Him: “The fact that you aren’t confident is surprising but I know you have been hurt, I understand.”
Me: A lot has happened to me that took my confidence. Truth is I didn’t feel beautiful or even the slightest bit of confidence until recently. I was rejected constantly in my marriage. He wouldn’t touch me. I don’t even remember the last time I’ve been touched. I peeked at my highest weight in life and I’m just now starting to come down. Not sure how much I’ve lost. I start back working with my trainer in the new year. I promised myself that this time I will do this for me. Weight loss is my biggest battle.
I had this conversation sometime at the end of last year. He met me at a point where I was still buried in my shell obviously struggling with lack of confidence and I was attempting to tell him how I had gotten to that point. I have come quite a ways since then but my struggle with confidence is a little unique. I wouldn’t exactly say that I struggle with low self esteem. I am confident in my intelligence, I connect strongly socially, and I know that I have a pretty face but I never considered my size to be a beautiful thing. As weird as this sounds to people who see me as confident, I haven’t really felt confident until recently. It is true, I have been through a lot of trials that has drained my self confidence but my biggest blow to date was my failed marriage. Not only did his infidelity do something to my psyche but his constant rejection damn near put any trace of confidence I had left in a grave. I’d like to share with you guys a little of what got me to this point.
A secret dream of mine has always been to be a model, specifically a plus size model. I’ve always been on the thicker side even since childhood and I remember from a young age seeing the beautiful and confident full figured models in the catalogs that were mailed to my home. I would think to myself, I can do that, and marvel over the curves and confidence hoping to one day be in their shoes. My dreams were short lived after expressing these aspirations to my mother. She discouraged me by saying that although I am beautiful, I shouldn’t want to be considered plus sized. I countered her statement by saying that most plus size models aren’t really “plus sized” and are given that title because they don’t fit society’s standards of what a model should look like. She assured me that plus size was not a moniker that was to be desired and to stick to a career choice that would incorporate my intelligence. My secret dream was crushed and I never mentioned it to her again.
What my mother said to me stuck with me well through adolescence and into my adulthood. I knew she meant no harm. She is a Pediatrician who majored in nutrition, and often counseled obese kids, so my health was very important to her. But for me, from that day on, I looked at the term plus size negatively. I hid from my truth even though I have fit the term plus sized just about my whole life. I’ve had stints of significant weight loss but primarily I have been plus sized since childhood. Middle school was my earliest recollection of when I attempted to climb out of obesity. As puberty onset I slimmed down to a size I’d pay good money for today. By high school, I was my smallest reaching my lowest weight to date, 150lbs by my sophomore year. I was active year round with tennis, basketball and track which allowed for me to keep my childhood struggle at bay. Throughout high school I didn’t really struggle with my weight anymore but that is when insecurities were planted. Although I had lost and kept off a significant amount of weight, I was still bigger than most teenage girls. I had more of a womanly figure than a body of a teenager and that attracted more older men than guys my age. I didn’t have many enemies but when girls wanted to be petty, all they could come up with is “but she’s fat.” Mind you I was almost 100lbs less than my current weight, but that was high school in California for you.
I didn’t care what jealous girls said, it was actually the comments my high school sweetheart would make about my weight that deeply affected me. I wrote about him in my blog post “My Only Regret. The One I Ran Away.” Everything wasn’t perfect in that relationship. He had some vices too and one of his hang ups was his sarcasm and complex about me gaining weight. He would playfully call me fat girl, make comments about my weight or that he didn’t like what I had on and even be reluctant of going in public with me. He would say things like I don’t know if I can be with you if you get any bigger and that I needed to exercise if we were going to be together. This would often lead to arguments or even temporary break ups until he apologized profusely about what he said. We went through several rounds of this during our two year relationship until I just couldn’t take it anymore and shut down. His complex came from passed down generational curses and the fact that he was a gifted collegiate athlete who was groomed for the NBA since childhood probably played a role in his thought process too. He didn’t even know the severity of what he said to me and how it permanently affected me. I didn’t think I was fat. I may have gained some weight as I slowed down with sports in my senior year but I definitely wasn’t fat or obese. I became insecure, often hiding what I ate from him. Even though his good outweighed his bad, he still struggled with his sarcasm and jabs at my weight and it began to push me away. I went to college in 2009 and soon found out that I was a hot commodity. I was still with my high school sweetheart but I was getting attention left and right on and off campus. I actually found it strange that men of my age were attracted to me. I shared these advances with my boyfriend and the final blow to our relationship came on a night that I went to a frat party. A guy at the party had hit on me and I told my boyfriend about this. He stated verbatim, “wow I didn’t think anyone would be attracted to you” and that was all I needed to hear. I was done. I didn’t care in what context he meant it and his apologies and explanations didn’t matter. I broke up with him for good and set my sights on the men who were attracted to me.
I moved to Texas shortly after finishing my 1st year of college at UCSB. I had put on a little more than the freshmen 15 and at that time had reached my highest weight, about 220lbs. I immediately began to diet and exercise. I did Jenny Craig and also worked out in my apartment complex regularly. I had gotten down to 195 within a few months of moving to Texas but I got pregnant shortly after that. I had a healthy pregnancy only gaining 15lbs the whole pregnancy and an additional 15lbs in the last 2 weeks. I breast fed for about 6 months and I was able to get down to my pre baby weight but I struggled with my eating habits. I kept eating like I was eating for two and I was completely inactive. I was still going to school, working full time and going through a host of issues with my sons father that often left me feeling like a single mother even within that relationship. He too would put me down about the weight I had gained and even told me that no man would want me if I left him. He ended up cheating on me and by the time I left that relationship in February of 2013 I had gotten to my then biggest weight, 260lbs. I felt miserable, unattractive and even depressed. I knew I needed to do something so I sought out help. I began working with a trainer in March of 2013 and I worked with him up until I got engaged in April of 2014. My trainer and my ex husband new each other from college and our working relationship became a conflict of interest in my upcoming nuptials. My ex husband demanded that I stopped all communication with my trainer and that’s when my weight began to pick up again. I have shared this in more detail in my blog post “Our Love Story. Don’t Let His Lows Fool You. He Was Indeed Beautiful.”
I got married on May 31, 2014 and our problems started instantly. Our marriage was rocky to say the least. By the time we got married, I had already put on weight and it just continued thereafter. I resented my ex husband for what he made me do. I was in full momentum and he just stopped me. He attempted to help me work out but he was pushy, demanding and absolutely insensitive to the most sensitive thing about me so I shut him out and became defiant to his attempts at helping me. There was no honeymoon period for us at all and lack of intimacy was a huge issue throughout our marriage. My ex husband felt like he couldn’t trust me and the added weight just fueled his reluctance to be intimate with me. He often wouldn’t come to bed and I had to practically beg him for intimacy, attention and affection. I knew his issues with me were deep rooted and did not specifically stem from my weight gain. I recognized some of the tell tale signs of infidelity and I knew something was wrong but I refused to believe that it was something I had done to cause this. I found out within our 1st year of marriage that he cheated on me. I was already unhappy with myself but I can’t even adequately explain what this did to me. He tried to tell me it wasn’t because he wasn’t attracted to me but no matter his attempt at an explanation, that was all I heard and felt. We went through way more trials even after this and all that we went through continued to take a toll on me mentally and physically. I fell into a deep depression with my weight gain topping the charts at that time at a whopping 287lbs by the time I decided to do something about it in December of 2015.
A new friend came into my life who assumed the role as my new trainer and we sought out to conquer my biggest battle again. I went strong for a few months dropping to 274lbs by April 2016 but blows continued to come in my marriage. My ex husband didn’t approve of our friendship and was now demanding that I end my friendship with my new trainer. I wrote about this story in my blog post “Destiny is Disruptive. That ‘Friend’ That I Chose Over My Husband.” I derailed again and ended up gaining back all that I lost plus more getting up to 293lbs in May of 2016. By the time we separated in August of 2016 I had gotten up to 310lbs. I didn’t realize how big I had gotten until I saw pictures from a family vacation to California. I knew that I was killing myself and I had to once and for all make a change. I shared this story in my blog post “What Changed. The Day I Found Out My Husband Was Cheating Again.”
So that brings me to now. I became a Vegetarian in August of 2016 and started back exercising at the start of 2017. I am just about 60lbs down from 310lbs. I still have quite a ways to go to reach my goal weight but I have already covered a lot of ground. I feel great and I see improvement every day. I started back working out with my 1st trainer just over a month ago and the ‘friend that I chose over my husband’ is still a huge encouragement on my journey and preps my vegetarian meals weekly. I am blooming unapologetically and even rekindled my dream of being a plus size model but I have hit huge roadblock. Where I am struggling is in my self confidence and having that relay in my pictures. Although I have achieved great results, I still appear to be timid, shy and unsure of myself in front of a camera. Now, I have mastered my selfie angles and you can catch a good candid picture of me every once in awhile but it is something about someone else taking a picture of me and the light that resides within me translating through that captured photo that I struggle with. The two are just not correlating and it’s actually quite frustrating because I’m not aware of what I am doing wrong and I don’t know how to fix this. I’m in a good head space, I’m feeling great about myself, I’m pleased with my progress and I am naturally joyful and positive but that is not coming across in my pictures.
I had a come to Jesus moment after a photoshoot I had this weekend and literally asked God what my problem is and He answered me. He told me that I am too in control and that paralyzes me to the point where I am afraid to allow people in the space where I let go. He told me that I am too self conscious and I judge myself based off of previous success. Self conscious being defined as too conscious of myself that I overthink to the point I confuse myself and it literally looks like I am mid thought in my photos. He also let me know that I care too much about the opinion of men. Not men as in all mankind but specifically men. He told me that I look for reassurance and validation in men, specifically men I am attracted to or involved with and when I am not getting that validation I lose myself. He told me that it doesn’t matter how other people see me, it only matters how He sees me and He sees me as a beautiful reflection of Him in the very truth of the moment I stand in. He then instructed me to model for Him. Sounds crazy huh? I literally had this conversation with God at my desk at work. I just shut up and digested what He revealed to me.
After this conversation I was led to meditate on the song I Am What You See by Bishop Paul S. Morton. The words of the song touched my soul and God put it on my heart that I had to redo my photoshoot, this time modeling with Him in mind. I contacted my photographer, let her know about my encounter and instructions from God, and set up another shoot for yesterday. I am pleased to say that I did much better. It felt much different from my shoot just a few days prior. As I posed I sang the words of I Am What You See in my head and instantly felt peace. I photographed with joy, confidence and even a bit of sass. My photographer even commented on my improvement. I was able to get many more useful images, some of which I will be using for my first book which I am almost done with. My pursuit of becoming a plus size model is in full effect and my weight loss journey is still underway with my goal as getting back under 200lbs to a healthy weight where I am toned and in shape. As I learn to conquer confidence who knows where that will lead me. Maybe you’ll see me on TV or a magazine one day!