Category Archives: Reclaiming Beauty Queens

Open Letter to OkCupid

Did you ever wonder how a Reclaiming Beauty Queen like myself would fill out the ‘body type’ question on an online dating profile? Well, here you go!



Open letter to the OkCupid community,

So, yes, I have not been straightforward about these “body type” questions. Diving into this whole online dating experience, I find this aspect of the process the most challenging… feeling vulnerable about that initial judgment of my appearance. I am not immune to this practice. I definitely have a body type that I am attracted to… I would like a man who is active in his body, is taller than me, strong, and in whose arms I can feel embraced.  I am sexy, I want a sexy man, and that is what is sexy to me. I do not feel a need to apologize for my preferences and do not ask you to, either. But since this question, in particular, is a part of my work as a self-declared champion for women reclaiming beauty, and also has been part of the reason I am on OkCupid in the first place, I feel the need to elaborate beyond the drop down box. So, here it goes.

First of all, I respectfully request OkCupid to add “Temple for my Spirit” as an option in the drop down box, and if you think this is more than a little corny, you are not for me. Of the available options, ‘Temple for my Spirit’ is what I would click.

As for the provided options:

Rather Not Say – Well, I am saying it now

Thin – No

Overweight – According to the BMI, but I do not 100% believe in the BMI because a tall, large-breasted, athletic woman like myself shows up as “overweight” at a much lighter weight than she should otherwise since there is no accounting for variation in bone structure or percentage of muscle, which is heavier than fat. This aspect of the BMI perpetuates women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies and gives healthcare providers inaccurate fuel towards a woman placing the focus on unrealistic weight guidelines rather than her health. I would prefer “Healthy weight for your height” and then this one I would click.

Skinny – no

Average – No… and who wants to be considered average?!? The variation in body type and our unique response of attraction and desire to each is what is yummy about this “body type” question in the first place. If you see yourself as “average” and clicked average, you are not for me.

Fit – Yes. I can navigate my way through a Bikram Yoga class 3 times a week. Go take a class now and then tell me if you think that is fit. I hike, bike, actively play with my 3 year old son and garden. I can do a handstand at the wall. I can run at least a mile on any given day without working on it, and can build up to running long distances pretty quickly when I am focusing on that type of fitness.

Athletic – Yes. Bikram yoga is athletic. I have STRONG legs that could probably kick your ass if you piss me off. I played soccer and ran throughout my formative years and my legs are athletic. I love how strong they are. I love that they are my physical and metaphorical grounding cord.

Jacked – Not interested in being jacked. Not attracted to jacked, if you clicked this one. Jacked often suggests vanity, but hey, feel free to argue with me on this one. Jacked also often suggests an over development of the masculine principle in both men and women, and if you clicked this one and want to talk about finding balance with the feminine principle, I can provide some referrals!

A Little Extra – My belly, yes. My breasts, yes. But hey, you might like this feature. I have had a child, and I have a soft, rounded belly with stretch marks and a scar I am proud of and value for the story they tell. These are vulnerable parts of myself, parts for which I seek my own approval. I would especially appreciate a person who has an appreciation for these aspects of my body type. I feel that is what we are all on here longing for anyway… finding a person who appreciates the vulnerable parts of ourselves.  Therein lies the metaphor of the ‘body type’ question.

Curvy – Yes. And proud. I am a woman, after all.

Full-Figured – Top half.

Used Up – Never.

I promise I am not this fiery about everything… I am actually a real sweetheart. But what I am passionate about, I am passionate about, and bodies are at the top of the list.

With sweet fire,


If you feel inspired, please share in the comments below how you would respond to the ‘body type’question!

Taking A Little Piece of Janis

Skills: Reclaiming Beauty Queens

from Contributor: Laura Eshelman 

Not long after I turned 27 last May, I was spending the witching hour wide-awake.  An awful lot was weighing on my mind at a time when I did not have the proper spiritual equipment or physical brain cell activity to process it; withdrawn from graduate school in poor health, in no position to work, and suspended in a waiting game which would largely determine the next direction of my life, my sense of purpose was on the fritz. So, I did what plenty of artistic loons do:  got a tattoo.  It was my third, but the only one borne of such spontaneity.

In the wake of my birthday, I’d been thinking about Janis Joplin, who’d perished at that same age.  Given the circumstances, I might have simply felt envious that she was in the ground, but I think that I was mostly musing over how iconic she remains 40 years after the apex of her career and how she’s done it quite well post-mortem.  Once voted “Ugliest Man on Campus”, pre-fame Janis fled Texas A&M University in the 1960s to dominate the burgeoning San Francisco counterculture scene, did Monterey Pop, then Woodstock, and subsequently wound up with every hippy in America kissing her many, many rings.  The same decade that brought us Twiggy also delivered a woman whose husky visceral vocal prowess when singing the blues tricked radio listeners into thinking she was black; if Janis Joplin owned a scale or mirrors, she sure as hell wasn’t using them to manage insecurity about her appearance.

Despite her recognition on the scene, it’s still hard to categorize precisely where Janis fit in among her contemporaries.  She did not exude the pretty docility of folk movement belles like Joni Mitchell, Michelle Phillips, or Mary Travers, and her soulfulness was too untamed for the Motown-likes of Aretha or the Supremes.  In fact, Janis had far more in common musically and in character with the wilder long-haired male rockers of the day. Yet, for all of her cussing and Southern Comfort-swilling, she never once sacrificed her femininity.  If there was a woman-hear-me-roar contest of the era, Janis would have given Gloria Steinem a run for her money.

Long before I recognized her significance in any kind of a feminist framework, I’d become Janis-struck after leafing through my parents’ vinyl collection in high school and discovering Cheap Thrills and Pearl, adding her to my ever-expanding constellation of 1960s music idols.   I kept a poster of her throughout high school and college on my wall in which she leans right-side with enormous sunglasses and an impish grin on her face, feathers in her hair, and about a bazillion beads draped around her.  Her shirt’s neckline hangs quite low, and my mom once joked that it was the reason my dad helped me hang the poster.  This particular image is one of the only photographs where you can see the tattoo on her left wrist.  I know, because I hunted far and wide for existing ones online when I decided at 3 a.m. that I wanted the same one.

One day few weeks later, after life decided to offer some clemency, the lovely therapist I had begun to see explained the “return of Saturn” phenomenon, which occurs roughly every 27 years.  According the astrological lore, this period—wherein the planet supposedly completes its full orbit around the sun—is one of painful change, tribulation, and stumbles.  These changes have the potential to be one’s undoing; correlation apart from causation, it is notable that Janis Joplin was not alone among a slew of legends who also succumbed to tragedy age 27, from Jimi Hendrix, to Kurt Cobain, to Amy Winehouse.  Nevertheless, Saturn’s return is an equally fertile time for introspection, growth, and positive transitions.

Although Janis was ultimately less than successful at following her oft-invoked sage advice, “Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got, man,” a look at my left wrist now serves as a gentle reminder of that.  Saturn hasn’t yet run its full course with me, and ornamental Florentine design has become a note-to-self to not let it get the better of me, that this too shall pass, and will hopefully leave me with valuable resources when it’s all over.  If nothing else, the Lord never did get the opportunity to buy Janis a Mercedes Benz, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that patience will pay off somehow.

About the Contributor: Laura Eshelman is a 2008 alumna of UNC Asheville and graduate student at UC Denver, completing her master’s degree in criminal justice.  She is an avid hula hooper, hiker, camper, and writer.  Laura aspires to incorporate her passion for social justice advocacy into a career when she grows up. You can read more about her recovery journey and the foods that delight her on her blog: Would You Do This At Home?

Saving Hearts In Need of Embrace with Music, Tennis, & Cornhole

Be a Part of the Making of A Recovery CD!

from Contributor: Kimberly Brown

Have you ever been to prison?  Have you ever been barricaded by the grey walls… locked inside the chained doors?  Have you ever not been able to enjoy and appreciate nature…the sunlight, great moments with friends and family?

Well, I have been to prison…actually, sometimes I still willingly go there to feel safe, to hide inside the grey walls of known territory.

This is not the prison that most would assume I am talking of.  This is a different prison… something that I like to call “The Prison of Ed”.

Now, I want you to reread the first question that I asked and see if you have a different answer.  I know for a fact that many of you will answer “yes.”

Eating disorders affect so many individuals in our society today.  Approximately eight million Americans are suffering from this debilitating disease.  The intensity of the disorder is so complex, and the resources available are limited. One out of every five people diagnosed with an eating disorder will die from complications due to or resulting from their eating disorder.

Logan and I have many passions, we have goals, and we have dreams.  When in prison, we never imagined that we would be able to reach these dreams.  Logan and I were so lucky to be able to get treatment at the Tapestry Comprehensive Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Brevard, NC last year (around this same time, actually!).  As roommates, we developed a strong friendship and sisterhood.

Logan and I are committed to helping other men and women who struggle with eating disorders, and we pledge to help support health and recovery.  We are in the process of developing our first project:

We are making a recovery CD! 

The songs we have written are recovery inspired and have been developed through our own recovery.  We want to use our music to inspire and give hope to men and women struggling with eating disorders – or any addiction in general.

In order to do this, we need your help through money donations ( and even words of encouragement would be awesome!  We are also hosting a CORN HOLE AND TENNIS TOURNAMENT FUNDRAISER on Saturday, October 20th at Kings College in Bristol, TN.  To register for the corn hole tournament, the cost is $30 per team. For the tennis tournament, it is $20 for singles and $30 for doubles.  If you are able to come, please do!  We need spectators, too!

On another note, I would like to congratulate my sister and best friend for her amazing accomplishment!  The main reason that I am coming down to visit is to go with Logan to the Inspirational Country Christian Music awards in Nashville, TN.  Logan was invited to perform her amazing songs at the pre-show after making it on the Country Christian Music Chart this month!

Please contact me ( or Logan ( if you would like to sign up for the tournaments, donate, or if you have any questions.  We are so excited to be doing what we are passionate about… No more prison for us!!

 About the Contributor: Kimberly Brown (formerly known as Kimberly Jones) and Logan Gillen are the founding members of the future organization SHINE (Saving Hearts In Need of Embrace). As two women in recovery from eating disorders, they want to share their stories and reach out to those who are struggling with this silent killer.  The mission of SHINE is to educate and spread awareness, while helping society start a path towards health.

Image: What Makes My Heart Sing on Facebook

Be Brave Enough

A special post to honor a Reclaiming Beauty Queen…

Hail Princess Merida, Reclaiming Beauty Queen! It is not just your flaming red hair that makes me love you so, although when I see you I do feel like that is the hair I was supposed to be born with. No…it is your fiery passion for life, your wild spirit and your unwillingness to accept external circumstances taking away your power and freedom. May we all shoot for our own hand!

 Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.

(from Merida, and p.s. from Heidi… Be brave enough to take action!)

In the comments below, please share with us what one BRAVE action step you will be taking today to change your fate on your Reclaiming Beauty journey.


Hot Tip Tuesday: Amy Steinberg Comes to Asheville this Weekend!

Amy Steinberg: Reclaiming Beauty Queen

I would never be the same after the first time I saw Amy Steinberg perform at the Grey Eagle in 2008. I loved her music and lyrics and presence and her unapologetic authenticity as she shared her beauty with us. I felt comforted to hear my own  spirituality put into words. I smiled with the knowing of being in the presence of a Reclaiming Beauty Queen. This description from her biography captures the experience brilliantly:

Amy Steinberg is a song-slinging, mood-shifting, wild-woman with the power to lift you up and soothe your spirit. Listening to a Steinberg cd or going to a live show is like popping a potent happy pill, or like experiencing a two-week long soul-healing retreat, or like pure, divine, transformational magic. However you are feeling before you press play or walk in, you are bound to feel even better after experiencing Amy’s presence and listening to her words of whimsy and wisdom.

Check out this song,  Beautiful in Me, which could be a Reclaiming Beauty theme song. She says, “This song is about falling in love with yourself and then saying ‘No!’ to those voices that tell you that you’re less than a magical, perfect, miracle that you are.”


I’m a Queen. I’m a Goddess. I’m a Genius. I’m a Love Light in this world.

Her song ‘Exactly’ became an unofficial theme song at Tapestry for a while, encouraging connection to true Self and belief in making meaning out of your journey – no matter where it is taking you.


i am exactly where i need to be – i need to be exactly where I am – i am divinely timed and shining brightly – yes i believe there is a purpose just for me – yes I believe that we are light – and we shine infinitely

She will be performing in Asheville this Friday, December 16th – 8pm at the Firestorm Cafe. Hope to see some of you Beauties out at the show! If you’re not local, check out her website for more music and Reclaiming Beauty inspiration.

Peace, Love, Free,

~ Heidi

Reclaiming Beauty Queen

Beauty Found Collage Card (2011)

Last week we finished up the Fall 2011 Reclaiming Beauty Playshop with a ritual designed to share our Beauty Found stories and commit to self-compassion (being our own Inner Mother). It felt good to come around full circle from our explorations of Original Beauty and Beauty Lost. In honor of Kore’s (and our own) transformation to Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, we ate pomegranate seeds and celebrated the gifts of the Underworld.

I loved engaging in the process with this group. My Beauty Found card incorporated an image of the Queen of Wands from the Thoth Tarot deck. The Queen of Wands represents mastery of Self-Knowledge. Here is what Angeles Arrien says about this symbol in The Tarot Handbook:

The Queen of Wands is the knower of the Self. This symbol represents self-mastery and the process of self-reclamation. Her process of transformation and self-actualization can best be described by the story she represents of a woman who, before she knew who she was, had black hair and walked with a panther by her side. As she began to discover more of who she was, her hair turned brown and the panther changed to a leopard. When she fully realized who she was and began to manifest who she was in the world with her pine cone wand, her hair turned fiery red. At this stage of self-knowledge, she pinched the growth marks of the leopard to prevent it from transforming into a beautiful lion that would have matched her self-knowledge because she wanted a reminder of the dark places from whence she had come (the spots of the leopard). This myth represents the process of self-discovery and the splendor of awakening to the deepest essence of who we are (the radiant crown).

I firmly believe that my time in the Underworld led me to the person I am today. I love how this card honors the dark places we have been in our lives as the fuel for awakening to our essence – a process that for me represents reclaiming connection with our beauty. Included in my image are the words “beautiful strength” to represent the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength that is a part of my beauty. I also included a reminder to “be satisfied.” From my study of the Enneagram and learning about my Enneatype, Type 4, the Individualist, I have been able to cultivate mindfulness of the habit of my mind of looking for what is missing. This focus of attention ultimately leads me to dissatisfaction and depression. Through a practice of shifting the focus to the blessings of what is in front of me everyday (without abandoning skills in getting my needs met), I have been able to challenge the perceived emptiness of dissatisfaction. Yay! for self-knowledge to help emancipate (myself) from mental slavery  and celebrate the beauty surrounding me in my life.

I also included the Om symbol to represent the role of my yoga practice in my healing journey.

A shout out to other factors that continue to lead me to Beauty Found:

my husband, son, sisters, parents, friends who mirror my true Self qualities back to me every day ~ making meaning out of my struggles by being a light for others ~ forgiveness of myself and others ~ music ~ the beauty of nature ~ creativity ~ moving towards better health everyday ~ love

What are the “spots of the leopard” in your life that have led you to deeper Self-Knowledge? What/who do you want to honor that has helped lead you on a journey of reclaiming a sense of your own beauty? Create your own Beauty Found collage card and share it with us!

I hope that you will consider joining a Reclaiming Beauty Playshop in the future. The next one will most likely start in February 2012. Stay connected through this blog, on facebook, or through subscribing to the newsletter to keep updated of the latest offerings.

I honor the beauty in you from the beauty in me,

~ Heidi

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