Body confidence comes in many forms…
For Taylee it came at a time in her life when she had hit rock bottom.
Today we celebrate her willingness to push through incredible hardships and honor her journey.
Tell us about yourself…
I was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the states by the age of seven. Moving to the US was a very easy transition for me; I was ecstatic to see snow. The first few years were all very normal… middle school was good… high school was challenging because of personal issues but was still okay.
Tell us about becoming a mom and that time in your life.
I became pregnant at the early age of 17 while suffering from physical abuse. We were both ignorant and not ready for all the responsibilities we had already signed up for. After I had my daughter everything changed. It wasn’t a matter of survival, it was now a mission of survival and progress. I had to better myself all around for her and I both. It wasn’t long until I found myself in a new relationship, and yes, a second child! But God had a plan for me and I was following it. I struggled with minimum wage jobs and no money for anything but rent and bills. I was on public assistance for health insurance and food stamps for quite some time and it wasn’t easy, but I made sure my two kids and I were good.
Love and marriage… how did you handle all of responsibilities and challenges?
After years of financial struggles, unstable relationships, and being physically abused, I found true love. I found my knight in shining armor and had the wedding of my dreams. I lived the most wonderful 10 years of the life I have yet to live. I wish I can say everything continued that way, but it didn’t.
Due to very personal issues, my family was torn apart. I experienced betrayal like never before and was let down by people I thought loved me and genuinely cared for me. I was alone again, but this time with five human beings that depended on me for everything. I was in the deepest hole I could ever be in. I went from living the most wonderful life to being evicted with my children from our home. I lost it all! I even lost myself. I didn’t know what to do. I prayed for God to guide me in the correct direction.
OMG! What changed for you and put you on a different path?
I found myself cleaning houses and bartending at night just to start building myself back up again. One day while on my phone and on social media I found myself looking at models that looked more like I did and less like what society thinks a model should look like. I wondered how I could do the same and asked myself if I would have what it takes to be a model. I looked at different models and photographers and started to become familiar with what was done and what I needed to do to become a model.
When I decided to start my modeling career I was starting a journey to self-acceptance and also self-discovery. Modeling felt so comforting, I felt like it was something I was born to do. But, I still had many insecurities and people that said I shouldn’t be modeling. After a very necessary internal battle, I chose to follow my calling and it has been the best decision I have made in years. I live for this.
Tell us about posing nude and what it means to you.
Posing nude is by far the most daring experience I’ve had while modeling. It was something I never in a million years would have even thought about doing. It was just something meant for playboy! Something many may think is only done for sexual purposes. I’m Latina! The Latino culture tends to look down and shame on a woman that’s dressed “sexy”. Can you imagine what people would think about a Latina woman who has five children, is married, and doesn’t have the “perfect” body? Well at this point in my life I don’t really rely on the opinion of the masses… I do what makes me happy and whatever makes my loved ones proud.
Can you tell us about the painting/posing experience?
Not only did I make the right decision by accepting to pose nude for an artistic body painting session but I also did it with a wonderful artist. Charly Joaquin Dominguez couldn’t have been any more amazing. This young man has a vision of art that is beyond whatever my words could express. It was a truly unique feeling to have him create and express his art on my body.
No words can express my gratefulness to the man, who with his dedication to promoting body positivity and self-acceptance changed my perception of this type of art. Jose Pagan invited me and gave me the opportunity to join this artistic collaboration and become the muse and canvas in this project. I couldn’t be more thankful and humbled by this experience. Jose is truly an amazing soul.
What are your tips to anyone struggling with self acceptance?
The journey to self-acceptance isn’t an easy one, but remember there’s one thing no one else can be… No one can be you!
Taylee De Castro @curvy_model_tay_
Body Paint By:
Charly Joaquin Dominguez @thecharlymagazine
Jose Pagãn @josepaganphotography