London Event!

GURLS! We teamed up with Coach and Dazed for an incredible one day festival, in London! We will be holding a panel discussion with some incredible women including Adwoa, Hari Nef, Karley Scortino, Hanne Gaby Odiele, and so many more! It's totally free! RSVP at rsvp@gurlstalk.com.

There will be talks and workshops, StyeLikeU will be filming, Complimentary Coach customizations at the 'Dream Station,' a movement station by Wayne Mcgregor, and a healing movement workshop hosted by Dr. Lauren. 

Leave some space on your calendar at come to  180 Strand, WC2R 1EA from 12-6pm on July 1st!

See you there!!!

 

 

 

Empowerment can come when you least expect it 

 by Connie Ross

Illustration by:Ella Strickland de Souza

Illustration by:Ella Strickland de Souza

The day when I felt most empowered was one of the lowest days of my life. If I’m honest, I don’t know the exact date or month of my empowerment - it’s become a bit of a blur. I do know, however, exactly how I felt. 

As much as I liked to think it was, my eating disorder was no secret. I’d been under-eating for just under two years. I weighed 6 stone and counted every calorie that I consumed. 

My parents had begun expressing their concern months earlier. Some days we shouted at each other, some days we cried together. Every time we spoke about it, I promised to make an effort to get better. I broke a lot of promises whilst I was ill.

But the day of my empowerment was different. My parents sat me down and told me that they’d given me enough time to start eating more and I hadn’t. They told me that if I didn’t start showing obvious improvement very soon they’d have no option but to refer me to a clinic.

I was horrified. Up until that point, I’d been ashamed for making my parents worry but it wasn’t enough to change me. I suppose I’d persuaded myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone but me, and that was OK. Their ultimatum put everything into perspective. 

I realised - whilst looking through teary eyes into their desperate ones - that the only way I was going to get better was if I did it for them. The focus in my mind, which had been fixated on me for months and months, shifted. My parents, who I adore more than anything, would be my focus.

It sounds dramatic but it was honestly like the flick of a switch. I had a goal, something other than counting calories to focus on. I felt determined. I felt empowered. A spark of my former brave self flared up and I grabbed at it as best I could.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that spark burned brightly from then on. There were nearly as many bad days as good ones. But having that aim, and seeing the hope in my parents eyes as I started to get better, helped me to move forwards more times than I moved back.

I felt compelled to share my story because I want girls to know that empowerment doesn’t always come from the good. Sometimes it takes getting to your lowest point to have enough reasons to make a change.

Today, I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. 

Until now, a couple of years on from that day, I have only ever spoken to my parents, two closest friends and boyfriend about what I went through in depth, so sharing my story is a big deal for me.

But today, like that day years ago, I feel empowered. Empowered to tell my story because I am proud of what I have achieved. And I want other girls to feel proud of their achievements too.

 

Eighteen Year-Old Girl, Seeking Date to Senior Prom, Serious Inquiries Only

By Erin Brown

Illustration by: Jessica Vaughan

Illustration by: Jessica Vaughan

One could say I’ve had a “rough time” with proms in high school. Last year, I attended   junior prom without a date. I tried to find a date, but nothing worked out. Sure, I shed some tears, but I tagged along with a few friends, and it was okay. The pre-party was a little uncomfortable (they always are) but once I arrived at prom and danced with my friends I had a blast.

           Senior prom is different.

There is more emphasis on senior prom; it’s considered the hallmark event of senior year. People spend quite a bit of money on the right dress, shoes, hair, limo, and flowers. It gets really expensive really quickly. But the most stressful part of prom isn’t the attire for the event but finding a date to the event. And this year I do not have a date. I don’t want to sound vindictive or bitter or salty--I’m past that stage. But I want to talk about how we view prom and why going without a date, or going in a non-traditional setting, can make one feel isolated or ashamed. But I want to talk about how we view prom. Why is it weird to go without a date? Why is it weird to go with friends? Why is it weird to go with a same-sex partner? Whether someone is straight or gay or single or dating should be—by default—a private matter. But prom forces personal situations into the public eye. Basically, prom outs all of us. 

For me, the worst part about prom are the pictures of the beautiful couples. It feels like Instagram is taunting me. I open my explore feed, and I expect to see stupid memes, but instead I see a couple smiling. I tap the photo. I swipe back to my explore feed and scroll through more pictures of happy couples. The smile that’s brighter than it ever looks in the hallways. The deep red dress enhanced by the even brighter filter. The slim fit tuxes with the padded shoulders and the dresses perfectly coordinated. This is what prom is supposed to look like. This is what prom is supposed to feel like.

Not everyone feels stress for the same reason, but almost everyone feels some stress. Prom is surrounded by visible excitement and invisible anxiety. She doesn’t want to get asked in front of her math class at school. He is not sure if he got the “right” tuxedo. She eats nervously for week so she can fit into her prom dress. He has to learn how to tie a bowtie without his father to teach him. She’s worried that her dress in the prom Facebook page won’t get enough likes. He doesn't know if he should get red roses for a friend. We see the excitement build up, but we never talk about the stress that surrounds prom. We have to cope with our own anxieties and emotions by ourselves while worrying about what our classmates will think..

I indirectly asked several people to prom, and each politely turned me down. They wanted to go with someone else. That’s okay. When I came to the realization that I probably was not going to prom with a date, I felt a flurry of emotions. Was something wrong with me? Was I unattractive? Socially inept? Why wouldn’t anyone ask me? My friends assured me that I am beautiful, smart, and funny. They told me, “Erin, you’ll definitely get a college boyfriend. Prom doesn’t mean anything.” I thanked them for their words, but I didn’t really feel any better. After a while, I processed going to prom “stag,” and I was okay with it. Some of my friends are going with significant others and some are going with casual friends. I will have people to hang out with, to sit with, to dance with. I won’t be alone, but I might feel a twinge of loneliness.

When my grandmother called me, she had lots of questions. What does your dress look like? Who are you going with? What jewelry are you going to wear? I had an answer to one of those questions. I have made peace with my situation. She kept on talking about my cousin’s proms, their dates, their dresses, and their night. I felt like a letdown. Of her seven grandchildren, I will be the only one who went to senior prom dateless.

As an underclassman, I often pictured an idyllic version of my senior year. I would be excited to go to the college of my choice, I would party every Friday night, and I would have a date for prom. Everyone, especially me, would be happy. But that’s not what I got; instead it’s a whirlwind of emotions. I’m over parts of high school, but I don’t know what I want to do, where I want to go, or who I want to be. When I put everything into perspective, I see that I have bigger things to worry about.

But I would still really like a date to prom.

Erin Brown

Turning shame into humor - part 1 - body fluids

By Nicky Minus

By Nicky Minus

The idea behind the project for me was that I was struggling with very low self esteem all through my adult hood because I was badly teased throughout high school (i'm 27 now) and my way of dealing with that throughout my life was to use humour/make fun of myself. I've been nervous and felt strange about making a project in which I expose myself so much but I thought that it would be kind of cathartic and help me get over the issues and hopefully other people could relate. 

Also, the work is a feminist statement about the way shameful feelings about one's own body can be extreme and varied, whilst also being a dig at the way men throughout history have been able to get away with talking explicitly about their sex lives/women but whenever women do the same they are ignored or labelled neurotic and self obsessed.

Charlotte: A Love Story

Charlotte: A Love Story “I am not like other girls”I used to say, but my name indicated otherwise. With an average of 2.3 Charlottes per class throughout primary school, it was hard to stand out. Some people tried to make me feel better about my name by reminding me that it was a princess name. I hated princesses. I hated that my name signified “womanly” and I hated that it was considered elegant. You can’t be a rebel called “Charlotte Rose” I thought. I later recognized that the problem was actually worse than that. I did not hate my name. I hated my gender. I felt that my name “Charlotte” categorized me as a “girly girl”. Internalized sexism caused me to have a negative perception of what it means to be a girl. I had reduced an entire gender to a stereotype that I did not want to be a part of. That is when I discovered “The 1st Lady of Sex.” Like every nine-year-old girl, I google- searched my name. To my surprise, the first result was “Lady Charlotte Rose” a multiple award winning sex worker, educator, public speaker, author, radio presenter, and mother. She was BAD ASS. She was no Charlotte Bronte. “Lady Charlotte Rose” was a sexy strong woman that I was proud to share a name with. It may not have been a usual or even politically correct approach, but a sex worker helped me to love my “womanly” name and find my way to feminism.

Embellished Talk x Gurls Talk x Wasima x Jodie

Baiba

Naima

Farhana

Armani

Whitney

Wasima Akhtar

Second year student at Central Saint Martins

I am Wasima and I am currently studying BA Textile Design at Central Saint Martins. What I enjoyed most about embroidering the t-shirts was that I used my favourite traditional embroidery techniques such as French knots, satin stitches and running stitches which was inspired by Bangladeshi kantha embroidery. Taking part in embroidering t-shirts for Gurls Talk meant a lot to me, knowing that I am part of a good cause that supports and helps young girls from all backgrounds.

Instagram

Jodie Ruffle

Textiles Designer

I love the whole concept of Gurls Talk – an inclusive, supportive platform that values and celebrates everything female. It’s an amazing place to share, inspire and be inspired.

My work centres around a return to traditional craft and I love exploring the imperfections and unpredictability’s that come with the process of embroidery. When creating the t-shirts for Gurls Talk, I worked from the inside out, so all the knots and ends are on the outside. I wanted to really embrace the value of imperfections. Not only do I love the deconstructed aesthetic, but I think it’s an important message to all girls – imperfections are beautiful!

Instagram

Web 

Lesbian and Bisexuality through the Female Gaze

By: Heather Glazzard

I find that queer/bi women are represented in small numbers in the media and if we are; we're most likely represented in somewhat of a sexual way, probably by a male. It's rare that you see a statement made by queer women on catwalks, fashion and in general. Recently I was asked to shoot for a magazine in Brooklyn who wanted to take my aesthetic and put it on a 'naked muscular gym guy' as they described, I had recently told them of my concept of shooting two women together, in a romantic emotional way. I turned it down, I wanted to stick to what I believed in promoting as an Artist. We have come along way for transgender women and men and gay males but I feel the spot for Lesbian and bi women has been left in the dark.  It's important that there is somewhere for us too. Growing up as a lesbian I honestly had nothing to inspire and relate too. This is a difficult thing when you're coming out and discovering you're not attracted to guys in your class but the girls. I'm personally sick of statements from society like 'You're too pretty to be gay' or 'you probably haven't had the right guy yet'. It's as if the lesbian community have this stereotype and if you don't look like that, you don't fit in. My personal favourite is 'I'd love to watch you two have sex' when I've been dating someone who doesn't conform to the stereotype. I strongly believe this is a knock-on effect of the media and how we're represented. I hope for my work to represent the lesbians who agree, that being a lesbian is more than a sex object or a wide known stereotype. I always try to explore this when I'm photographing girls who are openly bi/queer, I make sure they step away from this media look.

THE DEATH OF 27

By: Elle Packham

Illustration by: Jessica Vaughan

Illustration by: Jessica Vaughan

The woman walked in
her head held high,
she led with her face
and met with her eyes

with hands by her side
and lips slightly curled
she seemed unafraid
of what she saw in the world

Or perhaps, in fact
the truth, as it were - 
she seemed unafraid
of what it saw in her

On the woman before me
I was hypnotized. Transfixed.
I almost failed to notice
the words from her lips

“I have come to cut you loose” 
she spoke with a hum
and instantly I realized
for me she had come

Like hit with cold water
I awoke with a snap
and discovered to my shock
that I hung in a trap

Suspended mid air
in a web like a fly
I could not move at all
though all my strength I did try 

I inspected the web
in a plight to be free
but then learnt of its makings
which were, well… they were me

My veins, bones and limbs
made up every fibre
I had woven them over time
like a sleep walking spider

The tangled up veins
pumped red and blue
they climbed over the bones
and hung an organ or two

And circling below
the web swaying in the wind
was the woman staring up
searching where to begin

She found a loose thread
and with a flick of her wrist
she snapped it in two
as if unpicking a stitch

Like red confetti firing
my blood burst from the vein
and I watched the woman below
as she danced in the rain

Weightlessly she moved
unravelling my prison
As if underwater
in a sea dyed crimson

And once she had finished
pulling free every strand
just the bones were left
which she broke with her hands

The woman then paused
when she saw me begin
to slowly drop from the web
like drool off a chin

And as I lay on the ground
below the web now mangled
on a bed of broken bones
and veins, untangled

I looked up at my lungs
which still hung in the nest
watching them expand
taking their last breath

And I started to wonder
how it ever came to be
that I hung in a trap
made by (and of) me.

Into the carnage
I began to melt
the woman came closer
beside me she knelt

Her fingers on my eyes
from sockets they popped
she did the same to her own
and with mine, she swapped.

Then I saw the broken web
(which once I was captive) 
from the eyes of the woman
who ripped, snipped, hacked it.

And I could no longer
see myself in the void
of the torn apart web
that I had destroyed 

BIRTH OF 

Born anew
Bardo dissolved.
From within,
Changed. Evolved. 

Extra, extra

If you have a story to share we want to publish it! The story could be about something you overcame, something you're dealing with you, even something funny. We want to help you tell your story, if English isn't your first language or writing isn't your strongest suit and you feel compelled to tell the world about your experience we can help! Elle Packham, an incredible woman, writer and our editor wants to work with you to help you express yourself. 

Writing is healing, writing is communicating, and writing is transformative!

If you have a completed story email submissions@gurlstalk.com

If you want to be apart of the Gurls Talk writing workshop, email Elle@gurlstalk.com 

 

If writing ISN'T your strong suit and you want to create custom art so girls from all over the world can share their stories, also email us! 

 

 

Embellished Talk x Gurls Talk x Sofia

GURLS TALK has teamed up with Embellished Talk, an online platform that explores the different works of textiles designers. Founded by Rebeckah Kemi Apara, she has picked four other designers and hand embroidered 20 t-shirts in various sizes. 100% of the proceeds from the t-shirts will go to the Baytree Centre; a women's and girls charity that supports social inclusion through educational programmes and activities.

Gemma

Bella

Naima

Sharmilla

Sofia Salazar

Textiles Designer

My name is Sofia Salazar and I'm a textiles designer from Argentina now living in the U.K.

I worked on my pieces in the sincerest way. Confident and decided lines, straight on the fabric, knowing from the start that they wouldn't be perfect but also knowing that I can work with my mistakes. Acknowledging my faults, fears and mistakes, but not letting them stop me is what empowerment means to me.

Talking about our weaknesses is actually brave. I like how Gurls Talk is about the importance of having a space and creating our own space. A space to be seen, to be heard, to be safe. I like how it is also about the importance of having something to say...

girls, let's talk!

Instagram

Web

TALK IS CHEAP

Art by Poppy

Art by Poppy

When I was 28 I was diagnosed with cancer. It was one of those life shattering moments that will forever permeate my existence. It all began with back pain, and what started as a dull ache quickly became unbearable. Agony. Pure, violent, scarlet red agony. I started smashing codeine like there was no tomorrow. Exhaustion took over and I would find myself napping at any available moment, on my lunch break, after work, on the tube. I lost all my strength and became so weak I couldn’t even unscrew a jar of Marmite. The night sweats and fevers came. On a bad night I’d need to change my pyjamas multiple times, as they’d be soaked through with sweat. The weight started to fall off me and my jeans that once made my bum look peachy now had a good 3 inches of extra material to pull at. People started to comment – “You’ve lost weight”. Had I? I wasn’t convinced, for some reason it wasn’t computing with me that I was ill, very ill. I was frightened to talk to anyone about it, especially a doctor. Eventually it all got too much and I was admitted to hospital for a five-day stint. At this point I was pretty much bed bound and my body was working overtime to keep me going. After lots of tests and biopsies I was diagnosed with Stage 4b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer. I will never forget my doctor first uttering the words ‘You have cancer’ to me as I lay in my hospital bed. It felt as though my world had literally fallen away from me. The corners of my reality blurred, my hearing warped and I was plunged down into a deep, dark hole; a nightmare. There were so many questions, so many things I didn’t understand. Medical jargon and complex terminology filled my conversations. Anxiety and fear ate away at my brain. 

Then came the chemo. It destroyed my body from the inside out and I was left feeling like a shell of a woman, a relic of my former self. Diarrhea, mouth sores, neutropenia, bone aches, migraines, exhaustion, mental fatigue, constipation, muscle cramps, anxiety, shivers, insomnia, piles, tooth infections, acne, weight loss, weight gain, stomach cramps, raised heart rate, infections, viruses, hospital admissions, hot flushes, nausea, joint aches, dizziness, chest pain, hair loss, water retention, swollen ankles, acid reflux, sun spots, trapped wind, fevers, anemia, breathlessness, paranoia and loss of energy were all part of the process. It was a tough fucking slog. It was an assault on my physical and mental self, a barrage of feelings thrown at me from all angles. 

But there was one thing that got me through the pain, the chemo, the side effects, the risk of infertility, the anxiety and the fear. One simple thing that most humans are blessed with the ability to do. That one simple thing was talking; about anything and everything I was going through. Talking became my medicine, a saviour in the madness. 

I’ve always been a talker. My Mum is from Belfast so talking’s in my blood, it’s not easy for me to shut up. I started talking at the ripe old age of 14 months. My first word was apple. At school I was often chucked out of lessons for it, I was that annoying girl who teachers hated because she just couldn’t keep her gob shut. My school reports always read “She’d achieve much better grades if only she’d stop talking so much”. But we shouldn’t stop talking and we shouldn’t be encouraging children and young people to talk less. In fact, we need to do the opposite, humanity needs to talk more. Give me a bottle of wine, some good company and I could easily talk for at least 8 hours straight, even on subjects I literally know nothing about. I love talking. It is definitely, without question, my most favourite past time. 

So for a woman who loves talking so much there were times in my cancer journey (God I hate using that term!) when I struggled to talk, to tell people how I was feeling. People don’t like to talk about illness and death. I can’t blame them, it’s hardly a cheery subject that we want to bring up at the pub on a Friday night. But the thing is cancer is still a taboo and it hides behind fear. Maybe this is why initially, when I started to feel ill, I didn’t go to a doctor sooner and is partly blame for such a late stage diagnosis. I was scared, deeply frightened of what they might say, what fate I might be dealt. With cancer, it’s simple - not talking creates fear, fear leads to people not going to the doctors, not going to the doctors leads to late diagnoses, late diagnosis leads to a more likely death. That is the cold, hard, brutal reality. The reality of our time is that 1 in 2 people will get cancer, that’s half of everyone you know, isn’t it time we started talking about it in a more honest way? 

We’ve come to a place in society where everything is imaged based, bite sized, hash tagged and captioned. Slogan after slogan plasters my Instagram feed, every next person is donning a t-shirt with a neat, easy to read caption sprawled across their chests. Where has the big conversation gone? Where is the depth? We need to talk more; more openly, more honestly and more candidly about the big things. And it’s not just cancer that we struggle to talk about, there are so many big issues that we shy away from discussing. Rape, child sexual abuse, abortion, mental health, depression, schizophrenia, alcoholism, transgenderism; the list is endless and varied. 

Talking helps, for a moment, to make us feel like we are less alone, that we are understood, that we are not bat-shit crazy but in fact human, and vulnerable, and at times maybe even a little messed up. It reminds us that we are not the only person in the world who hurts, who is ill, who is oppressed or struggling, but that there are lots of other people out there experiencing the same. Most importantly it creates awareness, and with awareness comes understanding and slowly, slowly (at times desperately slowly) comes change. Talk is not just cheap, it’s free. It is the one thing on this planet that (almost) all humans can do that doesn’t cost any money but that can engender change. Take it from me; chatting shit is good for the soul. Talk more. 

Embellished talk x Gurls Talk x Nicole

GURLS TALK has teamed up with Embellished Talk, an online platform that explores the different works of textiles designers. Founded by Rebeckah Kemi Apara, she has picked four other designers and hand embroidered 20 t-shirts in various sizes. 100% of the proceeds from the t-shirts will go to the Baytree Centre; a women's and girls charity that supports social inclusion through educational programmes and activities.

Simran

Gi

Ola

Baiba

Nicole Chui

 

Embroidery Artist and Founder of Fem Zine

Growing up in a family of four sisters, I've always known that having a group of supportive females is important. Naturally, this project hit very close to home. I love that Gurls Talk is that safe space where girls of all backgrounds can support each other without judgement, and I love fact that Adwoa uses her influential status to open more discussions about mental health for girls. It's brilliant that this exists because mental health is something everyone encounters every day, regardless of your identity. Gurls Talk needs to be around the world —especially in Asia where mental health is still extremely stigmatised. The shirts I stitched express deep issues in a loud and humorous way. They are definitely shirts that would make someone want to stop and ask questions, which is good because it creates open discussions and hopefully bring more people to Gurls Talk!

Web

Embroidery InstagramPersonal Instagram

Fem Zine Instagram

Twitter

Nicole has an embroidery workshop and exhibition coming up this week.  - workshop

exhibition

Embellished talk x Gurls Talk x Rebeckah

GURLS TALK has teamed up with Embellished Talk, an online platform that explores the different works of textiles designers. Founded by Rebeckah Kemi Apara, she has picked four other designers and hand embroidered 20 t-shirts in various sizes. 100% of the proceeds from the t-shirts will go to the Baytree Centre; a women's and girls charity that supports social inclusion through educational programmes and activities.

Bella

Debbie

Nadine

Rebeckah Kemi Apara

 

 

Textiles Designer, Founder of Embellished Talk and Creative Director of the Embellished Gurls Talk collaboration.

Hand embroidery is always therapeutic for me. It allows me to calm down and breath, as much as I love Instagram I need a break from staring at a screen. Being able to create a piece of textiles boosts my confidence and gives me self-esteem. Every time I finish working on fabric I feel a sense of accomplishment which makes me want to do more. I love the fact that I've been in control of my own confidence and haven't relied on validation or praise from anyone else. Embroidering the Gurls Talk t-shirts has been incredibly surreal. I’ve had a girl crush on Adwoa for a long time. When I was growing up, being from Africa wasn’t considered attractive or “cool”. Whenever I told people that I was half Ghanaian and Nigerian they would be surprised and say “oh, you don’t look African”. The first time I saw Adwoa in a magazine I felt so happy, the moment I knew her name was Adwoa I knew she was Ghanaian because it’s a typical Ghanaian name. Whenever I see different people of African descent accomplishing things I feel so proud and it makes me think, eff you to all the people that thought Africans weren’t attractive or worthy.

I wish Gurls Talk existed when I was a teenager growing up. I had so many questions, curiosities and insecurities that I couldn't articulate. One big curiosity was about boys and sex. I strongly believe women and girls should talk about sex on a daily basis. It's a weird thing and we need to know more about it. Gurls Talk is a place where girls feel comfortable to talk about any issues without being judged; from uncomfortable sex, being shy, to growing up with a strict father. Our spectrum of emotions and feelings are wide and we're allowed to express them. I think men and boys should read Gurls Talk so they have an understanding on how we feel; maybe there’s a dad, boyfriend or brother who wants to understand the girl in his life much better.


Instagram  Web

If you’re interested in learning more about hand sewing and textiles Rebeckah’s running a clutch bag decorating workshop on Thursday 18 May at WAH Nails London. You can book a ticket here.

Bernice Mulenga

Photographer and Assistant Creative Director of the Embellished Gurls Talk shoot.

Gurls Talk to me is freeing. It's not planned. It's unscripted. It's raw. It's a way to bond and connect with your girls on different levels. Gurls Talk is a chance to get things off my chest, no matter how big or small. Gurls Talk is the best talk to exist, it's between mother and daughter, sis to sis, woman to woman.

Instagram 

Twitter

Nwaka Okparaeke

Photographer and Creative Director of the Embellished Gurls Talk shoot.

Gurls Talk for me is the route to free all the thoughts and feelings created by suppression. In this, comes a chance to open people's minds to other people's experiences as well as our own in order to grow stronger and create positive changes. This is extremely important to me as someone who has felt unable (and still does at times) to say what's on my mind without the fear of being attacked because apparently, it "shouldn't" be coming from a "lovely girl" like me. Or it's apparently too vivid, sensitive, disgusting etc. for some to accept me discussing it confidently.

Instagram

Mom

Collage by: Vasiliki Agathokleous

Collage by: Vasiliki Agathokleous

I know you're tired. I know you've fought so hard to be right where you are. You have come so far yet you feel you have so much left to go. Every day comes with a new batch of worries that you carry heavily on your back alone. You put your own sorrows aside to tend to everyone else. Motherhood changed you in ways you never predicted. Having children is your biggest joy, but many times, it is also your biggest heartbreak. Life is not streamlined to be one way or another. One moment everything is beautiful, and the next you feel like you are crumbling to the dirt. I know you have wounds that have yet to be healed. Some fresh, some as old as me. Some from before my lifetime. I know they hurt you continually, and that you try your best to ignore them. Because you feel you have to. Because you are so used to taking care of everyone except for yourself.

I know you're tired, mom. But I want you to see that all you have done was not in vain. You are the reason for my existence. You are the reason for my internal strength. The reason I did not feel alone when I fell into darkness. You are the only one who has consistently held my hand my entire life. You are the reason I stand so tall and fight so hard to earn my rightful position in this world. Because of your dedication to me, I am on my way to giving my help to hundreds, potentially thousands of people that need it. By holding me up my entire life, you indirectly helped so many others. You are a gift to this entire world. A real-life angel.

I know you're tired, mom, but you need to know that you accomplished so much by getting to where you are now. I need you to rest easy knowing that you are enough. That you did everything right. You are exactly where you need to be. All the marks and changes in your body are beautiful because they represent everything you have struggled through. All of your victories, losses, battles. They are all part of you, and they are what make you magnificent.

I know you're tired. But it is time that you take a breath and relax, now knowing everything I have just told you. Sleep a little lighter knowing that you are the biggest blessing in my life, simply by existing. Tend to those wounds that you so often neglect. Drop those loads of worry off your back. Breathe easier, smile through your heart. Your existence is valid, important, beautiful, significant.

I know you're tired, but I also know you are so much more than that. You are a source of life. You are the foundation of our family. You are a pillar of strength for so many people. You are my mother.

I Am Grateful for My Sadness

I am grateful for my sadness whenever it visits me. I am honored to be able to feel the emotion of sadness, in the same way I am grateful when I feel happiness. I am grateful because I know what it is like to be without any and all emotions. To feel complete numbness, to wake up every morning with a fog over my head, a fog that never allowed me to see or feel or think clearly. To only want to return to sleep every morning, to sleep frequently throughout each day because the overwhelming numbness scared me to my core. If I cannot feel, then what am I? Isn't it the human experience to feel things, to have emotions? If I am numb, do I cease to be human?

The overwhelming anxiety the numbness would bring could take my breath away. When I was able to have moments of wakefulness in between my bits of sleep, I was left with the gut-wrenching, chest-tightening realization that I felt nothing. I felt like a tiny being inside an empty shell, nothing inside but the absolute emptiness that I was sinking into. I could see emotions in others, but not as often as I did before the emptiness took its residency within me; I felt like a spectator, but felt no empathy towards those I viewed. I had absolutely no appetite. I would solely consume coffee- even though I was aware that too much of it on my frequently empty stomach would trigger my anxiety. I had lost impulse control. I had lost myself.

This happened to me on more than one occasion, and I have recovered many times over. But each time I recovered, I came back as a fuller, more vibrant self. I felt every emotion in a way that I had never felt before; in a vibrant, beautifully colorful way that became more vibrant, more beautiful, and more colorful with each recovery. Today, after months of fighting the numbness away and the fresh new feeling that the Persian New Year has brought to me, I feel extreme gratitude for the emotions that visit me every day. Even sadness. The feeling of sadness has a stigma attached to it which causes many Americans to try to avoid it at all costs. We are told to only feel happiness, to only want happiness, to only celebrate happiness. But you actually cannot feel true happiness without knowing true sorrow. Without feeling and embracing sadness, you will never be able to fully welcome happiness. In Sri Lanka, sadness and grief are seen as an important part of life that each person must experience in order to continue their journey to enlightenment. They do not avoid it or ignore it. They acknowledge it, grow through it, and recognize its importance. I embrace this belief, which lead me to have an immense gratitude for all emotions, not just the obvious ones such as happiness and joy. I even began writing daily lists of gratitude in order to exercise and to grow the propensity I have for giving it out to the universe. I believe this will allow me to be rooted firmly to the present, to avoid wanting more and more all while already having so much. To be grateful for the things I have today is a wonderful feeling. It brings me peace. It brings me satisfaction. It brings me a feeling of warmth that can only be compared to the sun engulfing my entire body on a perfect spring day.

Begin practicing gratitude, and see the change it brings to your life. Start each morning by saying (out loud or in your head) what you are grateful for today. I urge all of you to at least try.

Anxiety

I’ve decided to write in rather than video simply for the fact that ironically my anxiety is too much to bare a camera capturing my raw thoughts and feelings. I find writing a way of expressing a thousand words more than what my mouth and voice could ever do. I believe I suffer from anxiety that also being social anxiety. I also get random spouts of sadness where I cannot for the life of me understand or explain why I’m sad, I simply just feel a sense of worthlessness. Being the youngest of four as well as having parents who are very much traditional and conservative as they get (no sleeping in the same bed as your partner unless you’re married!) has never really helped me in any way, my immediate family is quite close but having four perfect older siblings as well as being the only one who is adopted I have truly never felt adequate. I have never expressed this entirely to my family so it has pretty much built up over the years and I have sort of just repressed all my feelings. I think this is why at the age of 22 I succumb so much to anxiety because I’ve ever - to bluntly put it - stuck up for myself, expressed how I’m truly feeling or been confident enough to really say my opinion when it came to discussions with my parents. I think, as much as your family may say they love you and y’know you’re part of the family and although they don’t treat you any different to your other siblings, deep in my gut I can never shake the sadness of not really feeling apart of this family. I’ve struggled with this my whole life, and I think it’s this inadequacy that my anxiety has stemmed from. I don’t think I could ever really discuss it with my parents because I think mental health is so stigmatised and anxiety itself I feel is never really taken seriously. there have been times where I’ve literally ripped the skin from my nails to the point of blood shed because I am so anxious it’s my go to habit. I literally start to shake when I’m in social settings to the point where I start to tell myself I need confidence enhancing substances just to take the edge of my awkwardness. I put on a happy face and smile and laugh a lot of the time, but deep down I really am suffering and I just wanted a space where I could express this and I’ve found it, so thank you :) 

Sincerely,

Cece 

I Was Torn

By: Amanda Maciel Antunes

“(…) And I a smiling women, I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die.” - Sylvia Plath I was torn.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me, it didn't even matter back then. I found comfort in remembering my fifteen year old episode of self-harm. And again at twenty two. And once more at twenty nine. Those versions of myself were my untrustable traitors. Never again, I thought. Never again. It is an entertained thought when the house is empty and only what remains of someone is left behind. You do not know when it's coming unless it vibrates like a drill about to explode. In me there’s always a slow awakening from my personal, my dream, creative life. But what first awakens is this resistance to outer destruction. Noise and light are amplified, so is dark and silence, until the senses become dulled. I’m always afraid it will do this while I’m asleep and that I'll vanish. I never tire of hearing about depression, and some of us seem to have a disguised opinion about it. “moved away”; “took drugs”; “found religion”; “met someone” —- It is something I’ve lived with for years. At times it is so deep that it’s useless to throw an anchor so you learn how to swim in emotional waters. Some would say they have been born there. Some discover the joy in excessive negligence associated with feeling at ease. Some will renounce it. Some will die a thousand times before they do. My internal conflicts with the creative, the content of my work, is the demon in me. The adventure-loving, and I do feel this adventurousness is a harm to my loves. I associate creation with ruthlessness and indifference to consequences. By being true to the woman, upon what the creative depends, an inevitable desertion makes you frequently feel a loss greater than the gain. Today it requires a more intensified shock to move us than it ever required before. The spirit of poetry is practically falling into turgid bankruptcy. The process of analyzing the world is unavoidably the difference between empathy suffering and personal suffering diluted by our aspirations. The consciousness of sensations seem to be dictated by ultra-expensive dining experiences in vapid and sterile environments issuing austerity and lifelong annuities stablished by one’s own good luck. We invite these sensations merely as a one-off festive entertainment. A type of lottery organized by communities for the relief and support of those who desire to obtain for themselves the pleasant and convenient means of reliable and substantial life. Then when depression cracks you open, everything is kind, cordial, without the warmth. You pretend in your mind that all you want is to sleep in the darkest depths of yourself. You don’t want to change your mind, you want rather to be encouraged. You seem not to see what was there in reality. There’s no need to oppose this inability to act, this personal reaction to cut out the umbilical chord between the real and the imaginable. For they never thought this misery had a practical solution. I Was Torn Amanda Maciel Antunes If you manage to get back to the surface from it you know what an absence of sense is. You know the grin with which you’re invited to battle. You know how indebted you are with having to say yes to being rescued. You weep because you should fight. You do not want any friendship that does not demand equal hardness. You want to be able to trust this connection you have with danger. You think that nobody but you who has felt it can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have your mind torn. And you want, most of all, joy at the realization that you’re completing a work in secrecy. You want to uncover the mundane so you can begin to understand the horizon like the edge of a saw. Yet it isn’t your ethics or the quality of your years in therapy that will presumably dare you to mind this feeling, that in some small or real way, betrays you. It’s a job in which obstacles, sentimental attachments and uncool soft spots become serious personal liabilities. People can kid about “peaceful feelings”, but there’s nothing redeeming about your milestones. They are like forest fires. Out of necessity, fires come and fires go. If you walk into those burned scars, you’ll find some new underbrush and you’ll wait for a new fire to come to your doorstep. There’s a pervasive and toxic quality to them as they burn unprotected acre after acre. But you’ve seen them grow, and darken, and some day for the first time your fires will smell like no other kind. But such is the effect of obstacles that you become familiar with the exposure of the worthless laws and you begin to wonder where there would seem to be virtually no escaping this time. Except, that’s not true to us mortals and reckless uncaring children. As far as we know, we are utterly alone in a floating rock, doomed for extinction. And our momentary reality, however fleeting, tracks the distance between an unhappy mix of betting and the sight of a breathtaking investment in magical thinking.

Depression

My name is Kimbra Audrey, I’m an american photographer living in Paris. I take only self-portraits and shoot exclusively on film which I develop myself at home. I relate to gurls talk alot. I worked as a model for almost 10 years, I just quit last year after becoming severely depressed and developing an extremely unhealthy relationship with my body. I started modeling when I was 15 after growing up in a troubled home and suffered with depression my entire life as well as numerous suicide attempts. 

I now focus my photography on documenting my depression as well as using it as an outlet for feelings that I have trouble articulating. I find it easier to translate my thoughts into photographs. Not only that by my self-portraiture has helped me build back my self-esteem and confidence which was completely shattered after modeling for so long. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

By: Gurls Talk

Mental health affects 1 in 4 people worldwide, we at Gurls Talk want to let you know we are hear for you. If you feel like you are alone, a lot of people are struggling and by creating a community and raising awareness we can help each other. If you are in a dark place and need help email us! WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!  

 

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues please send us a 1 minute long video between
May 9 - May 11, we want to feature you to help raise awareness about Mental Health this week! Send here. We look forward to hearing from you, thank you for helping raise awareness with us!