Cool Girls with Tag: author

Megan Jayne Crabbe is Back!

Name: Megan Jayne Crabbe
Age: 26
Location: Essex, UK
Occupation: Author, influencer and advocate for body positivity and mental health awareness

A few years ago, we profiled Megan Jayne Crabbe, aka bodyposipanda, and gave her serious kudos for all of her body positive social media love. Today, we asked Megan to be our first ever repeat Cool Girl in honor of National Self-Confidence Day on March 26th.

In the time following our initial interview, Megan Jayne Crabbe has become a blogger at The Unedit, been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, and has written a book, Body Positive Power. Still, with a larger platform and the label of being an Instagram influencer, she remains the same down-to-earth, accessible, utterly lovable human being.

“I’m still living a bit of a double life between being an influencer and also remaining a caregiver for my older sister Gemma. I’m definitely still just as much of a dog lady and I’m still dancing around in my underwear on the internet!” she says.

The immediacy and transparency of living life online hasn’t always been easy, however.

“A lot of my personal growth over the last couple of years has come from adjusting to the highs and lows of existing on the internet,” Megan admits. “I’ve always said that as someone who struggles with anxiety and self-doubt in the ways I do, I’m not really made for this world. A lot of putting yourself out there online is dealing with hundreds of people every day telling you who they think you are – good or bad – and it’s super hard not to lose your own sense of who you are in that. I’m definitely better at keeping hold of that now and trusting that I know who I am better than strangers on social media do, but it’s been a real journey!”

Over the course of nine months, Megan wrestled with aforementioned anxiety, and many pots of coffee, in order to create Body Positive Power, her new book that is largely an inspirational autobiography.

“I was just trying to pass along the things I’d learned in my own body acceptance, with a bit of sass and a lot of straight talk about diet culture. I’m so thankful people have connected with it the way they have and used it to start reclaiming their body and a life that isn’t filled with hunger and self-hatred,” she says.

The healing power of the writing process, as well as the perks of her personality being at the forefront of the mainstream body positivity movement, has led to a lot of transformation.

“I’m never done learning. There are always ways to be a better advocate, make my message more pure, and hold myself accountable for that. But there also has to be a lot of room for self-forgiveness when you don’t get it right, which is often,” she says.

When it comes to navigating the often cruel ocean of social media, Megan has a bevy of sage, hard-learned advice.

“I think it’s on each of us to treat the people on our timelines as full human beings. So much of what makes social media toxic is that it enables us to put people into one-dimensional boxes of who we want them to be. In reality, we’re all more than our social media, we have more going in our lives, we make mistakes, we screw up, we learn. We have to allow the people we follow to be human. And when it comes to the straight up trolls who just want to spread hate – block on sight, they’re not worthy of your time or energy,” Megan says.

“Also, the same as always, what you see everyday has a huge effect on how you see yourself. We should all be regularly curating our social media feeds to be full of inspiration rather than negative comparison. We should be conscious of what we’re reading and what we’re watching, we deserve to feel represented in the media we consume and we don’t need anything in our lives convincing us that our bodies are wrong. Follow a diverse range of humans online, watch shows with casts of strong characters whose differences are celebrated, throw out the photoshopped magazine covers. Curate what you consume as much as you can so that the messaging you’re getting is that you’re good enough as you are,” she adds.

As for the average young woman, Megan empowers everyone to ditch the self-hate.

“We are all affected by diet culture, fatphobia and beauty ideals in some way, and we deserve to have our feelings recognized and understood. Find the people who will fight back with you, whether they’re in real life, online, on podcasts or even in books! You really aren’t alone in this.”

And what advice does the passionate and compassionate new author have to pass along to each of us in honor of National Self-Confidence Day?

“When I was learning about why we hate our bodies and where that comes from, I realized that it is so much bigger than you or me. Our cultural body dissatisfaction is something that we’ve been taught since we were children, by thousands of messages we take in every day about beauty, weight and worth.

We didn’t ask to live in a world that values how we look over who we are. And it’s not our fault that we feel the way we do. Once you really believe that you can let go of the blame you’re holding against your body and get angry at the real culprit: diet culture! Unrealistic beauty standards! Patriarchy! I think self confidence ultimately is about refusing to see yourself as anything less than what you’re worth, which is the absolute world.”

For her constant body positivity, and being a light for everyone who is yearning to grow in self-love and acceptance, we think Megan Jayne Crabbe is a very Cool Girl! Check out Body Positive Power and Megan’s advice column, as well as her Instagram and website.

Lucy Knisley

Lucy1Name: Lucy Knisley
Age: 31
Location: Chicago, IL
Occupation: Graphic novel artist and author

Author and artist Lucy Knisley has been at the drawing board since she was a kid. She began publishing comics in her college newspaper at the age of nineteen, and published her first graphic novel with Simon & Schuster at twenty-one years old! Employing a literary agent, and asking for advice from fellow comic artists more seasoned on the business end, she was able to navigate the publishing world with aplomb, putting out several books and contributing to many publications and anthologies. This past year she put out another work, called Something New, and her most recent edition…a baby! (Lucy and her husband John Hortsman welcomed their son to the world in June.)

“Everything in life is an opportunity to experience something new and to write about it and make artwork, so I’m hoping this one doesn’t totally wipe me out with exhaustion!” Lucy said, prior to the baby’s delivery. One thing is certain, motherhood is something – like travel, food, and marriage – that Lucy will lend her ink, wit, and wisdom to on the page and the web.

Lucy2At an early age, Lucy channeled the inspiration she gleaned from reading comic books into making her own, scribbling out her own fan comics related to the Archie series, and using her craft to interpret her experiences as she grew up.

After her education she continued to create, and this multi-talented lady didn’t decide to go the tres chic “starving artist” route of suffering for her craft. Lucy chose to structure her art as though it were a conventional job, and by creating a routine she was able to cultivate professional clout.

“I think the insecurity and doubt everyone faces early on in a profession is tough to overcome,” she explains. “In the arts, it’s impossible to feel confident about the future when you’re at the beginning, and it took me years of working and developing my practice to gain the confidence to feel secure in what I do. It’s helped considerably to make myself keep to a regular office schedule, and to treat drawing and writing as a career, rather than a passion. It’s important to me that I feel respect for my own work, and important for others to understand that it’s a respectable job,” Lucy explains.

RelishLucy’s work is reflective and autobiographical—be it about growing up with a chef mom in Relish, jet-setting around the world in An Age of License, family and a cruise vacation in Displacement, or the mayhem that becomes marriage in Something New, she uses her own experiences and perspective to weave touching, universal works of comic art.

When she’s asked to reflect on the part of the process that is the most dear to her, Lucy is able to come up with a decisive answer.

“The inking stage of a comic. That’s when the possibility of a blank page, ready to be filled by the developed idea, is particularly exciting, and I can watch the comic take shape,” she says.

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As for advice for young people who are trying their hands at making art, she has some simple, common-sense gems to bestow.

“Just work at it until it gets a little bit easier. And hydrate! And remember to take breaks and eat and pay attention to your body’s needs, like getting outdoors or moving or sleeping. You’ll not benefit from neglecting your body – it’s the basic tool that you need to do your job!”

Moreover, she believes that asking your peers for guidance and support is what is really key to the process.

“Other girls and women in cool professions are the best and greatest resource you can possibly imagine. Hold up your fellow lady, and your fellow lady will hold you up! My editor, agent, and most successful colleagues are all women I love and believe in, and I’m always meeting more incredible women and girls who blow me away with their talent and generosity,” Lucy beams. “It can be a tough and unfair world sometimes, but knowing you’ve got an arsenal of great ladies at your back can make all the difference in dealing with the nonsense.”

Lucy Knisley is one creative Cool Girl! Congratulations, Lucy and John, on the birth of your son!

Eugenia Cheng

Name: Eugenia Cheng
Age: 38
Location: Chicago
Occupation: Mathematician and pianist

eugenia-piano-resize-200Britain-born Eugenia Cheng knew at a young age that she wanted to be a mathematician or pianist, but didn’t know that she would grow up to be a wild success at both. Today Eugenia has brought her love of math to ink and paper, writing a new book on the subject called How to Bake Pi.

As a child, she began playing piano at only three years old, and couldn’t find a teacher willing to instruct such a young student until she was the age of five. She also started playing violin at three, but preferred the piano due to how self-sufficient it could be. “Which is funny because now my favorite thing to do with the piano is collaborate with singers,” Eugenia says.

As for her love beyond music, her attraction to mathematics also began at an early age, and that natural, youthful curiosity still hasn’t quit.
eugenia-cake-resize-200“I think I never stopped being the toddler who keeps asking the question ‘Why?’ until all the adults are fed up with them! For me, mathematics provides the most satisfying and irrefutable answers to the question ‘Why?’ at the end of a long string of ‘Whys’,” she explains. But that’s not to say that getting older and more proficient with her skills has made things less vivacious or fun. “The best thing about being an adult is that nobody can really tell me what to do! I can eat chocolate for breakfast, eat ice cream in midwinter, and stay up all night if I feel like it,” she jokes.

While music and math may seem different, Eugenia sees the similarities. “There is a lot of structure in music that is very mathematical to me, but that’s also because to me mathematics is all about structure,” she says. But she also sees how certain artists, like Bach, Wagner, and Chopin, jive with the more creative, less linear parts of her thought process.

eugenia-illuminated-resize“For me personally, music is relief from mathematics,” she admits. “Math is all about logic; music is all about emotion. I balance myself out with those two opposite extremes.” Much like finally solving a complex problem, uniting both of her loves is about striking a harmonious chord!

One might expect such a successful author, mathematician, and musician to have to conform to a disciplined, dull schedule to maximize every hour of the day, but Eugenia keeps her daily life fairly unrestricted, save for a little bit of routine to keep her sleep habits in line with the waking world. “My favourite bedtime is 4am, and then I get up around 9 or 10. However at the moment I’m trying to get up at 6:30am, I then force myself not to look at my phone or computer but to sit and think about pure research for a while,” she says. The rest of a typical day is spent writing and editing, cooking, exercising, practicing piano, and socializing.

eugentia-bagel-resizeEugenia’s next missive is to illuminate some of the lesser-known aspects of the math world, and to reach out to those who may feel distanced from the field itself. She hopes to show people how math can be both “fun and beautiful, not that awful hated subject in high-school.” Her goal is not just to educate, but to inspire. And to young women in particular who might be struggling to find their footing in the world of mathematics, Eugenia has some clever words of wisdom, “Remember: a lot of boys who say they find it easy are actually getting it all wrong!”

As for the future, Eugenia has big dreams, but for someone as talented as her they’re more than possible, they’re as probable and logical as math itself. “I hope to reach more and more people with both mathematics and music, and break down unnecessary boundaries around things so that everyone can share the things I love most,” she says. “I also hope we can get to a point where we don’t need female role models any more, because everyone knows that women can do all the things that men can do.”

For her inspiring triumphs in both mathematics and music, and for writing books that trigger thought and discussion, we think Eugenia Cheng is one Cool Girl!

Gail Grossman

gailyoga
Name: Gail Grossman
Age: 48
Location: Port Washington, NY
Occupation: Yoga Teacher, Yoga Studio Owner, Author

A thriving business owner and a zen-like yoga practitioner are two spheres that are hard to imagine converging, but studio maven, author, mom, and yogini are all different facets to the same shining diamond that makes up Gail Grossman of Long Island, New York! This bendy and butt-kicking business maven just recently wrote a book, Restorative Yoga for Life, that’s blazing trails for blissing out, and she shares her joy of the practice with her students every day. “I love the practice, and that’s why I wanted to share with others, I truly get “high” from their energy!” she says.

And a “high” is right, as Gail has a self-admitted yoga addiction! “I was practicing Pilates. My trainer thought I would like yoga and took me to a class,” she explains, reminiscing about her first foray. “I was hooked from the first time I came to my mat.”

At Gail’s studio, Om Sweet Om, she teaches five classes per week, in addition to a bunch of private sessions for students, some in their homes. While she loves all styles of yoga, it’s the restorative practice and its ability to ground both body and mind that she’s most known for touting. And learning to back off of a vigorous, athletic practice is what helped her to discover new dimensions of her practice, both as a student and as a teacher. It all began with an injury…

gailardha“I was doing something in a way I shouldn’t have. I was compensating and moved my body in a way that wasn’t very conscious. I pulled my hamstring right at the sitting bones and it took a very long time to heal, so I had to back off from my practice. Ultimately this was a gift! I had a better understanding of the injuries that my students dealt with, and it made me a better teacher,” she explains.

Other than a daily practice, “even just fifteen minutes,” Gail manages a busy schedule of family, yoga, and managing her studio.

“I try to take Mondays off; I’ll take a class and deal with my errands. The rest of the week I work. I have a combination of working from home, answering e-mails, and writing. I handle all of the studio management stuff from home, because I get more done! I try to spend time at the studio just hanging out with students and teachers whenever I’m available,” she says. “Some of the ups and downs I’m learning to get a handle on, and minimize, since I have no control over them!” she smiles. Spoken like a true guru!
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In December, Gail’s first book, Restorative Yoga for Life, was published, and since then she’s penned articles for Yoga Journal, and will even speak at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York this coming April. She also leads teacher trainings at the studio and heads international trainings for adults to teach yoga to children through YogaKids.

“I still feel like I have so much more to do, though,” Gail says. “I’m really open to whatever comes my way. I love what I do. I never get bored with yoga, there’s always something to discover. The body is a complicated vehicle for our personal growth; we’re always changing and so are our bodies. That excites me! Constantly discovering new things keeps it fresh.”

For bending but never breaking, we think that Gail Grossman is one Cool Girl!

To learn more about Gail’s work, you can check out her website, and if you’re in the New York area, drop by Om Sweet Om to take a class!