Beauty tips I learned from my dad

My self confidence is something my dad has always invested himself in. From building my confidence to enter a middle school talent show to my decision to get bangs (never again), my dad has unfailingly been my support. Beauty is a huge part of my life and while I learned many things from my mom and older sister, my dad has taught me somethings along the way, as well.

Don’t be afraid to show some skin.

Growing up in Utah County undoubtedly held back my desire to show off my shoulders, let alone any other portion of my skin. I think back on my 12th birthday. The gift I received from my parents was a trip to Anthropology and getting to pick out whatever dress I wanted. At this age, fashion and beauty were at the horizon of my mind so I was obviously hypnotized by the delicate laces, detailed embroidery and simple designs of every garment in that store. But one dress caught my eye. It was a brightly colored, floral tank dress that flowed a few inches above my knee. I was almost too embarrassed to ask for this dress because it went against my church’s modesty standards so instead of picking it off the racks, I left it. My dad noticed my eyes relentlessly wandering back to the dress and decided to pick it up himself and told me to try it on. As I was in the dressing room, mesmerized by the fabric and fit, I told my parents that I could wear a shirt underneath so my shoulders would be covered and that I could wear leggings so my legs wouldn’t be on display. My dad scoffed and said, “it’s just a leg!” He was right. It was just a leg and just a shoulder and with those few words, I felt liberated. I shouldn’t let anything hold me back from what I really want. Needless to say, we bought that damn dress.

Get some sun, girl.

Although extensive exposure to the sun can cause damage, my parents aren’t afraid. My mom and dad could spend all day in the hot sun doing yard work or lounging on the porch, and they do; all the time. Say what you will about the sun, I don’t regret a single freckle on my face.

Lotion is key.

My dad loves Baby Magic. You know that powdery smelling lotion you put on infants? My dad lathers on that stuff after every shower he takes. Although the Baby Magic aroma is not one I prefer, the lesson remains. I can’t think of a time I got out of the shower and didn’t smother my body in lotion.

Even though my dad hates skinny jeans and makeup (it’s an art form, dad) he still supports me in everything I do. I am so blessed to have a father in my life who wants me to feel pretty and happy. My dad is nothing short of a fierce feminist. Happy Father’s day, dad.

Modest is NOT Hottest

I want to introduce this topic in the most basic form; Oxford Dictionary. Yes, a dictionary definition could be the most cliché article preface of all time, but there are few things that bring me similar satisfaction (other than peeling off a scab at the perfect stage…but that’s gross).

“Modest: (Of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.”

Notice the first bit of the definition, “Modest: (Of a woman).” This guides us to the conclusion that modesty or “decency” is in the hands of the female. Interesting.

Modesty is taught to girls at some of the youngest stages of their lives. I recall having lessons in church as a teenybopper 12-year-old about staying modest. I was told not to let my shoulders show and to always cover my knees because my body’s a temple and I must respect it. But why must we define respect with a piece of fabric? Since when does wearing a tank top make me lose respect for myself? I’ve pulled an example from the LDS website which may give you an idea of what I was told as a girl.

“If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?””

To be honest, I don’t think Jesus could care less about my clothes, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. My point is, why is the topic of modesty drilled into girls brains and not into those of young men?

While the concept of modesty does not start nor end with religion, it is hard to ignore the impact the organizations have had over the subject.

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

Although braided hair and pearls do not lessen a woman’s modesty today, the principal is the same. Women hold the duty of self-control.

There is this sort of disconnect, gray area if you will, surrounding modesty and gender.

Men can take their shirts off, no problem. Men can lounge the poolside in a speedo letting the nylon carve everything out. When the tables are turned however, the standard is changed. If a women takes her shirt off, she’s promiscuous. When a women wears a bikini, she’s asking for the wrong attention. Obviously.

This image from Harper’s Bazaar was shown to girls in 1868 and illustrated the length a girls’ skirt must be as her age increased. As silly as this may seem to us now, society still holds women to a certain standard, which in my opinion, is restricting and degrading. Setting limitations on what a person can and cannot do with their own body is potentially damaging to anyone, but it was certainly destructive to me. 

I was scared to wear shorts that came up past my knees or dress in a top that showed even the very tips of my shoulders. But the thing was, I liked wearing shorts and tank tops and didn’t feel any less decent while wearing them. But this desire made me feel shame because regardless of how good the clothes made me feel, I was being “immodest” and “disrespectful of my Heavenly Father.” Not only was God ashamed, but I was making it hard for the boys around me to keep pure thoughts. Yep, you read that correctly. I was making it difficult for men to be righteous.

When will we start realizing that women’s clothing does not control the actions of men?

A tank top does not make a person whistle at a passing girl. Shorts do not cause a person to grab a woman’s leg. A bikini does not tell anyone that it is okay to touch her. The only thing responsible for the action is the offender.

As I got older, I started to wear what made me feel comfortable and cute because I shouldn’t have to dress for anyone but myself. I am the owner of my body, my property, my mansion. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have curtains on my windows. It doesn’t matter if my back yard isn’t fenced in. That does not give others the right to enter without permission.

Regulating the “pure thoughts” of men is none of my business. I should not hold the responsibility of how someone might react to me wearing a piece of fabric on my body. They have the agency to think and feel however they would like to when they see a woman’s thigh.

We need to stop teaching girls that in order to get the right attention, to be pure, or to be decent, they must cover their legs, shoulders, chests, and backs. We should be helping girls feel comfortable and proud of everything that they are because if we don’t, we are indirectly teaching them to feel guilty about having a female body. Alternatively, we should be teaching boys to respect a person no matter what they choose to wear.

Incase we need a reminder, humans have legs, humans have breasts and humans all have an ass. And you know what? They are amazing!

It is time to dismiss our fear of the female body and embrace the beauty of it instead.









The Mormon Church Made Me Hate Myself

Hello and welcome to the two-part (or possibly three-part depending on how much I want to rant) series of my journey through Mormonism. This piece has been years in the making as my pilgrimage has been a thorough one. The topic of religion has reigned heavily over me for the past few years and although it is a difficult topic for some, it is one that requires intense exploration.

I grew up in what is called the Mormon Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the LDS church or my personal favorite, The Church (as if it is the only one that exists lol). Growing up in this church entails going to a Sunday session of a one-hour jointed sacrament and a two-hour breakout session depending on your age and gender. Throughout the week you are also expected to participate in an activity with your peers doing service, hanging out, reading scriptures, etc. As a young woman, I remember evenings baking bread, assembling blankets, and making hats. Very gender role based. 

I spoke with some males about what they remember participating in as young men in the church. They recall going tubing down the river, going on boating trips, building sheds, shooting, playing sports and of course, giving women priesthood blessings. Again, very gender role based.

This very gender separation is what first sparked my interest.

I began to look into gender roles taught by the LDS church and the word “priesthood” kept shouting at me. Priesthood this, priesthood that; everything revolved around this subject.

So what exactly is the priesthood in the Mormon church and why is everyone so controlled by it?

According to the Doctrine and Covenants, the priesthood is defined by this:

“The authority and power that God gives to man to act in all things for the salvation of man” (D&C 50:26-27).

One thing that I found interesting during my time in the Mormon church was that whenever “man” was referenced in scripture, it was meant to be interpreted as “all” or “man-kind.” So why doesn’t this remain consistent with scripture on the priesthood? Side note: in case you didn’t know, only males can hold the priesthood within the church. No women allowed.

An outsider may see this as a pretty “male power” doctrine and I agree. Whenever I brought up this prominent sexism to my siblings or church leaders, I was always given the same dry answer that goes something like this:

“We all have a role to play here on earth. We are different from men and have different gifts and roles, but we are all equally as important.”

I mean, that isn’t the worst response in the world. But to me, it’s a cop-out.

This is another thing that I noticed a lot during my time in this church. Other members of the church will tell you that if you question something, pray about it. They want you (or at least they say they want you) to always ask God if something is true. But here’s the catch. If you come back from that prayer or pondering session and feel that the doctrine isn’t correct, you’re wrong. I experienced this first hand.

I had an open mind and heart about everything this church had to offer me but every time I would ponder it, something felt wrong. Actually, a lot of things felt wrong (but we’ll get to those later). But when I would talk to my church leaders about my finding, they would shrug it off or tell me that I wasn’t asking properly or I have closed heart. They put the blame on me, not the sexist doctrine.

The mind games began.

I felt guilt. I felt like I was doing something wrong. God didn’t want to speak to me or maybe I just couldn’t understand him correctly because this church did not feel right to me. I was in this cycle of feeling shame so I would go to the LDS church to try to feel cleansed and the cycle continued. I would feel a distance from a doctrine the church taught, and I again felt guilt. Guilt. Always guilt.

I was told in church that as a woman I “have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.” This is a quote from the Mormon Message called “Women in the Church.” I cannot act in all things to bring salvation to man, but don’t you worry. I can nurture children and make bread and keep my home in order (it’s like we’re stuck in the 1800’s for Christ’s sake). “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.” Another quote from the same article.

Wife, mother, daughter, sister…why can’t I just be a person?

It’s like they are overcompensating these titles to sway the attention away from the real issue of inequality.

I see the priesthood like this. In the Mormon religion you need to be baptized, go through the temple to make ordinances with the Lord/God and to be married in the temple being sealed to your husband. All of these steps require the blessing of a priesthood holder, a man. So basically to go to heaven, a man has to let me.

I won’t get to heaven by simply loving others. I won’t get to heaven by being a compassionate person. I won’t go to heaven if I serve others. I can only get to heaven if a MAN blesses me and if a MAN tells me I am worthy and if a MAN wants to take me to the temple. See the issue here?

I tried and tried, prayed and prayed, but each time I felt in my heart that it wasn’t the right thing for me. Notice I say for me. The LDS church can be incredible for many people, I believe that. But I also believe that when you search your own heart and allow yourself to be one with the universe (or some may say the spirit) and something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

This whole “be one with yourself, be one with the universe” thing is a principle that took me some time to grasp. Now that it does, I get angry when I look back at my young self feeling like I was not good enough for God. I no longer see myself as only a potential wife or mother because I know that I am meant for so much more. I am in control of my reality, nothing else. 

Again, this topic is hard to take in for some. This was hard for me as well. Growing up in a culture like this and choosing to leave is no walk in the park.

It is not the easy way out.

I am not lost and I am not hurting. The opposite is true. I finally feel pure love for the universe and for myself and as a result, I can give that love to those around me, even people who have tattoos or who drink coffee because these things do not define a person.

My journey is still in the making and I am still learning. If you’d like to join with me in this exploration, stay tuned. This is only part one, after all.









Vegan ice cream… just shit or THE shit?

Ah, you saw this one coming. Who doesn’t love to blog about the organic, vegan or non-GMO sustenance they put into their bodies? Luckily for you, I’m not here to shove anything down your throat (literally or figuratively). Instead I would simply like to discuss the most important thing we put in our mouths…ice cream. That’s right. Ice cream.

As I began my transition into a vegan lifestyle, two things held me back: ice cream and mac and cheese. The further research I did on the egg and dairy industry however, the more turned off I was by the idea of eating it. Afterall, what’s more important; my taste buds or the livelihood of those cute chickens and cows?

Victoria Vegan Original Alfredo Sauce, 18 oz
All hail, Victoria!

I knew I would have to find an animal friendly alternative so I could have my occasional indulgence (and by occasional I mean everyday lol). The mac and cheese portion of my dilemma was simple: VV, baby. Throw this on your corkscrew pasta, sprinkle some bread crumbs and you are golden.

Ice cream on the other hand, wasn’t so easy. My infatuation toward ice cream was so deeply rooted in my bones, I would eat it everyday. Every. Day. I had tried everything from cashew based to coconut based ice creams, but nothing compared to the real thing. If anything, eating these vegan ice creams made me crave the classic ice creams even more.

So there I was, somewhat hopelessly standing in the freezer aisle of the my local Wal-Mart. Whilst looking for some dairy and egg free ice cream that wasn’t rock hard and watery, something caught my eye. It was like a vision of the divine. A vision of truth, a vision of love.

Ben & Jerry’s. Vegan Ben & Jerry’s. PRAISE THE LORD MY TIME HAS COME.

A high pitched squeak escaped me along with a hop. But not the kind of magical hop that you see in a  Nicolas Sparks’ movie, it was more like this:


You get the idea. I was electrified with joy.

I bought every flavor (as any seasoned ice cream eater would) and after intense trail, I have come to the conclusion of whether vegan ice cream is just shit or the shit.FullSizeRender (1)

First Round: P.B. & Cookies


I was pleasantly surprised by this one considering the fact that I am not fond of Oreo and peanut butter as a pair. This was creamy, chunky and peanut buttery. YUM. Not to mention it only got better as I ate it (oops). There could have been a bit more punch to it, but overall, it was a fair trade for the original. 

Winner by split decision: VEGAN ICE CREAM

Second Round: Chocolate Fudge BrownieMVI_3.gif

Who knew chocolate and brownie could tumble so far off. The texture to this dessert was mediocre and the taste was bland. I’m not sure what went wrong here, but something most definitely did.

Winner by unanimous decision: original dairy ice cream.

Round Three: Chunky Monkey


I was obviously excited about this one. I love bananas so it’s no wonder this one was such rave on my tongue. It was velvety smooth and had flavor to carry me to the moon. 

Winner by submission: VEGAN ICE CREAM

Round Four: Coffee Carmel Fudge

MVI_1909 (1).gif

I have no words for my adoration of this ice cream. It reminds me of a combination I would pick up at Coldstone; a “Love It” with half coffee and half cake batter in a waffle cone. I never imagined I would ever experience a love like that again…until now.

Winner by knock out: VEGAN ICE CREAM

So there you have it. While not all vegan ice cream is exceptional, there are some pints waiting for you that are a national treasure. Your tastebuds (and those cows and chickens) will thank me later.




Sincerely, Bushy Brows

ism “Hey there, Bushy Brows,” a boy in my class shouted as he ran passed me during recess.

Um…what did I just get called?


5th grade is a tough time for anyone. Girls are having their first periods, starting to sweat and growing hair in all of the wrong places. We’ve all been there. As you begin to hit puberty another thing happens along side of it, you start to notice your appearance. I’m not saying you finally realize that you have brown hair and blue eyes or that you are wearing two layered up Shade shirts from Downeast Outfitters (oh bless my fashionless 11 year old soul), but you start to care.

This was the turning point of my elementary school self. Did I have bushy eyebrows? Have I had these massive brows all this time? Is this what I have amounted to??

The bushy brows nickname stuck until the day I graduated Grandview elementary. Thanks to those boys in my class, my eyebrows were one of my biggest insecurities growing up. I remember a time that I took some tweezers out of my moms makeup bag and started picking away at the hairs on my face. The problem was I had no idea what the in hell I was doing. I was plucking hairs in the middle of my eyebrows thinking this would make them “less bushy” while in reality it was making them look like a pulpy bathroom rug that was pulled out of a garbage disposal.  Not a great look as you can imagine.

After this ineffective remodeling, I gathered the confidence to ask my mom if she could help me. So she did. My eyebrows were waxed. I was a new woman! But the thing was, I still didn’t love them because they didn’t match my face like my old ones did. In all truth, I liked my thick brows.

When someone tells you there’s something wrong with you, too often we believe them.

I changed my appearance to feel accepted and as a result, I felt worse! As time went on, I slowly began to accept that not everyone would like my brows and I let them grow back in. Waxing eyebrows are a pain in the ass, anyway. Eventually I accepted them and proudly supported my bushy brow title.

Whenever I face swap with anyone on Snapchat my eyebrows take up half of their face, but hey! Life is about acceptance and loving every part of yourself. Or at least one part at a time.



Evolution of the brows



Flash Back

There I was. A high school freshman sitting on the front row of an Intro to Modern History class. I was right in spitting range of my teacher’s desk who embodied an appearance strikingly similar to that of William Howard Taft himself.

How fitting.


Mr. Almost-Taft was beginning to call attendance which for some reason always gave me loads of anxiety on the first day of a course. Mastering a perfectly pleasant “here” is not an easy thing to do, especially when your teacher decides to make a joke of your name (it’s okay Christian Kox, we’re here for you).

“Andy Thomas?”


“Natalie Ungerman?”


“Ah…Miss. Abby Van Buren,” he said mischievously. “Or should I refer to you as Dear Abby.”


Oh god. Here we go.

I had heard about this “Dear Abby” thing previously from my mom and grandparents or really anyone over the age of 50. Because of this age demographic, I would become squeamish when the topic was brought up around my peers. For those that are unfamiliar, Dear Abby is an advice column that’s been around since the 50’s. Pauline Philips is the woman who started it all. She founded her column under the pen name of Abigail Van Buren.


According to my mom, my great grandma was insistent that I was named Abigail because was mom was married to a Van Buren. My great grandma was an avid Dear Abby reader and thought it would be a waste if I was not named after it. My mom didn’t love the name Abigail (I don’t either) but she did like the name Abby (that’s better mom thank you). My great grandma always thought my name was Abigail…sorry grams.

For an idea of what the column entails, I’ve snipped a bit from the current website of Dear Abby.

Dear Abby is well-known for sound, compassionate advice, delivered with the straightforward style of a good friend. Share a laugh, shed a tear or learn something new every day with Dear Abby.”

Dear Abby: Happy Birthday, Can I Take Over Your Column?

Although the idea of being compared to this advice column as a high school freshman was mortifying, it appealed to me more and more as I got older. As I began my journey into college, I realized just how much madness was surrounding me. Everything from politics, religion, feminism, beauty, celebrities, to dietary habits in my culture, everything started to grab my attention.

I was inspired to educate myself.

Although I was forming my own opinions on these topics, I never felt that I could share them in fear of being told off or possibly offending anyone. I continued to research and I realized that I could share my thoughts without putting anyone down, or at least I could try.

My goal for this blog is to share my findings, explore alternate views and to simply think.

So there you have it. Abby Van Buren is reborn in the form of my own Dear Abby interpretation. I hope to have you back so we can think together.







Abby Koenig. 2012. Dear Abby: Happy Birthday, Can I Take Over Your

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