I want to start by asking you to think about this for a moment: Life sometimes gets in the way of intended plans.
If you follow the Curvicality Facebook page, you might know that I refer to myself as a Lupus warrior. Why? I have Lupus (diagnosed when I was 32), and more often than not, it tries to run things in my life. It interferes with my intended plans. All. The. Time.
A Warrior. Every Day.
But, I make it a point to be a warrior every single day. I don’t give myself any other choice than to push through, even when I don’t feel like it.
I want to challenge you to do the same.
When things get rough, we’re hard on ourselves. (I know I’m guilty of this.) We beat ourselves up about everything under the sun: jobs, parenting skills, relationships — and far too many times, our weight.
We bully ourselves, though we might not realize it. Consequently, we move backward instead of forward because we become our own worst enemy.
This is when you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to move through whatever challenge you face.
This will look different to all of us. It might be trying something that scares you, having the courage to say yes when you want to say no, getting out of a relationship or friendship that’s not healthy for you or simply making an effort to have more “you time.”
I often do this through my modeling and sharing my Lupus journey on my platform. Doing this gives me the energy to keep the positive thoughts going. In each photograph I take, I am reminded that even on my bad days, I still have the energy to move. What a miracle!
Looking back at the pictures gives me an opportunity to celebrate what’s amazing about my body instead of ruminating on the disease that has affected it, no matter how tired I may be.
If you’ve read other articles in this issue of Curvicality, you know a lot of us have been talking about photographer Jose Pagãn. If you haven’t heard of Jose yet, he’s a pretty well-known photographer who specializes in the plus-size industry. I recently had the honor of doing a photoshoot with him and couldn’t help but reflect on his positivity. Much like me, he celebrates the positives in life.
It was an amazing experience, but in truth, modeling can bring about self-bullying. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to capture a certain image with the “perfect shot.” However, life has no perfects. So this in itself offers a great opportunity for growth.
This particular shoot was challenging for me. I had never done an outside shoot for starters, and the day I shot with Jose was a day that Lupus wanted to take pictures too. (That Lupus will show up just about anywhere in my life.) Yet somehow the magic of Jose came to play.
Every model struggles with body image.
As plus-size models, we feel a pressure to show you something extraordinary. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I often think “man, my gut is driving me nuts. I wish I could saw that thing off with some scissors.” (That’s my Felanese humor there.) It’s hard for me to be honest with you about this, but I’m nothing if not transparent. Every model struggles with body image at some point in time.
I often try to be humorous about it. When I get in front of the camera, I will tell the photographer “don’t worry about not getting my good side, all my sides are good.” Then I see a side view of me and say “not so good.”
This is where having a positive photographer is paramount. When you’re being vulnerable and putting yourself out there, you need to know that there is support on the other end. You wouldn’t believe how many photographers don’t celebrate plus-size clients.
Forgive the modeling talk here. I know most of you reading this aren’t models, but finding this positivity can apply to anything in life. Never surround yourself with people who aren’t positive. It will drain your energy. And as I often say, if they leave, don’t stop them. It’s like the trash putting itself out, right?
Love your body. All of it.
In closing, I want to say this: I know the road to beauty can be a hard one and sometimes painful. Don’t give up on learning to love your body — and your life. Learn to love you. All. Of. You.
Start an “Encourage Me” list. I do things all the time to keep me going, to keep me on the positive end of life. After all, you’ve got to be your own personal cheerleader.
Keep your heads-up ladies, we’ve got this. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Believe in yourself. Step out of your box of comfort. Find your own “Jose experience,” whatever that may be. And do it with pride.
Your Fellow Thick Sister,
About Felanese: Felanese Gordon is a model and Lupus advocate who was born and raised in New Orleans. She has resided in Kansas City for 35 years. Her goal is to continue the road to positive thinking and self-love and encourage others through positive thinking, speaking and doing.