Welcome back to another installment of our favorite segment, Meet The Team Thursdays. This month we bring you the fabulous Mandy and Yerubi. Our ambassadors are well-acquainted with a long winded journey with self love and body positivity and so we are very excited to bring you their stories and narratives with the hope that they will inspire you, move you and make you fall just a little bit more in love with yourself. As always, thanks for joining us for yet another Blogpost Thursday – stay tuned for more exciting things to come in September and if you want to sign up to be a NAM Ambassador like Mandy and Yerubi, simply follow this link.
Now let’s get down to business!
Talk us through your journey of self-love. Were there any stand-out moments? What were they and why?
Y: My most stand out moment was when I was about 14 years old. Looking at myself in the mirror, crying because I didn’t like what I seen. It gives me goosebumps thinking about how much I didn’t love myself. How ugly I felt in my own skin, to my hair to toes. It was a stand out moment because I’m not that person anymore. It was a stand out person because that year, I took charge into my self-love. I surrounded myself with loving people. I started to truly start appreciating that I am not perfect.
M: My journey of self-love is pretty recent, but it’s been a long time coming. At the age of 7, I had undiagnosed anorexia because a boy jiggled my arm and called me fat. I would not eat breakfast (which was pretty normal) but then tell my teachers at lunch I was full from breakfast and tell my parents at dinner I was full from lunch. My mother found my lunch money in a sock drawer and took me to the pediatrician who said that if I was feeling low that I could be put on a diet.
I’ve dealt with 2 bouts of bulimia as an adult. The first ended because I became pregnant with my son and the second ended because I decided that I was worth fighting for. That was my stand-out moment. Looking at myself in the mirror with bloodshot eyes and scarred knuckles realizing I couldn’t live like this anymore was the ultimate proclamation of self-love. Once I realized that I needed to fight for myself, I started to work out and eat better instead of purging. I’ve lost about 60 pounds so far, but not to be skinny. I lost the weight because I realized I love myself enough to be healthier and around for the long haul.
If there was one thing you could express to all the people currently coping with an eating disorder, what would you say?
Y: Please, seek help from loved ones or someone. You are beautiful inside and out. I know you may not feel it, but you are. I know you’re going through a dark time with yourself and you DONT have to go through it by yourself. I know what it feels like to go through this. I went through it and i felt so alone. Just know you are one of a kind. There’s people who are out there that care about you and your health.
M: If I could express one thing to all the people currently coping with an eating disorder, it would be that you are not alone regardless of how you are feeling. I remember being completely surrounded by people who loved me, but seeking solace in something that could have killed me because I felt so lonely. It was taking that first step and letting someone into a world that was so secretive for me that made me realize the magnitude of it all. Take that same step and tell someone. If you don’t do it because you love yourself, do it because you love others. In the journey to healing and being a survivor, you will realize that you need to love yourself as well. Also, know that you’ll never fully be recovered. I still think about purging, but I’ve learned my triggers and have sought out support to see me through those times.
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?
Y: Instagram is such a great platform. I connect with all these beautiful people from around the world. Find people with the same goals as you. I want to inspire people to chase their dreams like I’m chasing mine. I want to inspire people to be unapologetically themselves. Seeing your mutuals grow as well is such a beautiful thing. Instagram is really such an outlet and I feel like everyone should take advantage of it. I love it and I’m blessed to have the platform that I do because I’m only going to go up from there.
M: When I bought a bikini and wore it for the first time, I felt so empowered. Swimsuits were always a sore subject for me, because I was the little girl at the pool with an oversized t-shirt while my friends were in cute two-pieces. I hated my body for so long that when I started to love myself and my body, I realized that I needed to wear the swimsuit and not let the swimsuit wear me.
I remember posting a picture on Facebook and Instagram and people commenting about how brave I was to put myself out there and that I’d inspired them to do the same. That experience was so enlightening and humbling that I wrote a blog post (https://milwaukee.citymomsblog.com/honest-talk/how-to-have-a-bikini-body/) about it, and that garnered even more comments about my bravery and how it inspired people.
A few months ago, my husband and I went to a splash pad with our son and I didn’t think twice about putting a swimsuit on and getting out there and playing with them. I just wore the swimsuit. My husband posted a picture of my son and I splashing and all I could think of was how happy we both looked and how we wouldn’t have had that moment if I would have been too shy or timid to wear the swimsuit. I realized that I didn’t want to care more about what other people thought over how much I love my son. That’s how Wear the Swimsuit was born – I feel that it’s been a gift to many people, and to me as well.
When you’re dealing with thoughts that aren’t body-positive, what do you do?
Y: When I’m not feeling so confident, everyone has those days we are human. But, what I do is I literally FEED myself compliments. Look at yourself in the mirror, put some music on and FEEL YOURSELF! You are beautiful!!! Feed yourself compliments, put on a face mask. Self-care is self love, do it as much as you can.
M: I deal with so many thoughts that aren’t body-positive, regardless of how it appears on social media. Old habits die hard, I suppose. Music is a great form of therapy for me. Albums or songs have a way of putting how I feel out there and allow me to resonate with my own feelings in a way I would never be able to otherwise. When I am feeling low about myself, I have a few go-to songs that I will put on and listen to and sing along with loudly.
Some of my favorites right now include: “HARD LOVE” by NEEDTOBREATHE (feat. Andra Day), “Who I Am” by Blanca, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips and, of course, “This Is Me” by Keala Settle from the Greatest Showman soundtrack.
Singing these songs releases an energy that is contagious! I highly recommend keeping a playlist of your favorites together just for the occasions that you feel low about yourself – it’s an instant cure!
I also have people who inspire me – body-positivity warriors like WWE’s Nia Jax, Ashley Graham and NAM’s own Amber Dawn. Their journeys help me to continue on my own.
What is one change you’ve made in your life that has greatly helped you on your journey to body-positivity?
Y: I stopped caring about what others think about me. I was so caught up on, what others thought about me. That I stopped feeling like myself. And it was so hard for me because I feel like you’re your biggest critic. This has helped me tremendously a lot with my self-love journey.
M: One change that I’ve made recently was being more conscious of when I compare my journey to others. I truly believe that comparison is the thief of joy, and I’ve had so much time stolen from me by comparing my “behind the scenes” to others “highlight reels.” When I find myself comparing, I stop myself as soon as I can and try to be conscious of how FREAKING AWESOME I truly am. I’ve actually started a journal where each day I write at least 3 things I am thankful for to keep me mindful of how lucky I am. This has spilled over into my journey to body-positivity. When I see someone and think how they are more beautiful or skinnier than I am, I try to purposefully stop and go through some self-talk about what is beautiful about me and how far I’ve come.
Do you have a body-positive mantra? And if not, what would your mantra be?
Y: Be yourself unapologetically, live for YOURSELF. Live to love and believe to achieve. You are art, you were put in this world for a reason.
M: The mantra that has gotten me through my journey thus far is “I AM ENOUGH.” Just as I was, I was enough, even though I didn’t always see it. Just as I am, I am enough. And just as I will be, I will be enough. I am woman enough, wife enough, mother enough, daughter enough, sister enough, friend enough…I AM ENOUGH. I may not be enough for some people, and those are people I don’t need in my life. On the flip side, I may be too much for some people, and I don’t need those people in my life either. Surrounding myself with the people who love me just as I am, ESPECIALLY AND INCLUDING MYSELF, is my key to body-positivity and happiness in general.
And there you have it queens. Another month, another blogpost Thursday. Stay tuned for next month’s post so you can meet more of our gorgeous, brave and phenomenal ambassadors. We love them and we love you long time!
Team NAM xx