Guest blog – Chiara

“So how do you like the palace? Isn’t it stunning?” I ask holding my father’s camera. We’re on holiday in Vienna, and I want to record every moment. No one answers me. The place is huge and crowded and I wonder if they didn’t hear me.

I turn to ask my siblings, “Sara, Elia, what do you think? Do you like it here?” No answer, they’re too busy chatting and giggling to answer me. I turn to my mum and ask the same question, but she’s been drawn into my siblings’ conversation and ignores me. I turn to my dad, get ready to ask him, hoping he would answer, then notice he’s too busy staring into space to listen.

Resigned, I switch the camera off and walk away. There’s no need to be pissed off, I tell myself, Sara and Elia are younger and need mum’s attention more than I do. As for dad, he’s tired from driving us here. Besides, I am seventeen now, it’s not like I need their attention. We can talk about the palace later.

I pass a mirror as I wander through the palace, pausing to stare at my reflection. I have finally grown a little taller, and notice the definition in my leg muscles from all my recent training. I am wearing my brand new mini skirt and admire my reflection, proud of how I look.

Walking up beside me, my mum smiles and asks me what I’m thinking about. “Nothing much,” I lie, staring down at my skirt.

“You know,” she says, “I was wondering why you bought that skirt. It’s way too short, and it does not flatter you.” Shamed and filled with self doubt, I mumble half heartedly, “I like it.”

“As you please, you’re old enough to pick your own clothes after all,” she says as she walks away.

I stand looking down at my skirt, then at my reflection in the mirror. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I am not thin enough to wear it. Maybe I look ugly. Maybe weighting 52 kilos is still too much for my meter and sixty five centimeters. Don’t cry. Don’t you dare. You can’t. Don’t cry over a skirt, it’s stupid. Stop being stupid. My inner thoughts run rampant. I stop and consciously inhale and exhale a few times to calm down before walking back to my family.

“Chiara, I need your help to buy the tickets,” Sara calls to me before returning to a conversation with Elia.

I no longer feel like trying to join the conversation. I feel unimportant to my family, as if I’m only valuable if they need my help with language translation. I start to wonder if they would notice if I left. My mind begins to turn on me, taking that thought and running with it. I start to wonder why I’m not worth any attention. Is it because my grades are not good enough? Or because I am not pretty enough? Funny enough? I’m overwhelmed by how unfair it all feels. I want to disappear into the ground.

Life is unfair sometimes and I have no right to complain. If I work harder they will value me. I will study harder, train harder and go on a stricter diet, even if it causes dizziness. I can live with the dizziness. I’ll cut my thinning hair so it’s less noticeable. I’ll be flawless and then they will see me. Everyone will.

I plaster a smile on my face and walk up to my sister. Being sad, angry or a mixture of both would just ruin the mood. I don’t have a right to do that. I’ll be perfect little Chiara and everything will eventually be alright.

Guest Blog – My Own Racism

Editor’s Note: Hannah Kaull is an alumni of Million Girl Army, my non-profit organization that transforms middle school girls into globally compassionate teens. She’s had a lot on her mind lately and I invited her to share. Hannah is dedicated to doing her part to make the world a better place. She is an inspiration and I think you’ll enjoy what she has to say.  – Sara



Whenever I even say the word, I feel tension in the room.

Why? Where in society did we go wrong? Why because of skin color do issues suddenly exponentially rise? What makes a person feel like they are superior based solely on the color of their skin?

I don’t know. I don’t have many answers. I wish I did. I wish I could change the way humans view each other. But I can’t. I don’t understand the thought process of my peers, the generations of people below and above me. However, I do know my thought process and my experiences. I can only speak for myself. And this is my story; a story of what I want to change.

I was raised in a predominately white community and being one of the only brown girls brought a set of challenges. As a young girl I wanted nothing to do with my skin color. I felt different, which is the last thing I wanted to feel navigating my way through elementary school as I attempted to make friends. I vividly remember tears streaming down my face as I realized I wasn’t like everyone else. That was just the start.

IMG_9558Through middle school, already an incredibly awkward time, I felt singled out because of my skin color. Sometimes it would be funny to joke about, other times teachers wanted me to tell them more about my “home country,” both challenging when I already felt like I stood out just going through the day. Then, the latter part of middle school when many of my friends starting getting more interested in boys, I worried no one would ever like me because of my darker complexion. And high school, where even as I begin I accept my skin color, embracing my difference, I remain aware I’m usually the darkest person in the room.

These are just little snippets of my life.

I did enjoy the attention. Sometimes. I liked when people seemed to genuinely want to know the backstory of where I came from. The jokes could be funny, I would usually laugh along, a lot of them I even made myself. I don’t think people even meant to be rude, I think their intention was good most of the time. It was just the way it was.

IMG_1607But, equally and if  not more, I didn’t want to feel like the odd one out. I didn’t always like to answer questions about where I was born. Because it was Bozeman, Montana. Not India. Maybe I didn’t like to be asked if my marriage was going to be arranged. Because it isn’t. So while the questions can be humorous, after a while maybe – just once – it would be nice to not feel as if people are staring at me or asking questions because of my skin tone.

The first time I went to New York City I realized there was a deep rooted issue boiling inside me. Around the age of ten as I got off the plane, I made a comment like, “These are my people.” It was the first distinct moment where I didn’t feel looked at because of my skin color. I wasn’t singled out. It was the first moment where I felt I could hold a conversation with another human being –  person to person – without race as the unspoken theme. At the age of ten.

Looking ahead, I see that a lot of my decisions about where and what I want to do are rooted in wanting diversity in my life, to be surrounded by more people of color. But in seeking this I also realized this …

I’m subconsciously racist.

I was talking to my mom about plans for college a few weeks ago and made a statement along the lines of, “I want to get out of a place with so many white people in one area.” And immediately, I realized I showed that same racist attitude I felt I have been shown my whole life. The comment may seem funny to some, rude to others. But it truly comes from a place of hurt.

And that’s a huge take away. As I put the blame on others because I feel insecure about my skin color, I end up doing the same thing to them.

This is a problem. It is a never ending cycle. Look at the news. Look at our political climate. I think we are all racist. You may not mean to be. But from our day-to-day lives and our life experiences we all lean to our tribe. When we start to swing too far to one end of the spectrum either focusing on the minorities or the majority, we encounter issues.

We need to find a middle ground. It is far from equal. I don’t know if it can ever be. I truly don’t think it will be. But I do think as much as we want to put the blame on other people for being racist, it needs to start within ourselves. How?

Change the small day-to-day comments.

Change the way you approach someone.

Change how you have a conversation.

Change the minor details of interactions you have with people.

Make a difference in the way you view race.

We are all human. We need to all be looked at as humans. I don’t care what your race is, your sexual preference,  or your socioeconomic background.

We all deserved to be loved equally.

We are all to blame for not sharing that love equally.

Just love.

Love regardless of anything, treating everyone as you would want to be treated. It’s a message every adult has been telling us over and over our whole lives.

Yet, maybe it’s time to do more than talk about it. Maybe it’s time to actually try it. It may be the only thing that could, over time, bring real change.

-Hannah Kaull, 16

Guest Blog – Kristina Munday

Iphoto_654500t’s true, I’m a young mom! I’m 22 and instead of staying up late studying for midterms at the college of my dreams, I’m spending my nights trying to get my tiny human to go to sleep. Instead of spending my 20’s touring the world, I’m taking my whole world on a walk around the apartment complex just to have a change of scenery. At 21, I wasn’t throwing up because of all the alcohol I could legally consume, I spent days and nights by the toilet with morning sickness. While my peers were out, worrying about grades and what to do Friday night, I spent two and a half months sitting by my baby’s bedside in the hospital.

You could say my life looks very different from most people my age. I grew up as a people pleaser, and my life plan was far different because of that. Getting married young was unpopular. Having babies before finishing school was a disaster. At least these are the things I was told, and so my life plan was to go to school, date, get married my last year of college, start the perfect career, then have a baby when we were financially established.

The day I decided to abandon the world’s perfect plan for me and follow my heart was the best choice I ever made. As a people pleaser, I actually felt a little embarrassed at what people would think! Looking back now, I can’t believe I almost let acquaintances, even strangers, keep me from the most love and happiness I’ve ever felt!

“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste if time.” Edwin Bliss

Even after letting go of the perfect plan the people pleaser in me held on to, motherhood held a whole new level of perfectionism. Especially in the social media world, there seem to be perfect mothers who have it all together. Perfect house, perfect marriage, perfect makeup, clothes, children, kitchen.. The list could go on and on. However I’ve realized in my pursuit of perfection as a young mom that nobody has it all together.

I now strive to focus more on just keeping myself and my family healthy and happy. As a preemie mom, that really has been an all-consuming task. But so worth it!

When I look into my daughter’s eyes I see so much promise, so much hope for the future, and not a care in the world about what people think. And in those moments I feel the pull to perfectionism I think about that same promise and hope I felt when I became a mother. My goal is to help her keep that light for as long as possible, and to be there to remind her of it in those moments she needs most.
I absolutely love being a mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Kristina M