Category Archives: war on girls

Crystal & The Happy Type

If you have caught my current Sunday series, The War on Girls, you know I’m an advocate for raising the girls and women in our life up in encouragement.  Which is why I was beyond thrilled that Crystal from The Happy Type blog chose to be my featured sponsor this month.  Not only is she a creative talent, she is authentic, and has a beautiful spirit.  Plus I love that she also loves to shop vintage shops like me and shares How to Thrift like a Pro.  As she is taking over my blog today I will close this introduction out by saying another great big thank you to Crystal for being a huge light in my life and motivator for why we deserve to live the Happy Type of life.

Hello everyone! My name is Crystal and I blog over at The Happy Type, where I focus on encouraging and empowering women to live a life they want and deserve. I’ve never done a blog take over, so getting to take the reins of A Compass Rose is beyond rad. For my first blog takeover, I wanted to bring the issue of self-love up for discussion, because I know that it’s an issue that far too many women struggle with.

Myself, included.

When I was younger, I used to look at the beautiful glossy images of supermodels inside of the fashion magazines at the supermarket. The women inside the magazines were beautiful, perfect, flawless and they all seemed to be living absolutely fantastic lives. I used to stand there and dream about the future, because I was certain that one day I would be one of them. I wouldn’t be a supermodel, but I was positive that I was going to turn into a beautiful woman, foot-loose and fancy free in the world. My belief that I would blossom into a beauty was absolute, or at least it was until the world had something to say about it.



I once spoke up in class that I was going to explore the world and go on adventures like the beautiful women in Vogue when a teacher asked what we were going to become when we grew up. I remember the look on my 3rd grade teacher’s face as they tried to make sense of what I was saying. “Like a model?” they asked gently. I laughed and meant to clear it up telling them, No, not a model. I didn’t want to be a model, just a woman. A beautiful woman. I never got my chance to reply, because my classmates all started to laugh at the idea that I could follow through on what I had shared. I wasn’t pretty and models were beautiful, what was I thinking? I was too fat, too short, too plain looking to be a model. My teacher silenced the students, but the damage had already been done, and I started to look at myself differently.

My 3rd grade experience was just the first of many events that started to chip away at the self-love I had once embraced so readily. Little-by-little the absolute believe in my beauty was damaged and ripped away from me by callous and casual comments by family, friends, enemies, the media, and those beauty magazines started to become painful reminders of my imperfections. I started to shy away from cameras, because I didn’t think I was pretty enough to have pictures taken of me. If a camera came out, I ran the other way and I was content to be BEHIND the camera, not in front of it. But something happened that began to change my relationship not only with photography, but myself.


About a year ago, I opened up a little vintage clothing shop, but I needed a model. I had recently moved to a new city and didn’t really know anyone to ask to model for my project, and that only left one option: I had to be the model. I can’t even begin to describe the apprehensive nature I approached my camera with. I knew what to do BEHIND IT, but what was I going to in FRONT of it? At first it was incredibly rough going, I used to take a whole mess of shots and delete them in frustration. I even cropped out my face in those first photos because it made them easier to put out there for the public.

il_570xN.342170630Me as the headless model.

But without my even noticing it, I started to see a beautiful woman. All those hours staring at photo after photo started to reveal things I loved about myself. I stopped seeing all the things that were wrong with me and started to see myself through new eyes, through a photographer’s eyes. My confidence grew not only in front of the camera, but in life. I stopped being so self-conscious because the camera had revealed what I had known all those years ago. I had become the beautiful woman I had anticipated as a child, and nothing would ever again shake my belief in my own beauty.


The reason that I share this is because I know that I’m not the only one to have struggled with self-love. I hope that sharing my own thoughts on self-love will help another woman think about how she sees herself and why. Every woman is beautiful and while outside influences can sometimes overtake us and change how we see ourselves, it doesn’t change the fact that you ARE beautiful You just have to remember to take the time to see it. Embrace yourself in all your imperfections, because that is precisely what makes you a beauty.

How do remember to see your own beauty? Has there ever been an instance in which you forgot your own beauty or was there a moment of clarity when you finally realized it? I know my own moment of came while I was sitting in front of my computer screen really looking at myself, and I’ll never forget the feeling of freedom that came when I truly saw myself.


M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   C R Y S T A L !

The War on Girls: Beauty

I love people. As a photographer I love photographing people because of how we are all different.  I like that we do not all look a like.  That we each carry our own personal armoire of stories, scars, and triumphs.  To me a person is not really beautiful because of their skin, their body type, or what clothes they wear. I love finding the beauty in people.  I love hearing what makes a person happy, what drives their passions, and hearing about their hopes and dreams.  That moment where a person opens their mouth to speak fueled by the ignite of life behind their eyes.  Eyes really are the windows to a person’s soul and why I love to photograph people.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe everyone should be able to see and realise their own beauty and worth. 

We can be our own worst critics, seeing the faults in ourselves that no one else can see.  To find things unworthy of beauty that are our personal characteristics. To dislike things about ourselves that others in fact love about us.  Since we need our reflection we spend more time seeing others than seeing ourselves. Yet some of us spend more time scrutinizing and critiquing ourselves. 

This week remind yourself of how beautiful you are and how precious is your life. Then make sure to encourage the girls and women in your life.  We are made beautiful. We have the power to live beautiful lives.  It just takes the belief in yourself.  See the world as a beautiful place and life will look beautiful to you.
* photography by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

The War on Girls: ‘inDependent’

In this next installment of The War on Girls I take another look at how society is failing us.  I feel the need to preempt this with the fact you may not whole heartedly agree with me.  I am not a medical professional and I do not claim that all medications are unnecessary.  Perhaps you function perfectly well with them and live a ‘normal’ life.  Or maybe you are living in a part of the world where it seems unfathomable and unbelievable that one could live a life dependent on anything but a superior being. Then again maybe this story will be all too real for you and a truth you too share.  Which ever walk of life brings you to The War on Girls series at ACR, I thank you for your open mind and taking the time to hear my words.  
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
There was a time in my life where I was dependent on drugs just to get through the day.  I was taking them to fight off the depression and anxiety that plagued my life after the sudden death of my father and during a near divorce in my marriage. Out in public, even with friends, anxiety attacks would make me want to rush home and just be alone.  In my solitude I could not find comfort and the emptiness would swallow me up.  I did not feel safe in my own skin.  My pills became my security blanket, helping me to feel…well to feel nothing.  They did not make me happy and they could not make me forget. However, a quick swallow and life would just slow down for a long enough moment that I could relax and calm down. My depression weighted on me heavily and often I just wanted to sleep.  Something my medication helped me do easily.  I may have not been having to feel the entirety of my sadness but I was not living life fully either. 
It was not the solution I had sought after for myself.  I had tried to be independent and take it all on by myself.  Even my closest friends did not know what I was keeping to myself.  My religion told me I could take it all on with prayer and my nomadic free spirit pushed me to carry the weight myself. But when it got to be all too much after my father’s funeral, my mum urged me to see a doctor for medical help.  I had seen therapists before and I was hungry to talk to someone.  To have someone hear me who could listen and offer advice.  My psychiatrist however spent more time filling out my prescription than he did asking about how I was doing or listening to what I had to say.  I became seduced by the magical idea that a miracle pill could help me. After all it had helped friends I know.  Was I buying into the idea that having prescriptions was trendy? I was too sad and too anxious to focus on anything but change my current state of mind. 
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

“There were issues with the dosage while I was taking it as they tried to find the right amount over the course of my treatment. After getting my dosage raised once and still taking it in the morning, it would knock me out so quickly. I would not even know I was getting tired until I was fast asleep. It was more than that it was the way it took away the passion and the heart of my personality. I may have not been myself with dealing with everything going on in my life, but I was definitely not me on Klonopin either. My emotions felt very flat and if I was needing to take another pill I could be really irritable and upset. I remember just wanting to be alone a lot of the time. Being around my in-laws at all brings on a lot of stress and I just sat in a closet once during the Christmas holiday to find some quiet and past out amongst the coats and the darkness until my husband found me. There did not seem to be an end to this tunnel because it was masking the problems. It was not fixing the loss of my dad or the cracks in my marriage.” 

– Excerpt from ‘Overcoming Klonopin’

You can click the link above in the excerpt to read the whole story of my personal journey with taking Klonopin.  In the end I found alternative people with optional solutions to help me find my happiness.  I realised that it was okay to ask for help and that I would have to rely on myself and be okay with that fact.  While I cannot change my past I look at my experience as a way to connect and reach out to others.  I cannot help but think that people like me have been failed by society and the people around us.  In a world where it is so much easier to find a medicinal answer to our ailments instead of a solution for the underlining problems.  Where everyone wants to get the job done and fix things but no one wants to take the time to listen.  Where we feel too scared to reach out to our friends when we are ourselves drowning in pain.  When as girls it is easier to just say we should ‘see a doctor’ or be put on medication then to see us as beautiful, raw, individuals with our individual flaws.  I have in-laws who continue to see me as a broken individual, a fragile rose with thorns, a person who should always have to see a doctor. Why?  For the believe that depression never ‘really’ goes away.  Who makes these rules and puts these shackles on us just because we are girls who feel ever pain and strain of the world around us?  Why must the girls of this world be made to feel like we are worth less and unable to be built up stronger than ever before?
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
I am happy to say that I found my happiness in England.  The anxiety attacks which still plagued me every now and then up until 2011 stopped as soon as I relocated back to Europe.  It amazes me that the personal triggers and situations that I knew all too well, do not phase me in my ex-pat life abroad.  I finally feel like myself.  I am not saying I do not ever get sad. I am not immune to monthly mood swings, culture shock and homesickness.  I recognize that things like ‘seasonal depression’ do exist with the changing seasons and shorter days.  For me personally I focus on a more positive look at life and I know what things can quickly turn my mood around. Cuddles from my boys, kisses from my husband, and being outside on a country walk do more for me than my pills could have done.  It makes me thankful to know that life does get better.
The photographs in this post were from my project, Secret Lies of Men & Women.  The middle image pictured was the main image chosen to represent my woman who was dependent on drugs and alcohol. The lie written on her hand states ‘i am inDEPENDENT’.  I chose to write the the word ‘dependent’ in all caps as it was the real truth visible in the image series. 

*Model: Pua | Make-up Artist: Dhyana Leung
**Photography by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |

War On Girls: ‘All I Need is Love’

“We all fail to appreciate each day just how much we already possess. 
Light, air, freedom, the companionship of friends.” 

Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
I Want More.  This is easily a subject that can attack us all no matter your sex or age.  Christmas is just around the corner and already ‘wish lists’ and Father Christmas are on my children’s radars.  At any time of the year I find myself holding several ‘want’ lists in my memory for either next month or as soon as it becomes feasible.  It is almost shocking how often our ‘wants’ are disguised by the word ‘need’.  As a consumer I see how the newest phone releases send out the message that you need to have the newest model to keep up with with the rest of the world.  In our current day technology ages faster than ever before, but the need to want more is not a new phenomena. 
I Need More.  As a girl growing up I remember wanting the latest new thing.  I fell in love with the American Girl dolls and loved when I got a new catalog so I could circle all the new items that I just had to have.  Though an iconic toy from my childhood, they would be replaced by other material items through out my life.  As a photographer I feel as if I am always ‘in need’ of the newest and latest or just better item then what I have in my kit. It is not like we are going to wake up one day and realise we do not need something that we want.  It would have to be a self made choice to find happiness in life and not in the material world.  
Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Materialism and the War on Girls.  How does this affect our younger generations of girls growing up in today world where society is heavily centered around consumerism?  When I was growing up as a teenager overseas I had moved on to catalogs geared towards clothing for teenage girls like Delia’s and Alloy.  Every time a new issue would come in I would be plagued with things I wanted and ‘had to have’ and then would bug my parents for new clothes.  I cannot imagine what it would be like today with a teenage daughter.  Mail order catalogs have pretty much been replaced with hoards of online shopping options.  Add that with the bombardment of materialism messages sent out from online,  fashion blogs, television shows and movies, magazines, advertisements, and visual stimuli available by smart phones.  Top that off with the cherry of viewing others for what they have and you have not and it becomes a pit of never being satisfied.
All I Need Is Love.  I took the photos in this blog as part of a photographic series I did entitled ‘The Secret Lies of Men & Women’.  While the woman shows you the lie written on her hand ‘All I need is love’  you can see visually the truth being that she feels she really needs money and love of designer purses with the image of credit cards, cash, and purses.  When does needing material hide what we really want out of life?  Are we missing out on other areas of our life, relationships, or opportunities because we are more focused on what we do not have?  How does this affect the relationships we make and the ones that are continuing in our life?
 Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
  1. You ARE valuable.  Life  in itself is so precious.  We never know how long we will have on this life or with the people we cherish most.  Remind the girls you know, that they are valued in your life and in the world.  The focus should be on the person and not on what a person has or has not in life. 
  2. Your self worth comes from the inside.  A person’s worth is not based on numbers or possessions.  Nor is a person’s beauty about their place in society or how they look on the outside.  You are beautiful with our without the must have fashion item of the moment.  You are beautiful in your skin. You do not have to be deemed ‘perfect’ by someone else to be worth a second of happiness. 
  3. Do not believe everything that you hear.  Just because you hear an advertisement that says you ‘need’ this or that to satisfy _______, it does not mean you have to believe it.  If you know a young girl who feels she needs to own something to be worth something to her peers, help her see her self worth.  Encourage, love, and inspire the girls around you to love life for more than material things in the world. 
Q: How do you see yourself in today’s ‘Material World’?

* Photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 
** Model: Lolo Leialoha Seabiscuit | Make-up Artist: Dhyana Leung

The War on Girls: Poetry Slam

I have gotten a really great response from you all about my War on Girl series.  So when I saw this video on Upworthy today I knew I had to share it here on the blog. It expresses so beautiful in the use of poem form the pressure we as women feel to take up less space in the world.  This does not start as women, this begins as girls as we watch the woman around us.  I cannot say more about this because the video speaks volumes.  Meet Lily Myers whose poetry slam ‘Shrinking Women‘ won Best Love Poem at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in April. 

Watch the Video via Upworthy

“You have been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in. You learn from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence. You used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much. I learned to absorb. I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself. I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters.” – Lily Myers (Shrinking Women)
Q: How did this video make you feel about the way society treats 
women and men in today’s world? Tell me your thoughts!  

The War on Girls: Education & Bloggers

I have two sons.  I am their biggest advocate when it comes to their education. As a nomadic family you have to be.  With moving frequently my eldest son at eight years old has been home educated and has gone to five different schools in three states in the US and two countries. For me as a mum the biggest challenge facing my kids and education is just making sure my kids are not being held back from their potential.  I look at the spelling lists, the math work, and the lack of homework my sons have in the UK and I see how behind it is from schools my son attended in the US. My eldest went to an accelerated learning school for first grade and was doing algebraic equations for his math level.  That school worked with kids with what level they were at individually and did not hold them back or push them forward for the group.  It opened my eyes to the potential kids at young ages have to learn.  My first grader here in England came home this week with spelling words that included: go, to, and we. I have my son reading chapter books at home and he helps in reading paragraphs aloud in Harry Potter with us as a family. Not to mention I am certain the spelling words I worked with him on in home education a year ago were much harder.  It can be really frustrating as a parent especially as in the expat life and dealing with cultural differences.  Our solution so far is to do as much home education as we can in our free time on top of everything they are learning at school.  We have talked about revisiting the plan of home education full time at home if things do not progress at school.  This is my personal story with education and raising boys. What does it mean for the girls of our world?

I am glad that we are highly involved in our boys’ education and that we did not let the in-laws hostility towards home education ruin our plans to continue with it.  However not all children all over the world even have the luxury of freedom to go to school.  There are people who think girls should not get an education. Those who say ‘what is the point when they are not going to get a job’. These girls face the challenges of distance, poverty, and child marriage.  Instead of families advocating for their daughters education, there are girls who are banned from going to school and beaten for attending. Girls can be harassed by the community on their way to school. Dreams of girls continuing their education become dashed when forced into child marriages where taking care of the family replace their role of a student.

There are people standing up for change.  Like Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who is an activist and blogger standing up for education and women’s rights. She was shot in the head and the neck a year ago ‘in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus’.  This past friday Malala was at Harvard to accept the 2013 Peter J Gomes humanitarian reward.  You can read Malala Yousafzai’s blog here.

There are also groups of people advocating for change for girls around the world. I recommend you watch the video below about Because I Am A Girl, an initiative formed by the international charity organization Plan International
In the end I believe it is all our responsibilities to make sure our younger generations get an education.  I am so inspired by all the young girls out there advocating for their peers all over the world. It truly fights against the Miss Representation post I shared last week.

To read Malala’s blog:

The War on Girls: Miss Representation

What I write today for the War on Girls: How Society Has Failed Us, is not a new story nor the last  I want to share.  I did photography project in 2010 entitled The Secret Lies of Men & Women, which all began with one idea.  To share the story of women who get stuck in abusive relationships and feel they have no way out. I remember trying to help a friend in that situation and it tore me apart as the person on the outside.  It did not seem to matter what I said or what I did, I felt powerless in my attempt to stop it. I remember feeling crying to the police when I called them for help and they said in situations like these they could not really do much unless she comes forward.  It was terrifying for me to hear the things she told me that were happening, and more so when she defended the man when we talked to the police. What has society done to our women that we feel we get what deserve? My friend ended up getting a happy ending, but not so many are that fortunate.  I cannot help but think that our media is only continuing this problem.  With both the way men see women and the way we see ourselves.  I entitled this entry off a film I recommend you watch about how women are portrayed in the media: Miss Representation
Last week I continued this series with a talk about how magazines had a way of impacting my view of my self and the world from the impressionable age of a young girl.  In current times the social media has an even greater impact on our youth. They can easily spend half the day consuming media.  That is not media based on facts, but a value system that is dictated by marketing and advertisers.  Just take a look at the television programme, Mad Men.  It really opened my eyes to how the world of advertising works.  There is a product and for money people will say what people want to hear in order to feel the need to have it.  Otherwise it would be bad advertising and not help the number of sales for that product. It only takes my sons a short while watching television with their grandparents to start telling me what they want and repeating the commercial word for word.  Unfortunately the media is not only telling us how we should feel about certain products.  They are conditioning our minds with how we should look at women.  This essentially is making a woman an object and what could be more dehumanizing to an individual than making them into a thing.  
I love the idea of princesses and loved feeling like one in my wedding dress at my vow renewal this year. As a British American I grew up in love with Princess Diana and as a young girl fell in love with Disney princesses.  Now that I am an adult I have been looking in retrospect on the whole princess idea.  It seems like a good thing that got off course.  When did it go from being playtime of dress up and fun and into an unattainable but must have goal for our young girls?  They are not even into double digits in age and they are being told that they are not good enough.  I am the first person to tell you I love Disney and have so many fond memories as a child and as an adult to going to the ‘happiest place on earth’ with my family.  However, I look at how the princesses are manufactured and advertised to our girls and I get tears in my eyes.  The beloved princesses I grew up with are no longer ‘good enough’ and have received makeovers that make them look even more like beautiful adults on the verge of being too sexy.  I tried finding the same thing happening for our favourite male animations and honestly they still all look the same to me.  So why should our childhood role models need to have smaller waists, bigger boobs, more contoured faces with more make up and even better hair?  

If having to be a certain standard and a certain look is not enough it is the way women and girls are portrayed that start us out on the wrong outlook on life.  If princesses taught me anything it was that my ‘true love would come’.  It is a world of waiting and being saved.  I remember being elementary school aged and making my guys friends let me be the princess and telling them to come rescue me. I grew up watching the original Star Wars with my dad.  Princess Leia might have been a strong woman with quick one liners but she was no better than the other princesses I loved.  She was a princess needed to be rescued by two strong men (and a wookie) and again when dressed up this time as a sexy slave girl. 
Which brings me to my next point that the majority of women in the media are either portrayed as princesses waiting to be saved or as sex bombs.  If you are anything else you are probably not pretty enough, not thin enough, and not young enough.  After all it is about 70% of women on television that are portrayed in their twenties and thirties.  Is that when our beauty fades and we all have an expiration date?  Where are the real women and why are they pushed out of our media?  Why do the strong ones who make it through it then have to be scrutinized and objectified by how they look. It is never about their message or what they stand for but why they do or do not look a certain way.  In the film Miss Representation they clearly show how men in the media and news are destructive to empowered women and put them down.  It is either that those who say such things are just outward mean people or that they feel threatened.  Either way it is showing young girls that if you want to be in a position of power where you can make a change, you are going to be objectified for being a girl. Why does being a girl have to be any less than being a guy and why should men dictate what it should mean to be a girl?  The percentage of women in those high up decision making processes is so small that it is no wonder we live in a world of ‘teenage boys’.  A world where women can watch shows geared towards men but men would be looked down to be watching shows made for women.  What makes women second class citizens and why do we keep letting it happen?
I look at how men are portrayed in the world I lived.  I grew up in a conservative church where only men could have roles in worship.  While my British side has had queens and a female prime minister, my American side has yet to have a female president and hold less than 20% of political offices.  Men who sleep around a lot are portrayed as masculine and strong and women are portrayed as beautiful and those who sleep around a lot are sluts. It is a contradiction that has been brought up before but still happens today. It is just a part of how women are treated less fairly as men. Tell me the last time you saw men on a magazine showing how they had gained fifteen pounds and it was considered news. The only articles I could find in a quick search were those of men who had lost or gained a significant amount of weight for a movie role…for their profession.  Women can be too sexy but when is a man too sexy?  If a woman does modeling in her youth it can hinder her job prospects as an adult for being a woman and discredits everything else about her. I cannot come up with a perfect comparison for a man in the same regard.  
In the end change will only come with hard work. Despite where women are in today’s world we still have a long way to go to break up the stigmas and change how society looks at women.  If not for us for the little girls growing up in today’s world. 

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.” – MLK
This post is compilation of many conversations I have had over the years.   
I highly recommend you watch the trailer below for Miss Representation 
and then see the film if you have not yet.
*Main photo for this post belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved
**Disney photographs were found from and their article Sexy Merida Makeover