for sweat. What originally seemed like her biggest roadblock ultimately introduced her to her greatest passion. Nicole simultaneously began yoga while recovering…and knew she was onto something. Although she had swam and danced professionally her entire life, it was yoga that transformed her mind, body and spirit all at once.

Nicole has always believed in the power of “the journey, not the destination,” so when her Venice Beach studio Hustle and Flow was forced to close, she knew something big was bound to be on the horizon. Days later, she met Playlist owners Jorden Cohen and Rob Rubano. The timing could not have been more perfect – and Nicole found her new path as the face of Playlist.

women against negative talk playlist yoga nicole + i at the one year WANTiversary party in 2016

Our story? Well, I need to preface this by saying that I have spot-on friendtuition. I don’t know how, but I can so much as hear about someone from someone else and have a gut feeling that we’re going to be friends. I’ve learned this about myself in time, but when I met Nicole eight years ago in her spin class and had that friendtuition feeling right off the bat, I was so confused because I was also ridiculously intimidated by her.

It wasn’t that Nicole was actually intimidating or scary in the least. It was that I was in the midst of figuring myself out. I was just finding my voice as a writer and fitness instructor, was battling self-doubt when it came to calling myself a leader…and here was this woman who freaking OWNED THE ROOM the second she walked in.

I’d never seen anyone foster such a deep sense of community (“a following,” if you will) like Nicole did. She made people work hard without even realizing it was hard work. She made people laugh but never at the expense of anyone or anything else. She looked you in the eye and listened to what you had to say, even if she’d met you three seconds beforehand. And she didn’t apologize for being herself.

She was badass. She was soulful. She was exactly what I wanted to be like but didn’t know I could become.

Fast forward to the Now, and she’s one of those “lifer” friends of mine. We’ve seen each other through some high highs and low lows, and I can say on my end that I’m not only a better person to have had her cheering me on, but am a bolder person for bearing witness as her story unfolds and seeing her move forward fearlessly through it all. Injuries. Relationships. Speed bumps. Successes. She’s the definition of fearless: when the fear is less than the faith.

The more comfortable I am being uncomfortable, the better prepared I am for surprises. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

I realized the other day that I hadn’t spotlighted a WANT Woman on the site since last year – crazy, right? Especially since one of the things I value most is connection. This means not only introducing you to WANT Women around the globe, but helping you connect with women who can ultimately help you find a deeper connection with YOURSELF. And so I thought, who better to get back into the flow of things than one of the WANTiest women I know. I love our WANT community so much, it was crazy to me I hadn’t introduced you to Nicole yet. So. Here. Done and done.

They (whoever “they” are) say that you need to see it to be it. And for me, Nicole was one of the first people to show me the kind of person I could become if I was brave enough to go there. Our story is never finished, our practice is never perfected, and if we just hold the mirror up and reflect our light onto one another, we’re able to surpass our wildest expectations.

WANT NICOLE.

Name: Nicole Sciacca


How you’d know me (occupation or role):
I have been teaching yoga, group fitness, and indoor cycling as well as private training for almost a decade in Los Angeles, California. I formally owned a cycling and yoga studio called Hustle & Flow Fitness on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Currently I am the Chief Yoga Officer (CYO) at PLAYLIST. Yoga in West Hollywood.


What I love about myself (and why):
One of the things I love about myself is my sense of humor, because what are we doing, you guys? This LIFE business is crazy. And awesome. And scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So please…let’s just laugh. Also, my resilience. I’m pretty sure that is a new found quality over the last 4-5 years but I can tell you I see the importance in resiliency now more than ever.


What is your definition of “positivity?”
 The energy that is extended when the deepest motivation is love, compassion, joy, and kindness. Or Katie Horwitch. I’m not saying that because this is your site. I honestly would define you as “positivity personified.” True story. (note from katie: omg.)

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” Oddly I don’t remember this “turning point” but I do recall my mother and father really establishing my self worth and the value of my individuality at a very young age. They let me wear the same self chosen outfit 4 days in a row to kindergarten (thankfully my mom washed it every night!). There was a prominent shift when I began to dedicate my life to helping others through fitness and yoga but I was certainly raised with an awareness of “self love.”


How/where negative talk shows up in my life:
Paying off debt. Debt that I incurred from taking big risks. Strange thing is that I don’t necessarily regret those choices because the lessons are plentiful. Negativity shows up at least once a month when I feel bloated or hormonal. Sometimes as a mother I find my inner critic beating me up as I compare my parenting to other mamas.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…
If I feel a lack of energy or physically lethargic, I blame my diet and for not having the discipline to eat more carefully. If I get a piece of mail that worries me, I doubt my capabilities to run my business. If I’m struggling on my mat, I tell myself my priorities are out of whack… There is a great deal of personal critique on my end and that has been a voice that I’ve battled my entire life.

When others talk negatively about themselves… I have a completely different reaction. I listen and immediately drum up all the reasons they are shining, glorious, star fairies!!


It baffles me that women still…
make less than men dollar to dollar. Seems like we should just cut that shit out now.


I wish that more women…
would praise, support, nurture and enable one another. I surround myself with some incredibly strong and driven ladies which makes me proud to be a woman in this industry, at this point in history. We are a great force for good and the world NEEDS us. Our children need us.



I wish more women would praise, support, nurture, and enable one another. The world NEEDS us. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

The coolest thing about women is… we can bring life into the world. Cliche? I don’t care. I have been blessed to do this and it is the coolest thing I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Also, we can multi-task like a BOSS.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive:
Pray or meditate or sweat. Nearly all my problems can shift when I do one (or all) of these 3 things. Also, I call my mom.


My top female role models:
This is a random list here…. I’d say Elizabeth Lesser. Her life’s work and exceptional use of language as seen in her books is just incredible. Johanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. I only know what I see and read but from the dynamic she shares with her husband, her 4 children, their farm, and businesses, I’m constantly inspired.


Favorite negativity-busting activity:
Spending quality time with my son. He fuels my heart in ways that I can barely explain. He reminds me of where I’ve been and that no matter what, the future is based in my reaction. I can shift energy by actively loving him.

Fave self-love ritual: beauty upkeep. Hair cut, a facial, a nice manicure and pedicure. IS THIS SHALLOW? My non-shallow answer is getting a good night’s sleep. Actual rest.


Favorite feel-good food(s):
My mom’s cooking. Specifically her homemade red velvet cake or her German sourkraut, potato, and pork recipe. It has a name but I don’t know it.


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down:
This is 40 or Deadpool. (sorry.) Strangely, I don’t really re-watch movies. THIS HAS BEEN A POINT OF CONTENTION BEFORE. I think it makes me an oddball…so I don’t have an answer. Outside of Love Actually and All About Eve. Those are my all-time Favs!!


Favorite empowering book(s):
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Welcome to your Crisis by Laura Day


My feel-good playlist:

Like That – Memphis Bleek
How Do You Want It – Tupac
Lemonade (the entire album) – Beyonce
Rock and Roll or Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Stand Back – Fleetwood Mac
Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
River – Leon Bridges

Advice I would give my…

…4 year old self: It’s okay that you like micro machines and dirt. And maybe eat less Velveeta cheese.
…14 year-old self: You’re not too tall. You’re perfect. Don’t worry about boys and take more ballet classes.
…24 year old self: A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. GO TO YOGA RIGHT NOW.

A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip or yoga retreat to New Zealand or Iceland. Go on safari in South Africa. Maybe another child. Build a house. Ride in a hot air balloon.


When I truly love all of myself…
I feel enamored and in the presence of God.


Right now, I am most excited about…
my haircut and color this Wednesday. Also, the rest of 2017!! I have a couple big things in the works and am excited to get the ball rolling on my potential collaborations.


My body is:
a freaking temple. I am shocked that it puts up with me. haha. We stay healthy 98% of the year, we breakdance at weddings and we operate on less than the desired amount of sleep.


Three words to describe me:
goofy, hard-working, and compassionate


Current mantra:
The more comfortable I am BEING uncomfortable the better prepared I am for any and all surprises. Or: I am becoming my best self and living my most fulfilled life here and now.

I am becoming my best self + living my most fulfilled life here and now. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet


WANT YOURSELF:
Loved Nicole’s answers to this one, so now I want to hear from you in the comments…
What is YOUR definition of “positivity?”


WANT more Nicole?
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Photo credits: Caddie Hastings

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

How To Activate Your Inner Activist: On Finding Your Voice (In A Way That Works For You)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women

I think we can all agree: it’s been quite the year so far (*LOL to the understatement of the decade). Every single person I talk to says some combo of the same things: I’m fired up. I want to make a change. I’m ready to fight. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what to do. I feel called to action.

Overwhelming, right? I know how you feel.

Over the last few months, I’ve had politically and culturally charged conversations with people I would have never expected to talk about these things with so candidly. A common concern I started to hear from most people was that they were worried they weren’t overtly “activisty” enough to be an activist – which, really, was a worry rooted less in their desire to help and moreso their fear of being shamed or judged. Oof.

As I talked to more and more people, I realized I wanted to help. I wanted to meet them where they were at and help them go outside their comfort zones *gradually,* so that eventually the uncomfortable would become comfortable. I realized that while I was on board with all forms of activism, I was most interested in exploring the seemingly small but huge things people could do NOW to make an impact, not exhaust themselves, stay in this for the long haul…and do it all in a way that would feel aligned with who they are.

'Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.' - @cantpatthis Click To Tweet

Last Sunday, I had the honor of making my dream panel come to life: an intimate yet powerful conversation with five activist-minded WANT Women and Men (Lauren Bille of The Big Quiet and Cycles + Sex, actor and playwright Patrick Burns, Christen Brandt of She’s The First, Jahan Mantin of Project Inkblot, historian Natalia Petrzela of Past Present) about how to make a difference in a way that’s in alignment with who you are. This dynamic discussion, held at the gorgeous HUBseventeen space below Lululemon’s Flatiron flagship, was for anyone who was new to activism, struggling to figure out ways to make a difference in their OWN way, or just curious as to what “activism” can look like beyond marches and protests.

I wish I could adequately express the energy in the room. It was...electric. Comforting. Eye-opening. On-the-edge-of-your-seat. A big long exhale and ‘I thought I was the only one!’

Here are some of the best takeaways from the day:

1) Use social media wisely. Instead of using social media as a venting ground, use it to share events happening this week (awesome suggestion by Lauren). Without pushing your viewpoints on someone else, share everything from rallies to donation-based yoga classes happening nearby. Social media can be a great way to help people find options that might work for them, whether YOU are able to attend or not. You never know who’s reading that has been looking for a way to take action.

2) …Speaking of which, focus on the common ground instead of the shakey ground. Natalia stressed the importance of educating yourself and learning about the “whys” behind the “whats.” Not just for your own personal benefit – but so you can have more nuanced, productive interactions with the world around you. People who, say, voted the opposite way you did – they have hopes and dreams for this big world, too. Instead of grilling or shaming someone about their choices, ask why and actually listen. Maybe they’re worried about affording healthcare. Maybe they’re passionate about education. Whether it’s on social media with acquaintances or around the dinner table with family, find the things you agree on. You’ll probably realize you have a lot more in common than you thought – and maybe, just maybe, each of you will be able to learn about a new perspective. 

3) Be proactive, not reactive. One of the biggest themes of the afternoon was the importance of listening – and then doing something with that information. It’s really easy to let our emotions go crazy when things get under our skin, but now more than ever is the time to press the pause button. Just like negative self-talk, it’s easier to bond over what we loathe instead of fighting for what we love. Instead of fuming about the latest headline with your friends, probe as to why each of you feel the way you do – and then ask, non-rhetorically (as Christen said), So what are we doing to do about this? In order for progress to be made, the days of venting ad nauseum need to come to a close. As Patrick said, “Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.”

4) Privilege is complicated, but it’s not something to feel guilty about. Privilege is a sticky subject. Some people argue that being able to be an “activist” is a privilege in and of itself – however, many people will also say that some don’t have the privilege of turning a blind eye and NOT being an activist. One big takeaway from Sunday was to be honest with yourself about whatever your situation or life has looked like and then do something with it. Christen spoke about how powerful it is to create “safe spaces” – how it’s important to show up time and time again and know not only when it’s important to speak up but when to shut up. We take cues from each other. And she’s realized that her “privilege,” so to speak, can help model the behavior she wants to see out in the world – one that doesn’t assume what someone else’s experience is like or discriminate by class, race, gender, or who we love.

'Show up, know when to speak up, know when to shut up.' - @cjbrandt, @shesthefirst Click To Tweet

5) Small actions can lead to big impact, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, you CAN make a difference. If you’re an employee who wants to create change within their company, for example, keep throwing ideas into the mix and eventually one will stick. The first one might fall on deaf ears, but keep going. Something as small as a conversation with someone in the grocery store can shift lives. “You never know what is going to start a ripple effect,” Jahan told us. “You start with one ripple, then another, then another – and eventually, that’s how you make waves.”

'You start with one ripple...eventually, that's how you make waves.' - @projectinkblot Click To Tweet

6) Activism doesn’t always need to be loud to be heard. Okay, that one’s my own. What resonates with one person might fall on deaf ears with another. I think it does a disservice to the causes at hand to force one “form” of activism on everyone. It makes it seem like activism only looks one way – and can often lead to the kind of black-and-white thinking (You’re selfish if you don’t march! or How can you call yourself a feminist/activist/ally if you don’t XYZ?) that discourages newbie activists from taking that powerful first step of their own. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a powerful march. But I know that’s just ONE part of the equation. The more we can find ways to speak up in ways that are in alignment with who we are, the more comfortable we get with getting uncomfortable, the more we’ll cause a ripple effect within ourselves and others. We’ll eventually feel more comfortable with getting more and more uncomfortable. What once felt awkward and fearful will feel awakened and fearless.

Activism doesn't always need to be loud to be heard. Click To Tweet

Activating your inner activist doesn’t have to be complicated or obvious – it can start with one conversation and go from there. Inch by inch. Step by step. That’s how you build up a voice that resonates in the long run.

HUGE thanks to HUBseventeen for being such fierce supporters of WANT and allowing us to take over your space for the afternoon, and to Lauren, Patrick, Christen, Jahan, and Natalia for sharing so much of yourselves and making the very first WANT panel in NYC a wild success –  and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. Not only did you pack the room, but your questions and enthusiasm had us all on the edge of our seats.

All proceeds from this event went directly to Planned Parenthood.

Photos by Anke Kuballa

Want How To Activate You Inner Activist to come to your town? Get in touch here.


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The WANT Women: Emily Greener On Curiosity, Complexity, and The Choice To Connect

The WANT Women: Emily Greener On Curiosity, Complexity, and The Choice To Connect

Community WANT Women

If you’re anything like me, your entire experience from freshman year of high school to senior year of college was a massive lesson in self-discovery. Never before are you not only forced to think for yourself, but learn how to delicately balance that newfound independence with the expectations of the world around you. Those eight-ish years of school are really the years you start to meet yourself as you really are, in all your high highs and low lows. It’s liberating. It’s stifling. It’s fun. It’s scary as all hell.

For the most part, we feel like an anomalies. How on earth others could be feeling the exact same pushes and pulls as we are completely baffles us.

If only our younger selves had known we were not alone. If only we’d realized that other girls our age were experiencing the same exact things. If only we’d had I AM THAT GIRL.

emily greener
Emily Greener is the CEO and co-founder of I AM THAT GIRL, a global movement inspiring girls to be, love, and express who they are through education, content, and community. She’s been Emily and the IATG crew have taken their movement off-line into communities all over the world, motivating girls from SoCal to South Africa to live the lives they were meant to lead, judgement-free.

Emily originally came to Los Angeles as an aspiring actress with a hunch: she knew she wanted to make major change and influence the world, but had no idea just how far her bright personality and can-do attitude would lead her. In one of those beautiful moments of kismet, Emily met now co-founder Alexis Jones at a random LA party, and was immediately hooked on this idea Alexis had to create a platform – and, subsequently, world – in which young women collaborated instead of competed. The platform was called I AM THAT GIRL. 

Fast forward to today, and IATG reaches literally millions across the world. The IATG website is chock-full of empowering content created both by and for users, yet what’s mind-blowing about this movement is how it’s resonated IRL. IATG’s local chapters not only create the community we so crave while we’re trying to find our way in the world, they provide a safe, fun place for girls to express their thoughts freely and realize that no matter our backgrounds, successes, or struggles, we’re all in this together. And their focus on young women between the ages of 14 and 22? Can you imagine if you’d had this kind of supportive space to just be yourself all throughout high school? Game changer.

As we’ve discussed over and over here on WANT, fearlessness is not the absence of fear – it’s when the fear is less than the faith. Emily leads the IATG tribe with humor, humility, radical self-love, and the kind of unshakable fearlessness that inspires others to do the same in their own lives.

Sound like someone you’d want in your tribe, right? Emily wants you in hers. Read on for Emily’s inspiring thoughts on curiosity, complexity, and the choice we all have to not only be positive, but really own that power. She is bold. She is visionary. She is THAT GIRL.

WANT Emily.
Emily-Greener


Name: Emily Greener


How you’d know me (occupation or role): Co-Founder, CEO I AM THAT GIRL


What I love about myself (and why): My curious nature and adventure seeking heart, my desire to keep growing and learning and being humbled.


What is your definition of “positivity?” Being positive is a choice to create and embody a perspective on the world (and any given situation) of magic, miracles, and optimism.

Being positive is a choice to create + embody magic, miracles, and optimism. - @thatgirlgreener Click To Tweet


When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I have always both loved myself and simultaneously had fears, doubts, and insecurities. And I’m pretty sure that is a lifelong reality to exist with both. I would say the ratio of more love for myself than not happened when I started seeing my therapist. I call her my heart doctor. She taught me how to feel all of my feelings which opened up a huge space to love ALL of me, not just the “good” parts.

i am that girl


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When comparing myself to others


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… quickly resolved by remembering our values of I AM THAT GIRL


When others talk negatively about themselves… I remind them what there is to love about themselves.


It baffles me that women still… tear each other down.


I wish that more women… could be who they are instead of who they think they’re supposed to be.
I wish more women could be who they are not who they think theyre supposed to be -@thatgirlgreener Click To Tweet


The coolest thing about women is… our tendency to connect and feel multiple complex emotions all at once.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Picturing myself or others as a little kid = instant compassion and love and joy


My top female role models: Michelle Obama, Oprah, you know… the usual ;)


Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… reminding them how powerful they are.

i am that girl


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Picturing myself or others as a little kid = instant compassion and love and joy


Fave self-love ritual: Being in nature


Favorite feel-good food(s): Ice cream


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Pretty Woman


Favorite empowering book(s): Half The Sky


My feel-good playlist: Oldies


Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: I love you
…14 year-old self: It’s okay to cry
…24 year old self: Hold on tight, you’re about to embark on a crazy roller coaster that will help you become so much more of who you are.


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip around the world, and African safari, owning a boat, wine tasting through the south of france, building the most powerful movement of girls in the world


My best tip on self love: Look at yourself in the mirror for 60 seconds every day and tell yourself all the things you wish others would say to you.


When I truly love all of myself… I feel most connected to my purpose on this planet


Right now, I am most excited about… camping this weekend (and my new vespa)!


My body is: BeautyFULL

My body is beautyFULL. - @thatgirlgreener Click To Tweet


Three words to describe me: Love, light, power


Current mantra: “You yourself, more than anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

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For more Emily:
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IATG Facebook

IATG Instagram
IATG Twitter

 

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The Self-Love Turning Point: 17 Badass WANT Women On When They Started To Love Themselves (For Real)

The Self-Love Turning Point: 17 Badass WANT Women On When They Started To Love Themselves (For Real)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women

Self-love…it can be so elusive, right? One day we’re our own biggest fan, the next we’re bashing ourselves for missing the mark. One minute we’re flying high, the next we’re buried in a pile of shoulds and doubts and unread text messages and half-eaten bags of kettle corn (no? just me?). 

The thing about self-love is that no matter how much of it we’ve got, its external manifestation doesn’t always reflect the truth. Our lives, relationships, and bodies are constantly in flux – and sometimes we forget that the emotions that fester as a consequence of the situation are NOT the reality of the situation itself. 

Even so, it’s a lot easier to berate ourselves for not thinking enough, doing enough, BEING enough than it is to dive in, dig deep, and really get to the bottom of whatever’s really going on. Doesn’t help that we don’t live in a culture that encourages otherwise: quick fixes are the solution de jour, and we’re taught that negativity is the easiest route to a bond. So is it any surprise we live our lives starved for a sense of self-love?

We can’t expect to like every aspect of ourselves 24/7 – but true, lasting self-love IS possible. And we all need to start somewhere. Your moment might be right around the corner.

Here are 17 badass WANT Women, from activists and actresses to business owners and body-pos powerhouses, on their “self-love” turning point – the moment they started to really love themselves, inside and out:

jessica-murnane
Jessica Murnane, author + plant-based pioneer, JessicaMurnane.com + host of the One Part Podcast: Wow. I think it’s always a work in progress. There are certain days that I need to work harder on loving myself. But I’ve come so far that even my “off” days are pretty great compared to the way I used to feel.

I suffered pretty severely from body dysmorphic disorder – brushing my teeth in the dark, avoiding mirrors, but then the next day obsessing over my reflection, wearing crazy makeup and clothes to draw attention away from my face, and just straight up not wanting to leave the house. It’s crazy, because I’ve always been a really social person and was always surrounded by people – but no one ever knew my secret.

As I got older and found a therapist I loved, things began to get a lot better in my late 20s. But I truly feel that my “turning point” to loving and accepting myself more came when I changed to a plant-based diet. Everything changed. Feeding my belly with good things made my brain feel better too. It’s weird how it’s all connected – but I truly believe it is. I am happiest I’ve ever been, and even if I don’t have perfect love-yourself days…I have come such a long way that I feel proud.
Even if I don’t have perfect days, I've come such a long way that I feel proud. - @jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet


3A1A9923Katie H. Willcox, model, CEO/founder of Healthy Is The New Skinny + Natural Model Management: I began to love myself when I learned how to live a balanced lifestyle. I started focusing on being the healthiest version of myself in my mid-twenties, and I believe that was my self-love turning point. When I met my husband Bradford, he saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself and I realized that I didn’t need to fit a certain physical mold in order to be deemed lovable.


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Erin Bagwell, director of Dream, Girl:
I’m constantly discovering and exploring self-love. I make it a practice to try to find things that inspire and keep me passionate, which gravitates me towards a lot of love.


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Angela Leigh, fitness + wellness coach, PureLeighLiving:
Sure do! Three years ago I made a choice to put and end to my eating disorder. I was binging & purging for twelve years. I was sitting on my couch, crying, thinking to myself, is this going to be my life? Am I going to be imprisoned by food, my lack of love of myself and my fear of letting go…? It was an ugly cry. I emailed my coach at the time (who is an angel and love of my life) and shared with him my struggle. We met for coffee the next day, I cried it out some more. He promised to take my hand and help me through the transition. And he did. He will tell you, it was me who did the work – but his support was paramount for my recovery.

I tried the group therapy thing, it did not fly, so I started my personal journey back to loving me. And I am still on it. Some paths are brighter than others and some days are just straight up brutal. The battle against negative self talk combined with a severe eating disorder is horrific. The voices never shut off. I am not kidding: you know how people say you think about sex X many times a day? That’s nothing compared to the constant stress of thinking about what I was going to eat, how I was going to get rid of it, and so forth.

The ability to temper these thoughts and then turn them into loving thoughts is a marathon of the mind. But I am not giving up. I have no desire to go back to the dark side. I am stepping up and showing up for myself. I love that I had the courage to stop the madness and I love that I am still working for my peace of mind. I love that that I am willing to open up to the world in the industry we are in and say, I AM NOT PERFECT! I am a beautiful mess, but this beautiful mess has some rich experiences to draw from and share with everyone to inspire them that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.
I am a beautiful mess, but this beautiful mess has some rich experiences to draw from. - @pureleighliving Click To Tweet


liz
Liz Brinson, Swirl Girl Army:
My mom instilled independence and self love in me very early but then my impressionable self endured high school and was highly influenced by mainstream media’s standards of beauty and optimal weight. I was definitely impacted by that in terms of setting unrealistic weight goals for myself. I would say my second turning point was probably when I met my fiancé, D.A. It’s really powerful having someone else in the real world reminding you how awesome you are every day.


why i dance pole dancing
Sascha Alexander, actress + activist:
I started to love myself in dance class, the second I saw what was really inside me. Or to be specific, the second the other women in my class started to tell me what they saw inside me, that I was too trapped and afraid to see myself. I believe above ALL, in the power of loving communities, and people who have the courage to be clear mirrors for one another, which is such a big and scary thing to do in a world that is caught up in scarcity. It takes massive self-esteem to show up in honest praise of another person, especially a person who is shining brightly. I think there are so few of these communities available to us, right now. S-Factor was a paradigm shift for me. The more I let myself be seen there, the more I was praised and told I was “beautiful”…. which I literally couldn’t believe at first because I felt so mediocre at the time – so middle of the road, so… nothing special. Oof! It hurts me to even write those things. I was so confused!

There were so many incredible moments that first year at S-Factor, but the one that stands out right now is lying on my mat in a sideways leg lift and realizing how unbelievably strong and powerful my legs were and my stomach was, and how on fire I was in that moment, just spiritually, and emotionally and physically. I had so goddamn much to say – it was living inside me. Mine. Already within my grip. Fierce and alive and perfect. Later in class, we began moving to a really emotional beautiful ballad and my teacher screamed “No more armor!” at us and I just let myself tumble and express and yearn and I was suddenly like, divinely, aware of how deeply beautiful I was because of what I held inside me ….which was TRUTH.

Women are truth-tellers. We are so often just NOT GIVEN permission to be that big and that important. I could never have imagined how much I had to contribute just with my honesty. I realized my importance, my depth, and my fierce beauty in that moment. That was the spark that I have been fanning into a self-esteem flame throughout my 20s.
I could never have imagined how much I had to contribute just with my honesty. - @smascha Click To Tweet


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Jacki Carr, goal coach, Rock Your Bliss:
Wow, brilliant question. I had a best friend in high school, Zoe who taught me about self love. Probably Junior year, so age 17. We both were uber-athletes; she played soccer and I play volleyball and softball. She was more in the cool crowd and I was figuring it all out with puberty, ego, etc while juggling sports and family. We both had a muscular builds – like, cereal-box type bodies (and yes, I am talking square shape and pretty flat. Late bloomers. Really late) – with really muscular thighs, and I will be real: we could eat a lot of food. Like, an embarrassing amount. Considering we were both doing two-a-day workouts, we were burning calories like whoa.

When we became best friends that year – you know that moment, like in Step Brothers, ‘Did we just become best friends?’, yes that moment – we named ourselves Team Hauss. Keep in mind, this was way before CrossFit came around with their tagline, ‘Strong is the new skinny’ – we were WAY out of the norm from the ’90s string-bean model ideals. And for me, there was a moment there of radiant acceptance of myself, my body shape, my actions, my ability to eat a lot of food and not feel bad about it, and my athleticism in that connection. Though we looked different than the magazine and a lot of our friends, we were ourselves. I am so grateful to have been a member of Team Hauss, it was a gamechanger for me.



Mary Beth LaRue, yoga teacher, Rock Your Bliss:
The summer I moved to NYC to work at JANE Magazine. I’d struggled with body image and eating disorders for years and that summer I gave myself permission to fall in love with life, and in turn myself, again. Rather than restricting and beating myself up I allowed myself whatever I wanted and however much I wanted. Some days it was a big crunchy salad and a green juice and other days a grilled cheese and a beer. As I explored the city I found some many new facets to myself and started to really truly grow into the woman I am today.


delia
Delia Brown, artist:
In high school I remember loving myself somewhat, but still feeling very split: There was the lovable side, but there was also a side that needed to be destroyed (the part that didn’t match what my ego wanted). I still struggle with total self-acceptance, but I can certainly say that the older I get, the more okay I am with all of my parts. When you no longer see yourself as split, when your parts feel truly integrated (when it’s not You Against Your Body, or The Awesome You vs. The Lame You, etc), you stop being such a harsh critic. I’ve had a couple of really wonderful therapists who helped me with that a lot.


lynn chen
Lynn Chen, actress + activist, The Actor’s Diet + Thick Dumpling Skin:
It was somewhere in the middle of my eating disorder recovery and while I was trying to have a baby. I think I realized that I had to stop equating my self worth with what my body was able/wasn’t able to do. For so long I thought it would be great to be pregnant, to use that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. Three years of infertility later, I realized nothing outside of myself was going to make me feel like I was enough. I had to start believing it myself, and made a conscious effort to change the way I was thinking and speaking to myself.

Nothing was going to make me feel like I was enough. I had to start believing it myself. - @mslynnchen Click To Tweet


joyologist
Tricia Huffman, Your Joyologist:
When I was fifteen. I had lots of undiagnosed pain and other medical problems and was a freshman in high school and dealing with all of that pettiness and my parents weren’t happy. I felt very alone and unloved and contemplated ending it all. I decided if I was going to end it, I may as well give myself one more chance and live my life MY way, not caring so much about everyone else and choosing to love myself. It didn’t matter what everyone else was doing if I could love myself.


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Kit Steinkellner, writer:
Oh man, I hate to say “It was a man” because that goes against a lot of what I– whatever, that’s what happened, I met my now-husband and he thought I was so great and I thought he was so smart, and if he was smart and he thought I was great…I just decided to go with the math and start thinking I was great.


ashleeP6
Ashlee Piper, eco-lifestyle expert, The Little Foxes:
I think this is an ever-evolving process for me (and likely everyone else, too?). I started understanding myself better when I turned 31. I left my 10-year, established career to explore what contributions I could make in the animal rights field, and it was through those challenges of redefining and getting back in touch with who I was and what I stood for that really helped me see and appreciate myself.

Doing television has also been a constantly changing lesson in accepting and loving myself. TV’s not the most forgiving medium and watching my segments has made me more appreciative of myself.

As far as a turning “point” goes – I guess I’ve had none and many, if that makes sense. Every relationship or business dealing where I haven’t felt appreciated or acknowledged has certainly acted as a mini turning point, helping me to get a better sense of what I want and deserve.
Every relationship has acted as a mini turning point, helping me get a better sense of what I deserve. - @TheLilFoxes Click To Tweet


sarah dubbeldam
Sarah Dubbeldam, editor in chief + founder of Darling Magazine:
I’ve always had a positive view of myself for the most part, but it really started to shift from like to love after I’d been doing Darling for a couple of years. It’s amazing how the mentality of this movement of women loving themselves and one another wears off on you in a deep way.


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Ziza Bauer, online managing editor, Darling Magazine:
I think it’s been more of a slow turn, loving myself in looking back and realizing my mentality at different ages and how quick I’ve been to assume the worst. The more I’ve grown and met different people, different ways of life, the less hard I’ve been on my own journey.


Kyle-New-Headshot
Kyle Wood, media relations, Darling Magazine:
In college I lived with a bunch of girls who cared SO MUCH about the way they looked. I started to think like them and pick myself apart from head to toe. I worried about everything I ate, everything I wore, what my hair looked like…everything. I became so critical about my appearance and very self-conscious. Once I moved home from school I realized that this was not how I really felt. I was adapting the mentality of the girls around me and this was very unhealthy. Ever since then I realized that I need to always think for myself – and to surround myself with like-minded people who are comfortable with themselves.


Gigi-yogini
Gigi Yogini, writer + yoga teacher:
I’ve had reoccurring awakenings all the time. Sometimes I get into a rut and then do something good for myself (like yoga, dance or take a bubble bath) and think to myself, “Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to love myself.”

Sometimes I do something and think, 'Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to love myself.' - @gigiyogini Click To Tweet

WANT Yourself:
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a “self-love” turning point? Tell us below in the comments!