Underneath It All

5 Dec

New York City Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel blog: Halo braid, silk kimono, lace bra, knee-high socks
New York City Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel blog: Halo braid, silk kimono, lace bra, knee-high socks
New York City Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel blog: Halo braid, silk kimono, lace bra, knee-high socks
New York City Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel blog: Halo braid, silk kimono, lace bra, knee-high socks
New York City Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel blog: Halo braid, silk kimono, lace bra, knee-high socks

Another fun shoot with my extremely talented pals Jono and Kai. I have been working with Jono Bernstein for a number of months now, and feel lucky to be able to team up with such a great photographer, who is not only willing and eager to try out-of-the-box concepts, but also pushes me to experiment with fashion beyond street style.

My dear friend, Kai Stamps, did my hair and makeup here, and I have to say, I am not sure that I have ever felt more beautiful. So big thanks to her for that!

Let me tell you, a few months ago I would not have considered doing a shoot in my bra. But when you are collaborating with the right people, who make you feel comfortable in your own skin (something I have always struggled with, as do most young women), I found that I actually felt the opposite of insecure. I felt empowered.

I have received some negative Instagram comments lately when posting photos similar to these. All I can say is thanks for the feedback, and I personally find it unfortunate that showing a little skin (when done tastefully, which I personally feel I have done) is perceived, by some, as ugly, too proud, or somehow insensitive. I do not write this blog or post photos for the closed-minded. I am always open to feedback, and humbly accept every word. However, I will confess that I have little respect for those who neglect to think before they speak.

To each their own…and fine if you feel that goal I expressed to accept my flaws somehow makes me “ungrateful”, but I would like to take a moment to respond in my own defense. Fair warning, shit’s about to get personal, y’all…

I am a thin girl, naturally. That is not to say I haven’t experienced what could be diagnosed as severe body dysmorphia. I spent 11 years of my childhood as a high-level gymnast, training upward of 25 hours a week while, at the same time, dealing with the pressure of maintaining my grades in school and striving to be a “regular kid”. I was forced to step on my first scale at practice when I was 7 or 8 years old, in front of my entire team, and then have my the numbers written down and monitored regularly. Weight was always something I kept in mind, and fitness was of the utmost importance.

Of course I also dealt with normal teenage insecurities, like being totally flat-chested and much shorter than everyone else in my class. Nobody is perfect.

What really defines perfection anyway? We live in a society where dissatisfaction with one’s appearance is the norm, and nobody’s image of perfection is the same. Fortunately I grew up with parents who didn’t buy into this weight-counting bullshit, and did their best to deter me from outside influences…otherwise I’d have been even more “screwed up” than I eventually became.

My third year of high school, I decided that gymnastics was no longer for me. I sprouted up 5 inches in six months, and rapidly developed extreme scoliosis, forcing me to have a very extensive back surgery. I spent 3 days in the ICU, 1o days total in the hospital, a month on bed rest, and several years in pain. I now have a 13-inch scar along my side (which, personally I find beautiful, even if many would disagree), a missing rib, 13 removed vertebrae, two metal rods, and ten screws in my spine.

When I left the hospital to recover at home, it was not long before I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The disease is very uncommon in young people, and was a result of the high volume of strong pain killers my body required me to take. It is an awful illness, and it prohibited me from keeping any food down for a significant period of time. My current weight of 110 lbs. dropped to 80 lbs. and I was hospitalized, yet again. 

Returning to high school my senior year, a waif of a human, I was greeted by the “popular girls” with compliments and questions about my diet secrets. I was simultaneously appalled and brainwashed to believe that I actually looked good. I know now, looking back, how awful this was. Now I am much more aware of the pressures that young girls face to look or be a certain way. I truly hope this changes. 

When I look in the mirror now, I do not see perfection. But, really, does anyone? I am, however, confident enough to talk about the strong insecurities I have managed to overcome (something easier said than done), take off my clothes, and do some artistic shit with my friends.

I’ll finish this by saying, I have had the pleasure to meet many amazing women over the years of all colors, shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations. I’ve tried my hardest to never, ever judge. 

The women who are the most beautiful to me are the ones who have character, kindness, drive, and love in their hearts. I’ve made a personal choice to “put myself out there” through my blog, Instagram, etc. and am willing to accept criticism and either receive it as constructive or brush it off and move on with my life.

Haters are gonna hate, and frankly, these are the people who I would prefer stop following me.

I started my blog almost six years ago because I loved fashion, had a passion for styling and writing, and wanted to share these things with likeminded ladies. I am no runway model, I am not rich, and I have struggles just like everyone else. My intention has always been to be a person that others can relate to – people who are sometimes vulnerable yet oftentimes stronger than they even realize (but may need to be reminded of this from time to time). At the risk of sounding cheesy, we are all fucking beautiful. Just keep on doing what inspires you and take pride in it all. 

17 Lovely Comments on “Underneath It All”

  1. Jennifer 23. Dec, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    These pictures are beautiful. I love fashion but I love authenticity even more. So glad I found your blog today!


  2. Jessica M 08. Dec, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Such a thoughtfully written and beautifully composed piece. Thank you for bearing your soul here – and a little flesh! You look gorgeous and your attitude about appearance is so healthy and inspiring. Kudos!



  3. Christina 07. Dec, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    Word, Laura Ellner!
    Thank you for the courage and the honesty in sharing, the constant effort of not judging, the inspiration you are giving. It means something!


  4. Kendall 07. Dec, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Proud of you girl. You’ve always been one of my favorite people. Miss you tons! Sending nothing but love and support your way. Tell all those gypsies to knock it off! ❤️


  5. margie 06. Dec, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Laura girl, you are beautiful–inside and out.


  6. gabrielle 06. Dec, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    very cool of you to write this, kid

    very cool


  7. Irina 06. Dec, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    I absolutely loved reading this…it’s raw, emotional, and honest. Most people don’t understand the other side of the body struggle, being thin. I too was made fun of in my youth for being too thin and flat-chested. Nowadays of course that’s not the case but I absolutely will never forget how painful it was. Good for you for sharing your story.


  8. Jeanne 06. Dec, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Beautiful pictures! You look amazing!




  9. Gina eagan 06. Dec, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    laura you are amazing and absilutkry beautiful, inside and out. Keep doing your thing girl.


  10. nikki 06. Dec, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    love your hair like that!

    xx nikki


  11. Fashion Snag 06. Dec, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Love your writing!



  12. Georgia 06. Dec, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    Thank you for this thoughtful and personal post. You certainly had to overcome some really tough struggles at a young age and it’s inspiring that not only you pulled through, but you’ve used these experiences in the most positive of ways. I love your blog because apart from your unique style and the beautiful clothes, there’s a life-embracing spirit that’s apparent in every post. Kudos!


  13. Emily 06. Dec, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    I hear ya. But as rough as I though the gymnastics years were, that surgery/recovery seems like it must have been harder than all those years combined.
    Thank you for sharing your honesty and positive mental attitude.


  14. Tiffany 06. Dec, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    This is amazing !


  15. Kendra 05. Dec, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    I love your style, and I love your style of blogging. You put yourself “out there” in a very unique way. You offer very personal tidbits, which makes you vulnerable and relatable. Combining this with stellar photographs and style makes you one of the most intriguing fashion bloggers on my list of follows. Reading your blog often feels like checking in on a friend, but with the polished aesthetic of a magazine. It’s just a great combo :) It’s so hard to stand out, and you master that by just being you. You should be proud.


  16. Pete 05. Dec, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    this is strong, well-written, and heartfully profound. Thank you for having the strength to share your personal story, and the shots look great. Your candor is appreciated.


  17. Liz 05. Dec, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    love these photos…your hair is adorable



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