#body image

Sports Illustrated Releases Its Most Body-Positive Swimsuit Issue Ever

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History-making, ground-breaking, trailblazing, body-positive, shocking.

These are a few of the words and phrases being used to describe this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The brand revealed not one but three cover girls, including Ashley Graham—a curvy Size 16 model—along with UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and high-fashion model Hailey Clauson.

For the first time in 52 years, and annual swimsuit issue features three women with three very different body types.

The controversial, unprecedented move has generated a lot of buzz and stirred up body image conversations in a big way. Some say this year’s SI Swimsuit issue will inspire more women to love and accept their uniquely different bodies, while others say Ashley’s body type has no business being in the popular men’s magazine.

There are so many varying opinions about what’s hot, sexy, healthy and acceptable when it comes to body image. Working as a curve model myself alongside models like Ashley, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of judgment and confusion about what exactly a “plus-size” model is. I think the biggest debate is, “Are plus-size models and women size 12 and larger healthy?”

Here’s what I know for sure:

1. Healthy looks and feels different on different people.

Plus-size models range in size from a 6 to 18. When I was a size 14, I booked a lot of modeling jobs, but I didn’t feel good about myself, because my body naturally is a size 8/10. So for me, being a size 14 is not healthy. However, I have friends who are size 14, who exercise, eat healthy, maintain a healthy BMI and have bodies that are naturally meant to be that size.

To look at Ashley Graham and assume she is out of shape, never works out and eats pizza and fries everyday because she is a size 16 isn’t a fair assessment. Only Ashley knows what’s best for her, just as only you know what’s healthy for you. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to body types. You have to own and honor your own specific body type, and make healthy decisions that are best for you.

2. I am not everyone’s ideal standard of beauty, and I am ok with that.

I’ve learned (through a lot of tears, weight fluctuations, losing clients and not feeling good enough), that I can choose to be MY OWN standard of beauty.

3. I am so much more than what I look like.

Being physically beautiful isn’t the most important thing to aspire to. Seeing a woman in a bikini, regardless of her size, is never going to empower me.

Cultivating characteristics like kindness, compassion, a sense of humor and intelligence is always drop-dead gorgeous sexy to me.

Women who encourage, support and lift-up others are empowering to me.
This notion that a size 16 woman on the cover of a mainstream magazine in her swimsuit is supposed to make all of us who are not a size 2 feel good about ourselves is extremely misleading. The message being sent is that a woman’s value is based on what she looks like in a swimsuit. It’s completely missing the point of what self love and a healthy body image is all about because size 16 is not a healthy size for many women, and we are certainly more valuable than our bathing suit size and appearance.

4. What people say about me has more to do with them than me.

Whether you think Ashely looks incredibly stunning and healthy or overweight and unappealing says more about how you feel about your own body than Ashley. One thing’s for sure, she is an extremely confident woman to put herself out there and own and embrace her unique shape and image. That’s so sexy to me!

5. Learn to love, honor and validate yourself. You’re worth it.

It doesn’t matter who SI or anyone else puts on the cover of their magazines. Nobody can validate you or determine your worth except you. I think it’s great some brands are choosing to promote body diversity, but ultimately, it is up to each of us love ourselves rather than wishing or waiting for someone else to do it for us. I’m finding that when I am confident in my own skin, just as I am, others are naturally drawn to me as well.

6. Listen to your inner voice, not society.

Society tells me I am too old and too big to work as a model. I smile every time I cash a modeling check. Advertisers show me ways I don’t measure up to some pie-in-the-sky, unrealistic standard of beauty everyday. I choose not to subscribe to those messages. I pray, meditate and tune in to my own inner wisdom for strength and guidance.

7. The next time you start to criticize your body, stop and think of everything it does for you, and say thank you.

Sure, I have been guilty of comparing myself and my body to other (much thinner) models on set, especially when shooting swimsuits and lingerie. I used to criticize my thick thighs and wonder why I could never attain those beautiful washboard abs. Then I realized what a waste of time that was. I have so many positive messages to spread, people in need to serve and more important things to create. And my body, my strong, beautiful body is the vehicle through which all great things are possible. I choose to love and honor it each and every day.

Check out my interview on this hot topic on CBS News.

Read my story on mindbodygreen.com.

The Key To Manifesting A Miracle

BLOGTOUR

I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of this exciting GLOWSCHOOL BLOG TOUR created by my dear friend, Dana Gatziolis. I met Dana at Gabrielle Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass Level 2 last October at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts. Glow is the perfect word to describe Dana–she has a true zest for life, and radiates light and love. You simply feel better when you are in her presence.

Dana also gave me an incredible gift during her transformational talk at our retreat. Her courage to speak openly about a painful experience (something I have also lived through) broke me wide open, and gave me the freedom to release deep-seated wounds. It was one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me, and it didn’t cost a dime.

That’s what I learned that day: Nothing is more healing, freeing and powerful than sharing our stories, sharing our TRUTH.

That’s what this blog tour is all about: Empowered women sharing their truth, and creating the space for others to share theirs as well. As I like to say: Share your truth, Save your life.

I’m sending you all the courage, confidence, love and support to dig deep, share your story, accept, witness and feel the pain associated with your deep-seated wounds, discover the spiritual lesson in the hurt (there is always a beautiful lesson), and find compassion for yourself and others to forgive and heal. This is the year to choose again, and be happy.

It’s your moment, let’s GLOW!

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My life has been about striving for perfection while constantly questioning, “Am I good enough?”

Am I pretty enough? Smart enough? Thin, toned and strong enough? Am I lovable? Have I accomplished enough?

I work full-time as a model. I’m what the industry refers to as a “plus-size” or “curve” model because I am bigger than a size 4/6. I’ve spent years looking for validation in all the wrong places—model castings—where clients judge us based on hair color and hip size, and society, which thinks we should all be a size 2 with big boobs.

When I book jobs and build steady clients, I feel validated. I’m busy, I’m making great money, and my friends and relatives can see me in magazines, in stores and online.

Then I lost my main client. A new person in charge decided to shoot on smaller models. Another steady client decided to hire all new models and “switch things up.” I was dropped.

I was going on more castings than ever before, but I wasn’t booking the jobs. My breaking point came when I was up for a huge national campaign that paid a ton of money. I was so excited about the opportunity. The casting director told my agent she absolutely loved me, and thought I was a perfect fit. I didn’t get the job.

I remember walking down Park Avenue crying. I knew the decision wasn’t personal, but it felt that way. I know the business I choose to work in is extremely competitive and has nothing to do with how nice I am, how smart I am, how hard I work. Despite knowing better, I started down a dangerous spiral of, “Why don’t they like me? What’s wrong with me? What do I need to change about myself?”

The “I’m not good enough” thoughts were attacking my mind, and I felt my breathing start to change. I was having a panic attack on Park Avenue.

After a good cry, good meal and good conversation with a dear friend, I went home and told myself, “Something’s gotta give here, Kate.” I always thought of myself as one of the happiest people I know, and now here I was having a meltdown almost weekly. It wasn’t healthy.

I’m smart enough to know that happiness begins and ends with me, but I was in too much pain to shift my thoughts all on my own. 

I needed help. I prayed for a miracle. Instead of saying, I give up, I said, I give it all up to you, God. I surrender.

In admitting to myself that I didn’t have all the answers, and surrendering to something so much greater than myself, I experienced a kind of peace and freedom that I haven’t felt since I was a child. 

Releasing my need to be validated by others, (which I often justified because a client’s validation of me pays my bills), and turning instead to the grace of God to guide me to love and validate myself has literally saved my life.

Being in alignment with a greater power has given me my power back. I can relax. I trust. I know that the Universe has my back. I am taken care of, and even when it seems that things are not lining up in my favor, I quickly see how everything is happening FOR me. 

When I get my ego out of the way, and ask for the highest energy of the Universe to speak to me and through me, and show me the way, meltdowns are replaced by miracles. I expect them now.

That desperate need to try to control outcomes has been replaced with acceptance of what is and allowing what is meant for me. Not everything is meant for me. I am ok with that now.

Now, when I don’t book a job, I’m fine with it. The obsessive thoughts over what I could have done differently or better, or stories I used to create about not being good enough have been replaced with excitement about what bigger and better plan is in store for me.

One of my favorite mantras is, “This or something better.” So when I don’t book “this” job, I know I’m about to land something better and perfect for me.

I live in faith now, not fear. I go in, I do my best, I have fun, smile and give it my all. Then I release it. If an old thought pattern tries to creep in, I acknowledge it, take a deep breath and exhale it. I know it’s just a thought.

I’ve learned the biggest key to manifesting is to pray for the highest good for all, and to be detached from the outcome.

That’s so big, I need to say it again:

The biggest key to manifesting is to pray for the highest good for all, and to be detached from the outcome.

Amen!

Let that steep in for a minute.

I begin and end each day with a 20-minute transcendental meditation. This commitment to stillness is manifested in inspiration, joy, peace, clear focus and creativity. When I live my life from this place, I’m in the flow and don’t have to try as hard — jobs, relationships and opportunities just seem to open up organically for me.

For me, it is a miracle that I am able to practice self love instead of constantly beating myself up with negative thoughts that do not serve me.

That’s what I am committed to everyday. Small acts of self love and care to validate myself. Going to the gym. Writing. Meditation. Prayer. Getting energy work done. Eating food that nourish my body. Making a friend smile and laugh. Creating the space for people to live in their truth.

What small acts of self care and love do you practice daily? I’d love to hear from you! Sending you so much peace and joy! xoxo

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Yesterday, Karissa shared her favorite GLOW tips with us, and I’m so excited to read what Flora is sharing on Monday!

Jump on board this beautiful blog tour, and GLOW with us!

Also, I highly recommend taking advantage of Dana’s FREE 10-Day Get Glowing Adventure – starting February 1st: 10 days of simple + fun daily challenges + inspiration. Hope to see you there! Let’s GLOW!

 

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