Photo: Olivia Malone
Once upon a time, I was just a girl who liked taking pictures of what I wore. I had no idea that I would become a public voice for body acceptance. At five-foot-three and a size 10, I was not your average-looking “model,” but I never thought of myself as different until I stepped into the fashion industry. I grew up around women who had similar bodies to mine. My mom and closest friends never talked badly about themselves, so confidence was embedded in me from the start. If someone criticized my size, my mom would reassure me that I was beautiful. But I lost myself a few years ago trying to meet society’s unrealistic standards about what constitutes a perfect body.
I’ve always loved my career as a blogger and model, essentially working for myself, but I’ve often wondered if others could handle the hate I experience on a daily basis, the harassment and forums that are literally dedicated to taking down my appearance. At this year’s Beautycon NYC, a follower of mine asked how I was able to endure all of the negativity thrown my way, including brands not wanting to work with me because of my size. I told her it’s because I’ve always been focused on my end purpose: Helping people be the best version of themselves. Because that helps me be the best version of me.
There was a point in my career, two years into blogging, where the negative comments really got to me. I wasn’t near my family, I was struggling with work, and I had no steady income. I couldn’t afford my NYC apartment rent and was on the verge of being evicted. I barely had money to eat. I just kept thinking, Why am I sacrificing so much for a blog that’s giving me nothing but nasty feedback and criticism in return? I began to lose sight of myself.
I thought about throwing in the towel because I was so different from what mainstream media considers beautiful. I lived in fear that I’d never book a gig because I was too short, too bottom-heavy, and too blunt.
One day, I finally got sick of being upset about the same things. I got on the phone with a good friend of mine, Amir Abbassy, who has been in the music industry for decades and has so much wisdom to impart. He changed my mind-set. He said to me, “Do you know you’re a good person?” I said yes. Then he said, “Okay, focus on continuing to be a good person. If they can’t see that in you, then that’s on them. Pay less attention to critics and worry about yourself. Your purpose is so much bigger. In three years this won’t even be an issue.”
It was a simple conversation but it hit so hard. Sometimes you need to read something, see something, or speak to someone to wake you up and bring you back to life. From then on I decided to stop reading comments cold turkey. If I saw something negative, I’d delete it and block the person instantly.
There was a point in my life where I felt like a fraud. I was trying to help people feel good about themselves, but I didn’t feel good about myself. But something clicked and I realized I wasn’t put on this earth for people to like me. I’m here to live up to my full potential, whether people agree with that or not. That’s my mantra now, and I’m sticking to it.