People often ask what 'body positivity' means to me and the answer has simply always been 'self love', not just for yourself but towards others as well. It is about self acceptance regardless of your shape, size, age, sexuality, background, ethnicity, physical abilities or gender (or gender identification)
It is about lifting eachother up and never shaming another in order to validate oneself. That to me, has always been the definition of body positivity.
We all know that finding confidence can be a rough road sometimes; It is safe to say that most people have something they dislike about their bodies.
It's been very important to me to talk to people about acceptance and love and help them discover that they are MORE than just their appearance or a number on the scale.
A lot of people prior to hearing my story have this pre-conceived idea of who I am because of the line of work I do and they are often surprised to find out that my upbringing was not all that rosy. I did not grow up with any special privileges and came from a broken home, with an unstable mother whom was physically and emotionally abusive. My parents split up when I was around 5 and I spent my childhood moving back and forth between my grandparents and mother. At the age of 5 I was molested by a close friend of my mother, a person she considered like a 'brother' and had I to call 'uncle'. The abuse went on for 2 years and I was manipulated into silence and shame and struggled with this well into my late teens.
My grandparents were my saving grace and they eventually gained full custody over me when I was about 10. I broke off all contact with my mother a few years later and haven't seen or spoken to her since. Though I struggle with feelings of guilt from time to time I am also thankful to have given myself this freedom.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is cut toxic people out of your life, especially if they happen to be family.
High School was another very difficult time for me..I was bullied severely and often ate lunch in the bathroom stalls to avoid confrontation. I was extremely desperate as a child to make friends. In my despair I'd often try to 'buy' friendship by giving stuff to other kids in the hopes that they would befriend me...Of course I'd only end up being used and made fun of even more. When I was 14 I was overpowered by 3 older boys in the same bathroom that provided me with my 'hide-out' and sexually assaulted.
I remember the jokes very clearly on how I wouldn’t be fat anymore once they were done with me and how they needed a bag to cover my ugly face.
I ended up dropping out of high school and struggled with PTSD, anxiety and depression. I still battle depression to this day but have come to terms with it to the point where it does not control my life. Mental health is something that is often very misunderstood. I wish it was discussed more openly as it is often treated like a taboo subject, if not taken serious at all. (Which is exactly why I am so open about it) The thing I have come to learn the most is that it's OKAY to not be okay sometimes.
Self care is important and you should never feel guilty for looking after yourself. You are so much more than your depression and are worthy of happiness.
I became a lover of art in my mid teens and became immersed in painting, sketching and writing. I was a daydreamer and loved anything creative (and still do!) I started working at a local hair salon as an assistant at the age of 15 and attended Cosmetology school to become a make up artist.
I've always been fascinated by make-up and cosmetics growing up and was (and still am) heavily influenced by Film Noir, B- Movies, Vaudeville, Comics and Gothic Novels.
I began doing make up for photo shoots and started experimenting with photo shoots myself at the age of 15 as a way of self-expression and rebellion. These shoots were gore filled horror tributes with not an ounce of glamour in sight. I was not ready for glamour. I wanted to shock and create characters as far from my own persona as possible, to escape.
At the age of 17 I found myself ready to actually really escape, I packed up my bags, bought a 1 way ticket to London, England and never looked back..
I felt like I had just given myself a fresh start to live by my own rules . I continued modeling and slowly started my horror to glamour transition and began to feel its liberating effects. To feel in control of my sexuality and sensuality was something special and new to me….I looked up to strong female icons such as Mae West, Maila Nurmi, Eartha Kitt and Marlene Dietrich to find my inner diva as well as revolutionary dames such as Emma Goldman, Gloria Steinem, Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou.
Ladies who paved the way for strength and independence.
As my confidence and business grew so did the criticism and the hate mail. There were times where I found myself in tears because of some stranger’s words.
I would later learn that no matter how perfect, beautiful or popular you are there will always be someone out there who will hate you for it and started to live by the motto
‘what other people think of you is none of your business’
As time grew my modeling journey transitioned more and more into a message of self-love and acceptance. I came to understand that happy, confident people do not bully others which helped me see these people in a different light and let go of any malevolence I was feeling towards them. See the thing is, there is nothing wrong with you or your body.
There are no wrong or right ways to have a body. Our looks do not define who we are. We are not a ‘before and after picture’, we would not be more beautiful if we lost some weight or ‘ate a cheeseburger’. We should not apologize for who we are. We are big, small, tall, short, lean, curvy, athletic and whatever else they choose to be or identify as.
We are all real, unique and perfect in our own ways. Let's not let the pressure of society cause a divide between our unity.
Our lives are not a beauty pageant or contest and in order to start truly loving yourself you must let go of comparing yourself to others.
There are infinite ways to be beautiful and you are so in your own way.
Your body and health are no one’s business but your own. Live by your own rules and do what makes you happy..
Stop scrutinizing every inch of your body and start appreciating yourself as a whole human being from the inside and out.
You were not brought into this world for the sole purpose of being eyecandy to others. That would be a discredit to yourself.
Find the things you love about yourself as a person first and celebrate the wonderful being you are because you cannot measure your spirit, heart and soul on a scale.