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How Wearing Lingerie Helped Me Fall In Love With My Body

One of my first memories of body shaming is my mami telling me that my thighs were fat and that I shouldn’t wear shorts. She said it very matter-of-fact in a way that, I think, wasn’t meant to hurt my feelings but still left an emotional scar on my pre-pubescent body. I was in the 5th grade and, after that day, never again wore shorts to school. However, now that I am an adult, I’ve slowly learned to embrace and love my body with all of its perfect imperfections — and I do that largely thanks to sexy lingerie.

My mother’s declaration that I was a “gordita” and my family’s ability to put on weight easily (and never exercise or eat well), I spent much of my teen years and early adulthood feeling ashamed of myself.

Looking back at my early childhood, I knew I was different early on. Although my family had originally moved to Miami when we first came to the United States when I was eight years old, we eventually made it to the southwest coast of Florida where I was the only Latina I knew growing up.

Because of this, I was quickly confronted with classmates who were, well, nothing like me. They had quiet, calm parents who never had screaming matches like mine. They had tiny, skinny bodies whereas I have had large thighs for as long as I could remember.

Long before Jennifer Lopez made curves and big booties cool, I was struggling with body image issues and only seeing way-too-skinny 90s models in the media.

At the time, I didn’t know what body positivity meant or how I could get some until I was well into my 20s. In high school, I was overweight and eventually obese. In college, I lost 90 pounds but regained 80 of them after I started my first stressful job at the beginning of the Great Recession. All the while, I kept hearing my mami’s voice constantly telling me that I was too fat. She continued to say that to me throughout my entire life — up until the point that I got “too skinny” for her, that is. But deep down, I knew something was up. Life couldn’t be solely about gaining and losing the same weight over and over again.

Unable to maintain a healthy body weight on my own and afraid of what lifelong morbid obesity would mean for my overall health, I received a gastric bypass shortly before my 23rd birthday. But during my preparation for the life-altering surgery, I met with my doctor who taught me a very valuable lesson: He told me that he was simply giving me a tool to help me manage my weight. I would need to do the work myself in order to learn to eat better and, most importantly, grow comfortable in my body.

It turns out that I had been in a perpetual cycle of stress eating, feeling bad about it, and then eating some more.

I needed to heal my mind as well as my body before I could truly learn to love myself.

The journey to love my body seemed impossible at first. I didn’t know where to start, so I started by reading magazine articles about accepting my body and embracing my curves. This was the days before runways began to feature curvy beauties like Denise Bidot (and other plus-size Latina models) or you could simply search the #bodypositive hashtag on Instagram. But I had to start somewhere, so I started there. Then an ex-boyfriend recommended I try lingerie and I was HOOKED.

I began to scour the internet for scantily clad women in sexy lingerie. The caveat is that they had to be women that looked like me: Women with curves, big thighs, loads of cellulite. They had to look comfortable and exude sexiness; and not just because they were models. I wanted to connect with the women I saw in those images as much as I wanted to feel good imagining myself in their clothes. I discovered pin-up style in my searches and, soon after, the plus-size friendly clothing site, Unique Vintage.

I bought my first bikini on that site. It was white and made me look and feel just like Marilyn Monroe in those famous images of her on the beach (though she actually wore a one-piece). Eventually, I started to sneak into Victoria’s Secret and try on their lingerie. I was still too scared to buy it for myself in front of others, fearing their judgment, so instead, I would go home after each trip and browse through the lingerie on the Frederick’s of Hollywood site.

I fell in love with everything lacy, especially anything that was red or black or a combination.

Although  I owned several of these sexy things, I was still too scared to show it off to anyone.

I wanted to, but I was scared. Loving your body is a journey and, although I was at a weight I was finally happy with and generally comfortable in my body, I could still hear my mami in the back of my head telling me that my thighs were huge. It was an uncomfortable feeling and, to be honest, why none of the items in my growing lingerie collection included thigh-highs despite me finding them to be a very alluring look on other women. Just before my 25th birthday, I decided to do something daring and bought a Groupon for a boudoir photo shoot. The expiration date was six months away, so my promise to myself was that I would spend that time going to the gym and getting in shape, then schedule my photoshoot.

But I didn’t go to the gym. Instead, I let the coupon expire and tried not to think of it for years.

During that time, I continued my journey to loving my body. I learned how to nourish it by eating well. I learned to cook healthy meals because I enjoyed time in the kitchen. I learned to put post-it notes on my mirror that read “I love me for who I am RIGHT NOW” and repeat that mantra every time I got out of the shower, while I was still naked. I learned to not feel shy by walking around my apartment naked on Saturday mornings, making breakfast and reading my favorite magazines.

Little by little, I bought more and more lingerie — modeling it for myself in front of the mirror at least once a week — and learned to love my body more and more.

And then, just before my 30th birthday, I finally booked that boudoir photoshoot.

Nomi Ellenson, @nomifoto/Instagram

To be honest, I was terrified when I walked into the Boudoir by Nomi studio on a snowy Sunday afternoon just two days before my 30th birthday a couple of March’s ago. I still wasn’t completely in love with my thighs (though working on it) and I didn’t know what to expect. But photographer Nomi Ellenson was incredibly encouraging and shared with me her own lingerie and body positivity stories (her great-grandmother was a bra-fitter!). She specializes in photography that focuses on helping women feel more comfortable in their bodies and wasn’t just taking photos for someone’s boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day present. Instead, she made me feel comfortable instantly and even gave me helpful advice about which of the several lingerie outfits I brought to our session I should wear.

Ultimately, I chose my favorite sheer black curve-hugging dress and focused on red accents, like my lips and shoes. Did I mention how much I love that black-and-red combo?

Beyond that, the experience of actually doing something for myself was thrilling. It took over five years and, really, a lifetime of getting comfortable with my body but now I proudly have evidence of my lingerie photoshoot hanging in my bathroom. It’s a daily reminder of how far I’ve come on my body positivity journey. And even though there are still some morning when I wake up and just, ahem, don’t love myself very much, all I have to do is look at that picture and remember: Damn, I really do look good.

12 Make Up Tips For Darker Skin Tones To Make Sure You Get The Most Out Of Your Makeup Money

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12 Make Up Tips For Darker Skin Tones To Make Sure You Get The Most Out Of Your Makeup Money

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Whether you are just starting to experiment with makeup or have already picked up plenty of looks from your favorite tía, telenovela star or singer, here are a few tips for working with makeup with darker skin tones.

1. Don’t Skip UV Protection:

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Your skin is beautiful with or without a tan. However, it is important to use UV protection even if you are dark. When planning for a day in the sun, add a bit of sunscreen, or at least a foundation and lip balm that offer UV protection to your look. Not only will a little sunscreen protect you from dangerous skin cancer, but it will also keep your skin looking younger as you age.

2. Develop A Solid Routine:

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Dark skin has plenty of variety and reacts differently to various climates. Whether you need to moisturize on a regular basis or deal with excess oil, a good routine can help you avoid breakouts. And, of course, always remember to take your makeup off before going to bed no matter how tired you feel. Your skin will thank you.

3. Mind the Undertones:

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Your skin may have yellow, olive, or even reddish undertones. Understanding your undertones can help you select colors to either bring these out or keep them hidden.

4. Moisturizer Is Key:

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Dark skin can get ashy when it’s dry. This can be embarrassing especially if you live in a climate that you’re your skin doesn’t like because everyone will know when you need to moisturize.

5. Match Your Makeup To Your Personal Style:

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Makeup can definitely be used to express your style and your individuality. If you love bright colors, you can certainly translate that into your night time, and even daytime, look.

6. Find the Right Shades:

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Finding the shades of foundation and even eyeshadow that compliment your skin tone can be a bit of a journey. Fortunately, once you find what works, you can use that as your framework for future looks.

7. Play With Foundation:

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If you are blessed with clear skin, you may skimp on, or even skip foundation all together for certain daytime looks. On the other hand, you can also use foundation and powder to play up different parts of your face. Most experts recommend using a foundation that is two shades lighter than your natural skin tone.

8. Do Some Research:

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If you’re trying out something new, or if you’ve generally had trouble with matching makeup to your skin tone- you’re in luck; there are several YouTube and Instagram influencers who specifically work with darker skin tones and offer tutorials. You can also ask a friend for help.

9. Make The Most Out Of Your Concealer:

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While concealer is traditionally used to hide skin blemishes, it can also help make your eyes pop. Simply apply your favorite concealer under your eyes and to your eyebrows in a triangle

10. Makeup After Contact Lenses:

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This tip is universal but worth noting regardless of whether you are using contact lenses to help correct your vision or are opting for color contacts to make your eyes pop for a special occasion. Putting on your contacts last minute will inevitably lead to running makeup- and possibly even mascara smudged contact lenses.

11. Balance Your Eyes And Lips:

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Having both eye and lips pop can be overwhelming, which is why makeup artists focusing on one or the other. That doesn’t mean that your eyes can’t look stunning if you’re wearing a red or purple lipstick, but having your eyes pink at the same time, can be a bit too much at best, and may leave you looking like a clown at worst. To make sure you aren’t overdoing it, stick to accentuating either your eyes or your lips- especially if you are a beginner.

Latina Beauty Brands Crushing The Makeup Game

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Latina Beauty Brands Crushing The Makeup Game

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It’s likely that behind every bold lip you’ve ever rocked, there’s a strong Latina beauty who taught you how to do it. Hence, whether it’s been how to pick the right shade or moisturize with Vicks, there’s no doubt by now you’ve got a handle on rocking a mean pout.

With so much advice passed on from the abuelas and tías in our lives, it’s no wonder more and more Latinas and Latinos are leading the charge in the beauty industry. Check out our fave Latina beauty brands below!

1. Bésame Cosmetics 

This is totally your abuelita’s make up brand. (And why not? She taught you all you know about a good red lip anyways.) Bésame’s founder, Gabriela Hernandez, immigrated from Venezuela and became fascinated with the sophistication of beauty while playing with her abuela’s makeup brushes. Each of Hernandez’s long lasting beauty products act as shoutouts to the romance of 1930’s Hollywood. Her Black Cake Mascara will give you major romance vibes.

2. BeautyBlender

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Blend like a boss!

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If Rea Ann Silva’s beauty must-have hasn’t already swept across the foundation on your face, stop what you’re doing and get on board. Seriously, we’ll wait because it’s awesome.

Got it? Cool! Because the Mexican and Portuguese entrepreneur completely uprooted the makeup game back in 2007. The innovative makeup sponge doesn’t hold onto product and evenly distributes formulas into skin with zero lines. Yes and yes.

3. Nuance by Salma Hayek

Don’t believe that just because she’s on the red carpet that your girl Salma hasn’t a clue about drugstore makeup. The Mexican-born actress strongly believes in bringing products with healthy ingredients to all women. Which means yes you can find the line in the isles of CVS. Her Flawless Finish Liquid Foundation is also a complete steal at $14 a pop.

4. Reina Rebelde

Regina Merson’s colorful range of lipsticks, shadows, and blush palettes act as an ode to the zesftful culture of her Mexican heritage. With shades like ROSA SALVAJE and MORETÓN, Merson’s line is equal parts queen and rebel.

5. Gaby Espino

Venezuelan telenovela star Gaby Espino’s beauty line is proof that she has more talent to bring to the table. Her lipstick and nail polish line stem from her love of beauty products and fans are OBSESSED. The extreme-pigment and long-lasting cream-texture of her Buh Bye Baby lipstick is packed with antioxidants and also mint for calm, smooth lips.

6. Breakups to Makeup

You know that saying “some things are better left unsaid”? Puerto Rican and Cuban makeup artist Angelique Velez’s makeup bag line is for anyone who still has some words to say. Velez’s line of makeup bags and clutches are tagged with quotes that evoke major “same” vibes.

Fun Fact: Velez founded Breakups to Makeups after makeup helped her through a bad break up. #makeupsaveslives

7. Melt Cosmetics

This massive cosmetics brand racked up an equally massive fan base in just a matter of 3 years. Lora Arellano is the other founding half of the popping cosmetics line and has been on our radar as a girl boss for a while. Since the launch of her beauty brand, the first-generation Mexican-American has worked with Rihanna and Serena Williams as their go-to makeup artist.

8. Tata Harper

Tata Harper’s 100% nontoxic skincare line has swept up a massive celebrity clientele that includes Gwenyth Paltrow and also Lake Bell. According to Forbes, Harper is Columbian-born with a background in industrial engineering. Gotta love a woman in STEM!

Pro Tip: Go for the super popular Honey Blossom Mask ($65) for girls night in.