How I Transformed My Insecurities Into Body-Lovin' Goodness

Because you can't love anything until you can love yourself.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already at your best - right now, just as you are.

When we’re young, we’re extremely receptive to varying cultural perceptions of what it means to be “the best.” The fastest, the smartest, the richest, the nicest. The skinniest, the most athletic, the hottest, the most desirable. And sometimes, without realizing it, these perceptions creep into our psyche about who we become (or don’t become) as adults.

As a kid, I felt like I wasn’t the best because I was bigger than everyone else. I went on my first diet at age 7, and I always had a hard time finding clothes that fit when I shopped at the same stores as my friends. The fitting room was like a torture chamber: even if I found clothes to try on, they never fit my body.

Finding clothes that fit was such a challenge that I begged my mom to make my dress for homecoming during my sophomore year of high school, rather than subject myself to the agony of fitting room fails. The dress was bright fuchsia satin under a layer of sheer black fabric with beading. We went to a consignment store and found a fuchsia mohair coat to go over it. I still have that coat to this day.

When I became a female athlete in high school and college, I finally felt like my size was an asset. It felt like I had found my place in the world. When I got accepted to the United States Naval Academy to become a varsity rower and midshipman, those feelings intensified and my confidence surged.

Hanging with some friends - clearly confident at the United States Naval Academy
Hanging with some friends - clearly confident at the United States Naval Academy

As a midshipman, I trained and worked with a nutritionist, which pushed my athletic performance to new levels. I was more confident in my body than ever before. I was proud of my height, my muscular frame and, mostly, what my body was able to do as a result of my ongoing training.

But everything changed when I injured my back rowing. Badly. I underwent two major surgeries before graduating. When I was commissioned as an Ensign after graduation, I was declared “unfit for worldwide deployment” and was medically discharged. I went from feeling like the best to feeling like an utter failure.

I resented my body for what had happened. To make matters worse, after my surgeries I spent months rehabilitating and trying to get back into shape. My body had changed, I’d put on weight, and I didn’t recognize myself anymore. My whole identity for years had revolved around being a top female athlete, and I had to completely reframe my approach to exercise and how I was treating my body.

My fashion sense was all over the place during this phase of my life. I went from being in great shape and wearing a uniform almost every day to being overweight and having my pick of virtually any outfit under the sun, which resulted in many “what not to wear” moments. But I was having fun with fashion, and it all played a role in getting to know myself and my body once again.

Having fun with fashion and finding my "sea legs" after being released from the Navy
Having fun with fashion and finding my "sea legs" after being released from the Navy

Slowly, I began to see myself and my body differently. My weight continued to fluctuate, and my relationship with food was still a constant source of stress and shame. I started and stopped many fitness programs, as I had a tendency to push my body too hard and re-injure myself. This went on for almost a decade.

I continued to hold myself and my body to really high standards. I wanted to have “the best” body possible, and I was putting myself and my body through hell to get there. But a few nights before my wedding, I was lying in the bathtub, feeling terrible about my body when I had an epiphany: I made the choice, from that moment on, to stop obsessing over my body’s imperfections and what it could or couldn’t do for me in the gym. I learned to approach exercise as an expression of my love for my body, rather than as a way to punish or drastically change myself.

Three months after my wedding, I signed a modeling contract with TRUE Model Management in New York. Now, I’m a successful plus-size model, blogger and social influencer. The choice to accept my body transformed my life. Literally.

Here I am wearing the fuchsia mohair coat from homecoming in a test shoot for my portfolio.
Here I am wearing the fuchsia mohair coat from homecoming in a test shoot for my portfolio.

I stopped striving to be someone else’s definition of “the best” and chose to focus inward, on becoming the best version of myself. I stopped worrying about my dress size. I stopped letting the clothes I couldn’t wear because of my size be a source of shame. I stopped putting my body through hell with dieting and extreme exercise. I started to take the best possible care of my whole self.

Whether you know it or not, you too are already at your best. And once you realize that, the world around you will recognize it as well. Once you love yourself, you’ll become unstoppable.

When you love who you are and you’re expressing your true self, then your clothes just help you dress the part. Well Nordstrom has everything you need to enhance your assets! For special occasions or the latest trends, from active wear to lingerie, the Nordstrom Plus-Size offering will have what you want. Nordstrom wants you to be your best ― which is exactly who you are today.