When I found Ashley Graham, I was…shocked. I saw this woman that had a big butt, big legs, and a curvy body. Her body resembled mine in a way that I had never seen before. She was in the public eye, she was a model, and she was…confident.
I remember catching a glimpse of her unedited behind on the catwalk and thinking to myself, “That’s what my butt looks like.” I started to fall in love with her quickly. I looked up photos of her and ensured that I got my “daily curve” in. I noticed that, on those days, I would loathe myself just a little less. She was beautiful and her body looked like mine. So, maybe I was beautiful too? It took me a long time to finally get the ball rolling with this body positive stuff but once I did, my entire life changed.
Innocently searching through Google for a shot of my new, favorite model brought me to the catalyst that would change my life. Ashley Graham’s TedTalk.
I watched her video several times and I remember watching it on days that I felt exceptionally bad. I would feel horrible about my body, feel that I couldn’t control my eating, or my vices, and would find a small amount of solace in the words she spoke. Sooner than later, I began searching all over YouTube for more body positive content and I found quite a bit. Not enough, in my opinion, but enough to get my head above water. I saved Ashley’s TedTalk to my YouTube playlist titled “Body Positivity” and would play it in the background while I got ready for work. I had unwittingly begun my “upward spiral” playlist that would bring my spirits up in those dark moments.
I can remember what it was like almost as if it were yesterday. The self-hate I had was strong and dense. I remember feeling heavy and, in turn, I felt sad and bitchy. I was very sensitive. Almost like an open wound. I was more aggressive, more argumentative, and had a harder time getting along with others. All of this stemmed from self-hate and that self-hate stemmed from a longing I had to run away from the body I resided in. All I wanted was to be beautiful. Let me rephrase that, all I wanted was to be skinny…
Ashley Graham (and others like her) gave me another option. She gave me the option to embrace the body I had, the option to enjoy the body I had now. Most importantly, she would serve as an example, as a role model. She would be a clear illustration of how to be confident, assured, and plus-sized.
I realized I had inadvertently shunned my own body and excluded myself from life because I never saw a woman that looked like me in the popular culture. I saw slender women, always. I never saw women that looked like me and the women in my family. I never saw plus-sized women enjoying life, feeling sexy, confidently moving towards their dreams, and assured of their body and the things they had to offer. I had assumed that I wouldn’t be able to live life “the right way” until I looked like the women in the magazines. I knew that I would never be able to attain this ideal. I had tried before and failed miserably. I was, unwittingly, a dead woman walking. A woman that would never truly enjoy life until she embraced the things she had to offer.
Today, several months later, I look back at that girl and feel a lot of gratitude. Had I never reached that low place, and known how it feels to be that girl, I wouldn’t be able to help women the way that I can today. Because I was that person, and I overcame that self-hate, I can help others find a path of their own. My “rock bottom” would serve as the solid foundation that I would build my life on. I can look back with confidence in my path.
Ashley Graham will always hold a special place in my heart and will iconically be that plus/curve woman that I would use as a model to shape my future.
The Curvy Broke Girl
A Body Positive Blog