WANT // KATIE HORWITCH
Negative self-talk has become a prevalent and evolving cultural issue. At one point or another we've all experienced issues with self-esteem or not feeling like enough. In a culture that is inundated with perfectionism and competition, it seems difficult at times to keep up. WANT: Women Against Negative Talk, aims to give women tips, tools, insight, and inspiration to shift their negative self-talk patterns and move forward with self-empowerment. Katie's mission is to redefine what it means to truly want yourself. Shifting your thoughts becomes a radical act of self love that supports profound inner & outer growth and transformation.
Thank you Katie for sharing your story today. Your bravery, vulnerability, and desire for radical change is such an inspiration!
K | Here's the deal. For most of my own life, I had a pretty crap-tastic self image. Self confidence? Loads of it (more on that later). But the way I viewed that confidence - the opinions I formed around it, the things I did to "keep myself in check," the image of myself I saw in my internal mirror - made it seem more like an enemy than a BFF. And self confidence ain't shit if you don't know what to do with it.
I became aware of both how I looked and how I thought about the world when I was about...seven? eight? Somewhere around there. Grown-ups would dote on my appearance and I was utterly confused: I didn't look or dress like the cool kids in my class, I had big thick Winnie Cooper bangs, I narrated intricate stories to myself about the world around me while other kids seemed to just float through their lives action to action. I was instructed to stand up straight and hold my stomach in, and I was called "vain" simply for looking in the mirror for more than three seconds. While other kids were reading Sweet Valley High through their tweendom, I was reading Iyanla Vanzant and Anna Quindlen. I picked up on the emotional nuances of others and became frustrated when I was shut down because I was "too young to understand." I desperately wanted to fit in, to love and be loved, to be someone's favorite. How could I be, though, when I wasn't even convinced I was my own favorite person?
Negative talk was the norm in my life when it came to the women around me. I began to think it was normal to complain about the size of your thighs, the way your stomach looked, how much you had eaten that day. I was told I was too sensitive when my feelings were hurt, I was told I was a show-off when I was proud of my work. I found myself joining in just to connect...just to fit in. To this day, I don't know which came first: seeing it, or believing it.
My self image, internal and external, fluctuated between positive and negative throughout my teens, hitting an all-time low in college when I developed Orthorexia - a form of disordered eating and lifestyle in which a hyper-focus on extreme "health" before all else overtakes your life and dictates your every decision. This was before anyone really knew it was a "thing," and the only eating disorders talked about in the mainstream were anorexia and bulemia (it's now a much-discussed topic in the eating disorder/body image sphere, thank goodness). Not to mention that my idea of health had been defined by the women around me my entire life - fat-free, low calorie, small portions - and so no matter what research I did, I was always skeptical of anything that did not gel with the views I was brought up with. How limiting and ostracizing - a very dark, lonely place to live.
Thankfully, I knew something was very wrong with me and identified my Orthorexia early on. Not-so-thankfully, when I started to slowly ease things I once shunned into my day (think small but important baby steps; healthful nutrient-filled food that contained once-shunned fats, formerly off-limits sugars, or simply venturing outside the tiny box of options I allowed myself), I was told I was "weird" more times than I could count. The names and snap judgements hurt me the most. The choices I made were not "normal" for a college-age girl who should be eating pizza and Subway, especially after getting so thin from her little flirtation with ED. Again, I was "too sensitive." And when I began to excel in my Drama department, that voice came back into my head that told me I was a show-off.
The conflict between how I "should" be for others and how I wanted to be for my own recovery got so strong that it drove me further down the rabbit hole for about three years - eating in private just so I could avoid judgement in public, escaping to the gym just so I could feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, binging on junk to prove a point. I became fear-ridden in class presentations and my voice became shaky each time I went to sing. I went through a heartbreaking break-up and started to overeat at night for comfort, hoping to gain a little weight and make the critics inside and outside my head go away. Ironically, I lost even more weight, as my hormones had gone cray-cray and my metabolism had gone haywire. I was called names. I was talked about behind my back. I got into screaming fights with my family over my appearance.
I ended up spending my senior year of college at home, commuting back and forth - I wanted to work, but moreso, I wanted to start fresh. I was sick of the status quo of my negative, lonely existence and knew it was not who I really was. I wanted to enter into spaces in which I felt I could be myself again. The way I wanted to treat my body, the way I wanted to love, the way I wanted to be of service to the world.
What ended up saving me? That unwavering desire to move forward into communities in which it was safe to believe in myself. Communities that didn't have to be quantitative to be meaningful - communities in which I could be the Katie I knew I wanted to be. Those communities, go figure, started with me truly wanting to do the work within myself to move forward fearlessly, and to do it for me alone.
Through fitness, friendships, and fearless love, I finally learned that who I was...was exactly who the world needed me to be. It was during this time and transition that WANT was conceived - when I realized there was no place or outlet to actually help women kick their sources of their discontent to the curb, not just band-aid them up with pretty affirmations alone.
One big source? Casual negativity: the negative talk we use without even thinking twice, the stuff that's become our vernacular. Both in our heads and out loud. I realized that the talk I'd been hearing it all my life - I'm so fat - I suck at this - I'm too sensitive - was a cultural epidemic, and there was no place that existed to recognize and shift these detrimental norms.
I went through many, many ups and downs, mini crises, and self image fluctuations. Fast forward to the present: I still do. But with every thought or feeling comes a chance to learn and think better, do better, be better. I love when I win and I love when I lose, and lordy help me if I stop loving it all.
I am fully 100% dedicated to being the little WANT guinea pig - leading through example through all the high highs and low lows. Most of the negative talk we use in our lives stems from a place of feeling different, feeling alone, not seeing examples of how to be any other way. You'll get tips, tricks, tools, both from me and from others - mostly comin' atcha in the form of essays or prose, experience-based stuff (I'm a huge fan of results and proof. My definition of proof includes intuition-kicks and universe wake-ups, just fyi).
WANT isn't a blog and it isn't a coaching session. It's a community, it's a example, it's a resource and a shot of soul therapy. More than anything, it's a roadmap for you to interpret for yourself and use as you see fit.
I am not a doctor, psychologist, or nutritionist. I've been immersed and self-taught in all things wellness and "self help" since age thirteen, and have made it my mission to be as thoroughly knowledgeable as possible since then though writings, workshops, and careful analysis (honestly, I hope to always be learning). My role models and influences transcend job titles or genres, and include Sutton Foster, Jenny Lewis, Sia, Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte, and, well, Muppets. I live and love in Los Angeles, where I am constantly amazed by the magic around me, every single minute. WANT is my love letter to the people I see walking around every single day who might not even realize how much magic they possess just by being unapologetically themselves - and it's my love letter to the ones who already know it, too.
BIO : Katie Horwitch is the woman, warrior, and wellness activist behind WANT: Women Against Negative Talk, a platform that gives women tips, tools, resources, and inspiration to move forward in their lives by shifting their negative self-talk patterns. WANT was founded out of the realization that there were zero places for women to not only receive inspiration, but actual tools and resources to change their limiting negative talk patterns in a lasting way that works very personally and specifically for them.
Katie has spoken across the country, from SXSW to body-positive pageants, on the subject of self confidence and self image. She is also host of the WANTcast: The Women Against Negative Talk Podcast, where she interviews visionary women on the topics of body image, self worth, relationships, career, community, and a whole lot of pragmatic positivity.
Most recently, Katie was a founding editor of The Chalkboard Mag by Pressed Juicery, one of the leading wellness destinations online, and has been featured in countless publications such as Darling Magazine, Cameron Diaz’s The Body Book, xoJane, and more.
Katie is a writer, artist, and wellness activist. She lives and breathes for the expression of love, in all forms. WANT is not her passion project - it's her purpose project.