Navigating July 4th: How to Find Freedom From Food Angst

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” — Sylvia Plath

Plath’s quote helped me through numerous occasions when it was all I could do to simply breathe. July 4th used to be one of them. Holidays can be incredibly stressful when you have an eating disorder, ranging from mildly stressful to panic attack inducing. I’m grateful that all of that’s in my past now, and saddened by the vast number of people who can relate.

If you are one of them, I hope you’ll find the following post helpful. I’m honored to be a guest on the National Eating Disorders Association’s blog, sharing tips on navigating the 4th of July when food, your thoughts and your body seem like enemies. I seriously wish I could hug you! Instead, I bring you this:

NEDA July 4

To read the full post, click the above image or this link

Anais Nin_courage

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy weekend. ♥

Broken Mirrors: Lessons in Self-Perception

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” – Marianne Williamson

I learned a lot about fear from anorexia. It’s a terrifying disease that robs the sufferer of the ability to think or feel as herself, lies to and for her and, if given the opportunity, swallows up her entire life. Not until I reached my own full recovery did I realize how horrific its scariest moments can truly be.

I was living in Paris, weeks before a loss of consciousness led me to diagnosis and proper care, and working as a model. One day while working out at a local gym, I became mesmerized by a woman’s legs. Reflected in the mirror on an adjacent wall, they were long and thin—so thin that her knees bulged out like burls on trees. I felt an odd mix of envy and concern as I watched, part wishing I had the genes or “skills” to obtain such a physique, part worried for her wellbeing. From the angle, I figured she was running several treadmills to my right, and longed to see the rest of her. Instead, I continued exercising, fixating on fat and calorie burn as per usual.

Once finished, I stepped off of the treadmill, walked toward the drinking fountain on the mirror-topped wall and spotted the woman again. Those legs! Those long, lithe legs… Drawing closer, I observed bruises on her knees, like mine—exactly like mine. I stopped walking. She stopped walking. I started again, as did she.

In a fraction of a second, reality struck—or my sickened version of it. The woman wasn’t thin at all. Her thighs bulged outward even more than her knocky knees, below a round, bloated abdomen. Approaching the mirror, I confirmed the now obvious. The woman wasn’t thin; she was just plain, chubby me.

Perception_August McLaughlin

Had I imagined her? Wished so hard to be her that she’d appeared? Deep in my gut, I knew, or at least suspected, that I’d watched my own legs, and that my “reality” wasn’t real at all. It was a sickening, frightening thought, but not as scary as I found my body. A glance down at my flesh assured me: Whether I’d seen her or not, there was zero chance that Ms. Thin had been me.

Self-perception is a powerful, potentially terrifying thing. I’m grateful that when I look in the mirror today, I no longer see shape, size and mistakes. I make it a point to peer into my eyes with respect, whether I feel at my physical best or not. Most often, I simply see me—a soul in a body I’ve learned to embrace.

I don’t know if I see myself physically as others do (does any woman?), but I’ve learned not to care. I want to feel and appear attractive, like most folks, but the scale no longer measures my self-worth. And my thoughts and energy fuel worthy pursuits. These are some of the gifts healing from an eating disorder can bring—a realm of self-acceptance I feel too few people reach.

At its core, anorexia isn’t about aesthetics, but a desperate need to achieve and succeed, to compensate for inadequacy, to maintain control amidst chaos or to simply disappear. Like all eating disorders, it’s a complicated illness, influenced heavily by cultural standards and the role models we have or lack. Sadly, these issues have grown universal, and reach far beyond the grasp of full-fledged disease.

I was reminded of my Paris/mirror experience last week, when a friend alerted me to a video produced by Dove. I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it. I can only say WATCH IT! Please. 🙂 I have a feeling you’ll not only relate, but feel inspired.

A mere four percent of women worldwide deem themselves beautiful, according to Dove. I imagine that many of the remaining 96 percent of us aren’t merely shunning our looks when we look in the mirror, but our selves.

Throughout my recovery, I’d often look in the mirror and spout affirmations, whether I believed them in my heart or not. I love you, You’re beautiful, and so forth. Over time, they felt less like lies, and more like promises. Eventually, they felt true. I can’t help but wonder if most women would benefit from similar practices, not simply in regard to physical appearance, but life. Many of us see ourselves as “less than,” flawed or not fully capable. If we let them, doubt and insecurity can really hold us back.

I’m grateful to Dove for reminding me that no matter how wonderful others might perceive us, it matters little if we fail to see the wonder ourselves. Simply knowing that, reminding ourselves of that, can go a long way toward personal empowerment. If there’s one thing that help heal our broken “mirrors” and allow us to reach our full potential, having a blast in the process, I’m pretty sure it’s that.

What experiences have led you to ponder or shift your self-perception? What’s your take on the Dove experiment? I love hearing your thoughts. 

Body Image Mirrors: What Does Yours Reflect?

“Beauty is not caused. It is.” — Emily Dickinson

If only we all saw it in ourselves…

The first few times I spoke publicly about my eating disorder, I shared photographs of my former emaciated self. Most people gasped at the sunken in cheeks, sharp bones and skin that looked too small for its skeleton. Others, sadly, were impressed.

One day, after speaking at a university in Minnesota, I received an email from a woman who’d attended. “I looked at that picture and all I could think was, I wish I could be that thin. Why don’t I have that discipline?” she wrote. The words threw a brick at my heart and opened my eyes.

Based on the woman’s email, I figured she was A) anorexic and body dysmorphic B) affected by another eating disorder or C) generally healthy physically, but riddled with disordered eating thoughts and behaviors—a state far more common than diagnosable eating disorders, and no less worthy of addressing. I didn’t need to know which; my reaction would’ve been the same regardless.

I wrote back, apologizing, offering support and reiterating some of what I’d shared in my talk. I thanked her for showing me how irresponsible I’d been, and meant it. Even if masses of people were horrified by the photographs, sharing them wasn’t worth it if even one used it as a measure of her self-worth. Needless to say, I’ve been much more cautious about sharing them since.

Whether we realize it or not, we are role models and example-setters. Our attitudes and behaviors regarding food, eating and our bodies can empower or hurt others—even when our intentions are good.

Positive body image reflects empowering light on others.

Remarkable things happen when we accept ourselves and stop trying to whittle ourselves away or morph into people or shapes we’re not. We stop judging others’ shapes and sizes. We see people, not body parts or competition. We see fuel and enjoyment on our plates, rather than numbers or damage. We eat healthfully and exercise because it feels good, not for calorie burn or scale shifts. And photographs of skinny models don’t motivate us or fill us with envy; they simply make us sad.

Study after study has shown that unhealthy attitudes and behaviors regarding food, weight and appearance negatively influences our peers and loved ones. Research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in 2011 revealed that peer and parental fixation on appearance and weight control significantly increase teen women’s likelihood of binging and purging. Children of dieting parents often develop poor body image and self esteem, struggle with weight control and hold increased risks for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, obesity and depression during youth and adulthood.

But fear not. There’s good news. 🙂 Many steps can be taken to improve our own food and body-related attitudes while safeguarding our loved ones from these complications.

8 Ways to Boost Body Image in Others

1. Make self-acceptance a priority. Perhaps it’s obvious, but the best way to inspire positive body image is by example. For more on this topic, and tips on boosting your own body image, feel free to visit my post, Body Image Myths: Exploring Myths & Walking the Walk.

2. If you’e not feeling it, fake it. Reversing poor body image seldom happens simply or quickly. But talking about body parts you loathe can give those thoughts power and negatively influence listening ears. If you have thoughts about your “huge thighs” or “imperfect” skin, keep them private. Why does Coca Cola continue to advertise when we’re well aware of their products? The power of suggestion. It works—sometimes too well.

3. Don’t diet. Dieting, including following rigid lifestyle plans geared toward weight loss, wreaks havoc on our bodies and minds. It also inspires similar problems and complexes in our peers and loved ones. Poor body image, self esteem, eating disorders and obesity run rampant in children of dieting parents. They may be small, but they’re highly absorbent sponges.

4. Make healthy lifestyle habits a family affair. Forcing kids to eat healthy foods seldom works. Even if only one member of your clan has a weight or dietary problem, involve the entire family in physical activity and healthy eating—and make it fun. Enjoyment is a huge factor in developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles longterm.

5. Don’t comment on others’ weight. If a friend has shed excess pounds and looks great, tell her she looks healthy and happy—not thin “and what’s your secret?” Celebrating weight loss places emphasis on body size. What if she lost weight through starving? Would you celebrate that? Our loved ones need to know that we care about who and how they are, not their pant size.

6. Talk positively about food and your body. Rather than discuss your weight or physical “flaws,” talk about the strength of your body, gratitude for your health or how great you feel when you self-nourish with healthy foods. Describe desserts as “decadent,” not ‘damaging.” Viewing foods in terms of calories, carbs and grams can zap pleasure and perpetuate negativity. Save numbers for your accountant, and away from your plates.

7. Give body image-boosting gifts. Affirmation cards, empowering books and films, massages and even counseling sessions make wonderful, uplifting gifts. Rather than a gym or weight loss center membership, sign you and a friend up for fabulous dance classes or hiking events. Instead of fitness-geared magazines, give MORE, Oprah magazine or others that promote inner/outer beauty. Or give a gift related to a friend’s passion. Happiness breeds inner-beauty, outer-beauty and self-acceptance.

8. Set loved ones straight. If you catch friends or family members dissing their bodies or partaking in harmful weight or diet-related behaviors, call them out. Tell them you won’t allow them to bash or hurt themselves around you, that you love them too much. And ask what you can do to support positive changes. It’s not always easy, but it’s worthwhile.

What do you do to set a positive body image example for others? Any challenges or success stories to share? 

Filmmaker Diane Israel on Beauty, Healing & Feeling to Be Free

If I had one Oscar to award this year or anytime, I’d give it to Diane Israel. I first met Diane at the National Eating Disorders Association conference in 2008. Of the countless seminars, films, speakers and wonderful people I encountered, none have stuck with or touched me as much as Diane or her award-winning film, Beauty Mark.

During her career as a world-class triathlete, Diane fought a far tougher competition with her body and self. Her decade-plus battle with anorexia caused physical and emotional trauma and could have taken her life; instead, she’s healed and turned it into a perceivable universe of good will, hope and inspiration.

As a filmmaker, psychotherapist, speaker and activist, Diane uses her skills and experience to brighten and enhance others’ lives. Beauty Mark is a courageous, personal film that brings context to her healing and features stories and insight from athletes, fashion models, inner-city teens and renowned authors, including Naomi Wolf and Eve Ensler. (For a sneak peak, check out the trailer below.)

With both the Oscars and National Eating Disorders Awareness Week upon us, I can’t think of a better time to celebrate Diane and her wisdom.

AM: What inspires you to share your story…reach out to others in such a personal way?

DI: My early years were filled with pain and confusion. I lived with daily fear and anxiety and it got projected on everything—the weather, school, my dog, my family… I felt like I lived on a playing field with no directions or rules. What I have discovered in going through so much pain and difficulty is it all counts. Nothing is for nothing. Now, at 52, I wouldn’t not return any of it. (We can’t anyway. Have you tried???)

So after working my butt off in so many directions—therapy, reading, support from friends and family, life experience and growing into myself, I want to share and give back. This is why I am alive and I feel we all are service. Joseph Campbell called it “the return” when we go through our “dark night of the soul” and want to share what we learned.

I love to share the lessons I’ve learned and what really works because there is a formula that I believe works: Feel and you will be free. Sounds simple but it’s not. It takes lifetime practice because we have preferences. We like to hang on to what feels good and move away from what feels bad, yet the freedom is in riding the waves of this incredible varied life.

AM: Beauty Mark is unlike any film I’ve ever seen. How did it come into fruition?

DI: Beauty Mark came out of my mission, energy and incredible passion to understand why we as a culture are so obsessed with beauty and, on a deeper level, how much energy and time we invest in it when there are so many incredible, precious things to focus on, like love, helping others, supporting our earth and creating new models to support the planet’s healing. 

When I heard that these incredibly powerful women at Women’s Quest camp wanted to fit into a smaller pair of jeans and did not want their kids to have eating disorders even though they all hated their bodies, I became livid and said I have to make a film. I had to understand what to me felt insane. I have to help. And if Michael Moore can do it why can’t I? And so, having never made a film and knowing nothing about it, I set out on a five-plus year journey to make Beauty Mark. And wow, did I wake to myself up and gain a deeper understanding of the role of the media, culture, our biology and so many aspects of being human. What an exploration.

AM: Why is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 26th – March 3rd) important, whether we have experience with an eating disorder or not?

NEDAW is important for the support in what I call the shared club of life. We all need community. For those of us with eating disorders, it is a time to get education, find comrades, to feel not alone and to heal. NEDAW is also a week to talk about these issues and, this is key, to break the shame, break the silence and know you are not alone, that we have access to help and resources we did not have 40 years ago.

When we realize that we are not alone and have so many folks around the world that understand and live with what we know and think is unique, it  helps to bring us home to ourselves.

AM: You and I chatted recently about orthorexia—an obsession with healthy eating. It’s estimated that millions of Americans struggle with disordered eating, without developing a full-fledged ED. 

DI: Correct. When we are not at home with ourselves we turn to things in our environment in attempt to make us feel okay, feel whole. Our culture is designed, it seems to me, to focus on the doing and not the being human. We need both to thrive. In the doing we find orthorexia—if I don’t eat “abc” then I will be okay. Deprivation often seems like a virtue in our culture. I have found that we all are okay. We just don’t think we are, and then we are not. The culture makes its living off of those of us who believe we are broken and need to be fixed.

AM: What can we do to help make the world we live in a more accepting place—where we accept not only others, but our selves? 

DI: Start with yourself end with yourself. Then get out of yourself and serve. Remember how awesome you are, that you were born awesome and you will die awesome. This acceptance of everything that you are, the entire package, will serve you well. What are you becoming? What are you living with this one wild and precious life?

AM: What would you say to someone in the depths of an eating disorder now?

DI: I would say you are where you are and it will change because life changes. Looking back, my eating disorder was one of my biggest teachers. Ask yourself how you can heal and get the support and help you need. I think a really big view here is to not see our ED as a monster or terrible thing. It is an expression of ourselves crying out to transform and to recreate ourselves. Most of us live with some addiction in this society. But we are not problems! We are not just sick. We are on a mission to wake up and be who we are. And most of us need support and help in knowing how to do this. I wasn’t given a map—were you?

I am honored to share my heartfelt expression with you all. This is just my own experience and ideas if it speaks to you awesome if not throw it out. I am grateful to have this opportunity to open my heart and soul with you. We are all in this incredible human family together. Welcome to the up and down and all around ride.

To learn more about Diane Israel and her ventures, visit and follow her on Twitter: @DianeIsrael.


Isn’t she phenomenal?!? I hope you’ll all take time this week to consider not only people struggling with eating disorders, but what you can do to make like Diane—live more fully, learn from your struggles and recognize your awesomeness. What struck you about her insight? Were you intrigued by the trailer? How do you use your own challenges to help others?

Does Dirt Have Calories? — My Story

I awoke that morning as I did most mornings while living in Paris—woozy, exhausted and determined. During what should’ve been a pinnacle in the modeling career I’d held dear, I was enraptured and controlled by an eating disorder. Where logic would’ve told me to get some rest, nourish my body and tend to the day’s work responsibilities, E.D. commanded I wake up and run! Breakfast, castings, agency meetings and photo shoots would have to wait; my sole priority was the upkeep of my disease.

My emaciated body had been surviving on carrots, sugarless ice tea and Coke Light, yet felt gigantic and punishable. If I could eat as little as possible and burn far more than I chewed, I might finally reach thinness—i.e., happiness, success and perfection. I had to run.

I slipped my feet into my worn out, blood-stained sneakers, stepped out of my tiny Parisian flat and headed toward the Seine. The Eiffel Tower came into full view atop the pastel haze of the sunrise—a living, breathing Monet. It’s beauty could’ve taken a blind man’s breath away, I wrote in my journal. I didn’t deserve it. 

The dewy earth squished beneath my feet as I ran to the rhythm of calorie-counting. Forty-five plus six plus ten… Plus five plus ten plus three… I estimated the ‘damage’ from the day prior then plotted an itinerary of exercise and occasional food bits to compensate. So accustomed to ignoring the dizziness and fatigue accompanying me, anything else would’ve felt foreign. But this time was different.

I observed that the dip in the ground ahead looked like an adult-size cradle. Perhaps I knew what was coming.

I ran with increasing dizziness and pain, as though a metal clamp squeezed my brain. Run! Don’t stop! You can’t. Tears stung at my eyes as I tried to outrun the inevitable. I fell to the ground, as though in slow motion. And for a brief, savory moment, I felt weightless.

I awoke later, lying in the grassy cradle, the taste of blood and dirt in my mouth. Rather than wonder how long I’d been there or if I’d been hurt, one thought filled me with terror: Does dirt have calories? 

I don’t recall who found me or how I made it to the medical center, only the words of the British doctor: “You have anorexia. Do you understand what that means? You could’ve died. You could die.”

Her words blurred together like fog on a windshield as my thoughts went wild. She’s crazy! I can’t have anorexia. Please don’t make me eat… I felt neither thin nor “skilled” enough to have a disorder characterized by starvation. Sure, I had problems—the “cancer in my soul” I’d journaled about. I felt physically and emotionally rotted and weak, but couldn’t make sense of anything. I only knew I had to go home.

The week after I arrived in Minneapolis, I began treatment and fought harder to remain ill. Once I accepted my diagnosis, anorexia seemed the one special thing about me. If I let it go, what was left? The word ‘recovery’ seemed synonymous with ‘fatness,’ ‘failure’ and ‘mediocrity.’

As my starving measures increased, my emotional and physical self tolerated them less and less. My therapist repeatedly threatened in-patient treatment. I lied, promising I would eat more and gain necessary weight.

Finally, one of my worst nightmares came true. In a moment of despair, I gave in to my longing for a single bite of chocolate ice cream. As I placed the dollop of creamy cold sweetness into my mouth, my entire body trembled. I felt intoxicated, a sense of danger, head-to-toe orgasm, temporary relief. But one bite turned into two, then six, then all that remained of the half gallon. The fatty cream sat like a putrid rock in my shrunken stomach. I’d never felt so ashamed.

The bingeing/starving roller coaster that followed was the most excruciating and important occurrences in my recovery. At its worst, I entered what my therapist called a “bulimic trance.” The bingeing took over and I had little awareness of all I’d consumed until I found myself sobbing amidst wrappers and crumbs.

As weight returned to my body, friends and family told me how healthy I looked.

“You’re filling out so nicely!” The well-intended comment haunted me for months. Desperate to stop bingeing, I decided to take my treatment more seriously.

“I will do anything to stop this,” I told my therapist.

“Good,” she said. “It starts with eating. After you binge, don’t skip your next meal.”

Anything but that. I resisted her instructions, holding staunchly to the belief that if I were just strong enough, I could attain the thinness I desired and stop bingeing at once. It sounded Utopian. Meanwhile, I mourned the loss of my anorexia like a lost soulmate.

One night, after a fast ended in a gargantuan binge, I hit bottom. I considered gulping the poison I’d used on occasion to vomit, aware of the life-threatening risks. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t bear life as I knew it. In a fury, I scavenged the house for the tiny bottle. When I couldn’t find it, my heart raced. I struggled to breathe.

Then something remarkable happened. Incapable of purging in any of my viable methods, I calmed down. Calmness brought clarity. Rather than plot restriction strategies for the coming days, I began plotting a future free of ED.

I walked with trepidation to my wall mirror and looked not at my hips, belly or thighs, but into my eyes. The head-on stare punctured the swollen balloon of hurt inside me, releasing sobs.

“You can’t live like this anymore!” I told my reflection. “I won’t let you hate yourself so much. This is not who you are.” I didn’t know what I was fighting for, but my instincts said, don’t give up.

My anger at ED and proclamations in the mirror were the first signs of self-love I’d displayed in years, the light switch in the dark cave I lived in. If I managed to turn it on, I knew my life would change.

I threw my “skinny clothes” and scale in a dumpster and removed the size tags from clothes that fit. I told myself that for one year, I would not diet, starve or make any other attempts at weight loss. If I gained weight during that year, so be it. The next morning, with trembling hands and tears flooding my cheeks, I ate breakfast.

Though I wanted to forego my commitments frequently over the subsequent weeks, I held fast. The bingeing continued at first, as did my weight gain, until I nearly doubled my lowest weight. If I have to start over every day, I will, I wrote. And start over again and again I did. I had nothing to lose by trying and everything to lose by not.

Months later, I was no longer dieting, starving or bingeing and my life was beginning to feel like a life. I was in college, making friends, writing songs and even, on occasion, laughing. But my recovery had reached a plateau. I felt awkward eating around others, anxious about eating too much or too little. The slightest pangs of hunger or fullness put me on edge. I saw plates of calories and felt guilty when I indulged. And though I resisted, I longed to diet. ED hadn’t left. He’d only grown quieter.

One day over steaming cups of Indian tea, my mom handed me a CD with a song she and my dad wanted me to hear: Lee Ann Womack’s, “I Hope You Dance.”

“It’s time to find joy,” she said. (And here I’d thought I had everyone fooled…)

The song’s message about “dancing,” which I took to mean many joyful things, hit me with profound force.

That evening I sat at a park watching a group of friends picnicking, captivated by a woman around my age. After a bite of her hearty sandwich, she closed her eyes, tipped her head back and said, “This is so good!” I longed for an ounce of her joy.

I’d been eating because I was “supposed” to, promised others I would and never wanted to go off the bingeing/starving deep end again. In order to fully recover, I had to manifest joy around eating.

I knew it was possible because I’d experienced it. My childhood love affair with food seemed insatiable. Family photographs portray a bubbly, smiling girl holding an ice cream cone, sitting before a luminous birthday cake or about to take a chomp out of a fresh red apple from our backyard tree. Before bed, I often asked my parents what the next day’s breakfast would entail, “so I could dream about it.”

Food for my family meant togetherness. Birthday celebrations, picnics by the lake, nightly home cooked meals—a special bond and a clay we used to build memories. Until fear and ED had creeped in. No more, I decided.

I began studying food with a velocity I’d only previously applied to treadmills. I wanted to discover its goodness and stop dreaming of ways to avoid it. What did particular foods do for me? If not for managing weight, why did people eat them? How could I eat healthfully, and not by diet book standards of what that was?

I began addressing a self-compiled “I’m afraid of” list. Eat in public. Eat at a restaurant, alone. Eat a meal prepared by others without demanding particulars. Eat the ice cream that triggered my first binge—one serving at a time.

I traded my diet books for medical and dietetic texts that defined food as fuel, a necessary means of nutrients, and obtained my certification in nutrition. I cooked, experimented with foods I’d never tried and volunteered at soup kitchens. I stopped aiming for dietary perfection. Multiple studies had convinced me that such increased my risk for bingeing, obesity, anxiety, depression and sleep problems—pretty much everything on my “No, thank you” list.

It took numerous attempts of arriving at an upscale restaurant alone before I dined there and several more before I enjoyed the food without heavy perspiration or heart palpitations. I wept over a homemade candlelit dinner for one, served on my grandmother’s china. I stocked my kitchen with food until it felt warm, loved and lived-in. Rather than cold and frightening, it felt like home. I took a Buddhist philosophy course and applied its principles to my meals. Eating slowly and without distraction soon went from mortifying to pacifying. On difficult days, I asked myself what I’d feed a dear friend then treated myself to just that.


On a cool spring evening, I sat at my kitchen table with a bowl of spicy chili and fresh-baked corn bread. An unexpected breeze blew through my apartment window, carrying a flower from outside into my bowl. Plunk! As the pink petals swam amongst the diced tomatoes and cannelloni beans, I laughed. Struck my own amusement, I realized that nothing but goodness sat at my table. All anxiety, shame and feelings of inadequacy had dissipated, leaving me with a palpable sense of peace.

I returned to Paris that summer to celebrate my recovery. Near the grassy patch I’d fallen in I buried a capsule filled with cards from loved ones, photographs, under-sized clothes and copies of my songs and journal entries. ED’s funeral, I called it. A memorial service for my SELF. I ran along the Seine, this time grateful for the strong legs that carried me, the absence of pain and my second chance at a happy, healthy life.


What does ‘beauty’ mean to you?
One of the BEST parts of my recovery was the growing ability to use my brain and energy for pursuits unrelated to diet or exercise—writing, reading, singing… Sam Levinson’s poem, Beauty of A Woman, inspired me on numerous difficult days. In honor of all the poem stands for, I invite you to join me in a beauty-FULL celebration on Friday, February 10th. To learn how you can participate as a blogger or prize sponsor, visit Beauty of a Woman BlogFest.