Making It 101: Sarah Johannesen

Sarah  ies quite literally a light in every room she walks into. She personifies the phrase small yet mighty. From her previous struggles with anorexia, she's created her blog Golden, a place where people can come to dispell the myths perpetuated by body-shaming and celebrate who they are. As she prepares to graduate this summer, we set down to talk about where she's come from and where she plans to go from here.

Almost It Girl: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

SJ: I'm 22, from Houston, TX. I pretty much grew up there my whole life. Originally, I went to school in California for two years before transferring to UT (The University of Texas).

Almost It Girl: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind your blog.

SJ: Growing up I loved acting, and I was really passionate about letting people know how beautiful they were. Even from a young age, it's something I always wanted them to know. But then you hear a lot of messages from society about how you need to "fix yourself", or how you "shouldn't have a stomach" or whatever it is. And then going to college, I went to Biola University, and at first, it was good. But going into spring semester I just became really depressed, which is odd because I'm a really joyful person. I didn't know what was wrong with me, and I felt really lonely. So I took those feelings and tried to shove them down. I tried to work out more and cut out food. I listened to the lies that society said, to be thinner, to not eat certain things.
I tried to work out more and cut out food. I listened to the lies that society said, to be thinner, to not eat certain things.

I relied on that to have a sense of accomplishment and to feel pretty.

Almost It Girl: What happened then?

SJ: I went home for the summer, and my mom was so worried. She looked at me and said, "Sarah, you've lost so much weight." And I didn't even notice, I was so wrapped up in my thoughts. I wasn't noticing the things I was doing to my body physically. I went back for my sophomore year and had friends reach out to me too. That's when I realized that it might be an issue, and I began to pray about it. I never thought I'd have this issue, I felt bad for the girls that did but never thought it'd be me.

I never thought I'd have this issue, I felt bad for the girls that did but never thought it'd be me.
 Then one day I got home from a run, and broke down and started crying. I was finally like, this isn't normal. I felt so broken and empty inside. And I said, "God if this is really an issue have someone pray for me  in bible study tonight." Then that night a boy asked to pray for me, and that's when I knew.

Almost It Girl: So how did that lead to your blog?

SJ:I had so much fear, and insecurity surrounding my body. So when I started my recovery from anorexia, I learned so much about health and nutrition. Not in a societal, diet culture way but just the idea of loving myself.  It really altered my viewpoint on life, and how I live my life. So I wanted other girls who'd been through what I've been through or even who haven't to know the freedom that comes from being able to listen to your body. That's how Golden started.

Almost It Girl: Where did the name Golden come from?

SJ: We are all golden, and we all have that beauty within us it's just about realizing that it's there. I believe that we're all so beautiful and we're all so golden. And while I can't take away all of the negativity on the internet, I want to be a space that can counter that. That's my dream for Golden, to be a place that girls can come to remind them that they don't have to fix anything.

Almost It Girl: And you also have a podcast? Tell me about that.

SJ: I started interning for a podcaster named Jamie Ivey. At first, it wasn't really a thought of mine to have a podcast, but as I worked for her I thought about it more. And I'd always loved acting which is basically just speaking to people. And as much as I love blogging, sometimes I feel like I can't type fast enough for my thoughts. I knew I wanted it to be about as long as a car ride, just about 20 minutes. I had the idea but wasn't really sure how to get started.

So then I met a friend when I went home to Houston, and we shared our stories and really connected. We were immediately like we should do a podcast together. The first episode is called, "The Truth about Gluttony." It's about how gluttony can be more than just eating too much, but also not eating enough. We just wanted to share our truths, and be open and vulnerable.

Almost It Girl: And what's next for Golden?

SJ: Ultimately I'd love to get non-profits involved and turn it into a business. I'd like to continue writing, and then eventually write a book. It's a goal of mine. I don't want it to be about who I know, I want people to be encouraged by my content. If one person reads it and gets encouraged by it then that's awesome.

You can read Sarah's blog Golden, here. And check out her podcast, here

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