Hope you’re as excited about making it to the end of the week as we are (no surprise there!). We have a super special segment that we are really happy to introduce to you called Meet the Team Fridays. As you may or may not know, the NAM movement has expanded beyond measures we ever anticipated and therefore, we have decided to expand our family and grow our platform from which we can communicate with you, our amazing readership. So, every month, we’ve decided to bring you a little closer to the faces of our brand and the many women who represent what we stand for – honest, true, raw, flawed beauty. In doing so, we want you to get to know these women for who they really are; honest, true, raw and flawed beauties. So without further adieu, welcome to Meet the Team Fridays and thank you for joining us.
Talk us through your journey of self-love. Were there any stand-out moments? What were they and why?
SS: So I had been dancing competitively for as long as I can remember and in 2014 I was completing my certificate IV in performing arts in Sydney. As a tall, bigger boned dancer I had to always watch what I ate, but in this final year I had been on a very strict diet for a few months to try and be my slimmest to be ready for the Moulin Rouge audition. As I was tall, classically trained and flexible, everyone kept saying this would be the perfect job for me, if I got down to the right size of course! So I did it, I managed to get down to the slimmest I’ve ever been as an adult, a size 10 Aus. But I soon realised at the audition I would need to be even smaller and the current diet was already a real struggle. So I stepped back and thought my body just isn’t built for this and that’s fine. I loved my body then at a size 10 but I love it even more now at a size 16, especially because it comes with no restrictions and is it’s natural size.
It was a big learning curve for me and definitely wasn’t easy, but so worth it in the end!
DP: I essentially stumbled upon my journey of self love when I first downloaded Instagram and started following plus size models and body positive activists. I didn’t know much about body positivity, but I quickly grew enamored with it and started to learn all I could. Once I saw other women who were fat or differently abled openly loving their own bodies, I felt encouraged to do the same.
JO: My self love journey was always taking one step forward and two steps backwards, I would have one good day or week following by multiple day or weeks of weakness. A stand out moment for me was not really an event or something large that happened to me, it was more of an “ah-huh” kind of moment. After years of hating myself and ripping myself apart, I realized one day when I woke up “why am I doing this to my body”? I had a change of heart and started to realize that I was doing this to myself and only I could be the one to change this. In the past I had tried many different actual ways to improve self love; sure they worked for a short period of time, but nothing stuck. Once I woke up starting to realize my full potential, nothing could stop me from becoming my best self. That’s when I started to use my Instagram account as sort of my diary, I was writing long captions with pictures that made me nervous at first until they no longer scared me anymore. I became my own self love inspiration you could say, I was motivating myself to improve and love myself every day.
If there was one thing you could express to all the people currently coping with an eating disorder, what would you say?
DP: I would recommend therapy to anyone struggling with an eating disorder and is financially able. Even if you don’t think you need it, I would recommend giving it a try. While I was in and out of nutritionists from ages 5-18, I never sought professional counseling outside of the context of weight loss because I thought my weight was the problem, not my obsession with thinness. After years of work unlearning fatphobia, I finally felt ready to seek treatment. I’m happy to say that after a few months of therapy, I am currently in remission from binge eating disorder. Seeking help can be intimidating, but it was an integral step toward accepting and learning how to work with my eating disorder.
JO: I would tell everyone firstly that they’re beautiful no matter what they think of themselves and that regardless of what they’re going through; there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. There will always be times that you feel like you want to give up and end it all, there will be times when you’re so tired of living this way that you can’t even think straight; NEVER GIVE UP.
Putting yourself out there on social media is no easy feat. What gave you the inspiration to build such a strong presence on platforms such as Instagram?
SS: Honestly at first I wasn’t keen at all about having a profile that wasn’t on private with photos of plane old me on them, saying I’m now a model. But my very first agent Darrianne was great with me, she guided me in the right direction when it came to building a social profile and said; ‘just be yourself’.
So simple but so true and that’s what I’ve always done and it’s always worked for me 🙂
DP: Once I started following so many fat body positive people on Instagram, I felt empowered to share pictures of my makeup, plus-size fashion, my body, and to create a space that showed me to be both fat and confident. We have a beauty and weight loss industry that financially benefits when women hate their bodies and constantly work to alter them with products and diets. With @curvedandcontoured, my goal is to promote confidence as an unconditional inherent human right through leading by example.
JO: My inspiration at the beginning came from Iskra Lawrence and the message she was sending to women. “EVERYbody is beautiful” which is why I continue to have that quote in my Instagram bio. There was something about seeing a woman wearing the exact same clothes that I had (I like to shop at American Eagle) on someone else’s body that really inspired me as well. I saw her wearing the same jeans as me and I thought to myself “wow, she looks so beautiful” mean while I thought I looked horrible. There are a lot of amazing plus size models right now that continue to inspire me, but Isrka was who I first found and started to really follow. After I started to put myself out there more the feedback that I was getting back is what kept motivating me, messages from women and men around the world that told me I was helping them. The feeling that someone out there is looking up to me kept me wanting to give more content on social media and to push myself to share new things with the world.
When you’re dealing with thoughts that aren’t body-positive, what do you do?
SS: I basically tell myself to pull my head in!
I’m a young, living, breathing, walking, goal kicking individual that doesn’t need to dwell on one personal thought that brings me down. I also try to plan things for the future that I want to do that will make me happy, it usually takes my mind off it straight away.
DP: Despite (and often because of) what I do, I face negative thoughts about my body pretty often. When I’m feeling down about myself, I try to make my struggle public to show that I am not ashamed. Even though I often face backlash, I am more often met with unconditional support and love. And for myself, the knowledge that I am not ashamed, that I am open to telling my story to anyone willing to listen, is enough to break the cycle of shame that haunts so many people with eating disorders. But most importantly, choosing to take care of yourself, especially in the face of fatphobic thoughts, is an act of defiance against a system meant to tear you down. Sometimes, personal survival is enough, and only then do we have the energy to fight for others.
JO: I think no matter who you are you’ll always deal with these kind of thoughts, even if you aren’t someone who struggles with mental health. It’s important to know that sometimes not being okay is perfectly okay, we all have bad days. Something I really like to do which can be hard some days is to put on my favourite make up look, a nice outfit and take pictures! Sometimes seeing yourself in these pictures you capture totally change your attitude about yourself. Another thing I use to do was write down all the thoughts I was having about myself and then burn that piece of paper; watching all of your thoughts burn away made me wipe them clean from my mind for a shorter period of time and helped me to continue on with my day.
What is one change you’ve made in your life that has greatly helped you on your journey to body-positivity?
SS: I don’t worry about what size the clothing label says anymore. I would find myself being really disheartened and upset when shopping if a certain top, dress or jeans in the size I thought I was didn’t fit me. If it fits me well and looks good I’ll get it, whether it’s a size 14 or a 20.
DP: One change I’ve made is preemptively making a list of things that make me happy so that I have a plan when I’m feeling down. Whether it’s going for a walk, baking, calling my sisters, or meditating, I’m comforted knowing that I have specific tools to make myself feel better.
JO: This question is the easiest to answer so far, buying clothes that fit me properly! I can not stress this enough; I use to always either buy clothes way too small for me or way too big for me. I went through different periods of when I was actually a size small, I always thought I was a size large, then once I became a larger size I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had gained weight and I continued to buy small sizes. One day I went through my closet and I got rid of anything that didn’t fit me, sometimes it was hard looking at something that was a size 3 and thinking to myself “I was once THIS small?!?” Finding, buying and wearing clothes that actually fit my body was the best and one of the first changes I made on my journey to self love. After I went through my closet and each time I do I either give some clothes to my friends and then donate the rest to a women’s shelter, doing this also boosts my mood since I’m giving back to my community.
Do you have a body-positive mantra? And if not, what would your mantra be?
SS: I don’t have a specific body-positive mantra no, however I have always liked the following as a reminder for when you do look in the mirror…
We only have one body, so love the one you’re in.
DP: Confidence is a human right.
JO: I’m not sure that I only have mantra, I’d like to think that I have a couple;
“EVERYbody is beautiful”
“The sun rises even after the darkest nights”
For me both of these quotes mean different things, everybody is beautiful represents myself and the changes of my mind set that I went through. The sun rises even after the darkest nights really inspired me to keep going, to realize that every day is just one day and I’ll actually be getting that one tattooed on me at the end of the month.
So there you have it! A huge thank you to these gorgeous ladies for taking the time to chat to us. We’ll be back next month with part 2 of Meet the Team Fridays!
Until then, we wish you lots of love, light and badass self love!
Team NAM xx