The things we do for love

According to the United States Census Bureau, “21 percent of married-couple households have at least one foreign born spouse.

Married-Couple Households by Nativity and Citizenship

This means someone decided to leave their home and everyone they knew to be able to start a new life with their spouse in a different, foreign country.

Now I don’t know if I can really understand what this feels like, but it’s something my mom did. And she did it for love.

One of the most undeniable and powerful things we know to exist is love. We listen to songs about love, we yearn for love, we hurt when we love, we do crazy things when we love.

And as many others have done before her, my mom left behind her whole life to follow her love.

 

The real sacrifice she made, and the leap of faith she took, are things I sometimes overlook. But my parents 24th wedding anniversary is this month, as is my mother’s anniversary of immigrating to the United States from Ecuador, so I thought it was time to tell their story.

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Walter Herzog and Jula Idrovo. 1993.

My mom grew up in Guayaquil, Ecuador with her parents, five brothers and one sister. She has endless stories to tell of her childhood, from flying small planes over the beach with her father, a pilot for the Ecuadorian air force, to getting into all kinds of mischief with her brothers.

Her father owned a hotel in a small beach town called Manglaralto, so she and her siblings would spend their weekends at the beach, riding into town on “borrowed” donkeys from the neighbors and befriending the surfers who came from all over the world to compete in local surfing competitions.

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My parents in Puerto Hondo, Ecuador. 1992.

The stories she’s told me about growing up in Ecuador seem like one adventure after another, which is maybe why she was so ready to embark on this one.

In 1992, my mom met my dad, who had come to Ecuador from America with the Peace Corps. The next year they were married, and my mom made the decision to leave everything she knew and come to live with my dad in the United States.

“You know, I don’t remember feeling scared,” she said. “I remember feeling the most sad about not being around to watch my nephews grow up, but I wasn’t scared.”

My mom doesn’t get to watch her nieces and nephews grow up and have children of their own. She worries about not being there for her parents now that they’re getting older.

Living so far away from those you love and share your roots with is so hard, which is why we try to visit our family in Ecuador as much as we can.

I am grateful to have grown up with two countries I can call home, both full of loving family and friends, and it is all because of my mom.

“You two make it worth it,” she says about my brother and I. “If I didn’t come here I would’ve never had you. I did it for you.”

I will never be able to thank her enough for the sacrifices she made. I just hope she knows that now, everything I do is to make her proud, because I am proud of her and the things she’s done for love.

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Me and my mom at my prom. 2016.

 

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Undefining beauty standards

Vogue just released their March 2017 cover, one that celebrated 125 years of print and made the case that, “there isn’t just one type of American girl—nor has there ever been.

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“Each of these cover girls proudly inhabits her own particular gorgeousness in her own particular way. Together they represent a seismic social shift: The new beauty norm is no norm.” —Vogue

However, there has been a bit of backlash from the public regarding the cover. Many social media users are pointing out that while the cover claims to be diverse, all the models appear to be medium to light skin toned and have very similar body shape and facial structure, the one exception being plus-size model Ashley Graham.

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There are speculations of photoshop, and questions about why Ashley Graham is the only woman with her hand covering her thigh or why Gigi Hadid’s hand seems to extend to cover Graham’s stomach.

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Vogue is trying to send a positive message however, one that says we shouldn’t hold everyone to the same standard of beauty because each individual defines beauty differently. But while their accompanying article is telling one story, pictures do speak a thousand words… and so far there hasn’t been a consensus on what those words are saying.

Nevertheless, Vogue inspired me to take some pictures of my own. If you’ve ever witnessed someone in a moment that made them feel so happy and beautiful, and seen that they’re just shining, you’ll remember how infectious that light is; you can’t help but smile with them.

To explore this concept, I asked some friends if they would let me photograph them in the state in which they felt the most comfortable and confident, where the only beauty standards existing were their own.

The results are so sweet and pure.

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“My mom and I would always go shopping and she always taught me to love myself and that I don’t have to change myself or personality to fit anyone’s expectation.” —Sidney Williams
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“Ummm I feel at home at the beach.”—Mya Hauck
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“There’s something so raw and real about spending time in nature; the peace I feel makes me feel beautiful and connected to my surroundings.” —Chloe Knowd
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“I am at my best when I’m surrounded by my closest friends. It really is the little things in day to day life—like drinking coffee or sitting on the couch with your best friend—that make me fully content.” —Kelsey Dunkelman
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“I just love the way I feel in a big sweater, dancing around my kitchen to groovy tunes while making dinner. I feel so in my element. I truly dance like no one is watching and I feel my entire personality come out with no shame or purpose of hiding. I feel confident, quirky, beautiful, independent, me.” —Mikaela McGill
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“I feel most beautiful when I’m giving all of my love, attention and admiration towards something else—often times that’s exploring Mother Nature.” —Lauren Zaragoza