2016: The year of the colour orange

2016: The year of the colour orange

The colour orange is how I would like to remember the year 2016.

This fall, during a yoga & meditation workshop, we had to colour. YUP! 14 adults were asked to grab a crayon and start livening up our blank mandalas. Complete excitement would be an understatement to describe that moment. My five-year old self was apparently very much alive inside of me as she guided me towards the colour orange among the stack of crayons that lay before me.

That bright orange was quickly filling up most of my mandala. As we were encouraged to slowly let ourselves drift into a meditative state, I began to rock my mind back and forth like a little baby.  Back my mind went to the early 90’ and forth it returned to our current decade. Suddenly, I connected the dots between colouring, my five-year old self and the colour orange.

A vivid memory came back to me. It was that of my mother, my brother and I shopping for school supplies before my first day as a kindergartner.  Momma pointed to a pyramid display of KIT crayon boxes which was the next item featured on our school supply list. My eyes grew wide in excitement. I’d finally have a home for all my pencils, erasers, crayons, rulers and more!

She asked me which colour I preferred between the pink and the purple. My confused gaze turned towards her and I inquisitively asked “Why pink or purple Momma? There is also a blue and an orange box!” She replied that Domenic wanted the blue kit box and she thought that maybe, being a girl, I’d like the pink or the purple best.

I’m not sure as to when the rebel inside me was born but I can sure tell you that she got woken up at that very moment. I told Momma “I pick orange, thank you very much!”

Even at 5 years old, I cringed at the idea of being just like every body else. I didn’t want to choose a girly colour because I was a girl and it was expected of me.

First day of kindergarten and I had the two best accessories: my smile and my orange kit box. I placed my orange box in my cubby. Soon after, my class mates did the same. My smile grew even bigger when I realized there were only two orange kit boxes displayed in the row of cubbies. One belonged to me and the other to my new friend, a little blond boy.

And yes of course, my mandala-colouring-30-year old self began to cry at this point into the memory!   Feeling a connection to someone is always unreal no matter how many times it happens. However, feeling a connection to ones-self is triple that of connecting to another topped with fireworks in the background.

Thank you to the colour orange for warming my heart with dear memories. For reminding me who I really am on the inside: This young woman who longs for individuality, equal rights and freedom of speech.

As we bring in 2017, I dare you to choose your colour. Among the sea of people confusingly picking too many in hopes of finding a combination that suits them best, I dare you to look inside yourself and choose your truest colour and let yourself shine brighter than any other. 🙂

 

Mel Ciamp xox                                        pantone-151-c

Convince yourself that you are perfect today, not five pounds from today.

During my second year of university, my Public Speaking teacher assigned us to individually present a personal topic giving only one precise guideline: To convince our classmates of something.

How I LOVE a challenge!!! 🙂 (mouhahaha)

I started my presentation by asking my fellow students to raise their hands if they thought they were perfect, just as they were at that very moment. On a head count of roughly 20 students, only one raised his hand, receiving judgmental stares from his pears.

I was surprised by two things here: First, that only one person raised his hand. Second, that he got a bad rep for it. Nonetheless, I continued on with my presentation in the hopes of convincing everyone that they are perfect just as they are. I’ll try to do the same with whoever is reading this. Wish me luck!

9

This picture (shared in my last post), reminds me of all the years I wasted by loving myself conditionally. If I’m not being clear on how to accomplish conditional love, here is an example of a popular statement used by many: I promise to love myself when (insert a condition).

In my case, it sounded like this: I promise to love myself when I lose 5 pounds. On and on I went for ten consecutive summers. I would critically examine my bikini body in the mirror and sent it a reasonable dose of hate. I would then close my body shamming session by reminiscing on how fabulous my body looked the previous year and if only I would have realized its perfection back then. #regret

Some kids collect playing cards for a hobby. As a 9 year old, my hobby consisted in hopping on the scale and journaling about it every morning. I was obsessed with losing that last 5 pounds so I tracked my progress for a couple of years. This pass-time might have been light on the wallet but it sure weighed heavily on my confidence. My lack of self-love actually prompted bad eating habits and self-destructive behaviors such as binge eating. To no one’s surprise… I ended up gaining 5 pounds every single summer for ten years. Finally, I got tired of this bullshit in June 2005.

I vividly remember this day. I was 19, it was sunny outside and I was feeling happy. I weighed myself before stepping outside to lounge around the pool. The scale read 158 pounds; an all-time high. I planted my 5-foot 3-inch frame in front of the mirror to examine it and identify where this new fat had made home for itself.

I couldn’t see it. What I did see was a deliciously curvy body that just wanted to be left the heck alone. My naturally cheerful personality found it torturous to stand beneath a dark cloud for too long. That day I walked my jiggly thighs to the pool side without my towel to hide them. I decided that whoever didn’t like my body just had to look the other way for all I cared. I stopped fighting by surrendering to my true-self. I also created my own definition of perfection: that feeling of being enough at this very moment.

All those years, all I wanted was to fit in with the crowd. I didn’t want to stand out. I wanted people to see that I was just like them. Reality check: My body is not like theirs. Your body is not like theirs. Our bodies are not meant to look like everyone else’s. Our bodies are meant to look different and this is what makes them so darn beautiful.

same beauty

You may choose to love yourself in 5 pounds but first, answer this: what will happen if you gain 5 pounds every year for the rest of your life? When are you going to love yourself exactly? How about this moment right here?

Trusting you are convinced, I’m looking forward to seeing those hands raised… you perfect people! 🙂

 

Mel Ciamp, xox

 

1995: My first contact with body shaming

1995: My first contact with body shaming

This is my first time! Blogging that is :).

Sweaty palms? Sweaty under-boob (ladies with heavy twin girls get this one)? Nah! This post has been 20 years in the making. I just had to loose my job and have so much spare time on my hands to finally share my not so uncommon body shaming journey.

You know what I’m talking about. That perfect body mission we put ourselves on at a very young age. Back in 1995, when it all began for me, media propaganda was no way near the monstrosity it is today. I did not have Social Media throwing me millions of proclaimed perfect body images per second. All a nineties girl needed to compare herself was a classroom full of young adorable girls and one bullet sized shot to her confidence.

Luckily for me, it is not in my nature to compare myself to others. Thus, at the tender age of 9, I had not noticed that my body was different from any  other third grader’s body. One day, while waiting in line at the teacher’s desk to have my work corrected, I overheard a conversation between two classmates that would be the trigger to my body shaming days.

The first girl, the one others called “the fat girl”, was telling the second girl that she weighed 92 pounds and was very proud of herself because she recently lost 3 pounds. The second girl looked very excited by this news. They had their work corrected quickly and then it was my turn to walk up to the teacher’s desk but my feet wouldn’t budge. I was absolutely stunned. I had my first AH-HA moment. I was fat. I was fat because I had already reached 100 pounds so if I was heavier than the so called “fat girl” then I must be fat. Feelings of embarrassment washed over me. I suddenly became aware of peoples’ stares and whispers being convinced that they were directed to my new found fatness. My tender confidence took a blow and I went home thinking”this is a new day”.

This was the start of my perfect body mission in hopes of feeling worthy once again. I plan on sharing more about my struggle with body shamming and how I became a Body Positive Champion. My goal here is to inspire so please don’t hesitate to share your story or comments. No matter your age and size, I hope you can relate :).

I dream of a world where women feel worthy today and not five pounds from today.

 

Mel Ciamp, xox