To be #InCharge is first a commitment to ourselves. It is owning who we are. It is respecting and trusting our character, knowing that it is forever the home and the core of our strength.
- Diane von Furstenberg
As a huge fan of Diane von Furstenberg, I have to admit that yes, I've read her books. Yes, I bought "the dress" (see previous post!). Yes, I subscribe to her daily story promotions and monthly newsletters. So, imagine my fan-girl level of excitement when I received an email about a free speaking event at the DVF headquarters in New York City. I got chills.
It had been a few months since I traveled to the east coast and I was dying to see my mom, Maryann, and sister, Dana. This was the perfect excuse to take a trip across the country. Plus, I had the opportunity to see the woman who has inspired me, who I felt I had some crazy connection to - DVF! This woman built an empire around empowering women to feel strong and beautiful. She reminds women they are #incharge of their minds and bodies!
The list of speakers was incredible:
- Gloria Steinem (I mean!?!!? Empowerment icon!)
- Cindi Leive, the former Editor-In-Chief of Glamour Magazine (who I actually used to see in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights)
- Jennifer Nettles, Singer & Songwriter of Sugarland (OMG!)
- Deepica Mutyala, Founder & CEO of Live Tinted - a brand which speaks to women all over the world
- Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO & Co-Founder of FEED Projects (a mom and entrepreneur)
- Jameela Jamil, famous actress (who is incredibly crass and hilarious)
- And so many more!
I so excited to spend the day with my mom and sister in the city. But I also couldn't imagine the inspiration we would encounter at this DVF event - in her Manhattan headquarters - where I walked in only about six years ago and asked the Head of Philanthropy, Luisella Meloni to support Fighting Pretty!
I was so excited to wear the pink wrap dress I bought last summer to the DVF #InCharge. I also wanted to make sure my mom and sister felt as beautiful and strong as I did...wearing DVF, of course!
Finally, the day came and off we went into New York City to see Diane, hear Gloria, get inspired and spend a beautiful day together, me and my favorite women.
Saying it was incredible is a strong understatement.
We walked in, and immediately started laughing. Dana, my sister, was wearing the same iconic chain link dress as all of the staff working the event! Dana looked fabulous, but she was in a sea of other women who looked just like her (although her hot pink heels definitely set her apart). Dana was rocking it! She honestly reminded me of Charlotte from Sex and the City. So sexy, yet so classy.
Maryann, my mom was wearing a one-of-a-kind DVF dress. It wasn't a wrap - it was velvet, off the shoulder, slinky and chic - paired with her black boots and gold stones. She was sexy AF! And you could tell, she felt it too!
My DVF wrap was long and light pink. I bought it in the summer, so the fabric was a bit "springy" but I remember our stylist saying I could tie up the belt and wear it as a long cardigan. So with my fresh flat chest, I wore a tight white camisole, my ripped jeans and high nude heels with this fabulous pink wrap dress as an elegant robe-like cardigan. I have to tell you - I felt beautiful. I felt strong. I was embracing my new no-breast chest and I was #InCharge of my body, of my emotions, and I felt so good!
After taking some photos at the DVF brand activation site, we walked into what seemed like a gallery of exquisite, strong women. There were original, trendy and colorful paintings of Gloria, RBG, Michelle Obama, Mother Teresa, Beyoncé and of course Diane. It was incredible. All my mom could say was, "WOW."
The next thing we knew, Diane was walking down the stairs. My mom literally pushed me forward. "There she is," she said. "Now is your chance! Give her the letter!"
She put the letter in her notebook and said, "Ok, thank you." And off she went with her assistant - looking fabulous, of course.
I was shaking. I just SPOKE with DVF. I talked to her. She has my letter. She saw my face!
Next thing I knew, a DVF stylist walked up to me and said, "Wow, you look beautiful!" I was on Cloud 1,000!
The event started and with each speaker after incredible speaker, we were more engaged and more impressed. I sat among reporters, influencers, other entrepreneurs and fans feeling like I was participating in the future of empowering women. There were women of all colors, shapes and sizes. Because one thing is common among us all - we are strong, beautiful, and #InCharge!
After the speaker series was over, my family and I went down the sleek glass stairway to the after-party reception where handsome men and exquisite women handed us glasses of sparkling bubbles. Loud music and a feeling of empowerment wafted throughout the entire building. Here, we were able to mingle with the speakers and guests. As my mom, sister and I were taking photos in the gallery area, a beautiful blonde woman came over to me and said, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice, but you are just owning that outfit." I knew immediately what she meant. I was owning my body. I was completely flat and she could tell.
I nodded and thanked her, touching my chest to acknowledge I knew that she knew. We went on to talk about cancer and how I'm embracing my new body. We all left in tears, hugging and exchanging contact information. It was truly the cherry on top of the whole day.
On our way out, I walked over to the #InCharge sign and couldn't help but take a photo, with a bit of tears in my eyes. I am in charge.
After such an incredible weekend full of inspiration, love, strength and family, I headed back to Portland, Oregon to be with my love, Ben. As I was standing in the security line, I saw an email come through. The sender was "DVF" and there was no subject.
I got butterflies. It was Sunday! It couldn't be from the actual DVF!?!? I was used to seeing her name in my email with promotional offers, but no subject??
I opened the email and it was from Diane, from her iPad! THE Diane von Furstenberg!
Within one week, Diane sent me the most thoughtful and inspiring gifts:
- Her book, autographed - The Woman I Wanted to Be - which I obsess over and refer to any woman I know,
- An "InCharge" necklace from the one and only DVF, and
- An inspirational mirror to stick on my phone to remind myself I am "InCharge"
Though the DVF event happened back in March, I look at my book, my necklace and my mirror all the time. My implants were removed in January and then in March the COVID-19 quarantine began. I haven't been able to shop for clothes or even have a reason to get dressed up. But there have been a few times since my surgery that I have gotten out of the shower and stared at my naked self. Or, there have been times I put on a shirt which used to fit right and now has big, baggy areas in the chest where my breasts used to be.
Seeing the constant reminders from an incredibly inspiring woman who has gone through her own struggles, her own cancer diagnosis, and come through it with a message to stay "InCharge" is something which has truly been a constant reminder. A reminder that, even though we face obstacles, we can control how we feel and how we handle the situations the world throws at us.
Whether it's cancer, COVID-19 or anything in between, LOVE IS LIFE and we are #InCharge!