As a younger model, I dealt with a lot of rejection and judgment (like every model does), and it was frustrating because the only thing outsiders saw was the last successful campaign I booked. Beneath my flawless skin, I still had a lot of invisible scars.
There were often moments when I had to conceal my emotional pain from the constant judgment coming from the industry. For example, people would tell me: “Your chest is nice and big." "Tell your clients you have magic boobs and can fit every bra size at the casting." "Your hair color is ‘mousey,’ let’s change the color.” And so on, and so on…
In reality, this is just the surface level of judgment that models endure in order to to pursue, in some cases, their childhood dream. My childhood dreams were to become a grocery store checkout lady, a railroad conductor, a veterinarian and then a country music singer. But a model? I didn't even know that career existed. I was so unaware of the idea of selling sexuality, in a way that every child should be.
And then, I got to high school. I got my first fashion magazine from the grocery store checkout line (how ironic), went home, and sat down on my broken-in family room sofa and started turning the pages of a new chapter of my life.
This chapter would be an unhealthy self-awareness. Where are my hip bones? Why is my stomach soft? All of the sudden, I was not like, "them” — the models in the magazines. I was no longer aspiring to be a railroad conductor or a veterinarian. I aspired to be like the girls in the magazines. Beautiful. Sexy. Perfect.
So began my journey of eating disorders, diets, and body shaming — for 10 years. And though most people said and even I still say, “you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else,” I was so lost on how to love myself, if I didn’t look exactly like the girls in the magazines.
Through therapy and years of invisible scarring, I was able to put together an acronym, "SNAP," that actually worked. The idea of the acronym came from a time where I had to learn how to get over the nervous feeling I had before a big show, casting, or meeting. Most of the time, when I was uncertain of something, I was consumed with the feeling of nervousness and self-doubt, until I read an article that really struck me.
The article said, when you’re nervous about something — a job interview, a big meeting, speaking in public or anything else — allow yourself to feel the nervousness before the actual event. Once you feel nervous, there’s no need to cling to the emotion anymore and carry it around with you. Drop it like a bad habit and find comfort in knowing you’ve already felt nervous, and now it’s time to feel strong.
This example of fully allowing myself to feel the emotion, dropping the feeling and then quickly getting on with my life was in one word: awesome.
For example, if I felt fat, I would embrace what it feels like to feel heavier. In my mind I pictured myself wearing jeans that were too tight and cutting off my breath, and sometimes I would picture my insecurity. As soon as I felt that, I had soaked the emotion in like a sponge, I would quickly turn around and wring out that full sponge of self-doubt. I would empty the feeling of insecurity and discomfort and just leave my mind free to pursue the journey that I was proud of: becoming a role model that inspires kindness.
So here it is, my simple SNAP routine to help you give your amazing self all the love that you deserve:
Surround yourself with supportive people that love you.
Notice how badly you feel in moments of doubt and self-sabotage.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion for a moment and then immediately let go of it.
Persevere in your journey of self-love.
The next time you start to judge yourself, find comfort in knowing that you can most definitely change your thoughts in a SNAP. Write it down and carry it in your wallet. No one will know what SNAP means, so don’t worry — it’s a personal reminder that you’re allowed to feel a certain way, and you’re also allowed to be freed from those feelings. Now SNAP to it!
Photo Credit: Michael Weschler