I grew up an active girl. Throughout childhood, I played several sports and danced and had a great passion for performing. Recitals, games, and practices were always an enjoyable time for me to do something I really liked and be around people I enjoyed spending time with. All of that was fun for me until about halfway through middle school. As hormones set in and cliques in school were created, I began to have a pit in my stomach every time I was going to play a game, dance in a show, or even go to a practice. I started feeling anything but "fit" or "thin": two words that began meaning everything to some of my girlfriends. These words began having an effect on me.
While I always thought my active nature would keep me "fit" and "thin," I second-guessed myself more than I felt confident in my performances. I continued being active, but often times I found that I was comparing myself to others more than giving my all. One thing that motivated these negative thoughts was the media. During this time I was looking up to pretty much any young female who was on television or on the latest cover of Teen Vogue. I found that all of these skinny teens were grazing over the body image issue of my generation. On top of being self-conscious, this is when boys began acting more immature than before and would make ignorant comments. One of my favorites was "you're not hot because you're flat-chested and short." While I knew both were true and couldn't change them, I dwelled on what I didn't have. Because of my poor self-esteem and the occasional comment I would get from irrelevant boys, I began to fade out of sports and eventually, dance. This is something I truly regret doing.
One big factor pulling me out of that difficult time was that I have always had very strong women in my life. These women have made me feel more comfortable in my 5-foot-2, "pear-shaped" figure. I have also grown to take certain aspects of the media in with a grain of salt. Nowadays, curvier women are being known as "sexy" while back then I would have never believed that.
Recently, Sports Illustrated announced the models for their latest swimsuit edition. Robyn Lawley, a "plus-sized" model and swimsuit designer will be featured in the spread. When I first read that a plus-sized model would be appearing in the magazine, I was excited. I was mostly excited for my younger-self who would have been ecstatic to have people in the media to look up to that were bigger than a size 4 and focused less on the number and more on other things. After being intrigued by the headline of the story, I realized that she is a size 12. The average size of the American woman is a 14, but in the modeling world, it is about a 0-4. According to TIME, Lawley is "making history" with the magazine. While this is an exciting time and change for the publication, I don't think a size 12 should be associated with the word "plus-sized." That being said, Lawley agrees. Unfortunately in the modeling world, a size 12 takes on a totally different meaning, forcing the Australian beauty to take on the "plus-sized" title in all of the recent headlines. Oddly enough, her size 12 is considered smaller than the average American woman.
Over time, "plus-sized" has gained a negative connotation in society and is giving young girls anxiety about their bodies and what is socially acceptable. I am looking forward to the magazine hitting stands and showing something different than what has been displayed in the past. I hope that young girls who are familiar with the recent news of her "making history" understand that the expectations of modeling and entertainment agencies are not realistic for people everywhere. This is something that I wish my friends and I knew during those awkward middle school years.
Robyn Lawley is the kind of role model that I believe will be of great value to young girls growing up nowadays and will perhaps give girls the courage to keep on dancing and running on the field: Something I wish I had done.