Plus Size. A term that has been tossed around a lot these past couple years when describing my body. My journey with this term has been very hard. Growing up, I was very athletic and my body mirrored that lifestyle. I bloomed very late in life, and when I went off to college my body started to fill in. I worked out less and less and my dress size grew in numbers.
As my dress size went up, my confidence went down. I spent the better part of four years denying my sadness and my plummeting self esteem. I had a hard time finding the right people to surround myself with, and I was constantly looking for love and gratification in the wrong places. I got myself into sticky situations more than once and was layering negativity on top of negativity and I felt the weight of that on my shoulders.
My senior year of college I got the opportunity to move to New York for an internship. This was it, my opportunity to change my surroundings and dig myself out of this hole! However, changing your surroundings doesn’t change the inner struggle. All I ended up doing was bringing all the insecurity and sadness to a different state.
I had never tried therapy or any form of it at this point in life. I was scared to face myself. I was scared to have someone see the flaws in me. I was constantly judging and hating myself I couldn’t imagine the thought of someone seeing that, and feeling the same way. I had done such a great job of wearing my mask of happiness that most people in my life didn’t see I was suffering so much on the inside. Luckily, help came to me in the form of a life coach. She saw the sadness behind the mask and pushed to help. I was hesitant at first and tried to shut her out, but she didn’t give up.
With her motivation and constant push she gave me that shovel to start digging. For more than a year I worked hard on myself. I started to reshape my thought process and the way I viewed myself. I would force myself to stare at my face and body in the mirror. I would look at all the rolls and stretch marks and scars from acne on my face and in my mind I would picture myself throwing those insults literally in the trash. I would force myself to look at the beautiful parts of my physical self. My green eyes, my large breasts, my strong and supportive legs, my nice bubble butt that I thank my mom for everyday! I stopped associating myself with the world failure and replaced that with a few more inspirational words like beautiful, smart, confidant, capable, and gifted.
This didn’t come easy and many tears were involved. And that is ok! I let myself cry. There were so many years of tears built up I had to let them out. And oh boy was it a relief! After a little more than a year I was finally at a point where I had some inner self love. I had a vision of what life could be like with so much inner love. I could now see what others always complimented me for. I was seeing the inner beauty. But I still had a lot of work to do on my physical self love.
I was living my daily grind as a waitress, planning and taking steps towards a career that I finally figured out that I wanted when my long-time friend sent me an e-mail for a model search. I had never considered that path for myself and had definitely never thought I had the looks or the right curves to be a plus size model. But with my new mindset and go get them attitude, I thought why not me?! All I could do was try.
A month later I was informed that I was chosen for the competition and when I went into the agency they signed me as a plus size model that day. It was the beginning of a beautiful journey. I finally felt like something was happening! What I wasn’t prepared for was the world I was about to enter and how comfortable people are with using the term plus size and my name in the same sentence. After my first fashion show I had a meltdown. I had never been on this side of the industry and my confidence was sent for a whirlwind. I took time to shed my tears and break down and I really came to a place where I thought, this is it, this is my life now and I need to find some peace within that place. What I didn’t realize though was when people were using “that” term around me it was in a term of endearment.
I was getting compliments left and right from my peers and my new employers. It wasn’t just about my looks but about my personality as well. The work started coming quickly and the more work I got the better I felt! I started looking into my soul and realized that was where my beauty was coming from. I started looking into blogs and plus size beauty icons and read anything and looked at all photos I could get my hands on of big, beautiful, and confidant women. I took control of term “plus size” and spun it into a term of empowerment. I was plus size and fabulous. Once this clicked in my mind I felt a fire in my belly and I felt of sense of control in my life that I had never felt before.
Keeping that calm and confidence is a constant work in progress. I never imagined I would be in such a positive peaceful place after being thrust into a career that is all about my body, my size, and my curves. We all have our ups and downs when it comes to daily thoughts of beauty and power. It’s our curse to bear as women! What I can do everyday is wake up, look in the mirror, and tell myself how beautiful I am. I have worked through I very dark place in life and no longer feel the need to apologize for who I am. I know that whatever comes my way I can handle it. I am an empowered woman and no one can take that away from me!
“It’s the reach of my arms, the span of my hips, the stride of my step, the curl of my lips. I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” –Maya Angelou
Elizabeth Brown describes herself as a plus size model, positive body activist, and proliferator of good-ass vibes. You can follow her on Instagram or on Twitter, or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: #bodyboop, body boop, body image, Elizabeth Brown, fashion, health, inspiration, mental health, modeling, modeling agency, motivation, New York, New York modeling, NYC, plus size, plus size modeling, positive body image, self love, wellness