Self love means being kind and caring to our minds, bodies, and souls, even in times when we feel lower than low. This valentine's day photo is a reminder of my confidence and growth as I learn to let go of the thoughts and opinions of others- not only about my body, but in every aspect of life.
When I was younger, I was very overweight, and painfully shy. I struggled with self image, and self love. When I was sad, I ate. When I was happy, I ate. When I was angry, I ate. I had an unhealthy relationship with food, thinking of it as a reward rather than fuel for my body and mind.
I was always the last to finish the mile run at school, and I dreaded gym class. Even the thought of going to the swimming pool in the summer time made me feel nervous. More than anything I wanted to feel strong. I wanted to run like the other kids, and not feel weak and out of breath. I couldn't stand the shade of bright pink blush that flooded my chubby cheeks anytime I exerted any physical exercise.
It took me many years to develop healthier habits. Though I started eating healthier foods, and I worked out regularly... most of the actual work was purely mental. I had to change the way I thought about food entirely. I had to pay attention to what my body needed as fuel. For me, the most helpful step was identifying that I wanted to be healthier and STRONGER- not smaller. I tried new activities to keep active and l in love with performing arts.
The arts really changed everything for me. The arts gave me an outlet to which I could keep my mind and body actively working, rather than eating out of boredom or lack of interest. The arts showed me how being active could be fun! I didn't have natural interest in sports, and running on a treadmill starring at a wall sounded like the most cruel punishment. Dancing to Footloose or music from Hairspray was fun, and expressive. Dancing and singing and moving around on stage kept me active, and joyful. I never thought that years later I’d be acting and modeling in NYC... which later brought on new pressures.
It's no secret that the modeling/ fashion industry has a very narrow view of beauty. Though campaigns like #aeriereal are becoming more present in the media, there are still pressures that can cause serious anxiety and health issues among models in the industry.
Growing up and being excluded and judged because of my size, gave me valuable insight about the people around me, and the people I choose to surround myself with today. As soon as I started looking healthier, stronger, and thinner... I suddenly received more positive interaction from my peers. People who had made fun of me behind my back, or excluded me from the group wanted to be friends with me. This experience showed me that people can be very shallow; but also it showed me that we're all at some point in our lives insecure about something. Also kids can be mean, and looks aren't everything.
I do believe that we are closer to achieving healthier standards and body positivity in the fashion industry, and the more we can talk about our experiences and share our stories, the more opportunity we have to inflict change.
My Instagram undie photo isn’t about showing skin, it’s about loving myself no matter where I'm at in life, through the good, the bad, and the uncertainty of it all. Embrace the quirks, not the smirks! It's what's on the INSIDE that truly matters.
Thank you to this amazing group of fierce women:
📸 @lucyschaeffer @martha_bernabe @conroyland @makeupwithdani @gracie_mccgov @bellaagency