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What Does Modeling mean to me?
To truly understand what this experience meant to me you must first know my story. Growing up I was pretty shy and self-conscious because I was one of those girls that developed early. I was pretty busty for a 10year old which got me teased a lot. It made me feel different and awkward. Once out of that stage I was just your average girl.
I didn’t start putting on weight until my 30,s when I started having children, by then I was in full “working mommy” mode with no time for myself and tipping the scales at 190. I had my last child at 42 and now I was a whopping 250. Those shy awkward feelings came back only worse because now they included a negative body image. Although I appeared confident in my role as mom and in my career, Stella the woman was becoming more introverted and shy. I hated being the center of attention, I panicked if I had to walk into a room of strangers. I dreaded being in photos. Most of all I hated looking in the mirror. Instead of dealing with these feelings I hid behind the thing I did best. Being a mom.
Now the crisis begins. My daughters are grown and have moved out to be the beautiful independent women that we raised them to be and my son has gone off the college. Uh oh, empty nest syndrome. What do I do now? Who am I? Depression sets in. Now I’m 277 pounds and really unhappy. Self-esteem? Gone. Self-worth? Non existent.
At this point, I realize I need to take charge and lose weight. I start therapy, water aerobics hiking, and a diet. Finally, success!
I’m excited, 70 pounds lighter, and at my lowest weight in 25 years. Stella, the woman is starting to come out to play. I want new clothes to go with my new body so I go to a website that specializes in lingerie for plus size women. What a rude awakening that was. Every model was young and no bigger than a size 12. Although advertising sizes 3x-4x, not one of their models reflected that. No one looked like me. My self-worth was taking another hit, only now I’m angry about it.
In January 2019 sitting in my living room with a friend she says I should consider plus-size modeling. I laugh at her. “ No one wants to see an old overweight grey-haired lady modeling.” “Stella the only difference between you and these women is that they own their curves. Stop looking at your faults and celebrate your assets. You have beautiful eyes and a nice rack you just lack self-confidence.” After some thought, it sounded good so I agreed to contact her casting agent. A few weeks later I do my first photoshoot. I get put in this clinging dress that I never in a hundred years would ever have picked but when that photo came back I was speechless “ is that me? She’s beautiful.”
In April my agent sends me an email “you have an audition, good luck.” She had entered me into a modeling competition called Model Hunt. So off I go to LA for the casting call. I guess they saw something they liked because 3 weeks later I get an email saying I was a finalist. In June I went down for a mentoring class and photoshoots. There were about 25 of us in this class all ages, ethnicities, sizes and skill levels. A diverse group with a common goal, to learn what we needed to succeed in this competition. The next 2 days were spent in front of the cameras. The photographers were so helpful and patient. It’s like they can see into your soul and find the beauty that is within just waiting to come out. Never once did I feel out of place or anything other than beautiful. Each click of the camera I became more comfortable and confident.
I spent the next month practicing walking in heels, shopping for the right clothes and mentally preparing for the big runway walk. I thought I would be nervous, scared panicky, terrified..... but I was none of those things. Instead, I felt empowered and free of my demons. Modeling had given me a huge boost to my self-confidence and self-worth. Room full of strangers with cameras? No problem,”Hello guys, yes take my picture. “
Plus Size Modeling is about diversity, inclusion, body positivity and so much more. Each model has a story to tell for some this was a stepping stone on their career path, others a realization of childhood dreams and even some had to overcome physical or emotional obstacles to participate.
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