I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 17 years old, standing at 5’9, and weighed 125 pounds. I was a perfect size 4, and fit most suitably into the American standard of beauty and acceptance. I was on a serious journey to becoming the next African American top high fashion, runway model.
Most of my genetic makeup was strictly hereditary. I had always been a skinny kid and never had to do very much to maintain my thin frame. My limbs were long, slim and regal and I would strut around like a gazelle elegantly grazing through life. I was so sure of myself, fully confident, and quite frankly, just incredibly grateful that I had been blessed with what I thought the rest of the world envied.
Unfortunately, my confidence was conditional. It was only evident as long as I maintained a certain look. A vast majority of us have societal norms and expectations to thank for that. Women are socialized early on to adopt the need and desire to achieve and maintain specific body dimensions.
The various images that are shown on TV and in magazines will almost always have lots of women subscribing to unrealistic and unachievable ideologies. The media and certain social settings have the ability to make a “curvy girl” feel out of place 95% of the time. Even with the evolution of multiple plastic surgery procedures, young girls still tend to believe that their favorite stars or celebrities have just been gifted with “natural beauty”.
My journey to becoming a top “regular sized” model continued throughout the remainder of my teenage years. I had gone to several different modeling agencies in a few different cities where I was met with criticism about everything that was not quite right. As the years progressed and I continued to mature, I noticed that my body started to take on a completely different shape. Suddenly, my once thin frame began to become more full, voluptuous and curvy.
These days, the aforementioned would sound like a blessing in disguise. Thanks to celebs such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and almost the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan, fuller figures and voluptuous frames are more widely accepted than ever before. But still, my 22-year-old mind could not fathom something as small or as big as a ‘curve” throwing a monkey wrench in my master plan.
I, like many, had bought into the belief that if I wanted to acquire fame and fortune specifically in the realms of media, print, and fashion that I must starve the curve. After all, it has been quite rare historically to see a full-figured woman reach the pinnacle of success similar to her slimmer counterparts. There was an immense lack of appreciation on my part in regards to my bowed hips, large bosom, thick thighs, and round derriere.
It simply was not permissible. As a result of my woman’s frame taking on its full shape, I tried everything to counteract Mother Nature and all laws of biology. I was literally on a different diet every other month. First it was the Subway diet- which was actually pretty effective. That is, until I learned that I was consuming harmful nitrates and nitrites which soon prompted me to abort that mission very quickly. But then the diets became more sophisticated; this included the Atkins diet, Cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, the Military diet, Ketogenic, the Paleo diet and finally, starvation!
Unfortunately, all of my efforts proved to be in vain and soon I found myself stuck in an endless cycle of my weight constantly fluctuating and my happiness, self-confidence, and self-love swiftly dwindling away. It was almost as if I didn’t know who I was if I was not a specific weight and didn’t look a certain way. All of the values that are supposed to steer from within were all of a sudden contingent upon me seeing three stupid digits on a scale. What had my life become? And, who had I become?
It seemed as though I had abruptly fallen down this rabbit hole and began to become obsessed with being perfect and fitting into societal norms. I struggled with accepting the fact that my body was never going to go back to the way that it was. I literally went from Olive Oil to straight up Jessica Rabbit almost overnight. I had conditioned my mind to starve the curve so much that I never actually developed an appetite for it. This way of thinking had become my reality for a few years until one day, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a department store window and I loved what I saw.
My mother always taught me to love and appreciate who I was on the inside. Doing so would allow that same love and appreciation to permeate on the outside. If you lack love for oneself, then others will never be able to love you in the proper way. I was reminded of this little nugget of wisdom when I began to crave the curve and embrace this bountiful shape that God has blessed me with.
What I found is that when I started to love and accept myself others started to do so as well. What I had originally thought was the end of my dreams, was essentially only the beginning. The shape that my body took on as a young adult began to be admired, desired, and purchased- lol. As a result, I have now become a freelance curvy model and have landed a few important projects with companies and brands that highlight, empower, and encourage curvy, plus size women.
As a curvy girl it can be quite difficult at times to have a positive body image and maintain self-confidence. It is so easy for your mind to revert back to trying to maintain the traditional status quo. But, it is equally encouraging to see plus size, curvy girls such as Ashley Graham and Tabria Majors who have made enormous strides in paving the way for other curvies in the industries that were once dominated by “regular sized” models.
At the core of it all I believe that self-love proves to be paramount in being the catalyst for any woman curvy or slim in accomplishing their dreams, goals or desires. The takeaway here is to never let anyone or anything put you into a box. Vigorously go after what you want and show the world why the curve is what you crave.