Over the past year, I hit some of my highest highs and lowest lows. The modeling industry is no joke. Most of you have only seen the edited side of me. After hours in the hair and makeup chair and after professionals retouch every blemish and trim inches off of my body. Sure, it can be a very glamorous profession but 9 times out of 10, it is filled with rejection and the opinions of those who are only looking at for themselves and their brand, not your self image or feelings.
Growing up, I was teased for being too thin. I wouldn’t say bullied because I have seen far worse happen to young individuals but it certainly didn’t feel good to hear my peers tell me that I needed to stop starving myself. Meanwhile, I was the first to go to Zaxby’s after school for chicken tenders and fries. I credit that to genetics. But just as people were telling me I was too thin in my personal life, I was hearing that I was too heavy in my professional life. For months I laughed it off. I even went as far as to take off my jeans that covered my bathing suit at a callback to show a casting director that I was in fact wearing a size 0.
I couldn’t believe it. The industry I had grown up idolizing and dreaming of being a part of had suddenly turned into my worst nightmare. I am 5 ft 11 inches tall and have never weighed over 126 pounds in my life. While modeling in Southeast Asia, I really struggled with the fact that clients thought indeed I needed to be smaller. I was in another country with ultimately no support system. In two weeks time, I dropped below 120 pounds by mostly a liquid diet. I woke up one morning and couldn’t stand the way that I looked in the mirror. My body had lost it’s shape and I did not feel like I was continuing my job to make me happy but only to please the clients. Ultimately, I decided that if I could not work and feel good about myself, then it was pointless for me.
I began to pray that God would guide me in the right direction and help me remain focused. I landed in front of some pretty huge fashion names that continued to tell me to loose the curves but I forced a smile and said thank you for your time. I had to accept that the plan I had in my head might not be God’s plan and I needed to trust in him. Sure enough, I started to have more and more success commercially. The 3 months I spent overseas, turned out to be some of the most fulfilling moments of my life. I would climb to the top of my apartment building where I could overlook the entire city and just talk to God underneath the most beautiful sunset. I will never forget what I learned about myself and my faith during that journey.
I say all of this because beauty is subjective. What is pretty to one person might not be pretty to someone else. I have been around some of the most visually attractive women in the world but what’s really captivating, are the ones who have a good heart and a strong head on their shoulders. Looks may fade but character remains constant. Those are the women who will truly make a difference. They are the ones with a powerful voice and reason to be heard. I thank God everyday for the blessings that continued to pour in even though I felt undeserving at times and for the little voice inside of my head that told me to keep going when I felt like I wanted to quit. The big man upstairs can give you a lot of strength if you allow him into your heart.
In closing, I have to say that as women, we have the power to lift each other higher. Instead of turning to cattiness and jealousy, we should embrace the unique qualities that we all posess. With so many other outlets constantly tearing apart young women, why not act as a sisterhood? If you see a family member, friend, or even a stranger struggling, something as simple as a smile or a kind word could turn their day around. You could be the change. All it takes is one.
If this message blessed you, be a blessing by sharing with others.