I was invited to a pool party in the third grade for a classmate’s birthday. From the moment I received the invitation, I could barely contain my excitement. Swimming was always one of my favorite activities. The day of the party arrived and I slipped into my blue one-piece swimsuit that I wore for swim practice and dashed to the pool to join the other girls playing mermaids, although the fun didn’t last long. My excitement was quickly shattered when one of the girls at the party said I looked like the Michelin Man. At first, I didn’t understand. Why would she tell me this? Surely, my nine-year-old body didn’t resemble the Michelin Man whose body was made of well, tires, that created large roles from head to toe.
From that day forward, I began to believe the hurtful words that were said to me. I would stare at my reflection and ask myself why I was so fat and why I didn’t look like the other girls in my class. Every single day I would wake up and say, I’m going to start losing weight today. This lasted throughout my teenage years. When I was in high school if I knew we would be around a pool or a hot tub I would purposely “forget” my swimsuit because I couldn’t bare the thought of someone seeing me in a swimsuit. Looking back now, it makes me sad that I let my insecurities about my body hold me back in life.
At 5 foot 10 inches tall and a size 12/14, I am much larger than most women and I felt like a monster compared the women I grew up seeing in the glossy pages of magazines. My journey of accepting my body and loving myself has not been an easy one. For me, seeing women of all sizes in the media like Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, and many others has been a huge factor in loving the parts of my body I once hated. I had to intentionally change my way of thinking about my body. I started by focusing on the things I loved about my body rather than the things I hated. Yes, my stomach rolls over my jeans when I sit down and my thighs are sprinkled with cellulite, but this body is what gives me life and it’s beautiful! My size does not define who I am as a person and that took me a long time to realize.
Today I’m sharing with you, my favorite collaboration to date! I’m excited to partner with Aerie as part of their #AerieReal campaign. Aerie was one of the first major brands to take a stance against retouched images and promoting an unrealistic body image for women. Aerie made a decision to showcase their models in their natural, unretouched state. They spread the conversation with the #AerieReal campaign, encouraging women to share images of their photoshop-free bodies.
I want to thank Aerie for allowing me to be a part of their #AerieReal campaign and for spreading body positivity and helping young girls and women find their confidence. I truly believe that Aerie has been a trailblazer in evoking conversations about unhealthy body standards in the fashion industry. It’s about time that we shatter the false and unrealistic beauty standards we have been surrounded by for far too long.