I didn’t learn to love my body until I was a teenager, and even then, it was an uphill battle. So, it should come as no surprise that for the majority of my life, I felt that my body was holding me back. I was an athlete, I played hockey and I was an all-star cheerleader, but I was also always the biggest girl on every single one of my teams. Every practice, every run, every diet, and every glance in the mirror, I wished my body was smaller. I was convinced that my body was holding me back from the person I wanted to be—or at least the person I thought I wanted to be. “If only I was thin,” I thought to myself. “I would be beautiful. I could be at the head of the pack during runs. I could be a flyer instead of a base.”
Ever since I can remember, I have been on a diet, and chasing an unrealistic body type— “unrealistic” in the sense that I believe I was never meant or built to be thin. My whole life I have been bigger, and at times, muscular and toned, but never thin. But what I have failed to realize I didn’t have to be at the front of the pack during runs, I was a part of the pack, and that was great. I was a base because I was strong, and the girls I was lifting up only felt safe having me as a base because they knew I wouldn’t let them hit the ground. My body was a different kind of beautiful, and just because it was in its own lane, didn’t mean it wasn’t worthy.
But oh, how the tables have turned. Every amazing opportunity I have had within the past couple of years has been because of my body. I started my blog, Natalie in the City, in 2013, and the pageviews and followers didn’t come until I accepted my body, and shouted my new-found self-love from the top of my lungs (literally). A plus size brand reached out to me and wanted to send me maxi skirts. “Plus size?” I asked myself. “I guess I am plus size, and that’s great. These skirts are cute, and I am going to rock them.” I’m pretty sure I said the second part out loud in work meeting, and everyone was confused. LOL
Since then, I’ve connected with so many men and women who either have recently found self-love or are working on getting there, like I was once was. Through my blog and social media presence, I’m working with some of the brands I’ve been interacting with my whole life. I could have never dreamt that they would be asking for my advice on how to better serve the plus size customer—or that they would even care about the plus size customer. I’m booking modeling gigs on TV, in magazines, and in brand campaigns. And to top it all off, people actually want to hear my story. All of this feels so surreal. If you would have told 11-year-old me that I would be happy, fat, respected, and popular, I wouldn’t have believed any one of those things, let alone, being all of them at once.
And all of these opportunities are a dream come true…
But I can’t help but wonder, would I be a model and would these brands want to work with me if I was thin? Would you care about the very thing you’re currently reading if I was skinny? Would I be less divergent if I loved myself and my body reflected all of societies wishes? Maybe and maybe not.
Even if I was thin, today, it’s profound for a woman to unapologetically love her body because of the constant feedback and societal pressures we face. But every day, more and more, women dip their toes in the waters of self-love, and eventually take the plunge.
So, what are you waiting for? Stop questioning whether your body is worthy of love from yourself and others. It’s yours, and it’s so amazing. It’s capable of anything you want it do, and no matter what, it will carry you through your entire life. The second you live your truth and accept the mess that is yours—because we are all a little messy in some way or another—what will you accomplish that you have been holding yourself back from all along?
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m here because of my body. It’s thick, it’s curvy, it’s fat, and it’s strong AF. It’s just as beautiful as any other body, and I want the world to know it.