I’m the first one to admit it. I was working on a proposal for a nutritionist WHILE EATING AN ÉCLAIR. A full-on chocolate covered éclair in which a good part of it ended up on the notepaper I was writing on. Later — I circled it for the nutritionist to laugh over. “I love you” she said. And laughed.
But it’s really a defense isn’t it? This — oh man — Yes I’m chubby, curvy, the “eff” word, and I love to eat. — SO LET’S LAUGH ABOUT IT. It’s easier than worrying we’re being judged.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be more health focused and join the ranks of the skinny, sweaty, Instagram selfie, yoga pants wearing group that DOMINATES our social media world.
It’s that connect with social media that quickly twists me down the rabbit hole of “inspiration and motivation”. Quotes? Check. Skinny feels better than chocolate tastes. Um. So so wrong. I’ve been skinny. Chocolate still wins. Yoga Gurus? Check. Fitness brands featuring their many inspirational ambassadors? Yep. I follow them all. Local gyms I’m considering joining or trying? They’re there too.
Guess what they all have in common?
There’s virtually no photos or posts about curvy people. And that makes me super anxious.
Seeing ourselves in the world is how we know we fit in…how we make decisions on what to wear, what to buy, what to eat.
As a brand innovator and a photographer, it’s my area of expertise to advise my clients that in order to stand out from the noise of social media, you have to do something different. You have to take risks in order to Rise Up so people see you.
I decided that I was TIRED of seeing images that didn’t represent the world I know so intimately — so I MADE some. Three of us…a personal brand developer, a fitness leader and a stylist/entrepreneur reached out to the community and issued a challenge with no rules except: Come be uncomfortable and awesome. Wear your most killer workout gear. Be in photos as yourself, flaws and all. Be skinny, be curvy, be tall, be black, be fit, be gay, be straight, be anything you are. Rise up and be YOURSELF.
And then. We waited.
We were floored by how many people said YES — and I have a theory about this. When we ask people who normally are ignored or feel invisible to be PART of something…to give something back…to be UNCOMFORTABLE for the sake of doing something amazing for others — they step up. Because everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to MATTER. What DOESN’T matter is “how you look”.
I talked to a LOT of people before I wrote this. And you know what I found out? It doesn’t matter if you’re super fit or super curvy — every single person has their own insecurities in their head. Every. Single. One.
Can’t we look deeper at people and see that everyone is just doing the best they can? That we all have a fight, a journey, a path that’s different than everyone else’s? Aren’t you doing the best YOU can?
This is what I think needs to happen: we need to let each other be who we are. We need to let each other do the work that each of us needs to do — either in our heads, in our bodies, in our life. We need to SUPPORT each other. Not tear each other down. Not judge. And certainly not shame. No more side eye. No more eye roll. Just. Stop.
There’s a raging controversy going on in the UK right now over the cover of Cosmo featuring Tess Holliday — a plus size 33 year old model. The intention — to let people see that everyone is not a size zero, or a size ten or a size 14 — and THAT IS OKAY. Of course the pushback is that they’re promoting obesity. Of course there are trolls who just want to criticize and say the meanest things they can because… well… they can. They miss the point which is that there are millions of people who look and think…oh hey…she looks happy, and comfortable in her own skin…and maybe I can be happy and comfortable in mine. Maybe…I don’t have to be ashamed or BE shamed. I can just..walk into a gym and workout. Go to the grocery store and buy an eclair because I’m hungry without a side of side eye. Walk into the mall to try on clothes and not slink, crouched through clothing racks and not making eye contact with anyone because we feel like we don’t fit in. Maybe we can speak up without that silent fear that we’re being judged.
And that, my friends, is why we hide. Why when we don’t see ourselves in photos, on covers, in gyms, at the grocery store…we assume it’s because we should be ashamed of ourselves. That we are somehow less because we are not represented.
Let’s keep looking for ourselves in places we want to go and if we don’t see that let’s be that for someone else. Let’s support companies that try to include everyone. Because THAT’s how we make a difference. So let’s show up. Rise up. Be someone’s inspiration.