PMM: You were on the November 2015 cover of PLUS Model Magazine and we had a fabulous time shooting with you. Since that time, a lot has changed in your life, mainly due to a health scare. Could you share your story with us?
Samantha: Thank you so much for choosing me to start this new era for PMM. Sadly, I experienced some serious health issues that almost cost me my life.
This past February, I was rushed to the ER because I began bleeding from my nose and mouth uncontrollably. I learned it was due to my blood pressure being 220/170. When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor explained that if I hadn’t been driven there right away that I probably wouldn’t have made it. That incident occurred because I was not taking the three blood pressure medications I was prescribed (the side effects made me feel so horrible so I wouldn’t take them).
Upon my release from the hospital, the doctor said if I didn’t start taking care of myself, I wouldn’t live more than 5 years and that was being hopeful. At that moment, I decided it was time to take my life back and make positive changes for good. I’ve always been an active person. However; I could never control my eating habits.
In May, I then found out that I was carrying around a tumorthat was the size of a6 month old baby and it had made its own blood supply (caused by my severe hypertension) which in turn caused my uterus to drop.
In June, I had two major surgeries that put me on bed rest for six weeks. After having those surgeries, I ended up having a failing heart which resulted in me being put on a heart monitor. Fast forward to today, my heart is now healthy, I am no longer on any medications and I’ve embraced a lifestyle where I can love my body and enjoy better health.
PMM: After going through all of that, do you feel like you have a deeper connection with your body and what it means to be healthy?
Samantha: I’ve always been a strong advocate for being healthy at any weight (#HealthyCurves). However, my proud size-18 body wasn’t healthy at all and this is not what I wanted to advocate. Due to those unfortunate circumstances, I am now taking care of my body by watching what I put into it and working out regularly. I am still curvy and still continuously loving the skin I am in and consider myself an advocate for body positivity.
PMM: You and I spoke about the comments people have made due to your weight loss. Being body positive means something different to all of us. What does it mean to you?
Samantha: Since my surgery in June, my weight loss has been rapid and very noticeable. Initially, I wouldn’t post any pictures because I was not ready to respond to all the questions. Once I began posting photos on my social media outlets, I received comments/questions such as, “I thought you were ‘Pro Big Girl’?”, “What happened to loving the skin you’re in?” and “Why didn’t you just work out?”
I’ve always been plus positive and have always loved the skin I was in, at any size. While I always worked out, my body was not healthy and I’ve had to make changes to my life. To me, being body positive means loving your body at any size and taking care of your body. In order to be body positive, you must treat the body positively. The truth is you can be healthy at any size and you can be unhealthy at any size.
PMM: I’m so glad to see you doing well and back where you belong. What are your professional and personal goals right now?
Samantha: I am so elated to be back and I truly appreciate all the love and support I received while I was going through all of this. Personally, I feel like I have begun to live with a purpose, which ties into all aspects of my life.
I decided to follow my dreams and tell my story. I am the co- author of a book being released in early 2017 titled “Winning the War on Weight”. I have created a new platform called #UnbotheredSavage, which means “In order to be a savage, you must first be unbothered”. My goal is to reach those who may be going through what I’ve been through. I want every woman to be an #UnbotheredSavage and not care what society says as well as live for themselves. My goal is to be back in store windows, e-commerce and billboards. I’m excited for what my new journey will bring.