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Love Your Body Issue 2019

The Love Your Body issue is one of the most anticipated of the year…

In the past the Love Your Body issue has featured women who have come to love their bodies through challenges both physical and emotional.

And while we still feel that having one month dedicated to loving our bodies is necessary, we want to encourage you to walk the journey to acceptance every single day.

This month we partnered with photographer Zakiyah Caldwell for a very special cover and editorial featuring 13 cover models representing various shapes and sizes.

When we asked Zakiyah about this concept she said…

As a photographer that caters to the plus community it is imperative for me to show that we are different in many ways, but the same.  Different in body shape, ethnicity, body augmentations, medical changes, and gender, while having so many similarities in regards to what we want as a body-positive, inclusive community.

Representation truly matters in this digital age when our children are growing up consistently comparing themselves to what they see on their social media feeds and other social outlets. Even as adults, we are the same in that we get caught up in measuring our value by what we see on TV/Magazines and social outlets instead of what we see in the mirror as beauty. Comparisons can be dream killers but an equal amount of positive representation can help combat self-doubt and other body image-related issues.

Kyle Kelly: IG @ladiesluvk00lk and Daniel Chong: IG @ricky_frec

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We all have the same goal of loving ourselves and the bodies we are in.  

We need more representation of our shapes and sizes reflected by the media, more agencies and industry professionals alike to embrace us.   Finally, we need more designers to step up and create garments that reflect our beauty and not just for the runway.

Along with beautiful imagery, we wanted to share testimonies from our cover models about taking part in this project and their self-confidence journey.

Iesha Mason: IG @iesha_mason
Michelle Ayala: IG @the_michellelee
Jazmin Alayain: IG @mz.frecklez

Forever 21 Tops

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Faith Costa

My body has changed many times throughout my life. I’ve been big, small and in-between and when we live in a world that tells us constantly that we aren’t good enough, no matter what size, it’s hard to love yourself. It’s taken years to unlearn what society and the media have tricked me into believing. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to learn to love myself; it’s been difficult and has taken time. I began to look at myself in the mirror differently and honestly, I followed empowering people on social media, I started to value the parts of my body that were once deemed “flaws”… My scars, my cellulite, my stomach, my rolls… my body is no less valuable became of those things. My body, despite having all those things, is strong and has gotten me through my whole life so far and still has a long way to go. I am beautiful in my own way just as everyone else is. Though it took me a long time to realize it, I’m so glad I finally did. IG @faith_plusfashion

Taylee DeCastro

I have been a thick girl all my life and to me that is normal. I was never bullied or made fun of, maybe because I’ve always felt comfortable in my skin and never showed anyone any type of insecurities about my body. I started to feel a bit of insecurity after I had children due to the stretch marks that most women get from pregnancy. It hasn’t been long since I’ve started to feel okay about them. It’s always a process accepting something that might not be considered pretty by others. Stretch marks are part of the journey that led me to have amazing children and they will always be a part of me… why not work on feeling comfortable in my own stripes every day! IG @curvy_model_tay

Shenelle Lapierre: IG @shenellle
Iesha Mason: IG @iesha_mason
Faith Costa: IG @faith_plusfashion

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Daniel Chong

I’m perfect for this project about loving your body because I am very comfortable in my own body. When I say that I mean I’m confident to walk around showing off my vitiligo. The one flaw I had to overcome is accepting my skin being two different colors, which is called vitiligo. Growing up, I use to get weird looks/faces that I use to say never bothered me, but deep down it really did. The turning point for me accepting and loving the vitiligo on my body was my mother telling me, God made me this way because he knew I’d be extra special, it didn’t matter how I looked on the outside but what mattered and only mattered was what was on the inside of my heart and my mind. IG @ricky_frec

Kyle Kelly

I have no fear in embracing the body which I was given. It’s not perfect, but it also isn’t bad, it’s who I am. I’ve been blessed to never have any body-shaming done towards me, but I have witnessed it happening to others and one thing I would always let them know is that there is something in that person that they don’t like about their self. Never let a non-factor become relevant and remember who you are and the confident person you are. IG @ladiesluvk00lk

Rae Williams: IG @thatgirlrae_
Taylee DeCastro: IG @curvy_model_tay
Eloquii Dresses

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Nici Ruffin

Body positivity/acceptance is near and dear to my heart and also a huge part of my platform. I can’t preach to others to accept and love themselves just as they are if I don’t. I’m a fan of showing instead of telling. So, I want to show my audience the importance of loving themselves just as they are. Daily, I try to embrace every dimple, scar, abnormality, stretch mark, pimple, and anything deemed as an “imperfection” on my body. Why, because it’s mine! If I wasn’t meant to have it, then GOD wouldn’t have given it to me. My first instinct, when selected for this shoot, was to try to make myself look as “perfect” as possible but then I instantly decided to simply look as “Nici” as possible, because that itself is enough and valuable. IG @prettynici

Shenelle Lapierre

I struggled for years with thoughts of self-doubt and self-acceptance in the industry before I started modeling. I felt I couldn’t relate to the other models because I didn’t look like mainstream models nor was I shaped like any of them. It took some time, but I realized that there are women out there shaped like me! The term, “I get it from my momma” stuck with me for a long time because I am shaped like my mom. If I could represent the lesser represented, then I could inspire and be relatable to women who feel the same way. IG @shenellle

Ebony Walker

As a young adult, I was your typical plus size woman that thought I wasn’t visible to the rest of the world. I kind of went around with no purpose and no motivation. It wasn’t until 6 years ago I strived for more. I was encouraged to go against the grain. I was oozing with confidence and I wanted to be a voice for plus women like me. I wanted women to know you can be everything they think plus women CAN’T be. We still have a long way to go. When I was young I was always told by men I was pretty but too big. Men wouldn’t date me because of my size. It hurt!! I knew I was a great person who had so much love to give but nobody wanted me. Cold reality back then… but times have changed. I’m very thankful for this. IG @ebony_walker82

Tatyana Amaya: IG @Tatyanajalisa
Chris Perez: IG @beardedchrisperez
Faith Costa: IG @faith_plusfashion
TRuDiva Designs

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Iesha Mason

Besides my mom, aunt and great grandmother I’ve never seen anyone with freckles. So I would think “Are we different, is this a bad thing or am I unique?” The older I got the more freckles I would get. And now they’re not just on my face but my whole body. And then I realized, yes I’m unique, I have something that not a lot of people have. I stand out (in a good way). Now you see people with faux freckles and this tickles me. Something I grew up thinking was weird is now a fad. I love my freckles, I’ve embraced my freckles. I find myself wearing less makeup because I want them to show. My freckles are my personal glitter, they help me shine. IG @iesha_mason

Chris Perez

I hated my body for the majority of my life. I suffered from body dysmorphia from early childhood up until just a couple years ago. I used to make it a point to always wear baggy clothing to hide my love handles, my extra-large thighs, and my flabby upper arms. I probably had the strongest core muscles from constantly walking around while sucking in my gut. This went on until about 2017 or so. I made small changes just to be a bit healthier for myself. I started boxing and eating only chicken and fish. This is not to say that this should be everyone else’s choice; everyone should have their own path and proceed to do what makes them feel comfortable with their own bodies. Regardless of size, skin tone, or any other “flaws” we seek out, I truly believe we are all beautiful people. We not only deserve to be loved by others but by ourselves first and foremost. It took me 29 years, but I finally love ALL of my body. IG @beardedchrisperez

Michelle Ayala

I am only human. I’ve LEARNED to love my body. It didn’t happen overnight. I wasn’t the most confident of girls growing up. I was heavier than all of my friends. I was made fun of because my thighs were so big and rubbed when I walked.

In 2017, I came across a plus-size community in my area, and needless to say, my vision has changed drastically. The brand -Plus Size Me Plz- creator Catherine Ashley opened my eyes to another world. A world where I could be myself, where I was accepted, where I was beautiful. From that day forward I looked at my big thighs, freckles, scars, weight, and stretch marks in a new light. These thighs have saved multiple (cell phone) lives. These freckles give me character; help me stand out from a crowd. These scars tell the story of a woman who has overcome years of pain. These stretch marks are simply my badges of womanhood, for bringing life into this world. I’ve LEARNED to love me…ALL OF ME! IG @the_michellelee

Iesha Mason: IG @iesha_mason
Michelle Ayala: IG @the_michellelee
Jazmin Alayain: IG @mz.frecklez
Eloquii Pants and Forever 21 Tops

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Jazmin Alayon

Growing up for me was not always the easiest, being the girl who was not only tall but full of freckles was something that many did not understand, but I too did not understand. Being so different from my peers was hard for me to accept as a child, so I was a very timid person. As I matured and got older I realized that what made me so different from everyone else was the thing that made me so Beautiful and Bold. My uniqueness was not only a part of me, but it also became who I am. I went from being the girl who would try to hide how she looked, to the women who loved every inch of who she was. Walking into a room full of people at one time would make me anxious, now I love to see the curiosity in people’s eyes as they try to figure out my beauty. Being a part of this project is important because I want all girls and women to see that being different is the most beautiful thing in the world. IG @mz.frecklez

Tatyana Amaya

It took me my whole life to identify my body as beautiful and to love who I see in the mirror no matter what stage of my journey I’m in. It feels amazing to accept my truth and all the battle wounds it comes with, including its dips, curves, and imperfections. I used to be that girl who ran from the camera or would almost fight you if you caught a candid of me. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be modeling. It was my childhood dream that I buried because I was told being plus size was not something I should celebrate. I hid my weight and curves under oversized clothes and flowing tops. Every outfit perfectly picked to smooth everything out or conceal my truth. In the past couple of years, I have been working toward reversing beliefs about my own body and the self-hate that I taught myself. Truth is, I may never have a flat stomach. My loose skin is a testament of the 100lb weight-loss journey that I’ve taken. My thighs will forever be thick and cellulite will probably always complement it. I can’t tell which stretch marks came from me carrying a child or which ones have accompanied me since childhood, so why hide it. This is me. This is Taty, #BloomingUnapologetically IG @Tatyanajalisa

Rae Williams

I love that I was chosen for this Love Your Body shoot because body love and acceptance has been an arduous journey for me. I was raped as a teenager and it took a long time for me to reconcile my body as my own. For years after, I was ashamed of my body, of being raped, of eating and drinking out of emotion and subsequently, I ended up damaging my liver before I turned 21 and became pre-diabetic due to unhealthy coping mechanisms. I realized I needed to make changes and through healthy eating and movement, I was able to reclaim my body and feel empowered by the amazing things my body is capable of doing. With weight loss, the changes my body made still needed to be accepted – i.e. loose skin, less definition in some areas, etc. Though the journey continues, I’ve learned to embrace myself fully because although my body carries me through this life, I am and offer so much more than just my body. My body is the vehicle to help me navigate my story, but I, as the woman create my story. IG @thatgirlrae_

While we are all different the beauty in Loving Yourself is that you will also see the beauty in others.

Ebony Walker: IG @ebony_walker82
Tatyana Amaya: IG @Tatyanajalisa
Nici Ruffin: IG @prettynici
Eloquii Dresses

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Many thanks to the entire team and the models for sharing their story with us.

PHOTO CREDITS

Photographer
Zakiyah Caldwell Burroughs of Kia Caldwell Photography, LLC
IG @kiacaldwellphoto

Wardrobe Stylist/Creative
Corrinn Chishimba of Beautyboxstyle
IG @beautyboxstyle

HairStylist
Catherine Ashly Davis
IG @catherineashly_beauty

Makeup Artist
Stacy Hardy
IG @blumahogany

Makeup Artist
Danielle Vann
IG @indiedaniv_mua

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Cover One

Iesha Mason: IG @iesha_mason
Michelle Ayala: IG @the_michellelee
Taylee DeCastro: IG @curvy_model_tay
Rae Williams: IG @thatgirlrae_
Chris Perez: IG @beardedchrisperez
Shenelle Lapierre: IG @shenellle
Jazmin Alayain: IG @mz.frecklez

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Cover Two

Faith Costa: IG @faith_plusfashion
Ebony Walker: IG @ebony_walker82
Nici Ruffin: IG @prettynici
Tatyana Amaya: IG @Tatyanajalisa
Kyle Kelly: IG @ladiesluvk00lk
Daniel Chong: IG @ricky_frec

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