Or, the persistence of nostalgia.

Photo by Ciaran O’Brien on Unsplash

I lived in South Korea for four years. During that time, I traveled throughout the country and was able to travel to other countries between work contracts. A month in France, a week in Hong Kong. Travel was a huge part of my life.

And then my life changed. I moved to the US and for three years, I haven’t set foot on a plane. Finances grew tighter and time off from work was short. Still, visits to Canada and weekends or day trips to various nearby cities offered some of the variety that I craved.

Finally, we started planning…

When class and societal roles are more fluid than in eras past, there are new ways to identify the have and the have-nots.

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

As a professional beauty and lifestyle writer, I have researched many fashion brands. Something becomes clear as I look at boutique indie brands, higher-end luxury, and sustainable brands: these brands are typically only for thin women.

I remember rolling my eyes harder than is probably recommended when I read one brand’s mission to “empower” women and help them feel their best. Yet the brand only went up to a US size 10. They only want to empower women who are thin and therefore already celebrated by society as a whole. And sustainable brands claim they are trying to make a…

After living in Korea and traveling around East Asia for years, I came back to America to realize how little Americans know about the region.

Photo by Kim Jin Cheol on Unsplash

I grew up in small-town America, adjacent to some bigger cities, but in a community that still had agricultural roots. Returning there after traveling the world and living abroad was bound to be a case for reverse culture shock.

Even after moving to a more diverse part of the states in a suburb of one of its largest cities, it was still pretty clear that many (not all, but a surprising number of) Americans don’t know much about the world beyond their own national borders. When talking about places with the coldest and darkest winters on earth, they’ll say Alaska…

Men often desire tenderness most of all.

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Something I’ve learned in almost 5 years of marriage is that for men in a long-term relationship it isn’t about having someone for sex on-demand or having someone to help make sure they are taken care of and eat regular meals. Having a partner can include those things, but the thing I’ve noticed that my partner and those of my friends want most of all is tenderness.

In Western society, men don’t have many opportunities to express themselves emotionally. The expectation seems to be that men are stoic, and often the only emotion they are allowed to show is anger…

As trends toward animal-free products gain popularity, it’s clear that there must be one exception: wool.

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I remember the first time I saw Peta’s anti-wool campaign. Images of bloody and battered lambs as the apparent result of the violence of sheep-shearing were shocking to me. Not because they opened my eyes to the evils of wool, but because I grew up in an agricultural community and had family members who raised sheep. I was shocked that so many people believed this to be true when I knew the reality to be different.

These ad campaigns may be very effective for…

I used to work for a ghostwriting firm and the list of clients may surprise you.

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“How can people publish multiple books in a year? It takes me two or three years to finish just one!” In online writing communities, I’ve often seen authors bemoaning the amount of competition in even the self-publishing industry.

While traditional publishing has been a hyper-competitive world for a long time, self-publishing is leaning in that direction now too. Self-published authors can feel a lot of pressure since they must be their own publisher and marketer. …

Working on making home a place I actually want to be.

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This past fall, I found myself standing in the supermarket staring at a collection of tiny gourds in various colors. They were not for eating, but for decorating. For the first time in my life, I thought to myself, “I would enjoy having tiny pumpkins displayed in my house. How seasonal.”

This impulse surprised me. I grew up in a household where survival was the goal, not enjoyment. Decorating was something frivolous and unnecessary. …

Is our idea of cleanliness and hygiene all wrong? I did the research and a personal experiment to see.

Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

When people think about the past, particularly the so-called “middle ages” of Europe, they have a very strong picture of people who we miserable, ill-educated, and of course, filthy. Most modern people can’t imagine skipping a shower for more than a day or two without developing a socially unacceptable odor, so obviously, these people who we assume never bathed at all must have reeked like an open sewer, right?

Well, no. The way we frame history often has to do with our perception of ourselves as modern people and the assumption that we do things better than anyone who has…

I used to be one of them, but here’s how my thinking has shifted.

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“I don’t just feel like I was born in the wrong generation, but in completely the wrong era!” This type of statement, whether from a dreamy teenager, an enthusiastic reenactor, or a quirky bookish sort of person is not uncommon. Usually, the statement is followed up with a few reasons why they wish they lived in the past: the clothes, the manners, the soda fountains.

History is often presented in an incredibly biased way. As with many modern ideas, you can blame it on the Victorians. Amateur archeology was on the rise in the 19th century and any man with…

I was bound to stand out for many reasons, including my body shape.

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

I have never been thin by any standard, at least not since puberty struck. While I was trained from an early age to see my body as a project to be improved, it didn’t hold me back. I loved to travel and have adventures, so when the chance to move to South Korea appeared shortly after graduating, I jumped at it.

The scale had always been my enemy, so how would I fare in one of the thinnest countries in the world? …

Odessa Denby

Professional writer and editor, former expat. Conscientious lifestyle and relationships, mental health, and the arts. Instagram: des_the_crafty_fox

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