Three Women Bare Their Bodies and Share Their Road to Self Acceptance in this Special Love Your Body Celebration of Curves…
Isn’t it time we ended the battle with our bodies? I had to finally call a truce with mine. We had waged war on one another for most of my life and although there may be battle scars I know my body is not my opponent. How can I fight against myself? We are one entity, one amazing creation capable of so much that is worthy of love and celebration and more importantly deserving of peace.
I grew up with the mentality that my body was flawed, unlike others, and desperately in need of change. These thoughts grew and grew into many, much bigger problems in adulthood and I never thought I’d live without feeling this way… I would hate my body for the rest of my life.
I engaged in every eating disorder under the sun; if it meant body changes I was willing to give it a try regardless of risk. Today I am open about my struggles because I want people to feel they can be honest with me, know they are not alone and hopefully speak out if they are struggling as they see there is hope for a life free from it. I owe a large part of my transformation to the Plus Community for being a family to lean on, a huge support system and a reminder that all bodies are good bodies. Being a Plus Model helped me to retrain my thinking on what I was taught, what I learned, what I saw as beauty, and actually love and accept myself.
“Big Barrett” was a name that became all, too, familiar for me during my adolescence. I guess one of the easiest ways to get a ‘nickname’ in primary school was to look the part. Almost always taller, darker, and bigger than all of my other friends, I often became that other friend. I struggled with a positive body image for much of my childhood; unaware that the clothes in ‘juniors’ department’ weren’t made for girls shaped like me; the way jeans or skirts wouldn’t slide and fit around my big hips often left me alone in the fitting room with a salty face full of tears, feeling responsible for so many fashion mishaps.
Years later, after much success in college and beginning my career in education, I happened to stumble across plus modeling in the midst of my pursuit for self-love. I was in a really dark place… Overwhelmed with depression and anxiety but blessed to love and teach some of the most amazing kids I’d ever met in Southwest Philadelphia. I realized that if I was going to make the impact I wanted on them, and on other students, I needed to care for myself first.
I found the plus size industry (and PLUS Model Magazine), and I admired and followed these gorgeous, confident, beautiful, big women proud of their curves, loving themselves in a way I knew I needed to know more about.
I’ve since made progress with plus modeling and in my education career – I’ve learned a lot. It’s weird how the two have aligned and given me a platform to love, teach and share with others. Both continue to pour into me and give me further conditions to keep loving my authentic self. While I may not fit the archetype of the industry’s standards of beauty with my short natural afro and dark skin that speaks not to my inadequacy but a larger systemic issue, and it has nothing to do with me! The best thing I’ve done so far is decide to free myself of others’ beliefs and take control of it myself; like so many other gorgeous women are doing in front of the camera and in the gym!
I remember it was at age 12 when I first noticed I was different… I was bigger than the girls, taller than the boys….
With every given year another insecurity would unveil itself and after many failed attempts with fad diets and too many baggy clothes to count… I eventually became my own worst enemy. I joined the bullies and started attacking myself. I was fat, fat meant I was ugly, ugly meant ?I was unlovable, unlovable meant not worthy, unworthy meant not enough, not enough meant… you get the idea, I was broken.
It was around age 20 when I started my journey of self love. How does one cure years of damage you ask? It’s a process that never truly ends. In a world where the media rules the beauty standard, we as women are taught at a young age what we should look like in order to be considered “beautiful”. This is why at age 25 I decided to start modeling… I wanted to dive head-first into the self love movement. I knew I had my inner 12-year old self cheering me on. It is so important to show women who are all different sizes, ethnicities, heights, shapes, abilities… especially in a world where children are literally being cyber bullied to death; we need to do better.
Photography by Jose Pagan
Produced by Stephanie Mallick
Body Paint: Charly Joaquin Dominguez
Hair: Dior Sovoa
MUA: Susan D. Simmons