Fat. Plus-sized. Curvy. Pretty?

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Photo from Ella Chic Boutique by Reagan25 Photography.

 

“You look great! You should be one of my curvy models!”

Part of me wanted to be offended as I tried on clothes at a boutique. “Curvy” is the new way to say “plus-sized.” “Plus-sized” was once the new way to say “fat.”

So I heard, “You should be one of my fat models!”

Why in the world would I agree to that? Then people would KNOW I’m plus-sized! I don’t want people to know I’m plus-sized! (As if everyone in my life doesn’t have eyes.)

What I should have heard was, “You rock those clothes! So much so that I want you to represent the curvy line of my brand and my business.”

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Photo from Ella Chic Boutique by Reagan25 Photography.

Because, well, I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant. After all, I doubt she wants some frumpy, ugly woman to model any of her clothing.

It was a tough pill to swallow at first. Part of me was excited when I showed up for my first photo shoot, and another part of me was horrified, as I had no idea what I was doing.

Then, at one point, I had to pose with the other women modeling clothes. You know, the ones who weren’t “curvy.” I felt a sudden connection to model Ashley Graham, the first plus-sized model in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and how she posed next to “regular” sized women.

In the modeling industry, anyone over a size six is considered “plus-sized.” I can’t hide it. I am curvy, plus-sized, thick, whatever you want to call it. Some men find that repulsive. Others find it sexy.

I think the key to confidence is accepting yourself as you are. Of course we could all make improvements, but we also each have wonderful and unique qualities that make us different from everyone else. You are one of a kind. I am one of a kind.

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Photo from Ella Chic Boutique by Reagan25 Photography.

My weight has always been a struggle for me, whether it legitimately needed to be one or not.

In junior high, the most popular boy in school said if you cut off my head and put on my friend’s body, you’d have the perfect girl. I was NOT even remotely overweight in junior high, but my friend was stick-thin. And instead of hearing that the popular guy thought my face was pretty, all I heard was, “Natalie, you are FAT.”

Like most girls, I thought I was fat in high school. As it turns out, I was just really tall compared to most of my cheerleading friends who were tiny, petite things. But next to them I felt like a giant. I was the base and the spotter while they flew through the air during cheerleading stunts.

I also felt fat in college. While yes, I did go up ONE size, I still wasn’t fat.

My greatest struggles came in my late 20’s and 30’s. Being out on my own and having money to buy food, I gained quite a bit. Then I’d lose a lot of weight, then gain it back. Lose weight, gain it back.

I had lost around 30 pounds before I moved to Uganda in 2013. Lost another 20 while I lived there. Moved back to the United States a year later and managed to gain 50 pounds, and that’s not an exaggeration.  It’s been up and down since then.

Weight will always be a concern of mine when it comes to health. My grandmother was overweight and had diabetes. My mom was extremely overweight and unhealthy until she had gastric bypass surgery about 12 years ago. So far, my weight hasn’t had an impact on my health (I realize that’s “so far”), but I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it and keeping trying to find what works for me to lose weight.

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Photo from Ella Chic Boutique by Reagan25 Photography.

I’d love to lose those pounds I gained when I moved back to the US. But guess what? Even if I lost those pounds, I’d STILL be “curvy” or “plus-sized” when it comes to fashion. And that’s OK.

There’s room for all of us in this world. The more photo shoots I do, the more comfortable I am around the other models. It’s actually quite beautiful to see how different God made each of us.

I’m certainly not looking for a future in modeling, but the adventure has been fun and resulted in some amazing free clothes from Ella Chic Boutique. I also love the fun photoshoots with Reagan25 Photography, and learning how difficult it can be to take photos in sweaters, jeans, and boots when it’s 90 degrees outside!

Fat. Plus-sized. Curvy. Pretty? I have never felt like I was actually pretty. And then a year ago a surgeon took a chunk out of my face to remove melanoma. I’m good at faking confidence a lot of the time, it’s something I’m working on to actually believe I’m not all that terrible-looking. And let’s face it- like most women, that great selfie I post is one of a dozen that were not-so-great.

But aside from my weight. Aside from my face. God says I am “wonderfully and fearfully made.” I can say with full certainty that because of Him, I am beautiful on the inside. And that’s really all that matters.

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My 2017: Cancer, Confidence, and a Cat

26113828_10154926156416573_1909445423053074190_nThere are three things that sum up my 2017: cancer, confidence, and a cat.

I can only imagine what I would have said if someone told me a year ago that in 2017 I’d be diagnosed with melanoma on my face, have plastic surgery to remove it, end up feeling more confident afterwards, and that I’d get a cat. There was just no way I saw any of this coming.

The big story of my 2017 was supposed to be that I bought a house. But no, God had other stories that headlined my life in 2017.

Cancer
Even though I’d gotten the phone call, even though I’d had the surgery to remove melanoma from my face, and even though I’d met with an oncologist, it wasn’t until a few months later that it actually “clicked” that I had cancer.

IMG-0076I was at an unrelated doctor appointment when the nurse said to me, “I see here that you had cancer,” she said in passing as she reviewed my medical history. Oh, I thought to myself, I guess I did. 

Cancer doesn’t look the same for everyone and every type. Mine was in the form of melanoma, and lucky for me, it only required a single surgery.

So, yes, I had cancer in 2017. Certainly not something I expected, but certainly a headlining story in my life this year.

Confidence
I’ll be honest. For a period of time before my surgery, I was really worried about what I would look like afterwards. I had a major pity party for myself that went something like this:

I am so screwed. I’m already apparently not pretty enough for someone to want to marry me. I’m going to have this giant scar on my face. NOW who is going to want to be with me?!

Before you tear me to shreds, know that those thoughts didn’t last. God intervened and reminded me that He wouldn’t let a silly scar keep me from finding someone to spend my life with. He also gave me peace and confidence to go through everything with my head held high.

It seems backwards, but I almost have MORE confidence with the scar on my face. I often forget it’s even there. It keeps healing and will continue to heal. I’m fine with it being there. Somehow God has used it to make me even more confident. I’m not sure how, but it’s not the first time He’s done something I don’t understand.

Cat
When my friend got a job at the SPCA, I avoided the place at all costs. I knew that if I visited, I’d come home with a pet. Then, one June afternoon, she talked me into a visit.

That’s when I saw a handsome grey cat who stole my heart.

A few days later, I returned. And I went home with a cat.

IMG-2998I never knew an animal could have such a huge impact on my mental health. Mr. Glitter Sparkles has changed so much for me. He’s given me a buddy and a reason to smile when I come home to an empty house.

I am beyond grateful for my amazing cat, Mr. Glitter Sparkles. I can’t imagine going through melanoma, heartbreak, and other bad days without him.

Cancer? Check.
Confidence? Check.
Cat? Check.

I’d love to speculate what I’ll be writing about a year from now, but only God knows. Maybe life will be better, maybe it will be worse. But as always, my faith in God will get me through whatever lies ahead.

Well… that and Mr. Glitter Sparkles.

In defense of the “selfie”…

IMG_20131116_051646Annoying. Narcissistic. Those are the two words one of my Facebook friends had to say about people who take selfies. I know plenty of people who would agree with him. But I would like to defend the selfie-  the photographs we take of ourselves and post on social media.

Argument #1: You post pics of your kids. I don’t have any, so I post pics of myself.
The number one group of people I see knocking the selfie are those with children. The people who post photo after photo of their child doing this and that are annoyed by the rest of us posting pictures of ourselves. It makes perfect sense that a parent’s life would revolve around his or her children. It should. If you don’t have children, who does your life revolve around? Yourself. It doesn’t mean your selfish, it just means you’re at a different stage in life.

Argument #2: There’s a difference between posting a selfie and being narcissistic.
“I am looking so fine today! #gorgeous #beautiful #hotmama.” “Be jealous ladies! You don’t look this good and you never will! #Ilookgood.” Even Instagram posts like that make my skin crawl. There’s a huge difference between taking a nice picture of yourself and announcing to the world how hot you think you are.

Argument #3: What happened to promoting confidence?
Posting a selfie doesn’t mean you love yourself so much that you have to show everyone how you look all the time, but don’t we promote an attitude of confidence this day and age? Aren’t we supposed to be telling younger generations that they should feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel pressured to look like super models? If I feel confident enough to think, “I look nice today!” is there really something so terrible about posting a selfie? There’s such a false connotation with being confident these days and it being mistaken for narcissism. Taking selfies of yourself and posting them all over your room? Now THAT’S narcissism.

Argument #4: Believe it or not, some people do want to see selfies.IMG_20130911_101949
I moved to Uganda almost four months ago. My close friends and family members don’t get to see me except for the photos I post on Facebook. These people flat out tell me that they enjoy seeing my face and how I’m doing in Uganda. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there who the only way people ever see them is on social media. Whether it’s a photo you took of yourself or one someone else took of you, what does it matter?

Argument #5: Who cares?
I take people off my Facebook newsfeed, Twitter and Instagram all the time when I get tired of their political and religious rants. If you’re tired of people’s selfies, I suggest you do the same.

As you can see from the pictures in this post, I do take selfies. Not on a daily or even weekly basis, but every once in awhile I will take a selfie. For me, this is actually quite a testament to how far I’ve come. Let me explain.

Throughout high school, college and in my 20’s, I never felt pretty. I never felt like I was even remotely attractive. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly realized I wasn’t all that unfortunate looking. For me to take a picture of myself and post it where people can see it shows how my confidence has grown, and it’s also a part of my testimony.IMG_20130724_181827

Like everyone else, I was created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) Once I truly accepted God’s love for me and found my full worth in Him, my confidence soared. I began to feel beautiful on the inside, and that confidence radiated to my exterior as well. I am confident in being the woman God created me to be. I don’t see what’s so narcissistic about that.

“Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.”

Psalms 20:7

The makeup-less “hero”…

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, dogs and cats, and anyone else who reads this blog post: I want you to know that I am about to become a hero.

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There. See that picture of me with my hair in a towel? That’s fresh out of the shower. I’m not wearing any makeup.

I’m waiting… are you clapping? Are you preparing my award? No?!

Lately there’s been this “movement” all about not wearing makeup. Women are going weeks or months or even an entire year without makeup to show that they are OK with themselves. They refuse to hide behind the makeup anymore! A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about a woman who went a year without makeup. One of her other friends commented on it and said, “Bravo for this brave woman for seeing the joy in her own internal beauty!”

Since when did not wearing makeup make someone a hero? I see people putting these “non-makeup wearers” on some sort of pedestal calling them “brave” and “confident.” I read a story a few months ago about these girls in Texas who were “taking a stand” and not wearing makeup their entire senior year or something like that. Wait… what? A stand for what?  Instead of not wearing makeup for a year, why don’t these girls volunteer somewhere? Why not show the importance of inner beauty by working with young girls at a group home or something?

I found this article, “Women Goes Without Makeup for a Year”  and the very first sentence threw me off:

“One brave woman is doing perhaps what most females wish they could – forgo all make up, trips to the salon, and beauty products for an entire year.”
 
Most females would love to not wear makeup? Not go to the salon? My friends and I love going to the salon, putting on makeup, and simply being a woman! If not doing those things makes you brave, we must be a bunch of cowards.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I “get” it. We’re all to appreciate our natural beauty, what God has given us. My friend Catie pointed out that makeup actually accentuates what God has given us. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing. I’m sorry if I’m not buying into this whole, “no makeup” movement to prove to people that I’m OK with myself. I am OK with myself, whether I’m wearing makeup or not.
 
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I don’t wear makeup to hide who I am. I don’t wear makeup because I feel uncomfortable without it. A few weeks ago I went to see a movie with my niece, I didn’t wear any makeup, and I even posted a picture! Apparently to some people, that would make me a bit of a hero.
 
In general, I love makeup. I’m by no means a pro at putting it on. I really don’t wear a ton, and I don’t even know the proper techniques for putting on three shades of eye shadow. But I love buying makeup, putting it on, and trying new looks. It’s one of my favorite things about  being a woman.
 
And when it comes to dating and marriage, of course I want a man who will love my natural beauty, but I also want a man who sees me dressed up and wearing my favorite lipgloss and appreciates the fact that I took time to look extra special for him.
 
If there are women out there who need to go through a self-discovery phase by not wearing makeup, then that’s fine. Good for them, but I don’t think it needs to be such a huge deal. There are bigger things women can do to promote having self-confidence and a healthy self-esteem. I also don’t think women who do wear makeup, and enjoy it, should be torn down or called insecure because they are “hiding” behind the makeup.
 
I’m simply a woman who loves girly things. I thank God that I am a woman, and there’s nothing insecure about that.
 

When did class go out the window?

Sure I’ve had my “unclassy” days- my days in college where my shirt was a little too low-cut, I drank a little too much, and swore a little too often. And while I’m not the perfect lady at all times, somewhere along the line, I grew up. I found class and most of the time, I think I exude it.

What is class? “Elegance of style, taste, and manner” according to the dictionary. To me, class is not advertising the fact that you’re a slut. It’s not dressing like a whore and yet walking around complaining that guys only want one thing. Having class is having confidence, it’s being funny without being vulgar, it’s being sexy without being trashy.

From my experience, I’ve seen that class is NOT a desirable trait in women for most men around here.

Most of my female friends understand what class is. They are beautiful, educated, smart, funny, driven women who would make any man happy. But that’s not what most men appear to be looking for. I see guys being attracted to trashy, potty-mouthed women who wear next-to-nothing anytime they step out on a Saturday night.

I’m not hating on these women- that’s their choice if they wish to act like that and dress like that. No one should hide who they really are. I’m just curious as to why men are no longer attracted to a woman with class. A woman with class isn’t always a prude. Women with class can be sexy without being trashy- isn’t that desirable?

Apparently not. I see who I thought were smart, classy men chasing girls who post half-naked pictures of themselves on Facebook and tasteless Twitter updates.

If having some class is what is keeping me and some of my friends single, then so be it. We’re not a bunch of no-personality-having prudes or anything. I’d guess I’d rather wait around for a man who desires a woman with class than worry about the ones chasing women with none.

Ladies- what do you think? And guys, feel free to shed some light on this. If guys are going for women with no class, is it because they are only looking for fun, and not a serious relationship? Or is it something else?