Thirty Flirty and Thriving…

July 28, 2015

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“It’s just that I’m freaking out that I’m getting older, and I feel like I’m supposed to have my life all figured out and I have no idea what I’m doing here,” I was turning 26, and having a quarter life crisis because I was now in my ‘mid-to-late 20s’.  I cried to my then 9 year old sister.

“But you’re not the age yet” Grace said.

“What age?”

“You know…the age…”

“What do you mean…the height of my life is over”…yes…I am dramatic.

“Kaffy, you’re not 30, flirty and thriving!”

Oh the wisdom of my baby sister.  She was right, and something about what she said stuck with me.  That and maybe Jennifer Garner and the movie too.

But ever since then I’ve been so excited to be 30.  And even though I’ve been telling people I’m in my 30s for almost a year now.  I just turned it a few weeks ago.

katherines-birthday-105 And so far it’s incredible.

When I turned 20 I was so insecure with me.  Like all of me.

Constantly I flung myself from one extreme of feeling like I was never enough to feeling like I was way too much of a personality.

I was so insecure with my body.

I truly believed I was single because I wasn’t skinny enough.

I was playing tennis and so burnt out and wanted to transfer schools, but was so confused.

I had no idea who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, and felt so much pressure to have arrived, and felt like such a failure for seeming so far from said allusive arrival.

All at the ripe age of 20.

It was crippling.  I was overwhelmed.  Burnt out.  And completely insecure.

Man the things that can transpire in 10 years.

At 30, yes I realize I’m just two weeks in, but here’s how I feel.

I feel more fully me, and more fully alive than I ever have in my life.

I feel grounded.

I feel purposeful.

I am eternally grateful to the beautiful souls that I get to do life with.  My family and friends that have surrounded me with love and support.  I am humble, and blown away by the people that are in my life.

Of course I have days of insecurity, who doesn’t?  But I can honestly say I love my body, and am so grateful the gift of my health.

I love that I can be loud, and goofy, and start a dance party at the drop of a hat.  And I love that I love people, and love diving to the depths of the ocean and talking about life, God, struggles, and doubts.

I love what I do, but I know that it doesn’t define me.

I feel eager and excited for life, and what God has for me, for my community, for this world.

And I’ve finally let of the the pressure I’ve put on my life and others to have it all figured out.

It’s not really about what I’m doing; it’s about why I’m doing it.

There’s so much freedom in that.

My vision is to empower women to embrace their beauty, value, identity and worth.

Right now the vehicles for that are my photography, my blog, wriitng, and speaking.  The vehicles may change, the vision may morph, and that’s ok.

Because I know whose I am.

And I know who I am.

I know my voice matters.

That I am worthy.

That I am enough.

And guess what…so.are.you.

I believe this is the next chapter of the incredible adventure that I get to call my life.  It’s right here, right now, unfolding all around me.  On my way to the subway, or shooting a wedding, or snuggling in bed with one of my sisters, or doing acro yoga in McCarren part, or dreaming big dreams and figuring out how to make them realities…all these moments and seasons, big and almost unnoticeable collide together to take me to the next step.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t wait for the next 30 years…I have a feeling they’re going to be pretty wonderful.

XO,

Kat

P.S. Here are some shots from my Birthday weekend.  My friends + family surprised me by flying and and taking me on an adventurous weekend.  I feel so overwhelmed with the love of the people in my life!

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FEATURED | Hey Mama

July 14, 2015

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“Our mission is simple.  Connect women globally so they can collaborate, inspire and support each other in their work.  We know there are many resources out there for kids, what to buy for them, what to do with them, how to raise them and how not to. We’re not about that here. heymama is the place for a mama to focus on things that fuel her, and her passions.

Our content will be focused on the voice of the creative mother, brand builder, risk taker and go-getter.”

WAIT SAY WHAT… These ladies wanted to Feature ME? The mom with all these hopes, all these dreams, but with her hair all a mess and no snacks or extra pants packed in the diaper bag.

I’ll be the first to admit that on instagram it looks like life is pretty good over here in toddler town… but most days I just seem to be treading water. Running a photography business, trying to keep up with The Refined Woman, keeping my tiny human alive and fed and out of the tv cords, oh and starting a new styling business in my spare time. Really guys, it’s a hot mess. I’m working this thing out day by day and with much toil and tears and coffee and snuggles from my hubby and FRIENDS replaying on Netflix and beer. I am not sleeping enough, that’s for sure.

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But then again, I can’t see myself living any other life right now. My babe inspires me to be more and do more somehow. Days that I have away to work at things that fill my creative passion gives me strength to be all there for her those other days. Not that I don’t have my moments. If you have kids you know exactly what I mean. Plus last month my nanny moved and every daycare in the Bay Area has a 12 month waiting list….. really though. What is this world.

So here I am, making things work as a mom. I’d like to start sharing more of my mom life here but I think I want to know, what do you want to know? I’m an open book. Give me some prompts and I will start writing. I’m here for you, whether you’re a mom or single or a photographer or a stylist or a blogger or just a woman who wants to know what to pair with her boyfriend jeans. Hit me.

In the meantime, check out my interview on Hey Mama. It was a real treat.

xo,

Em

 

images c/o Delbarr Moradi

Ghosting…so that’s like a thing now?

July 6, 2015

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Ghosting:  The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.

No, I’m not proud of the fact that I am introducing an article by using a definition from Urban Dictionary.  But it seems appropriate in this case because I did not know what this meant until I recently experienced it.

I think sometimes people can see my life on social media and think I live this glamorous, sexy, single New York City lifestyle.  And yes, I am so grateful for the life I get to live.  I love that I get to take pictures and travel and do what I love for a living.  But I always try to remind people that the image on instagram is the one perfectly curated and edited moment of the day.  Not that it’s fake; it’s just life is not as sexy as we make it out to be online.

Most of my 20s was not filled with endless dates and boyfriends or flings.  Going out with my girlfriends on a Friday night a few things would happen:

  1. I was uninterested in meeting a guy at a bar or restaurant or anywhere really if I was out with friends.  I wanted to be hanging with muh gurlz, not meeting new people.  And here are my thoughts on dancing with a guy at da club:  really how far can it go?  It’s like you inevitably get to this point where it’s like well should we make out now? And then you do, and then you’re like ok well that was fun, bye.  And if you’re all talk like me it just gets to that awkward uhhh I gotta go to the bathroom…bye.  What I really want to do is dance by myself to Beyonce in a group of friends and not be bothered by some guy dancing up on me.  I can’t be caged.  Let me do my twirls for crying out loud.  I understand this puts guys in a weird place.  Because they want to go to clubs to meet girls.   But I just want to work on my latest moves that I learned from the Who Runs the World music video.
  2. Guys tonight it’s stay out till you makeout.  And we’d all agree YAAAAAaaAA!  Tonight we’re going to make out with a stranger at a bar.  This sounds like a great plan.  But then we’d get to said bar, and all chicken out and dance with each other.  I can only speak for myself but when the opportunity would finally arise I would always feel uneasy about it and duck out.

A kiss means a lot to me, and I don’t just give them flippantly to any guy.  For me the physical is always a shadow of something going on deeper.  So a kiss reflects that I care about you, I want to know your heart, I like you,  I want to date you.  So stay out till you make out typically ended in me doing the dougie on the dance floor with a bunch of friends, having pizza at 2 a.m., and then walking home linked arms with my best friends.  Not a bad night if you ask me.

All that to say my 20s has not been this endless parade of men that some people might think it has been.  I went almost 6 years without dating anyone or even holding a guys hand in my early 20s.  And then after a bad dating experience didn’t date for almost two years.  Until moving to New York.

You’ve read about some of my journey in Real Sex in the City Series (although I think I should officially change it to Sexless in the City).  The highs and lows, and epic moments + winters heartbreaks.  

Since I haven’t dated a ton, and now have dated more in the last year than I have in my entire 20s combined I’m learning there are some weird things that happen in the realm of dating that I had no idea about.

Like ghosting.

What the heck is ghosting?

One of my friends recently went on a few dates with this guy.  And he seemed like a good guy.  He took her on some really nice dates.  Then all of a sudden:  nothing.  She completely stopped hearing from him.

My questions:  Did he flee the country?  Is he in the hospital?  Did someone cut off his hands?  Is that why he cannot pick up his phone?  Where did he go and why did he drop off the face of the earth?

No.  He ghosted her.  This wasn’t the first time this happened to her.  She shrugged it off, while I wanted to send out a search party.  And then I asked a few other of my single girlfriends in the city, and almost all of them have experienced the same thing at some point.  So this behavior has become somewhat normal and acceptable?

Say whattttt?

Not on my watch folks.  Not on my watch.

And then lo and behold it happened to me.  (Insert gasp).

I had seen this guy a few times, and thought he was a great guy.  We’d text throughout the week little things here and there.  Nothing huge.

The last time we saw each other it was great.  Good conversations.  Movement made towards each other.  Connectedness.  Feelings seemed mutual.  A sweet good bye.  Nothing that would lead me to believe this was the last time I’d speak or see him.

Then a day went by.  Two, three days. By five days I was hurt and confused am I being ghosted?  By a week I assumed ok I guess this over?  But why does it have to happen this way?  Day 9 I was straight pissed.  Who does this guy think he is?  I felt like an idiot.  Like I had been played a fool.  And more so I felt disrespected.  Take the romantics away, to have a great connection with a new friend and then all of a sudden never hear from them again?  That’s painful and really disappointing.  No one deserves to be blown off.

Some of my friends said to just let it go.  Other friends said it deserved a conversation.  I was just straight up confused.

After two weeks of radio silence and a plethora of fake conversations in my head that included Who gave youuuuuuuuuu the right???  I finally reached out.  Maybe that makes me desperate?  Or maybe that makes me human for wanting to have a real face to face conversation?

I felt like I wasn’t just taking a stand for myself, but on principle for all people who have been the ghostee. We met up and sat outside on the curb in my neighborhood, a warm Brooklyn summer night, and had a face to face real and raw and somewhat messy conversation.  But that’s life right?  It can be messy, especially when dealing with other people’s hearts and that’s ok.  I shared with him ‘hey when you did this, this is how it made me feel’.

Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was have a conversation with a guy that obviously didn’t like me.  I didn’t want to let him know that his actions hurt my feelings.  I want to be an impenetrable superwoman.  But the reality is that it did hurt.  To remove my superwoman cape, and give myself the permission to even hurt was a huge personal breakthrough for me.  I learned it doesn’t make me weak or desperate; it makes me free.

And what I also learned is that it hurts way less to just have the conversation of hey you’re great, I’m great…but I am not interested in taking this further, than no conversation at all That is not a fun conversation to have, but in that you hold yourself high, you are treating the other person with respect and dignity, and you can walk away with your head held high.

So I’m dying to know…have you been ghosted?  What happened?  How did it make you feel?Have you ghosted someone else?   If so what were you reasons behind doing it?  Would you do it again?

I’m curious to know your thoughts!

XO,

Kat

Boss Ladies | Lauren Scruggs

July 2, 2015

Friends we are so delighted to bring you our second installment in our Boss Ladies Series! The inspiring and beautiful Lauren Scruggs.

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Em : I feel so lucky to be doing the Refined Woman with Kat. I trust her more than anyone and especially when it comes to women, Kat has this way of surrounding herself with the best, most wonderful and encouraging women I know. I feel pretty thankful to know Lauren through her and I’m just excited to share some fun things about her with ya’ll (the Texas is rubbing off on me!)

Kat : We’re both from Dallas and grew up at the same church, but our paths didn’t cross until years later when we were both chasing some dreams in the fashion world.  We had a phone date when I lived in LA, and instantly I knew this girl was a soul sister.  Since then we’ve laughed together, cried together, worked together, talked about boys, been fashion week cohorts, prayer buddies, and yes we’ve even danced to Beyonce (are you at all surprised by this?).

Here’s what I have to say about Lauren:  she’s the real deal.  She is so bright, genuine, and full of life, and I’m so honored that I get to call her a dear friend.

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15 Things You Might Not Know about Me

1. How I got started doing what I’m doing now – I have a very entrepreneurial spirit​,​ and I love​ ​​finding​ ways to encompass all of my passions. That is what led me to starting LOLO Magazine, The Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation, and an in-the-works product that is landing soon!​ I am​ also​ such a believer in sharing you​r​ story​​ and life experience, so authoring books has been such an enjoyable and deepening enterprise.
2. The dumbest thing I ever did when I was starting out was -​ not saying no enough! I always kept in mind, though, that starting something new is such a trial/error experience, so even the fails helped me learn how to do my job better! ​
3. If I was an emoji I would be the – ​laughing guy. ​
4. My last meal on earth would be – ​the sushi rolls, Mediterranean salad, and fudge sundae ​from R&D Kitchen in Dallas.
5. I can’t stand when other people -​ are late.​
6. Are you more like your mom or dad?​ My dad, but my mom and I are besties!​
7. Growing up I really wanted to be a – ​vet because I love any animal, especially mini ones. ​
8. My biggest guilty pleasure is -​ shopping online.​
9. One thing people don’t know about me – ​I love rainbow sprinkles.​
10. Most likely to – ​get lost.​
11. My spirit animal is a – ​surfer.​
12. Coffee or Tea?​ ​Tea at night is my favorite, but an almond milk latte during the day is a must!
13. Top of my bucket list is to – ​visit the tulip farms in the Netherlands.​
14. Night owl or early bird?​ I am always in bed early but stay up late!
15. The item of clothing that makes me feel like a boss is – ​My go-to black blazer.​

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Thanks so much Lauren for taking the time to share some fun stuff with us!! We love you like whoa.

 

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the amazing Jenna Kutcher last time, you can find that post here!

Photos of Lauren c/o Koury Angelo

OUTFIT Share the Love : Part II Featuring HOBO

June 29, 2015

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Photos c/o  Tutti del Monte Photography

I like fashion, but I LOVE being comfortable.

I like looking put together, but I cannot handle taking forever getting ready.  And don’t get me started on if there are too many options.  Because then I just get stressed out and try to convince my roommates that it’s totally acceptable to go dancing on a Friday night in your yoga pants…because you like don’t have to be worried about ripping your jeans (This may or may have not happened to me before while dancing to Beyonce.  I will neither confirm or deny).

Poor Em has to deal with my constant text messages with pics of myself asking ‘is this ok to wear in public?’.  (I’d be lost without her).

So it’s gotten to the point in my wardrobe where if I’m not totally in love with something then I’d rather not get it.   And I’d rather have a few go-to’s for each season that I really love then a bunch of pieces that I’m only ‘ehhh’ about.

When my friend Lauren introduced me to Hobo bags a few months ago I fell in love because

  • They’re functional:  there’s a gazillion pockets + zippers in each of their bags that are great for cards + holding all my ish.
  • They’re classic.  They definitely have fun and bold colors if you’re that girl.  But I love that they carry bags like the Daria in rose gold.  I can wear it year round, and it’s perfect for a night out dancing. Heyyoooooo!

The best part about this post is we get to GIVEAWAY 2 bags!  One for you + one for your bestie!  Check out how Em is rockin’ hers + see our instagram for details on the giveaway!

Also we’d love to hear what your favorite go-to summer look is in the comment section!  (I’m always looking for a classic summer go-to!).

XO,

Kat

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** This post is sponsored by Hobo Bags. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

OUTFIT | Share the Love : Featuring HOBO

June 28, 2015

hobo bags giveaway / the refined woman

You know how when someone compliments you on something you’re wearing, you can’t HELP but say, “Thanks!! I got it at ___________!” It’s like this compulsion and I can’t help but do it, even if it’s to some lady I don’t know complimenting me as we pass each other on the sidewalk.

That’s essentially the thing I look for in everything I wear, buy, and keep around. Things that thrill me and excite me enough to share the love.

My good friend Taylor and I always end up doing this thing where one of us will buy something great and inevitably end up texting or showing the other and saying “You NEED this.” And usually, the other one does end up buying it. Because that’s what friends are for (Apologies here to both of our husband’s and our shared bank accounts…)

We are super excited to announce that our friends at HOBO are allowing us to give away not one but TWO awesome Hobo Bags – one for you, and one for your bestie. How exciting is that?!

Check out our Instagram to enter!

Here’s my current favorite combo : my hobo bag + ace & jig onesie + preston & olivia fedora + zara slides

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xo,

Em

 

** This post is sponsored by Hobo Bags. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

The Refined Man Steals Hall Passes

June 25, 2015

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Photos c/o:  Kat Harris

During my first winter in Brooklyn my friend and I were holed up in my apartment one night and she asked me if I had read Forty Days of Dating.  Thinking that she was trying to tell me to read a book on how to date in 2013 I about punched her.  But thankfully I withheld, and she told me about this dating experiment that NYC based artists Timothy Goodman + Jessica Walsh did.  We grabbed some red wine, and by the time the night was over I was halfway done with the whole series.  (If you haven’t read Forty Days of Dating…lucky for you it’s a book now.  Get it).

What I loved though was their honest approach to creativity + commitment to using their craft as a means to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our culture. ( Not to mention they’re both crazy talented artists).  I’ve followed Timothy’s work online since, and homeboy is legit.  I all but showed up at his office with a boombox over my head as a grand gesture to see if he’d be interested in being apart of The Refined Man.  (Thankfully for his sake I didn’t do that).  He agreed.  And y’all I’m so excited to introduce this guy to you.

Timothy is incredibly talented, he’s a doer, a hustler +  passionate about using his voice to inspire others, and he likes Beyonce.  Need I say anything else?

XO,

Kat

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Who is Timothy Goodman?
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, my family didn’t have a lot of money, and my biological dad wasn’t around. As a kid, my heroes were characters like Ferris Bueller and Zack Morris, and I reveled in the idea of pulling a fast one on somebody in authority. That’s kind of how my graphic design career started: in high school.  I stole hall passes, replicated them in Microsoft Word, and printed out whole packs of them.  Later, I forged teacher’s signatures. Now, I’m still that kid in many ways. I feel like I snuck in through the back door, and now it’s too late to kick me out.

Why do you do what you do?
I want my work to continue to have a bigger dialogue with people beyond the design community. I love my clients, and I want to continue working for more great clients—but I also want to continue to make robust personal projects that challenge the boundaries between my work and my life.
I’m interested in being vulnerable as a human and my work and sharing that with an audience.

TimothyGoodman.TRM-13 How do you define success? Would you say you’re successful?
Success is about having options. I come from a working class background in Cleveland, Ohio.  A lot of folks I know aren’t particularly passionate about what they do, and many outright hate their jobs. I’m trying every thing in my will to not have a “job.” Like Common said once, “I’m rapping for my life because I’m scared of a day job.” I want to bend and twist and shake and squeeze the most out of life and my work without getting too caught up in the end game or the failures along the way. It’s about approaching this whole thing as a practice, not as a profession.

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What aspect of your work do you connect with most?
James Joyce says, “In the particular is contained the universal.” I’ve always believed that. For instance, with 40 Days of Dating, we learned that our issues are the same as millions of other people’s issues.  Because we created something that was personal to us, it touched millions of people on a universal level. Jessica and I want to continue to use our personal lives as a vehicle to tell stories and connect, and we are currently wrapping up another very robust experiment. It’s documented in a similar way to 40 Days via writing, illustration, photography and video, and we’ll release it in segments. Look for it in August.

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As artists we’ve all had seasons where we feel uninspired, but as professionals need to perform for our clients. How do you push past that + stay inspired?
When I was at SVA, a teacher of mine would say that there was no such thing as an ‘artist block.’ If you’re hitting a dead end, then just turn around and go a different way.

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Did you ever imagine that you’d be living in NYC as a professional artist? If no…what + where did you think you’d be at this point in life?
After barely graduating high school, I started working for a guy named Dave, who ran a painting and home improvement company. For three years I worked full-time and took night classes at a local community college. I moved here 11 years ago to go to design school at SVA. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted, and in many ways I still don’t, but I do know that I love it here.

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I found out about you through 40 Days of Dating + confess I read all 40 Days in 2 days. What is a personal + professional take away you have from that experience? Has this being out there helped or hurt your dating life (just personally curious)
I heard a great quote by Lena Dunham recently where she says “by sharing your own stories, you’re essentially performing a kind of activism that’s very important… by sharing things that are close to you, you will connect to other people who feel alone in the world.” 40 Days has torn down a wall I’m no longer interested in having up as a designer. We found that so many of our own experiences and fears are the same as a lot of people’s, and I want to continue to connect to people and start a dialogue through my work. I’ve also been writing a lot about my personal life through a series I call “Memories of a Girl I Never Knew” and posting it to my Instagram. It’s been amazing to see how much it’s resonated with people. I don’t think I would be sharing this stuff with such an ease if it wasn’t for 40 Days. Furthermore, 40 Days, and its residual affects, has enabled me to be honest with myself about finding a relationship with someone who’s worth it, and it’s given me a capacity for vulnerability. And with all vulnerability comes the risk of failure.

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When all is said and done what do you want to say through your art?
We’re all scared, and none of us know what we’re doing. I don’t even want to know! You get the good stuff from the unknown, from being lost, from having your back against the wall. If I can walk that tight-rope, then maybe I can feel more alive and find more meaning in my work. If we have an idea of how to inspire or to be inspired, then we can begin to connect to people, and I think connecting to someone through my work is one of the true joys. That’s what I’m in it for.

Who and/or what inspires you?
Movies, fine art, music, falling love, getting your heart broken, having a one-night stand, traveling, making mistakes, biographies, and mythology. Also, I’m slightly obsessed with pop culture.

Lastly…and most importantly…what’s your favorite Beyonce song? (don’t blow this).
Flawless! Bow down, bitches.

Love the Bod You’ve Got | Part II | Albion Fit

June 21, 2015

 

AlbionFit.Bikini.KatHarris-9 Last weekend was my roommates 30th birthday.  So a gaggle of us spent the weekend by the pool in the Hamptions.  I was so excited to lay out in my new Albion Fit swimsuit.   I mean honestly….how cute is it?

That night when I got out of the shower I noticed I had a white line across my newly golden tanned stomach.  It was from where my skin folded over when I was propped up on my towel talking all day in the sun.  I ran out to show my friends, and we all laughed.  I thought it was hilarious.  Maybe it shows me that maybe I shouldn’t eat cupcakes for breakfast, but what fun would that be?

But maybe it shows me that I’m a woman, and that my imperfections are perfectly imperfect.

I think the last time I had a thigh gap was when I was 13.  I didn’t really even know it was a thing until all that big hoopla last year.  Every step I take that my legs brush against one another is a beautiful reminder that I have strong quads and hamstrings that allow me to live this wonderful life that I have.

AlbionFit.Bikini.KatHarris-12 This strong body of mine allows me to photograph weddings on my feet for 16 hour days, and then wake up the next morning and dart to yoga then church with coffee dates in between.  Strong is the new skinny in my book.

Getting to this place was a long journey.  I won’t hide that fact that I struggled with an eating disorder in my early 20s, and lived in so much shame for a very long time that I was no size two.  And I won’t pretend that miraculously over night I started to love the skin I was in.  It took time, a lot of fighting, soul searching, counseling, and a community to encourage and love me to this place.

And now from an honest place I can say confidently I LOVE MY BODY.  I am fearfully, and wonderfully and perfectly made.

And so are you.

XO,

Kat

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Albion Fit has been so generous to give our readers a 15% discount code:  therefinedwoman15

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Check out our instagram for a giveaway of one of their amazing suits!

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This post is sponsored by:  Albion Fit + check our instagram for a giveaway of one of their awesome suits!

Photos c/o Tonhya Kae

Love the Bod You’ve Got | Featuring Albion Fit

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Maybe it’s not the most in shape bod.

Maybe you feed it more bagels than you’d like to admit.

Maybe it hasn’t bounced back in the way you thought it might after having that baby.

But it’s the only bod you’ve got!

And is it pumping oxygen and is the blood flowing through your veins and is it getting you through today?

If you answered yes to those last questions – congratulations, you’re alive. Also, you’ve got a rockin’ bod!

Ok, so somehow turning 30 has turned me into this woman sage. I have finally realized that loving my body is more of a mindset than anything else. I mean, I see myself without my clothes on, and there are lots of areas of improvement.  But when all is said and done, this bod helped grow a baby and deliver it to the world and even feed it! That is an amazing thing that I never want to lose sight of. Maybe it’s a little looser in places than I want it to be, but you know what? It’s done some hard work.

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I was actually, shockingly, not that excited to be photographed in a swimsuit when it came time to show off my new suit from Albion Fit. I LOVE this suit, but typically when I see photos of myself in a swimsuit and immediately regret that photo was ever taken and then I burn that camera for good measure.

But somehow I love these photos. I love this suit. I didn’t wear mascara. I didn’t have a chance to get a spray tan. My legs are blazing Northern California hazy summer white. But I gotta say when I see these pics, I love my bod. And that makes me want to treat it better. And it makes me want to tell you to start loving your bod today. Whatever that means. Dress it up in a new swimsuit. Get out from behind the desk and stretch your legs and lay in the sun at lunch. Whatever it takes, cause you are worth it.

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Albion Fit has been so generous to give our readers a 15% discount code:  therefinedwoman15

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Check out our instagram for a giveaway of one of their amazing suits!

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Check out our Instagram for a giveaway with Albion Fit for one of their awesome swimsuits!

xo,

Em

** This post is sponsored by Albion Fit. All opinions are our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open.

Beauty Is…Seeing the Whole Person

June 16, 2015

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Photo c/o Chaz Cruz

I’ll never forget being booked to shoot my first fashion editorial campaign in New York City a little over 6 years ago.

It was my first time being booked as head shooter.  Instead of being the runner or the assistant, I was the one with the runners and the assistants.

My client rented this huge warehouse in the city for us to shoot at.  It had these exposed brick high ceilings and scuffed up wooden floors.  It felt like the movies and I was finally playing a lead role.

As I cabbed to the shoot I kept asking myself How did I get from being a girl from the suburbs of Dallas to being a fashion photographer in New York City?  Can this really be my life?  

When I arrived on set the hair and make-up artists were setting up their tools.  Wardrobe was putting together looks, and her assistants were steaming the tens of thousands of dollars worth of gowns that we’d be shooting for the day.

As I was setting up my lighting I kept noticing our model for the day.  She was breathtaking.  She had the perfect body, and just that model look.   She belonged on the cover of magazines.  She was beautiful.

As wardrobe pulled at her clothes, and the hair stylist picked at her hair I noticed these quiet little moments where she seemed lonely and almost insecure.

And then I started to notice that no one was really talking to her as much as they were talking at her or about her pretty face.  It was almost as if she were invisible.

As the day unfolded in-between looks I started talking with her.  I asked her her name:  Kira.

I asked her where she was from, and turns out she just had a baby 2 months prior and had already walked New York Fashion Week just weeks after his birth.  She completely lit up when she talked about him.  It was like she was a different person.

She was more breathtaking in the moments when she was talking about her child than in any pose I had her in.

We just had these small 5-10 minute conversations through out the day,  but the more we talked in-between looks the more confident she was in front of the camera.

And I wondered why?

10 hours later when we were all packing up, Kira quietly came up to me, and said “No photographer has ever asked me my name on set.  Thank you.”

She gave me a hug and quietly headed out to her cab.

And I stood there stunned.

What was it about me asking this girls name that made her so grateful?

Culture focuses on one facet of beauty:  the body.  And that can be beautiful, but the reality is that it’s only part of the story.

And isn’t it interesting that this perfectly beautiful model almost could care less when her pretty face was being photographed or talked about.   But the second I paused to ask her her name she came alive.

When we collide with someone or something that is beautiful it’s almost like we’ve been given this invitation to see a bigger, more whole picture.

Maybe there’s something significant about our names.  Maybe I am not beautiful because of what I look like.  But because of who I am.

Is it possible that beauty could encompass more than the skin we live in?  If this were true how would it impact your day to day living?

XO,

Kat