Queens on a Beach - Self-Acceptance and Next Chapters

My cousin Danielle and I decided to do a brief photoshoot on the beach to celebrate our birthdays (which take place in the same week of July), but also to enter into this next chapter and season of our lives in full confidence and faith in what we are doing, and have yet to do. I took her photos, she took mine. 

We both resonate with two characters from Game of Thrones, and found that in reading the books and watching the show (for the most part, *glares at season 8*) that the story was cathartic for us during these recent years of inner transformation. In this post, we'll share a little about our character style choices and the ways in which their story encouraged us to become queens ourselves. 

From Alexis... 

The past decade has been absolutely metamorphic for me. I met my husband and got married and suffered many hardships, disappointments, and deep loses. However, it was also a decade of wondrous victories and rebirth along the way. As I turned 36 this past Friday, I knew for this birthday I wanted to do something different to step strongly into my identity with confidence for the first time. 

One of my biggest struggles is with my body. In recent years, my health has been suffering under copious amounts of stress and anxiety. My hormones are now completely out of whack, and as a result, my weight and other health issues are under immense tension. I have been angry and frustrated about this for so long. I have spent countless hours in conscious hatred of my body, particularly my weight problem. I despise pictures of myself, and if they show my whole body, forget it! 

This year, I realized that I can't wait for "someday when I'm thinner" or wait to simply feel better about myself. I have to embrace this moment and learn to love my body as it is. It's amazing how much difference love can make in our relationships, and especially toward ourselves. So, I started with little things, like wearing shorts and sleeveless tops in public places for the first time since I was a teen. That took a lot of courage from me, because even in 110 degrees+ in Phoenix, Arizona, I will be covered in full leggings and shrugs. I hide myself in anyway I can. 

Finally, the big test came. I had to take photos and accept them. Obviously, not every photo is good, hence why you take a lot during a photoshoot, but I had to dial down my criticism and simply let them be. For the most part, I did well. Even posting these photos on this page is a huge step for me, especially since I am wearing a dress that exposes my large arms and clings to every fat roll I have. I am not trying to be mean in saying that, I simply acknowledge the truth that I have a large, overweight body and I can't pretend that it is something that it isn't. I also can no longer hide it from the world, this is who I am. This is where I'm at. 

Even though the HBO show absolutely decimated the symbolism, hope, and character build up for Daenerys (#nihilism), I still believed she could overcome all the things that had been thrown at her. She would NOT become the mad leader her father was. She would NOT be barren forever, but would regain the fruit of her womb that was lost. She would undo the wrongs of her forefathers, even when she made mistakes along the way.  She was never a perfect character, no one is, but I beleived in her story's potential to "break the wheel" and truly remake the world. She is Mhysa, mother to all, and I deeply vibe with that. 

In my nearly 10 years of marriage, my husband and I have been unable to have children. We don't know why, and we don't have the money to find out or to spend on costly fertility treatments. We have accepted it, painful as it is, and moved on with our lives. 

At the crux of this pain and devastation is when I started watching/reading Game of Thrones.  By the middle of the first season/book, Daenerys is pregnant and there is much anticipation for the birth of her child with the Khal of the grassland people. 

In a tragic turn of events, her husband is killed and her baby is stillborn. She loses everything. She was given three dragon eggs as a wedding gift, and while everyone else believed they were dormant, she dreamed that if she carried them into a great fire they would hatch. As an act of faith, she does this very thing, and when the smoke clears and the fires burn out, she rises completely unhurt with three dragons in her arms. Thus, she is called “The Mother of Dragons.” It was that particular moment that stayed with me. In the wake of her devastation, she took a leap of faith and was rewarded for her belief. It didn’t bring back her husband, their son, or the life she had before. Nothing could undo the pain of her loss, but it was restored with a new future, a new hope.

I chose inspiration for my outfit from Dany's season 3 halter dress, and later the dress in season 5 with the dragon emblem across her chest. Both dresses are white/light colored and she wears both in moments of when she takes great authority as a queen. I feel this is the chapter of my life that I am heading into now. Not that I will be a queen, haha, but I will be in a higher place than ever before as I pursue my path in the film and television arts. I am ready. I am confident. I am here. 

I replaced the dragons, since I am not a Targaryen, with my own personal sigil--the phoenix. The phoenix has been my symbol since 2010 when I made my first films. I have an entire post about why I chose it here, but I took Dany's style and empowerment and made it my own as I move boldly into the next season. I've been through the great fire, and now it's time to walk out of it. 


From Danielle... 

My clothing ensemble was inspired by Sansa Stark's coronation gown from the Game of Thrones finale when she finally became 'Queen in the North', a fierce, but kind--elegant, but pragmatic--ruler of her people. Her story is one that I found to be truly inspirational. 

While most fans, of both the books and the HBO series, ridiculed and hated Sansa as a character, I immediately found myself relating to her. There was much of my 20 year old self within her person, especially in her extreme naivete and lack of understanding in how the "real world" works. She lived in her own world, her idyllic fantasies and daydreams. 

Of course, as George R.R. Martin is wont to do, Sansa Stark's world came crashing down around her in the most horrific way possible. Yet, what I loved about Sansa, particularly in the books (so far), is that while she has experienced the worst possible atrocities, she doesn't lose who she is. She grows, learns, adapts, but the core of her being, the "Winterfell" within her, remains resilient. 

Despite exhibiting this quiet strength, however, Sansa is consistently underestimated by those around her, seen as a "non-player," merely a pawn in a game to be used for another's advantage. In every way, she is the quintessential "damsel in distress." However, by the end, she is the one who is left standing, while those who were considered stronger and more powerful are crushed and made low. While I did not like many of the storytelling choices of the tv series, I did, at least, appreciate how they portrayed this aspect of Sansa's story. Cersei, Joffrey, Ramsay Bolton, Littlefinger--all of them were undone and brought to nothing by the end. Referring back to the books, even someone as formidable and terrible as The Hound is left weeping and stripped bare before her. 

Sansa Stark, the quiet, gentle girl from Winterfell with her songs and child-like dreams becomes a noble and beloved queen; not because she was the smartest in the room or the strongest, but because she was the most true to herself--finding that she had the capacity and strength to bend and endure and therefore would never, ever break. 

My blue-grey dress and red accessories are what I felt best represented the immaculately designed coronation gown from the series, with its steel-like nature and the intricately embroidered leaves of the weirwood trees. "My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel," speaks Sansa from the books, and the show represents this beautifully as her dress looks like she has donned a suit of armor. 

The jewelry I chose to wear wasn't exactly Sansa Stark related, but the necklace contains the bird charm, which refers to Sansa being called "Little Bird" by the Hound. The bird charm also refers to my favorite, Jane Eyre quote, "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." Jane Eyre being, in my opinion, one of the greatest heroines in all of literature, whose story is very similar to that of Sansa Stark's in that, through all adversity, Jane Eyre's spirit remained immutable. The dandelion globes round out my assemble as the dandelion is my chosen symbol to represent myself as an artist. You can follow me on my Patreon to learn more about why this is so.

Thank you for reading! 

Alexis & Danielle