This is the third of a three part blog series. Be sure to check out Act I here and Act II here!
Before I started modeling, I ignored my body and figured others did, too. Now, I couldn’t hide from it and there was a team of people who were paid to look at me. I became fairly unhappy in my mid-20s which led to a significant weight gain -- and I was panic-stricken. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was getting defeated by the fact that being good enough to be a plus-size model immediately opened the door to all the new, fleeting ways I wasn’t good enough to be a plus-size model.
I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or a reaction, but my disillusionment with modeling came hand in hand with my career slowing down in a serious way. I stopped getting booked as often as I used to, and the bookings started getting smaller and lower in profile. I had to get a side job to supplement my income. I passively sat by and watched the industry move on without me, and didn’t know how to feel about it. It was a party that I didn’t really want to go to, but I was still upset that I didn’t get invited.
That said, I know I made choices that lead to this parting. I had stopped making the effort needed to maintain my modeling career because I was tired of being too fat, too flat, too… anything. My agent had seen the writing on the wall for a while and didn’t bat an eye when I told him I was taking a full-time job and wouldn’t be available for bookings. Part of me hoped he’d beg me to give it another shot, but he didn’t. There were other, beautiful girls who were willing to put in the time and work to be the next hot thing. I would have focused on them, too, if I were in his shoes.
In the 12 years since I stopped modeling, my body and body image have both had their ups and downs. I got into insane shape for my wedding, and then let myself go a little when I realized just how much my husband loved me regardless of my looks. Perhaps most notably, I faced a serious illness that brought with it surgery and treatment that wreaked havoc on my appearance. As awful as the experience was, it did give me a new handle on my self image. I no longer size up my physical “worthiness” against the people around me, but in comparison to my own life. Sure, I might be a bit softer now than I’d care to be but I know I’m healthy. My upper arms might be a bit “loose” but I know how strong I am, compared to how weak I once was.
I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t have bad days. Of course I do, but they no longer consume me they way they once did. I see my insecurities for what they are, tiny fissures in an otherwise positive frame of mind. Chalk it up to being in a healthy relationship, having a job that doesn’t rely on my looks, or just getting older and wiser.
Written by the fabulous Tomiko for Curves with Purpose.