During the iconic cover girl era of the Naomi's, Tyra's and Cindy's, supermodels seemed untouchable. Only a select few with the right bone structure and symmetrical smile could ever have the chance to see themselves reflected in mainstream outlets. I never thought I'd be in their place one day.
I have to be honest, when I was first presented with a nomination for the Redbook Real Women Style Awards, I didn't think I'd stand a chance. A quick thought came to me, there just has to be someone more cover-worthy in the eyes of these editors, right? Still I rallied up all of my supporters of friends and family and asked them to each vote for me. With an opportunity like this at my fingertips, I vowed that I would open myself to the possibility and whatever the outcome, I would be happy that I took the chance to live bolder. No longer content to play backup, I decided to put myself in the running for a spot that not too many women who look like me get asked to be a part of. Accepting the nomination was not just me saying yes to the cover girl dreams I had not known I had, but also an invitation to all the women who believe that they are not welcome to join us at the table.
It was surreal when I saw the email in my inbox announcing that I was one of six winners of the Redbook Real Women Style Award. On the day of the cover shoot, I smiled wider, strutted harder and felt simply amazing because I realized that by hiding ourselves or keeping quiet about who we are, we limit not just our own possibilities but also the potential of other women who are watching and hoping that they could do it too. This cover was for us.
Embracing the trend of seeing real women and real bodies in the fashion industry, the runways of this past Fashion Month showcased curvier women at all of the show-stopping shows like Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Siriano. It seems to be that the fashion industry is finally catching up to what we've all already known - that it is in the swish of our hips, that extra skin to grab hold of and the curves of our many figures that make women who we are. Standing confident and beautiful, owning it in whatever body we are in. It's time to celebrate ourselves in all of our fabulousness.
Seeing my face at the magazine stand right next to Oprah's, it showed me that rather than take on other's assessment of our beauty, talent and intelligence, we need to form our own opinions. We live in a world where we can create who we are. This opportunity not only became a symbolic declaration that anything is possible but an opportunity to make room at the table for everyone.
We are here.