Baylor Graduate Student Says Our Stories Are Our Strongest Weapon

Baylor Graduate Student Says Our Stories Are Our Strongest Weapon

Lauren Bagwell fought her eating disorder with a poem.
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Her story is quickly circulating the web. She's the sorority girl whose TEDTalk about eating disorders is "beyond phenomenal," and according to Total Sorority Move, she's the true representation of a Greek woman.

Lauren Bagwell, affectionately referred to as "Bags," received her undergraduate degree in Social Studies Secondary Education from Baylor University in May, where she was a member of Chi Omega Sorority. She is currently a graduate student at Baylor in the Masters program for Curriculum and Instruction, and when she's not studying, playing soccer, or doing some ridiculous adventure like bungee jumping over a waterfall, she's writing poems. What people don't know about Lauren, is that she's been inspiring those around her for as long as I have known her, which is quite a while considering she's my cousin.

Image courtesy of Power of One Entertainment.

Lauren started writing and speaking poetry at the age of 15, and it has since grown to become one her favorite ways of expressing herself. But it's not as easy as you think. The poem she reads in her talk titled "Let's Flip the Golden Rule" at TEDxSMU was extremely difficult for her. It was vulnerable. It was deep.

"Often times I would hide behind the poem, but with every rough draft I grew a little stronger," Lauren recalls about her process of writing and sharing this poem. "Every time I shared it, the shame would disappear a little bit more."

Lauren went on to explain the power of storytelling. Even though sharing her story was difficult, it came with more benefits than anything else.

"Owning your story does not make you weak, it makes you stronger. And every time I share my poem I get a little stronger too. Poetry has given me an outlet to express my story in a way that others can relate to, and words cannot describe how grateful I am for that."

In this specific poem, Lauren talks about her battle with binge eating, which is an eating disorder that rarely gets talked about. She explained to me that it's negligence is a result of the stigma society has placed on it. Society has made it seem as if binge eating is more shameful, embarrassing, and unworthy of forgiveness than other eating disorders.

"Obviously, I cant speak for every one who has struggled with binge eating, but as far as my story goes, I was embarrassed. I tried to hide it. I thought I was alone and no one would understand what I was going through. That's why I wanted to share my poem. Even if just one person realizes that they are not alone, then it is all worth it."

As Lauren has made evident, she believes in the power of spoken word and the sharing of stories. She also has the desire to use her story and her words to change the world.

"When I talk about my disorder, it's as if the monster loses power," Lauren tells me as I ask about her passion for spoken word. "It was difficult, but each time I said it, I was in some way liberated."

Lauren's TEDTalk was done at an event held at Southern Methodist University in her hometown of Dallas, Tex. for a TEDxKids event. I asked Lauren why she thought this was an important age to address a problem like this with. Her answer was perfect: "These are my people!"

Although I was only able to read this response, I can easily imagine the excitement and loudness with which Lauren would express a statement like this. Her smile would be huge, and her blue eyes would be sparkling with passion.

"These kids are the world changers we've been waiting for. They are at such a critical age where nothing makes sense and insecurities are almost unavoidable. For me, I was in middle school when my eating disorder developed. As a result, I want these kids to know what I wish I would have known as a seventh grader."

So what does she want them to know?

"We were not meant to live in shame or in chains. There is freedom in sharing your story, even if it's just with one person. Someone as unique as you is worth fighting for."

If you haven't checked out Lauren's talk yet, stop reading this, scroll down, watch her video, and be inspired.

I've always looked up to Lauren, and I don't think that's something that will ever change. At one point in time, that meant matching Fourth of July dresses and unicorn tattoos, but today it means dreaming of inspiring people like she does.

We might not all be as well-spoken and bold as Lauren Bagwell, but we all have a story. So let's share them. Let's change the world one story, one poem, or one article at a time.

Check out Lauren's TEDTalk video, below!



Cover Image Credit: TEDx Talks

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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