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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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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8 Old Katelyn Tarver Songs You Probably Haven't Heard

None of her new songs will ever go as hard as "Chasing Echoes" and that's a fact.

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Years ago, I found (through iTunes recommendations) a pretty cool female artist. Later found out she was on "Big Time Rush", and then I found out she had some new songs out. I decided to give her new songs a listen, and they're good. However, I prefer some of her older stuff, which sadly isn't on Spotify. Fortunately, YouTube exists, and I'm here to share the best ones.


1. "Wonderful Crazy"

This is just a fun, upbeat song for when you're having a good day. Would recommend playing in your car with the windows rolled down.

2. "Rain"

I have a very specific memory of a time when this song blessed my life, but for all intents and purposes, it is a beautiful and happy song.

3. "I'll Make It Real"

This is a beautiful song with a wonderful message about staying true to yourself. I used to listen to it on the way to school every day my senior year of high school.

4. "Something In Me"

Featured in the greatest show of all time, "South of Nowhere" season 1 episode 6. A very relatable breakup mood.

5. "Love Alone"

This is definitely the second-hardest-hitting song she's ever released. The fact that this is not on Spotify or even iTunes anymore is just not fair.

6. "Favorite Girl"

This one's cute and upbeat, a definite crush mood. Not on the same level as "Love Alone", but it's still underrated.

7. "Closer to My Heart"

Another cute love song. I'll tie it with "Everything" for cutest love song on her first album. Highly recommend both.

8. "Chasing Echoes"

Facts are facts and the facts are that Katelyn Tarver's new stuff could never go as hard as "Chasing Echoes". I can't even begin to explain how deeply these lyrics cut through me when I was fifteen. Even now, this song can take me all the way back. She is robbing us by not making this available on streaming services (or even to purchase). Katelyn, bring this song back, I am begging you.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying the new stuff and am excited to see what's next.

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