Influencer & Event Planner
Founder Laura Jane interviews friend Rachel Lunghi of @laceandlikes. The social media influencer and wedding event planner talks about relationships, insecurities and navigating being a positive social media influence.
Laura Jane: How did you grow up thinking about your body?
Rachael: That is such a good question. I think I’ve been made to feel comfortable in my own skin. My mom always had cool conversations with me about the way I look. I grew up religious and my mom would always say things to me like, this is how you were created and you can honor that within yourself. She encouraged me and told me I was beautiful and all of that. She would say, just remember that you are beautiful as you are. She was a positive influence in that regard. She started those conversations very early on.
When I was very little, I was a kid model. My mom had these conversations with me so early because I was going through that. She never wanted me to feel insecure. She always communicated with me, even if other girls beat me for the job. She would say, you weren’t the right look and that isn’t because you aren’t beautiful or that you’re not good enough. She would encourage me and never let it get to me. And that was really positive.
Around high school, when everyone was going through puberty and everyone was changing, I was still awkward and had braces and a unibrow. I started waxing it and my body was changing and I went through all the things that everyone went through. I remember comparing myself to other girls. I’ve always had specific insecurities—everyone has those. I think that’s when insecurities really root themselves. I didn’t grow as much as I wanted to. I’ve always had thighs. I have them now and I always will. I’m more curvy and I’m short. And I’ve always struggled with skin issues. As I’ve aged, I’ve been more successful in accepting those things about myself and trying to work with them and being a confident individual and not nitpicking those topics.
Through college, I got better at taking care of myself. I tried to eat better. I had the opportunity to build my habits and make choices that were different from my parents. I stopped drinking soda and I was working out. I felt like I grew into myself a little bit more and felt like I wanted to be a healthy person. That became a priority. I didn’t want to overdo it. I try to be healthy, not stick thin. I’ve gotten much more down with my curves as I’ve aged. I think they are so great for anyone who has them. I’m all about it. It’s just part of growing up.
LJ: What has come up for you recently regarding body image?
R: I am doing this new diet to see what happens with my skin because my skin has always been an issue for me. I think I’ve always been more strict about my diet for skin related stuff. More recently, I’ve been at this place where I’m trying to accept when my skin is going to flare up. I eat mindfully, but I try to not focus so much on my perception all the time. I get really bad acne on my cheeks. It ebbs and flows. It’s always been my biggest insecurity. As I’m aging, I’m learning to let go of that. As an adult, acne can be so detrimental. It has sent me into depression before. But I’m getting to a place now where I’m owning my skin as it is and trying to be okay with it not being totally perfect. I’m still trying to live my life on the more natural side and not feel like I have to cover up whatever blemishes I have.
What’s so funny is that people don’t even notice it as much as you do, until you point it out or you name it. For whatever reason, we think everyone is looking at these things when they are really not. I have a bunch of friends who are supermodels and I have seen them with zits on their face and it’s comforting. They are just owning it without makeup and they are like, this is where I’m at.
LJ: You have a robust social media following, a really lovely aesthetic and loyal followers—what is being on social media with that sort of presence like for you?
R: It’s a roller coaster. In my personal account and my lifestyle one, I definitely think things over. I totally will over-think the post. I go through phases with it. Sometimes, I’m not feeling inspired. Then sometimes, I feel like there is something big on my heart that I want to share. It is vulnerable and I try to be vulnerable on it.
I definitely go through phases. It does feel like a lot of pressure sometimes and it does feel like a watching eye. I want to be careful with my content and with the words I’m using. I want to be inspiring and encouraging and positive. I try to focus on those things when it starts to be a bummer. So sometimes, if I take a minute, I can come back to it refreshed. Because it is a lot, you have to try to have thick skin and have a good head on about it and you have to try to not compare yourself to supermodels who have these huge following. I want the people that follow me to feel like it’s genuine. I want to be open.
Other women have made comments to me about being an influencer, they have made judgments, they don’t think I should be mixing myself and my femininity and my business. There can be a lot of judgment in the industry, other women may feel like you’re bleeding into different genres that make them feel uncomfortable. I know I’m a very strong woman. I know that about myself. It’s one of my biggest strengths and one of my biggest weaknesses. I’m comfortable with myself and my body. I see my social media as a platform to encourage other women to be confident in their bodies and in their businesses. I feel like I’ve been given a strength and an audience for a purpose and I want to protect that strength and confidence and don’t want to have to apologize for it. When other women are uncomfortable, I feel like that’s a deep issue with them.
LJ: Have you ever had trolls on your page?
R: I recently did a campaign with a brand who was so good to me. They tagged both businesses and wrote something really nice. Then these high school age boys, they made some pretty mean comments and I happened to scroll and look at it. I typically don’t. I try to keep an encouraging environment. I tried to not let it get to me. They wrote some really mean things, basically saying I looked like a dude. I also was like, that has nothing to do with me and they feel the need to be bullies and it’s something going on with them. It will always blow my mind, how hurtful people can be. I always want to be an encouraging influencer and create a community that is positive
I have always had pretty thick skin. I commented back to them and said, I am a real person with feelings. And then I tagged them both. And they went back and deleted their comments. I was like, okay, good. If I say something back that is nice, they can at least see me. In a car, people can be really aggressive. It’s the same behind a computer screen or a phone. I know that I have strong features. It wasn’t a great photo of me. It wasn’t what I would have picked, but I didn’t care about that. It’s their thing, it’s their campaign. They get to choose.
LJ: You have such beautiful photos on your Instagram that include your own nudity. What has that experience been like for you of posting those and what is your relationship with nudity?
R: I’ve always been comfortable with nudity—I think it’s something that starts from a very young age. I remember being very little and showering with my mom and it wasn’t weird. My family was always open about conversations about nudity and bodies.
A while back, I did a photoshoot with my friend, she was pushing her level of grit and rawness. She wanted to do a nude photo shoot and I posed for her. And I loved the photos. I wouldn’t have done that with just anybody, I pretty much would have only done it with her. I was still dating my ex-boyfriend at the time and we were talking about those photos and he was so upset. He was so worried she would post them and tag me in them. And I had to shut him down. I felt empowered by those photos—they are so beautiful and tasteful. I think they are artful. I don’t look at them and see myself and worry what someone is going to say. I look at them and see art.
I went to Iceland recently and I was traveling with all of these women and before we got in the hot springs, we all had to go into this shower together. There were all types of women and all types of bodies. And it was so beautiful. I appreciate women’s form so much, I really do. I just think that women are incredible and all of their bodies are so different and so unique. That is something to celebrate and admire and to see the good in each other instead of being hurtful and judgmental.
I think if you can get to this level of comfortability, it’s really special. It’s amazing when you feel comfortable to change in front of your friends and pee in the same bathroom. I feel a level of comfortability with my followers. I will push things a little bit but I wouldn’t take it to that next level. I want to be thoughtful of the entire audience but it’s hard when I work with brands. I do these influencer hostings, but I still want to encourage images that are a little gritty. I think I generally know what my followers can handle, I think I know how far I can push it.
LJ: I know you’ve been in some serious relationships and I’m curious how that’s been a part of the way you see yourself.
R: One of my first boyfriends cheated on me several times. That was crushing, soul crushing. I had really good friends around me and they helped me through that. But it was really hard. I was really insecure for a long time and I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I went through that again with my ex-husband. He left because he said he didn’t want to be married anymore. That was so harsh, relationally. I am so grateful for it now. I’ve been in a pattern for a very long time where men’s decision make me feel like I’m not good enough. I have felt like I could offer physical attraction, but that the rest of me wasn’t good enough. But that’s why I say focus on your best character traits. Physicality goes away.
Now I know that those relationships ended not because I wasn’t good enough, but because they weren’t right for me and that’s okay. If it didn’t work, it wasn’t meant to be. My past relationship was so hard. I was a wreck. But I was able to pick myself up. I had to regain feeling good about myself when this person rejected me as a wife and as a forever partner. I think I grew from that. You can’t put your whole weight into getting everything from someone else. You have to get it from yourself.
LJ: What advice would you give to other women who want to have a positive body image?
R: Surrounding yourself with really positive people, is the first thing I would tell everyone to do in their life. Positive people are going to encourage you and love your flaws. They are going to help build you up, not tear you down.
I want women to empower each other and I want women to be empowered over all. I want them to be treated equally and respected. I think the most beautiful sign of a women’s confidence is when she can think another woman is beautiful and not feel threatened or insecure.
I think it’s about owning the skin that you’re in. If you can get to self love, that’s the goal. And self love is not just pertaining to your body image, it is an internal mediation on who you are and what you want, what you know of yourself, how you are doing to build this outward confidence that relates to your body. And that isn’t only just accepting your body but loving yourself. I think it’s about being where you’re at and loving that person through whatever season of live you may be in.
This interview has been edited and condensed.