#ImAGirlBoss: Lara Parker

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I love talking to people who work at BuzzFeed. Not only do they have, like, THEE MOST KICK ASS JOB EVER AND I WANT TO BE THEM — but also, they’re super articulate, and witty, and ridiculously cool in general. Lara Parker and I connected on instagram a few months ago, and I quickly fell in love with her amazingly hilarious sense of humor and incredibly vulnerable honesty (read this!). It quickly became clear to me that she was a #girlboss, and that I should share her #girlboss-ness with all y’all.

NAME: Lara Parker (that’s like Lara Croft)
AGE: 23
CITY:
 Los Angeles
HOMETOWN: Morgantown, IN (I’ll give you $5 if you’ve heard of it)
INDUSTRY: Editorial — I’m a WrItEr
SIGN: Taurus baby
TWITTER: @laraeparker
INSTAGRAM: @laraeparker
WEBSITE: laraeparker.com

Tell us what you do!

I am a staff writer for the Los Angeles bureau of BuzzFeed. I write (mostly), tweet a lot, and blog in my free time. I write a lot of BuzzTeam (insert list joke here), but I’ve also dabbled in some personal essays.

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 2013 with a degree in Communication that focused on Public Relations. Very Samantha Jones meets Indiana. Kidding. It’s a small liberal arts college on the southside of Indianapolis that has a fake Starbucks, but a ton of cool people.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I wanted to be a marine biologist mainly because I thought I would be the one to discover that mermaids are, in fact, real. This might still happen — that’s all I’m saying. It doesn’t matter that I puke on boats and don’t know how to dive. Minor details.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

Like many college students, I entered my junior year of college not knowing what the hell I was going to do with my life. Everyone around me was all like, “I have this internship, and this job, and this perfect life.” And I was like, “Um, I really like watching Bravo?” One particularly low day, I was on Tumblr, and saw this quote about traveling to find yourself. I had always wanted to study abroad, and after spending a month in Greece after my sophomore year, the travel bug infected me.

That night I started researching places to study abroad — and just like that — I decided I was going to go to Australia. It sounds so cliché now, but for the first time that year, I felt like I had finally found my path. I feel like we all search for that path… and going to Australia my senior year was mine. While I was in Australia, I started a blog to keep my family updated with the things I was doing down under. I started noticing that more and more people began to read it. It was insane to me that people cared about what I had to say, but what was even more insane was how much I enjoyed it. I kept blogging, and when I returned to the states, I didn’t stop. I started writing about everything. During that time, I got diagnosed with some health issues, and that’s when I realized how important writing was. Not just for me, but for everyone to know that they’re never really alone. I kept writing and writing and then I discovered BuzzFeed, and applied for their editorial fellowship straight away.

Any obstacles along the way?

I was actually turned down by BuzzFeed. I sat on my couch and cried for a bit, then decided that I wasn’t done yet. So I applied again, this time for a Travel Intern position — and I got it. However, a month into my internship, the travel vertical was kind of becoming obsolete, and they didn’t need a travel writer as much. So I had to kick my ass into gear and really prove myself. In March of 2014, I was offered a full-time position, and I’ve been here since. Proof that you really can’t give up on your dreams, even if everyone else has.

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Lara-E-Parker-BuzzFeed-Writer-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-6

Who is your idol?

I have too many idols, almost all of them being women that I follow on Twitter. Women are amazing, you know? Fucking amazing. And the more women I meet, the more in awe I become.

Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:

Courage. Adaptability. Optimism.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I want to still be writing, but also expanding my scholarship in memory of my late best friend, and helping women all over the world with healthcare. I never want another woman to have to go through what I, and so many others, have gone through to find out what’s going on with our bodies. I want to be sitting in a Starbucks, and hear someone talk about having a painful vagina, and know that it’s no longer taboo or weird in any way.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

Being completely yourself with absolutely no apologies and allowing everyone else to do the same.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

Forever 21 meets Buffalo Exchange meets I saw someone wearing this and googled it until I found out where they bought it.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Favorite brand right now?

ASOS. Mostly because I’m too lazy to shop anymore, and I just looked through my browser history, and there’s a lot of that.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

HATS. Never have a bad hair day again.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

GIMME BROW by Benefit — it’s an eyebrow brush but also a life changer. Take my word for it

Go-to nail color?

Black like the emo girl I always wanted to be when I was 16.

Coffee order?

I don’t drink coffee, so I order a hot chocolate with caramel, and pretend it’s coffee because coffee sounds cooler

What makes you feel beautiful?

Making other people smile.

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Lara-E-Parker-BuzzFeed-Writer-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-4

What makes you feel badass?

Writing openly about my struggles and being able to say, “this is hard.”

Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?

OK DEEP DARK SECRET HERE … but If The Buddha Dated. It’s about finding love on a spiritual journey, which I’m not that into — but it’s also about refusing to settle and kicking bad dating habits, which I am VERY into.

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

I eat the fuck out of Spongebob Push Pops — ORANGE BURST FLAVOR — while watching “Southern Charm.” No one is perfect, OK?

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

Always, always obsessed with twenty one pilots. They just GET me.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

“Comeback” by Ella Eyre — girl don’t take no shit, and neither do I. HAHA, sometimes.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

“Be on your own side.” -My friend, Will Schnabel

Advice to future girl bosses:

Don’t do something to prove others wrong. Do it to prove yourself wrong.

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Lara-E-Parker-BuzzFeed-Writer-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-5

Advertisements

STYLE: Festival Fashionista

Recycled-Novelty-Festival-Fashion-Coachella

As RN’s resident boho gal, I couldn’t not do a write-up on festival fashion.

This season, I’m all about the brami. It’s the perfect hybrid of bra-meets-camisole. Wear them on their own for those long, hot festival daze, or use them as a base layer to add a flare to any outfit. I wear my Free People bramis year round for a little extra detail under almost anything!

Flowy, breezy bottoms and fitted tops play well together. Pair with some strappy sandals for an effortless boho chic look. When accessorizing, I love natural stones and muted metals for an earthy vibe.

Shop my favorite festival looks below!

Free People LA Nite Tank

Recycled-Novelty-Style-Festival-Free-People-LA-Nite-Tank-by-Carly-Kreitzberg-1[Left – FP Me user: fpsammifran, Right – FP Me user: fpmeganreigh]

Free People Salt Water Textured Short + Go Go Goa Cami
Recycled-Novelty-Style-Festival-Free-People-Salt-Water-Textured-Shorts
[FP Me user: nikkicloud]

Free People Lace Up Brami 
Recycled-Novelty-Free-People-Festival-Style-Lace-Up-Brami-bra-cami

Free People Dewa Cutwork Strappy Tank
Recycled-Novelty-Free-People-Festival-Style-Womens-Dewa-Cutwork-Strappy-Tank

Free People Oliviera Wrap Sandal
Recycled-Novelty-Free-People-Oliviera-Wrap-Sandal

 Free People Coyote Split Maxi Skirt 

Recycled-Novelty-Free-People-Coyote-Split-Maxi-Skirt
FP ONE Battenburg Bralette 
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 2.43.24 PM
Urban Outfitters Urban Renewal Recycled Destroyed Roll-Hem Short
Recycled-Novelty-Urban-Renewal-Recycled-Destroyed-Roll-Hem-Short

Spell & The Gypsy Collective Xanadu Strappy Jumpsuit
SPEL-WR25_V1

Jen’s Pirate Booty Durban Tunic Dress

Recycled-Novelty-Festival-Fashion-Jen's-Pirate-Booty-Durban-Tunic-Dress

 

Free People Stone Wrap Armband
Recycled-Novelty-Festival-Fashion-Free-People-Stone-Wrap-Armband

Schutz x REVOLVE Erlina Sandal 
Recycled-Novelty-Festival-Fashion-Schutz-REVOLVE-Erlina-Sandal
Free People Womens Savoy Weekender

Free People Womens Savoy Weekender

FOLLOW:
T: 
@RecycledNovelty | IG: @RecycledNovelty
T: @CarlyKayyy | IG: @CarlyKayyy

#ImAGirlBoss: Erika De La Cruz

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Erika-De-La-Cruz-radio-entertainment-host-by-Whitney-Young

NAME: Erika De La Cruz
AGE: 24
CITY: San Diego + Los Angeles
HOMETOWN: Los Banos, CA
INDUSTRY: Entertainment + Broadcast Media
SIGN: Taurus
TWITTER: @_ErikaDeLaCruz
INSTAGRAM: @Erikadelacrz
WEBSITE: Erikadelacruz.com/blog

Tell us what you do!

I’m a radio personality. I serve as Promotions Director and Video Entertainment Host for Easy 98.1 FM. I also just wrapped hosting the Fashion Week San Diego Spring Showcase. What’s sleep?

Did you go to college? If so, where?

San Diego State University — #GoAztecs!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Peter Pan’s girlfriend! Aside from those aspirations, I wanted to “put on shows for people,” and often subjected my family to theatrical narrations, dances, and rap routines.

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story!

I grew up in a really small town — Los Banos, CA! When it came time for college, I attended SDSU. After a ton of “different ideas for majors,” I got my degree in Communication & Media, with an emphasis in public speaking & interview. Along the way, I picked up as many internship/volunteer opportunities, and went to as many office hours, as possible to integrate myself into a community of people I wanted to learn from, in industries I wanted to learn more about. I started working in LA doing some red carpet correspondence on the weekends and fell in love. Then started working on a Morning Show in radio in San Diego, which I also loved, and eventually found that — in this industry — fashion, pop-culture and all the other stuff I love are often part of the deal! I love this multi-media world. 

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Erika-De-La-Cruz-radio-entertainment-host-by-Whitney-Young-3

Any obstacles along the way?

I definitely experienced some set backs, like the economy circa 2009. That lovely economy threw a few huge hurdles my way — financial aid, foreclosure, loosing a few loved ones. But from that, I think I developed skills that, to this day, are the reason I’m pursuing what I love. I feel like sometimes there’s an expected “surrendering” reaction when drastic, unexpected things happen (the easy route), but instead I reacted with, “Nope, I’m going to maintain every last detail of my life, thank you very much.” I think the obstacles can push you to really fight to stay in what I call the “Winners Circle,” (optimism/drive/accomplishment.) Sure, you have to fail at things sometimes, but I think aiming to stay in that circle gives you a consistent target!

Who is your idol?

Keltie Knight really inspires me! Her positive energy and instinct to lift and encourage other women is contagious. Ellen De Generous, Ivanka Trump, and Will Smith are pretty amazing, too.

What are three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are?

-Belief meeting Behavior (Praxis)
-Gratitude
-JU JU ☺

Where would you like to be in five years? On your television.

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Erika-De-La-Cruz-radio-entertainment-host-by-Whitney-Young-4

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

She pursues her passion, and puts her strengths into killing it every day. She inspires, and lifts others, and has genuine desire to “tag team it” with like-minded individuals. She trusts her dream and aspirations, and that’s what makes her tick. I’ll credit Marie Claire for the term “Passionista,” which I’ve taken to heart. I literally have it taped to my wall; it embodies the #girlboss for me.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

Classic. I gravitate toward pieces that are flirty, but still elevated. I really enjoy bright solids, and have an unexplained weakness for jumpsuits.

Favorite brand right now?

BCBG Maxamara.

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

Topshop basics. All of them.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

Buxom mascara

Go-to nail color?

French Tips. Like to keep it classy!

Coffee order?

Café au lait (fancy for: coffee with frothed milk). 

What makes you feel beautiful?

Getting dressed up is fantastic, but I’m a sucker for a cute pair of PJs while your hair is still done! Slipping into a pair of “matchies” or a “nighty” after a show makes me feel super cozy, cute and HAPPY!

What makes you feel badass?

Nailing a project. There’s no better feeling than doing the prep work for a segment or event — and killing it. I feel like I’m great with the “idea” portion, but the will power comes in the research and leg work for me. After the follow-through, I feel pretty #badass. 

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Erika-De-La-Cruz-radio-entertainment-host-by-Whitney-Young-5

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Project Runway. I will sit forever, unproductively lost, in that show.

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

Can Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran just form a band? I feel like it’s possible.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

“Blank Space” by T-Swift.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

There are so many! Here are a few I really like:  “Belief does not sit on the couch and wait for success to show up.” –Bob Proctor “You can fail at doing something you don’t want to do, so you may as well go for your dream.” – Jim Carrey “You can never be over dressed or over educated.” -Oscar Wild

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

When I started working in-studio for the very first time, I had an amazing morning show host guiding me — “Lenny B” of More Music Mornings. I stepped into my first “big conference room” meeting with the rest of the company department reps, and I was a little bit intimidated, not wanting to stand out for having a bright PINK laptop cover and a glittery violet phone case. I was already the youngest and one of the only females in the room, so I took off both before the meeting so I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. But afterward, Lenny asked where the heck my “Erika” stuff went? And reminded me that I had gotten there because of being me, and to never be afraid of that. *Maintain Authenticity. That’s what I learned. It applies to so many situations and decisions that have come along since. You can’t really connect with people until you’re comfortable in your own skin. And for interviewing, that’s especially important.

Recycled-Novelty-#ImAGirlBoss-Erika-De-La-Cruz-radio-entertainment-host-by-Whitney-Young-2

Advice to future girl bosses:

Don’t let challenges scare you! See them as opportunities. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and are on your team, because you eventually develop the same mindset and habits as them. Get as many internships as you can. And be nice to everyone — it will come full circle!

DATING: How to Properly Slide into Someone’s DMs

Recycled-Novelty-Dating-How-to-Properly-Slife-into-DMs-by-Rae-Witte-3

For those of you who are unaware of what exactly “sliding in DMs” is, let me clarify.

DM sliding: The act of private or direct messaging on social media outlets, specifically Instagram and Twitter. Normally, the end goal of “sliding” into one’s DMs is to get a phone number, meet in person, or relay one’s innermost, thirsty thoughts to an unsuspecting social media user.

Just like approaching someone IRL (does this even happen anymore?), there are ways to appropriately communicate with someone to obtain their interest. DMs can be charismatic and not a shameless, 100 character, copy and pasted, BASIC, displays of the utmost thirst.

Let’s break this down.

First and foremost, do your research. You have access to this person’s innermost 140 characters on Twitter. How someone utilizes their Instagram can be pretty indicative of their day-to-day as well. Find something to DM about here. Conversely, also find what NOT to DM about here.

Recycled-Novelty-Dating-How-to-Properly-Slife-into-DMs-by-Rae-Witte

THE BASICS:

Use correctly spelled words. Ironically spelled or sarcastic words work, too. You have autocorrect, Google, and the entire World Wide Web at your finger tips. You got this.

Do not come off thirsty. Many individuals will not lfe this, and they will come off DEHYDRATED in a DM. Have some pride and a water. You know who responds to thirst? Individuals that need constant affirmation live for thirsty DMs.

Do better. So you have your message drafted. Ask yourself, “Is there any way someone has sent this exact same message?” to your recipient. For example, if you must send a compliment on a physical feature (which I wholeheartedly oppose), comment on something you think is rarely mentioned. If they are accentuating one feature, comment on something else. 

SUGGESTED TOPICS:

Essentially, this person’s entire timeline should be full of potential ideas for you, unless it’s full of selfies, which is an entirely different discussion in and of itself. I strongly recommend a compliment and maybe even a question. Compliments on things like music they posted, an outfit they have on or their shoes reflect that you like their taste, while compliments on their body/face don’t really offer an easy avenue for the conversation continuing. Similarly, if you’re going to ask a question, consider: “Where did you see that/get that (super unique thing in their pic)?” over “how tall are you?”

Instagram Bonus: What the image you choose to send says to your recipient.

  • Sending a pic of yourself kind of says you’re looking for approval or maybe trying to flex.
  • Selecting a pic of them may give a reference of what you’re talking about or you could come off kind of like a creep. Choose wisely.
  • Scenery, something you’re actually going to discuss, puppies or an image that depicts an action (activities, dinner, drinks, see where I’m going here?) are safe and usually well received OR could suggest what you’re saying has more value.

Recycled-Novelty-Dating-How-to-Properly-Slife-into-DMs-by-Rae-Witte-2

Aside from the bonus section, miraculously, you can apply ALL of these DM tips to approaching individuals IRL. I know, wild. Also, I bet you’ll have better chemistry with someone you successfully DM with rather than swipe right on.

DM with conviction and use caution. Lastly, the screen shot will get you. And what better to do with a wild DM message than for a recipient to post it on their public timeline? Don’t get got.

Holla at ya girl:
T: @RaeWitte
IG: @RaeWitte

#ImAGirlBoss: Bethany Watson

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-1[Photo via Brian Friedman] 

NAME: Bethany Watson             
CITY:
 New York, New York
HOMETOWN: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
INDUSTRY: Radio
SIGN: Sagittarius
NOMINATED BY: Allegra Cohen
TWITTER: @RadioBethany
INSTAGRAM: @MsBethanyWatson

Tell us what you do!

I’m co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show.” My role on the show is to give brief news updates every hour, as well as provide the “single girl in New York” perspective. As a recent transplant to NYC — and as the only single woman on the show — my goal is to connect to those listeners who are in a similar place in their lives. I’m also a self-described nerd, so I’m always trying to use this huge platform to help others realize that being different isn’t just okay, it’s an asset! 

Did you go to college? If so, where?

I spent two years at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota as a Spanish major. I was spending all of my time in the theatre department, though, so I decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota for their incredible theatre program. I graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

Growing up, I always loved acting, and knew I wanted to do that forever. I also wanted to be a veterinarian, a special effects artist, a marine biologist, and a puppeteer (I was obsessed with the old Jim Henson movie The Dark Crystal. Have you seen that movie? It’s awesome. You should see it.)

JingleBallSamSmith

How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story! 

After I graduated from college, I sustained a repetitive stress back injury from working as a barista. (I’m a winner!) As a result, I couldn’t stand for long periods of time anymore. I had to quit my coffeehouse job and start temping at various office jobs instead. I was placed in a bank’s corporate office and they eventually hired me (which is hilarious if you’ve ever seen me attempt math). As my time in the office went on, I became more and more frustrated and depressed. I wasn’t passionate about banking, I wasn’t using my brain or any creativity, and I felt trapped. Finally, after about two years, I broke down. I had been classically trained in Shakespeare, yet I was spending my days mindlessly hitting “send” on corporate wires. I knew I needed to get out of my cubicle, but I didn’t see any way out.

Around the same time, the morning radio show that I had been listening to for years announced that their female co-host was leaving. Because I was such a fan of the show, I knew that I could do this job. I understood the show’s tone, I got their humor, and I knew their rhythm. Plus, I had training in improv comedy, which I felt was more important to a morning show than actual radio training. So I fired off an email to the radio station with my acting headshot and resume attached. I explained that even though I wasn’t a radio person, I had extensive training in other areas. I made a bullet-pointed list of everything that I would bring to the show including communication skills, improvisational comedy training, a sarcastic sense of humor, and the ability to learn quickly. I signed off by saying that they just needed to give me one shot and I would prove myself.

A few weeks later, I was in the studio for an off-air audition. That audition went so well that they brought me in three more times for live on-air auditions where I co-hosted all four hours of the show. After those auditions, I got the job! I was at that first job for four years, and learned a TON. During that time, I caught the attention of one of Elvis Duran’s executive producers, David Brody. He approached me when there was an opening on Elvis’s show and encouraged me to apply, so I interviewed and here I am!

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-Z100-Jingle-Ball

Any obstacles along the way?

The hardest thing was jumping straight into an established radio show without any radio training! I felt comfortable merging into the flow of the show’s banter, because that’s where a lot of my training was. But it was a steep learning curve in terms of learning the mechanics of radio like how breaks are timed, proper mic technique, recording commercials, etc. One of the first lessons I ever learned was not to drop my headphones on the table when we finished talking and went into commercials. I didn’t realize that our mics were still on, so listeners were hearing us sign off and then a large *thunk!* All of those little things that radio students learn on Day One? I was learning them live, in front of tens of thousands of listeners.

Who is your idol? 


I can’t say that there’s one person I idolize. Rather, I look up to women in specific areas. I look up to my mom for manifesting the life she dreamed for herself and never letting herself get jaded. I look up to my sister, Nicole, for her incredible intelligence. I look up to my sister Kristyn for her quiet wisdom. I’m always in awe of my friend, Allegra Cohen, who’s an insanely gifted actor and film producer (and fellow #girlboss!), because she’s a ball of positive energy who truly loves helping other people build their dreams. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor who has the best sense of humor about life, and I hold her up for her ability to just go for things she wants to do, and make them happen. I have mad respect for Lena Dunham’s unapologetic sense of who she is, and for J.K. Rowling’s self-made rise from welfare to international success. Somehow Olivia Palermo always styles the perfect outfit, so she’s on the list. I could go on for pages.

What are three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are?

My suffocating fear of regret is what propels me. If I wasn’t so terrified of being disappointed in myself, I would probably still be at that bank. I think I’m also good at projecting confidence when I need to (insert laughter from people who know me well). I wear my heart on my sleeve, and you can always tell when I’m upset, but I can still turn on that “Hey, I’m cool, I’ve got this” swagger if I really need to. And I don’t think I ever quite realize how high the stakes are until after the fact, so it never occurred to me that I had no business applying for that radio job until after I’d been hired. A friend of mine calls it “Ignorance on Fire!”

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-2

Where would you like to be in five years?

The great thing about this job is that we get to create. We can write bits, create web content, play hip hop songs on our clarinet, etc. In five years, I want to have kept up that creative momentum in other areas as well. I know I have a novel and a children’s book in me. I’m also surrounded by unbelievably talented writers, actors, producers, and circus performers. Not joking — I know a disproportionate number of circus performers. I want to collaborate with these people on creative projects as well, and help those around me gain attention for their talents.

Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.

A Girl Boss is a woman who has taken her future into her own hands. She respects and values the opinions of the people she trusts, but she ultimately decides her own fate. She’s strong, intelligent, classy, and kind. And she has zero time for haters. She understands that haters lash out due to envy. In contrast, she re-channels her own envy into motivation. Lastly, a Girl Boss doesn’t feel the need to take down other women. She believes that there’s plenty of success to go around, and women are more likely to reach their full potential when other supportive women surround them.

Describe your style/fashion sense:

I prefer outfits that have a hint of menswear to them. I much prefer the idea of alluding to the female body instead of shoving it in your face. I’ll often pair skinny jeans with a man’s loose-fitting button-down shirt, leaving one extra button open to show a hint of a lacy camisole underneath. I also love paper bag waists, wide leg pants, and bohemian, off-the-shoulder tops. The more my clothes can flap in the breeze, the happier I am. And I love showing off my shoulders.

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-OUT100Event

Favorite brand right now?

I love Gypsy Warrior. I was a Goth in high school and I still have a bit of a Goth streak in me, but as I said above, I also love bohemian-style clothing. Gypsy Warrior combines all of these aesthetics. Their clothing makes me feel feminine and powerful!

Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?

I was shopping in the West Village when I stumbled upon a Marc Jacobs lock-and-key necklace that says “Don’t Fuck With My Shit.” I bought one for every woman on the morning show, and I wear mine at least three times a week. The lock is gold and the keys and chain are silver, so it goes with everything. Plus, it’s a good reminder that I’m allowed to be in total control of my life.

What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?

My eyelash curler! My eyelashes grow straight and cover my eyes a little bit, so curling my eyelashes is the key to opening my eyes up. Also, because I wake up at 3am, I completely rely on tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Concealer for my undereyes because they’re a hot mess.

Go-to nail color?

Pale pink. Nothing makes me feel more put-together than when my nails are buffed and painted in a light color. I love how subtle and feminine a single coat of pale pink polish looks. If nail polish was flirting, pale pink would be a coy, sexy smile from across the bar. A great option is e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Nude #1503.

Coffee order?

I’m trying to cut down on sugar, so right now, it’s all about black coffee (or iced coffee in the summer). But my favorite drink of all time is a Starbucks iced venti soy chai. Or an iced venti soy extra-caramel caramel macchiato. Or an iced venti soy mocha. Or an iced venti soy white mocha. Oh god, I miss sugar…

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-Hilary-Duff

What makes you feel beautiful?

It’s amazing how beautiful false eyelashes make me feel. I’ll even put those suckers on during the weekend. I also adore a suuuuuuuuper long, scarfy dress à la Rachel Zoe. I’m tall, so those dresses make me feel like a goddess.

What makes you feel badass?

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody says something snarky to you, and you come up with the perfect, clever response right in the moment and it rolls off your tongue and you don’t stumble over your words and you still walk away calm and collected? That’s happened to me once. I felt super badass. (Stomping down the streets of Manhattan in heels while rocking out to music also makes me feel incredibly badass, but I don’t do that often because, ouch.)

No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice?

Sheet cake. The kind served in Lutheran church basements after weddings, with tons of gaudy flowers in the corners. I always go for the corner piece because then you get frosting on TWO sides and all of those extra frosting flowers, and if someone next to you doesn’t like frosting, then you get THEIR frosting too, and oh god I really miss sugar…

Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?

I’m so embarrassed to say that I just learned about The Civil Wars, and they broke up in 2014! My friend played me their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and I was hooked. Joy Williams and John Paul White have voices that blend perfectly together. Well, blended. Cuz they broke up awhile ago and no one asked me.

What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?

I talked about this on the air the other day! If I’ve made it through a long, rough day, I’ll blast G.R.L.’s “Ugly Heart.” That song is the perfect tempo for “runway strutting” down the street, and it’s a great “I deserve better” kind of anthem.

What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” I first heard that quote from Tamara Mellon (co-founder of Jimmy Choo), and I’ve since heard it elsewhere, but it’s my mantra. Everything terrifies me at first, and my initial response to every opportunity is “No.” I always need a few days (or years) to process a new idea or opportunity and warm up to it. It’s always fear that makes me say No. The key to moving forward is understanding that fear is a bully: it’s weaker than you think and backs down immediately when you stand up to it.

Recycled-Novelty-ImAGirlBoss-Bethany-Watson-Z100-Elvis-Duran-and-the-Morning-Show-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-Guest-CNN

Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?

“Keep the flashlight at your feet.” My mom grew up in West Africa where snakes lived in the grass. Whenever she had to walk at night, she’d have to carry a flashlight and train it at the ground right in front of her to make sure she didn’t step on a snake (which sounds horrifying, but my mom’s a badass). As soon as she started shining the flashlight further down the path, she’d trip on whatever was in front of her. So whenever I’m starting to worry too much about the future and “what if’s,” Mom reminds me to keep the flashlight at my feet and focus only on what’s in front of me now.

Advice to future girl bosses:

It’s never too early to gather your team. Find people who fill in the gaps in your skill set, who think you’re amazing, and who believe in your dreams. When you’re surrounded by trusted people who support you, you’ll find it much easier to bust through those roadblocks that will inevitably come your way.

STYLE: I Dress For Me

Recycled-Novelty-#IDressForMe-I-Dress-For-Me-Street-Harassment-Jessica-DeFino-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-1

“Did you see how she was dressed?”
“Why would she wear that if she didn’t want the attention?”
“She was asking for it.” 

We’ve all heard one of these asinine pseudo-excuses when someone is trying to justify or pardon some form of inappropriate, unwanted, unsolicited sexual advance (or worse). I’ve heard both men and [sadly] women state the above comments with great conviction.

Having lived in both Manhattan and Hollywood, I am no stranger to street harassment. I’m also very experienced when it comes to assumptions being made about my character based on what I’m wearing. For instance, in the club scene (an admittedly depraved culture), I switched from wearing dresses and heels to sporting tougher, “safer” apparel (black jeans, leather jacket, combat booties, etc.) to escape all the unwanted attention. Not only did I receive less advances and inappropriate physical contact (get your hand off my ass) — I got more respect from men.

But that’s a problem. Because I should get respect regardless of the fabric draped over my body. Whether it’s a crop top and fitted skinny jeans that show off my a$$ets or baggy sweatpants and a T-shirt, I’m the same person with the same morals (and sex drive). So let’s get one thing clear — I am never “asking” for anything. I dress for me. 

Recycled-Novelty-#IDressForMe-I-Dress-For-Me-Street-Harassment-Jessica-DeFino-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-2

That’s where Jessica DeFino comes in. As the Founder of IDressForMe.com — and the associated hashtag movement, #IDressForMe — DeFino has made it her mission to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault as they pertain to fashion choices. In the exactly two months since she launched the instagram account for the movement, she’s gained 600 followers (and counting), featured a handful of fashion-forward supporters, and frequently posts simple–yet poignant–messages like “Not asking for it,” “Clothes are not consent,” and “My outfit is not an invitation.”

She’s a total boss. And I had to get to know her better.

1) First, tell us a bit about the woman behind I Dress For Me. Who is Jessica DeFino? 

I’m a 25-year-old Jersey girl living in LA, where I work as a wardrobe stylist and fashion editor. I started out styling within the music industry, helping bands match their sound with a look. I was lucky enough to work with Daughtry, The Fray, Jason Mraz, and Atlas Genius early on in my career. What I loved about my job was helping individuals take who they were on the inside and express it on the outside, so I moved towards personal shopping in order to foster that personal connection with my clients. Somewhere along the way, I started my blog, Hell or High Fashion, which transitioned into writing about fashion for web and print. My work has been published in Harper’s Bazaar China, L’OFFICIEL Singapore, Marie Claire China, Conde Nast Traveler, and ELLE Mexico, all of which have helped expand my knowledge and involvement in the industry of high-fashion.

2) You’re at the helm of a super kickass movement. What inspired you to launch I Dress For Me? Why is this initiative so important to you?

It sounds hippie-dippy, but the idea for I Dress For Me came to me while I was meditating. My mom had given me a book called Awaken The Spirit Within by Rebecca Rosen, which is a guide to discovering your life’s purpose. While following one of the book’s meditations, I Dress For Me popped into my head, and I couldn’t shake it. I immediately bought the domain name, and reserved the Instagram handle, because I knew right away that this was going to be a big part of my life!

I’ve experienced sexual assault and harassment countless times — haven’t we all? — and I always resented the idea that I “asked for it” or “brought it on myself” just because I like to dress up and put effort into my appearance. After the Isla Vista shootings [where Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree to exact revenge on women who dressed provocatively and then denied him sex] and the #YesAllWomen movement, I knew I wanted to be involved in solving these issues in a bigger capacity.

Fashion plays a role in so many women’s stories of sexual assault and harassment, and we’re constantly being asked, “Well, what was she wearing?” It seemed to me that there was a big opportunity to marry my love of fashion and my passion for this cause.

Recycled-Novelty-#IDressForMe-I-Dress-For-Me-Street-Harassment-Jessica-DeFino-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-3

3) Much like the #ImAGirlBoss series we do here on RN, you use hashtag culture — #IDressForMe — to get the word out, and encourage engagement on social media. How has the reception been? Do you find a steady increase in followers/participants?

Using the hashtag #idressforme seemed like a natural first step for our movement. One of the biggest hurdles in ending sexual assault and harassment is that the topic is taboo, and no one wants to speak up about it. The hashtag is a low-stakes way for people to stand up for a cause and have their voice be heard. Hopefully, #idressforme can play a small part in opening up the conversation about sexual assault and harassment, and take some of the shame out of speaking about our experiences.

The reception has been great so far! I definitely see our numbers increasing day by day, and there are nearly 1,000 people who have used the hashtag on Instagram already! Eventually, I’d like to have our hashtag become a resource for funding — as in, for every person that uses #idressforme, so-and-so organization will donate $1 towards education and prevention programs. I’m really excited about the potential of #idressforme!

4) On your website, you state the statistic: 57% of the population agrees with the idea that a woman’s character can be interpreted through her clothing. Have you personally ever been mistaken for someone you’re not based on what you’re wearing on any given day/night out?

This happens all the time — sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in ways that lead to larger issues. The instance that stands out in my mind the most happened while I was on a first date with a new guy in college I was wearing a 50s-inspired outfit: a halter top with a sweetheart neckline and high-waisted shorts. I thought I looked super cute, and can still remember that outfit completely, down to every last accessory. We were walking through the park when my date started to get handsy. I politely asked him to stop. He persisted, groping me and chasing me when I tried to walk away. Finally, he pushed me to the ground and said, “What’d you wear that low cut shirt for then, just to tease me? To show me what I can’t have?” I was extremely lucky that he walked away, but unfortunately, most women who end up in that situation are not as lucky.

Recycled-Novelty-#IDressForMe-I-Dress-For-Me-Street-Harassment-Jessica-DeFino-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-4

5) In your own words, what is a fashion feminist?

To me, a “fashion feminist” is someone who recognizes that fashion and feminism are not mutually exclusive. It’s OK to ask for equality and be excited about the latest Saint Laurent collection. It’s cool to demand equal pay for equal work and spend that pay on an insanely expensive pair of Louboutins. You’re allowed to fight for equal rights in a miniskirt.

6) Who are your fashion forward feminist idols?

Emma Watson, who has done an amazing job of being a voice for feminism in an industry obsessed with sexualizing women. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller — I think that one is pretty self-explanatory. Beyonce! Jennifer Lawrence, who handled her nude photos being leaked with grace and power, and has been a vocal advocate for change in that area. Madonna, who recently opened up about her experiences with rape. Karl Lagerfeld, who turned his Chanel SS15 runway show into a very fashionable feminist protest. There are some that argue that his show trivialized feminist issues, but I think anything that makes feminism such a hot topic is amazing!

Recycled-Novelty-#IDressForMe-I-Dress-For-Me-Street-Harassment-Jessica-DeFino-by-Whitney-Leigh-Young-6

7) Describe IDFM in three words.

Strength, style, empowerment.

8) If IDFM could do a campaign with any women’s fashion or beauty brand, which would it be?

My DREAM campaign would be with Nasty Gal! Nasty Gal has been a pioneer in the women’s empowerment movement within the fashion industry, and I think they would be a perfect fit for our message.

9) If IDFM could have ANY female celebrity as the face of the movement, who would best represent the mission?

Personally, I’m obsessed with Solange Knowles’ style, and would love to have her on board as an I Dress For Me ambassador.

10) What are your goals for IDFM? Where would you like to see the website, guest blog, and instagram one year from today?

One year from today, I see I Dress For Me having tens of thousands of followers. I see our hashtag becoming one of the “standard” fashion hashtags, like #ootd or #whatiwore. I see our guest blog section growing and partnering with prominent bloggers, designers, and brands to reach as many people as possible. I’d like to see a line of #idressforme clothing and accessories — tee shirts, canvas bags, mugs, wall decor. I see I Dress For Me taking on a large role in sexual assault counseling centers, and setting up branches on college campuses to promote education and prevention. Pretty lofty goals, but I really think the time is right for the I Dress For Me movement to flourish!

STYLE: Lookin’ Like Aaliyah

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I’ve been feeling some serious 90s fashion nostalgia lately, particularly focusing on Aaliyah’s vibe. She killed it with the tomboy chic thang like no other before her — or since (though Rihanna has given it the old college try).

Baggy jeans.
Crop top.
Phresh sneakers.
Calvin Kleins.
Snapback.

She was effortlessly cool; an icon.

As the weather finally warms up in New York, I can’t get my sneaker game on point fast enough. For this shoot — in an effort to emulate Aaliyah à la 2015 — I went with my all-time favorite sneaker brand, Supra, paired with H&M black satin pants, a black crop top, and my ol’ faithful leather biker jacket.

And I’ll leave you with this: “Bunch of bad b*tchez with him looking like Aaliyah.”

Recycled-Novelty-Supra-Footwear-Vaider-Sneakers-Whitney-Leigh-Young-Style-Blogger-2Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset