Q: What got you into body positivity and why is it important to you?
A: I was the plus size daughter, sister, cousin, and friend all my life. Due to this, I acquired a thick skin.
It was either love who I am or join the masses who didn’t approve of my body. My size never bothered me and I loved me for me. I want to spread that to women who don’t see that or lack that self-esteem.
I want my children to have that same confidence. That’s why I push this movement. Your body is a vessel. It doesn’t define you. It’s who you are from the inside out that defines you. I think people lose sight of that.
Q: Have there been any one or two experiences that have stuck out to you on your journey to self love?
A: Like I said, all my life I battled my weight. I have a list of positive and negative experiences.
My lowest of the low was when my husband had an affair.
Because of my depression, I ate to the point where I gained over 100 pounds and I lost myself. I weighed almost 400 pounds.
I allowed him and the woman he had an affair with take all my confidence and self-esteem away. Because of this, I had given them permission to break me.
Luckily, I turned that around. I took control of me, and the situation. Because I reclaimed my power, I found a better, more confident version of myself.
I recreated myself and I grow daily for the better!
Q: How and why did you get into modeling?
A: If you told me a year ago that I would be modeling, I would laugh and think you were nuts.
This past August, I was shopping at a plus size boutique owned by a woman named Angela Samuels. On that particular day, she had some women modeling some of her clothes in the store for a photoshoot.
I’ve joked with Angela for years that I should work for her. I didn’t realize that in the store that day, one of the models – Hourglass Cath – would notice me. She insisted that she use me for her fall line.
I got a call from her that night and I jumped at the opportunity. The four months since that night have truly been a whirlwind.
Who would have thought at 40-years-old I would have an opportunity like this? I’m glad I took it. It empowered me even more.
Q: What affect do you feel the modeling industry has had on your effort to accept your body and all bodies?
A: It just gave me such a boost of confidence. Four months ago, if you looked at my social media, all I had was pictures of my face. Not in a million years (as much as I loved my body) would I dare show it off.
The plus size modeling is mainstream now. Women are embracing their curves, their rolls, etc. It’s showing women that it’s okay not to be a size 6 because a size 16 is just as beautiful.
The industry is finally helping realize it’s okay… beauty is beyond size. It has given me a new sense of confidence.
Yes, I have a pretty face, but my body is beautiful too. This was the missing piece to me. That realization is what I was lacking in the self-esteem department. Modeling just allowed me to find it and express it more.
Q: If you could change one thing about the media, what would it be?
A: I’d tell them to stop putting so much emphasis on the Gigi’s and the Kendall’s in this world. Girls today have so much pressure between social media and society.
By praising these women, girls don’t think they’re good enough. Extreme diets, injections, and surgery are just what this generation does to keep up with the image of what a woman should look like. It’s pretty sad.
I had it bad growing up, but the pressure I felt to be thin is nowhere near what girls face today.
Q: How do your children inspire you?
A: My children are amazing. They push me to better myself. They push me to be me. My kids have been so encouraging of all the choices I’ve made thus far. I do what I do for them.
Q: What advice would you give to children struggling with body image issues?
A: I would tell them that loving yourself is accepting yourself. No one can take that power away from you when you do it.
The moment you start loving yourself, you start taking care of yourself both mentally and physically.
Q: What advice would you give to other plus size women who are struggling with body image issues like you once did?
A: Did? I still do! I just brush it off.
Who gave anyone the right to tell me I don’t look okay because I have a few extra pounds?
It’s funny being a single mom. I’ve tried dating and I’ve met nice men, but also a lot of shallow men. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told, “You’re beautiful, if only you were skinnier.”
Buddy, if you don’t like me know, what makes you deserve me if I was skinny? That’s pretty much how I deal with it.
You don’t like me because I’m 100 pounds overweight? Hmmm… I’ll pass. I don’t like you because you are not a nice human being. I move on and I don’t turn back.
Your body is a vessel. If someone can’t see past that, don’t give them any thought or effort. You deserve better.
This is me; take it or leave it.There’s a lot of me, and the people who matter will accept it. That’s all that counts.
Q: Who are some body positive advocates or resources that inspire you?
A: There are so many. First and foremost, Ashley Graham and the Voluptuous dolls. They are the team I model with and they give me insight into their lives.
Their stories of how they’ve overcome their struggles truly inspire me. They are incredible women!
I also admire Sophia Loren. She embraced her curves and made no excuses for them. She owned it and she continues to own it.
Q: What are some of your goals (long and short-term) for your modeling career, your family, and life in general?
A: This is all new to me. When it comes to the modeling career, I hope it flourishes.
I am having a great time doing this and I’m encouraging women to love their bodies and to embrace themselves. I definitely want to continue doing that!
I’m looking at guest speaking for women who have been in my shoes, through weight battle, divorce, and living as a single parent.
I have no clue what I want for the future… but I do know that I want to be happy.
I want my children to be happy. That’s my long-term goal.
The rest would be gravy!