Distractred Driving- Just Don’t Do It

You know how parents tell you all kinds of things and they mean them, but maybe they don’t always live them, all the time? Well, my parents aren’t perfect.  They talk to us a lot about  things, like drugs, and who our friends are, and all kinds of important things. They preach to us ALL THE TIME not to text and drive. ALL THE TIME.   My Mom is pretty good about telling up to quiet down, or she’ll make my turn down my music if she’s trying to concentrate on her driving.

That is why I freaked out when one day while stopped at a light she grabbed her phone to check her messages.   One thing my Mom has told me about driving is that although it appears easy, you must always be alert and pay attention. Even at a light.  Because there is a chance that someone else is distracted and might hit you.  What you think might “just be a text” might not be.  Check out this video.

This video gave me chills.  Because it’s so right.  What if it’s not just a text?  What if it’s a moment that changes your or someone else life, forever?

What’s really cool is that video was made by a teen,  just like me.   Marlowe Lexvold a high school student from South Haven, Minnesota who made the video for Project Yellow Light.  Project Yellow Light is a national contest and scholarship program that asks students to create short videos teaching other students how dangerous it is to use mobile devices while driving.  Marlowe won the grand prize with  her video going on to become a Public Service Announcement along with a $5000 college schlorship.

There were  a bunch of winning videos. Go watch them. Then come back and tell me that you think driving distracted is ok.

Distracted driving kills! According to a 2013 NHTSA report, ten percent of all drivers aged 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. To help spread the students message about distracted driving, NHTSA, along with the Ad Council is turning  winning videos into public service advertisements, which will be distributed to more than 1,600 media outlets nationwide.

“Distracted driving is deadly and young drivers are most at risk, so we need to make sure they get the message,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “The Project Yellow Light contest, which uses peer-to-peer messaging, demonstrates how creative public awareness efforts can reduce distracted driving on our roads.”

Marlowe wasn’t the only winner. There were High School and College categories. High School Second Place went to Aneyza Clark of Dallas, Texas with a $2000 scholarship and third place to Ryan Robert Reid of Fairburn, Georgia with a $1000 scholarship. The college grand prize winners were brothers Sam and Wrenn Senser from South Bend, Nebraska, ($5000)  and second place  Lindsey Brown of Culver City, California, ($2000) and third place Tiago DeSouza of Hagerstown, Maryland. ($1000). All scholarships were provided by Mazda Motorsports. U-Haul will also provide both first place winners with up to $2,500 in moving expenses.

The thing is, studies have shown over and over again that distracted driving kills kids our ages. In Connecticut, where I live, even when I get my license, I’m not allowed to drive in a car with ANYONE ELSE, for at least 6 months unless it’s  my parents or someone over the age of 20 who has had their license for 4 years. There are restrictions after that, as well. I’m not allowed to use a cell phone, even hands free, until I’m 18!  They are serious about distracted driving.   We all need to take it seriously. And a great big shout out to other teens working hard to make a difference!


Selena Gomez Is NOT Fat!

Yesterday I had a chance to talk to Selena Gomez. I got to take a few photos with her.  I got to hug her, dance a little with her, and tell her what an inspiration she is. I got to tell her that I thought she was wonderful. I got to tell her EXACTLY what I thought of her, and nowhere was the thought that Selena Gomez is Fat. 

Selena Gomez

Yeah, I know, right? I actually took a once in a lifetime moment and started dancing with her  while we were both grooving out to Jennifer Hudson at We Day Illinois.   Then I screwed up my courage and asked her, PLEASE, for a pic.    Selena introduced me at WeDay when I performed with Colbie Calliat and Babyface as part of a HUGE celebration of young people who are doing their part to change the world.  Selena was a co-host, and  I was hoping all day to meet her.  When the moment came, I took it.   She was so gracious and kind and honestly, I would have loved to just go sit down and chat with her.

Today, When I saw this screen grab of an Instagram exchange I was FLOORED.   WHAT??

selenahater

Honestly.  What the hell is this?   THIS is  why young women (and men!) have body images issues. This is why people think that no matter what they do, they can’t win.  Being judged solely on a your physical appearance sucks.  I know.  The most common thing I used to hear about me was that I was fat. (Well, actually, I HAVE fat, but that’s a whole other story). The size of my body was what people judged me on.   They didn’t see all the other things I’m about. Now people are beginning to see me, the REAL ME -the person inside who is dedicated to helping others #BeBrave and stop bullying. I’m all about teaching others to #BeMoreThanABystander and stand up for the bullied. I’m a fantastic singer and songwriter who hopes to share my music with the world someday. I am so totally more than a size on a pair of jeans, or what some people decided was acceptable as beautiful.    For what it’s worth, Selena is flat out gorgeous, incredibly talented, and NOT FAT.  More importantly, she LIKES herself and her body. That, my friends, is TRUE beauty.  At one We Day, Selena had THIS to say about Bullying:

“I know what it’s like to be judged and to be put down. I know what it’s like to have other people form opinions about you without even knowing you, trying to dim your light. I know what you guys go through because I go through it every single day. But I don’t let it get to me. You are not defined by an Instagram photo, by a Like, by a comment. That does not define you.”

Selena Gomez Bullied

I decided what I think is beautiful.  And I think both myself, AND Selena Gomez are beautiful.

I love Selena and you know what? After hating myself for years, I love me, too.  We’re both strong women who have decided to love ourselves for who we are, and not let others petty  opinions rule us, anymore.   


It Gets Better

Someone asked me today to explain why bullying is such a problem. Surely it isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be? It IS real, and it is REAL problem. But, the problem is much more than just bullying,  Bullying might be the main problem, but it leads to so many other issues. Depression, self harm, self-loathing and hopelessness and suicide are all SYMPTOMS of bullying.  We need to take bullying as serious as some other diseases that are killing kids.

  • Meningitis affects 600 to 1000 Americans every year.  15-20% of them will die.*
  • About 6.8 million students experienced bullying in 2011.**
  • About 2.2 million students experienced cyberbullying in 2011**
  • Suicide killed 41,149 people in the United States in 2013. making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans***

We need to take bullying as seriously as a deadly disease. Because, quite honestly, it can be. It is.  There is a vaccine for Meningitis, but there is no shot for kindness. There is no vaccine to teach others how to be good human beings – no special pills on how to treat others.  There is no magic cure for hatred.  I wish there were. I wish it were that easy.

I don’t have all the answers.  What I do know is that when I was bullied, I hated myself, I self-harmed, and and I wanted to die.  I fought back, minute by minute, to get better and my biggest advice to those who want to help end bullying is this:

It Gets Better

We all need to Be More Than A Bystander. We need to stand up for ourselves and others. We need to let people know know how bullying is killing our souls.  Most of all, the MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, is that

It Gets Better.

We need to let people that are being bullied that the day will come where they are happy again. They will see the light.

#BeBrave.  It gets better.

*Source:  National Meningitis Association
**Source: National Center for Education Statistics
***Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Why Zayn Is Leaving One Direction

I just read that Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction.

I’m heartbroken.  I’m heartbroken, selfishly, for me, for the Band, for the fandom, and most of all for Zayn.

In his statement, he said he was leaving “because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.”  Zayn says: “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologies to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”

zayn-.jpg

The thing is, I’m heartbroken, but I can understand why he felt he needed to leave. Why?  WE did this. Some of the FANDOM did this.  When we stop seeing and loving them for the music that they shared with us, and started thinking we OWNED them.  If I’m really honest, I have to say in a lot of ways some of his fans bullied him.  They used their power as a fandom to harass him, causing a frenzy simply because he had his arm around him.  If any girl is lucky enough to date on of The Boys, they are also unlucky as it’s guaranteed to unleash a torrent of hate on them for no other reason than the fan ISN’T dating them.  How can you hate someone simply because someone likes them? How do you hate on someone because they have something you don’t, and most likely, can’t?  When people started the whole “Larry” rumor, it destroyed an important friendship between two people who made magic- with MUSIC.

When we’ve forgotten the most important rule there is, BE KIND, and TREAT OTHERS THEY WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED, then we all lose.   Here’s the thing. I get it. I, like most fan girls, would dream of dating one of The Boys. I also recognized that it was improbable, and as someone who really, truly cares about the band, and The Boys as people, I’m happy for them. I’m happy when they get girlfriends, and new cars, and new haircuts and even happy when Harry shows up with is crazy outfits.  I’m HAPPY they  are happy.

Some people  will think that the reactions of the fans  is overkill.  Please, don’t.  One Direction is much more than just a bunch of boys singing together. They are a group that helped bring together so many people.  The truth is, One Direction helped save my life.  They helped me find my way back of a dark, scary place.   They helped me find my happy,   So, if being in One Direction is making Zayn  unhappy, I’m glad he found the strength to #BeBrave and do what’s best for him.  To #BeBrave, you have to stand up for the bullied, stand up to the bullies, and stand up for yourself.  He’s doing what’s right for him. he’s being Brave.

Sometimes, making the right choice for yourself seems like the worst choice for everyone else. But, if you really care about someone, you have to support the choices they make, even if you don’t agree with them.

Zayn, I’m sorry to see you go. I’ll miss you – your voice, your style, your incredible high notes, and your kindness.  But I wish you well.  I’ll still love One Direction. I’m still going to 4 concerts. I’ll still hope to meet the band at one of them. I want to thank them.


Brave

There are a lot of things I have been in my life:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Confused
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Hopeless
  • Hopeful

But the thing I am most proud of, is that I decided to be Brave. Brave enough to stand up to the bullies, stand up for the bullied, and to finally, thankfully, stand up for myself.  I nearly killed myself because I was bullied.  My story, sadly, isn’t that unique, except that the bullies didn’t know I was overweight because of a medical problem, all they saw was a fat girl. They didn’t see ME, the girl inside. I had to learn to be brave, and get stronger.  Here’s a song I composed and wrote about it.   We should all learn to #BeBrave, and we can help end bullying.

Sometimes, you need to Be More Than A Bystander  and by standing up for  or standing with someone is the best way to help them.  Please share if you know someone who needs a little courage, a little strength,  some hope, and love. Help them #BeBrave.

 

Many many thanks to my friend Miette for filming and producing this video.


Just Dance!

When I read the story about  #DancingMan it broke heart, then made it SING! Somebody caught a man dancing, and took photos of him  making fun of him.  #DancingMan saw what they were doing, and hung his head in shame. The caption of the original post read:

Saw this specimen trying to dance the other week.  He stopped when he saw us laughing.

dancingman

When I was 13, I went to a dance at our local teen center and I was so excited to have a good time.  I had decided to just HAVE FUN, and yes, I danced. I danced until  I overheard a bunch of guys laughing at me, saying, “What is Ally doing dancing, she’s so FAT!”  It broke my heart.  I wrote about it.   It really affected me. Even now, I’m a little self-conscience when I dance. It took me a while, but I have learned to dance again!

Oh, God.  How many times in my life have I stopped doing something I love because other people made fun of me?  How many times I have I hung my head and tried to act like I had I really didn’t think I had  the right, the audacity to embrace joy and happiness even though I’m not what some people think of as beautiful or acceptable!  NO MORE.  Now I do what I want and most of the time I feel great about it.  Sometime, though those old feelings come back and I slink down and hide.   I push myself to remember that I am worthy of feeling, being and doing whatever makes me happy.

I’m SO excited that Cassandra and her crew were able to track down #DancingMan , whose name is Sean, and invited him to a big dance party with lots of women who want to dance with him. It’s gotten bigger and bigger, with Pharrell, celebrity dj’s and others wanting to join in this dance party!

I want in. I want into the fabulous dance party that is about this one man, Sean, who was made to feel awful when all he was doing was dancing. I can’t go to the party, it’s in California, but I sure as hell can have my OWN party the night they they’re dancing!  In my house in Connecticut, I’ll be boogieing down with my family celebrating all that is FABULOUS about dancing-  the freedom, the joy, the way that dancing lets your  laugh with your body to the beat of music that moves your soul.   Not just me, but my Dad, who wept today, remembering being made fun of for dancing, and yet, still will get up and dance with my Mom, because they love each other. My Mom, who laughs and says she does the “preteen girl hop” when she dances, but she still dances,  all the time, and my little brother, who is learning how to dance, and still laughs and loves it!  The bullies haven’t gotten into his head about it, yet. I won’t let that happen.  I will dance, even though I think I’m not good at it, but secretly like to dance with myself.

Won’t you dance with us?  We can ALL be #DancingMan or DancingWoman- let’s just be #DancingPeople and  spend even 5 minutes dancing together, where ever we are. Let’s Be Brave and DO IT!  Who wants in?

justdance

 


Dear One Direction

Hi.

I was at the point of giving up. I had my hand to my mouth, ready to swallow death but I was fortunately stopped. I stayed up that entire night thinking about how much I didn’t want to do this anymore. I woke up the next morning and the radio was playing your song. I stopped what I was doing, sat down and listened to it. After the song ended I broke down and sobbed for about an hour. I had felt so alone, so disgusting and hopeless at that point. People all around me were constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough, I would never be good enough. It was drilled into my head. I felt like no one would ever think I was beautiful or worth anything, that there was no point in me staying on earth. You changed that, you changed me. It wasn’t an automatic “I am 100% better and now I’m saved!!”. No, not even close. There were still days where I felt like hurting myself, there were still days where I cried myself to sleep, there were still days where I felt like a disgusting blob. But the difference was, I had you.

One Direction

When I felt the urge to do something drastic, I would listen to your songs. When I felt like there was no chance of me being able to be happy, I would watch your videos and they made me feel a bit of that happy that I almost forgot. I started smiling more. It’s amazing how looking at someone else’s smile can make you form your own. I learned all the lyrics to your songs, I sang them day in and day out. I learned how to play your songs on the piano. It helped me get away from the sadness, even if it was just for 2 and a half minutes. You eventually inspired me to start writing my own songs. I’ve written so many that I can’t even count. I have lyric sheets and sheet music littered all over my bedroom. I just started recording my own music. You helped me find a passion that has stuck with me for over 3 years.

I slowly but surely started to get better. I would find myself smiling more every day. I could catch myself laughing for real in conversations. Here I am, years later. I’ll never completely heal, because I don’t think you can be when you go through something like that, but I think I’m happy now, and that’s something I never thought I would be. I learned to love myself, have hope, be confident, go after your passions and spread kindness and love and most of all, how to make myself happy again. All this from a band who doesn’t know and may never know I exist. But that’s alright, because you left a mark on me and now I am going to try to leave my mark on other people. I’m sharing my music, and my story with the world. I’m not the only one that you as a band have helped. There are millions of girls who have been in similar situations as me and feel the same way, and you’ve helped them through their rough times too. Thank you, on behalf of me and the other millions of girls you have helped.

You didn’t save my life, but you helped me save my own. I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for that.

Thank you.

Ally


An Open Letter To Kelly Clarkson

Dear Kelly,

I’ve read you’ve been getting a lot of crap because of you weight.  I know how awful it feel to be judged simply because you are not a size 4.  But you are 100% right with your response when you say:

Screw ‘em!

When people think that your size is bigger than your talent, Screw’em. When people talk about your clothes instead of your songs, Screw’em. When people tweet negative crap about you instead of sharing your awesome, Screw’em.

starkelly.jpg

Share your joy!  Share your amazing music. Share your talent,  your beautiful daughter, and your spirit. Share your ability to show those bullies that the only thing their comments are dragging down is themselves. 

I have a lot of experience in being bullied because of my weight.  I let them get into my head, and it really messed me up, nearly to the point of no return. But, like you, I finally realized that  *I* am so much more than a size.   I realized my size didn’t make me less than worthy, and the gifts I had to offer to the world. Just by being ME, I was ENOUGH.  And NOT ONE OF THEM had a thing to do with my size, except for the size of my heart. Like you, I wrote about this things that nearly broke me, and how it made me stronger.  I wrote my song, Brave to show that you CAN get past that place where it seems like nothing will be ok.  I sing it to all those who might need some courage, and tell them to how to Be Brave. Just like you tell others that you are Invincible.

Now I am a warrior, a shooting star
Know I got this far, had a broken heart
No one hears the silent tears collecting
Cause it’s being weak, but strong in the truth I found
I have courage now, gonna shout it out
Teacher, I feel the dots connecting

I love these lyrics because you are so right- Being weak, but strong in truth is a hard but IMPORTANT lesson.   Kelly, you have so much talent, love and happiness in your life, and you are sharing that, instead of the negativity of others. You are an inspiration.

kellyclarkson.jpg

I think you’re beautiful in both photos because your strength  and joy shines through in both! Keep singing loud and clear your message about strength, hope, and love. You’re saying “Screw’Em” is validation to every girl in the world that WHO they are is more important than what size they wear!


Plus Sized Models in Sports Illustrated Means We Can Finally Love Ourselves, Right?

Sports Illustrated has decided to have a curvy girl in the pages of it’s swimsuit issue.  Apparently we’re all supposed to rejoice and be happy that someone actually ENDORSED someone who isn’t a size 4.  There a spread in Sport Illustrated that features a REAL plus sized model- Ashley Graham is a size 14/16 in a bikini. I want to point out that she is the size of the average American.sportsillustrated_thumb.jpg

 

YAY for those who are actually not what others think should be “beautiful”!  YAY for those who have real curves and folds and still can look beautiful and FEEL beautiful and desirable!  And HOORAY for Sports Illustrated for DARING to put a plus-sized girl in their issue- except, wait, they didn’t.  They allowed an AD to be PURCHASED and placed in their issue instead of it being an editorial decision, but still, HOORAY for them for taking money for letting the chubby girls of America to feel loved, and wanted. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

I love what Ashley says about the spread: I know my curves are sexy and I want everyone else to know that theirs are too,”  “There is no reason to hide and every reason to flaunt.”  I need to point out that I think that Ashley Graham is absolutely beautiful, no matter what size she is.  Look at her face- she OWNS being sexy and happy!  THAT’s Beautiful.  But I don’t need Sport Illustrated to tell me that I can finally love myself, no matter my size.  I hated myself for YEARS for my size. Heck, I’m bigger than Ashley, and before, if I ever had to wear a bathing suit, I’d hide behind big shirts or even not wear a bathing suit until I decided, one day, that I deserved to love myself, finally.  The thing is I needed to feel that way inside,  IN MY HEAD , and in my heart.  I had someone ridicule me while I was in a bathing suit once, and it scarred me for a long time. It took YEARS for me to decide that I was worthy of loving myself for who I am, instead of what other people think is ok for me to look.lovetheskinyourein.jpg

 

Are we allowing Sports Illustrated (and other media) to say that it’s only ok to worship the kinds of bodies they deem acceptable? I really wish that Sports Illustrated had posted her photos on their own, and called her simply “beautiful”.  How about more real people,  size 16, even 18 and higher, and let’s not forget the “skinny” girls, who are often made to feel like they are not beautiful, too? Not ”model perfect” girls with no waist and big butts and boobs, but thin girls. No one wants to hear “Go eat a burger, already” as much as no one wants to hear” Don’t eat that, you’re fat enough”. So many athletes have curves, strong muscular bodies that are amazing because they are showing a woman she can do ANYTHING. Let’s face it, this issue isn’t about being a great sportswoman, it’s about buying into the big fat LIE that only a few body types are worthy of being showcased and begin called beautiful.  Let’s STOP BODY SHAMING ALREADY, and embrace that we are all have our own beauty.

We don’t need Sports Illustrated or anyone to give us permission to feel comfortable or sexy in any kind of bathing suit or clothing.

I used to hide myself because I didn’t give myself permission to love myself for who I am. Now I embrace every part of me! I don’t need permission from anyone to love my body- it’s just another part of me.  We need to say it’s ok to like a body, our bodies, no matter what size or shape nature has give us.

Ready to embrace yourself? Love you for WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW?  Snap a pic and tweet it to me at @loser_gurls and use the hashtag #LoveTheSkinYoureIn


the DUFF

The DUFF- The Designated Ugly Fat Friend.   I don’t know why it’s a THING now to talk about being a DUFF as if it’s a good thing.  Someone sent me a pic of Kylie Jenner wearing a shirt saying “I’m somebody’s DUFF”  and it made me sad.  Why? Because I think being a DUFF is a state of mind.

kylie

Some would say, what does Kylie Jenner know about being a DUFF?  I’m not going to question that. I’m going to think that at one point she’s felt like she’s been judged simply by how she looks, compared to others around her and felt lacking.  At 6 foot tall, I usually stand out, or at least heads and shoulders over most people, even the guys. Being overweight in a sea of size 2’s and 4’s, also makes me stand out.  I understand the premise behind DUFF- being the person who looks different, and not what some might think is as attractive who is kept around to make  others look more desirable- but I don’t get why it’s a THING now.    Why would you want to own that you think you’re not as good/pretty/lovable/WORTHY as someone else?  Why do we need to have a label?  WHY can’t we just be ourselves and get on with life?

WHY do we look at people who look different that us, or “societies” idea of beautiful and make it a bad thing? I’ve been told before that I’d be “datable” if I lost weight.   I wasn’t interested in this person before, but once I heard that, I wasn’t interested in even being his friend.

Oh, you’re all kinds of cute and hot and all, I’d even date you if you had  a brain and some common sense!

If I said that to someone, I’d be considered rude, selfish and shallow. Or, maybe I wouldn’t.  I try really hard in my life to NOT judge people by their appearances, and to get to know them.  One of the guys I find most attractive is someone that some peoples do not.  I LOVE his personality.  He’s  witty, sarcastic, SO talented and the kind of guy I’d love to hang out with.  Other judge him on his crazy hair and think otherwise.  I know he and I would have things in common, and  we’d be friends.

friends

If people want to say I’m a DUFF, then I’m gonna own it – I can be a DUFF, but on my own terms.

DUFF Friend

 

In other words, I’m a friend. A good friend. That is all.