Our perceptions of our bodies is constantly influenced by outside sources. Whether it’s the media, Instagram comments, self-doubt convincing us we aren’t good enough or the sabotage of comparison, we’re exposed to a heightened level of critique, and it’s something so many different women can relate to.
We chatted more on the topic with some of our most admired social media super stars and were so encouraged to hear the moving stories that have empowered them. Representing different colors, ages, shapes, sizes, ALL are beautiful in their own way. It’s time we engage in a conversation about what has effected us so we can celebrate what has made us stronger and embrace a realistic standard of sexy. We’d love for all you readers to participate in the conversation and share your story! Tag @velvetnvinyl on Instagram and share your thoughts.
“I grew up being bullied for having hips and thighs, even as a preteen. The boys in my elementary class had this running joke – whenever I walked past them in the hall, they would yell “earthquake” and pretend to tremble. I think everyone has experienced some form of bullying as a child, but it’s interesting that as a woman it never really stops. We’re taught to criticize our own bodies everyday. And [we’re] sold on how to be better because for some reason we’re not “good enough”. I honestly never thought I could be a model because, like most, I didn’t identify with any of the girls I saw on magazines and advertisements. Now, as a model, I’ve been bigger and I’ve been smaller. I worked really hard to try to become a healthier stronger version of myself, but that landed me in this strange in-between realm where I’m not always large enough to be considered plus size and I still have way too much curve to be placed in any other division. I think the industry is changing and I’m so glad to see it blossom. I hope there will become more opportunities for women of all sizes to be represented in fashion and I’m grateful as well as humbled to be apart of it!”
Certified Phlebotomist/Fashion Blogger
“Since I was a child I have always been bigger than my surrounding circle. Growing up it was hard to adapt to the fact [that] I couldn’t wear what I wanted because I couldn’t fit in to age-appropriate clothes. When I started on social media I became more exposed to those who think that “If I get skinnier I will be prettier”, and the comments like “She is cute for big girl”. I have always accepted the way I look and if I ever decide to change, it is going to be for me. I accept my body and love myself the way I am. I encourage everyone to do the same. Embrace who you are and how you look while working to get where you want to be mentally and physically.”
Social Media Influencer on YouTube
“I have an older sister who has been battling anorexia for about three years now. She has been in and out of a full time treatment center and has had her ups and downs. Seeing someone close to me battle anorexia really made me appreciate the body I have. I respect my body so much more and I am okay with my flaws. The first time I really ever felt like women’s bodies were accepted fully by mainstream media was when the brand Aerie vowed to never photoshop their models ever again. Seeing real women of all sizes being displayed on such a large platform helped me know that every woman is unique and beautiful. As far as my personal body image goes, one trick I use is if I ever feel down about something I will force myself to think of three things I really like about myself, be it looks wise, personality, achievements or values. This always helps counteract the negative voice in my head. I have seen first hand how detrimental internal and external pressure to look perfect can be and how it can become a deadly battle. Because of that I understand the value of thinking positively about myself and I also appreciate when I see brands who reflect that same value. “
Scheduling Registrar, Hopestillstands LLC
“Can you see beyond the road blocks that may have been set before you? Are you fearful of what others may say about you? I was self conscious of what others thought about me. In elementary school, my classmates called me “Dark Vader.” They always asked me why I was so dark. I started to feel inadequate and not welcomed in this world. I had loving parents and a supportive family, but I could not see past the naysayers that called me names. I was bullied all through high school. A boy that I had a crush on called me “Ugly La-Anna”. In the last week of school right before graduation, he said “You know what, you’re kind of cute now.” I still didn’t feel worthy of anything because I wanted to be called beautiful, not cute. But now I know what others say about me does not validate what God feels about me & what I feel about myself. I learned that from my Daddy. We must know how much God loves us and we must love ourselves. People can say what they want but if you don’t love who you are than their words mean nothing! I am moving forward with my journey by sharing my experiences to help others that have gone through the same thing I have. You must believe in yourself, have confidence & know thyself!”
Education + Outreach Investigator for the Office of Fair Housing and Equity
“Growing up, I never had a problem with body image. My family members may have said some harmful words when I was younger, but they didn’t stick.
June 28, 2011, I saved up enough money to buy a bathing suit from one of my favorite designers, Monif C. It was the Barbados Swimsuit. I couldn’t wait to wear it for my vacation, so I posted it on my Tumblr to share with my following. While my loyal followers, all 20 of them, praised how amazing I looked in the bathing suit, a website once titled “Oh You Fancy, Huh”, reposted my photo of me in the attempt to make fun of me. They posted my picture alongside Nicki Minaj, who I thought looked equally as beautiful in a similar swimsuit. Under my photo is said, “Reality” and under Nicki Minaj’s photo is said, “What She Expected to See”. After reading the hundreds of negative comments left under my the picture, I threw away the bathing suit in the hopes of never trying to wear it again. $120.00 down the drain–along with my confidence. I was never more broken than I was once I saw hundreds of people call me fat, ugly, and referring to me as a whale.
Today, I still feel the scars from that experience over 5 years ago. Although I’ve posted photos of me in bathing suits since then, there’s always a mental barrier that I have to overcome just before sharing with my followers. Have the internet trolls stopped
trolling? NOT AT ALL! But will it stop me from being the sexiest version of myself–not for one second. When I learned that I was living for me, all the negative voices started to silence. My advice for anyone learning to love themselves: it starts with you, no one else. No one has the capability to love you the same way you can love yourself.”
“My personal experience with body image in the media has always been a difficult one. Growing up “plus size” was never easy, I struggled for so many years with my body image and self love. I was told many times through out my life that I needed to lose weight in order to be healthy, in order to be loved and in order to be worthy. I never saw anyone that remotely resembled me in magazines, on television or in movies not until a few years ago. It was so disheartening never seeing someone that looked like me and that was my size. I spent most of my life trying to find ways to cover my body, I feared being seen, I hated shopping and trying on clothes because nothing fit. I told myself for the longest time that I had to be smaller, I needed to lose weight. I equated my worth to the size of my jeans. I spent so much of my life seeing what was wrong with me and creating a negative mind set that was centered around my body image. It wasn’t until a few years ago that one day I woke up and just said enough is enough, I looked myself in the mirror and told myself “You are loved, you are worthy, and your are beautiful”, I finally started to live myself for me and I stopped worrying about what everyone was telling me about my body. And I couldn’t be happier.”