2016 was one of my favorite years so far! Bradford and I found out I was pregnant last year on Christmas day and it is hard to believe that I was pregnant for almost an entire year. This year was a year of transformation and growth and I am so grateful for the life lessons as well as my beautiful baby girl. When I stop to reflect on the past year I can't help but notice how much I detached from others and just did my own thing. Essentially, I stopped giving a shit in more ways than one and because of that, I felt my life effortlessly click into place.
By the time I was almost three months pregnant, I had to let everyone know because it was becoming obvious as my baby bump started to show. As a result, for the first time since I was 17 years old, I stopped working as model. It was weird and liberating at the same time. For the first time in 14 years I was able to paint my nails an color I wanted. That might seem funny to most of you but for 14 years I haven't been able to change my hair or paint my nails any color other than nude because I needed to be "commercial" and sellable as a model. I spent most of my life being hyper aware of my looks and working to maintain my size, worrying if it was too big or too small. Being pregnant became almost like a get out of jail free card! It was the first time in my adult life that I was able to stop caring about how I "should look" and enjoy the freedom of being me on my own terms. I admit I may have gone a little overboard with the nail art but I enjoyed every minute.
For the first time in a long time I started gaining weight uncontrollably as all pregnant women do and I for the first time in a long time I didn't give a shit. Of course I had moments when I thought, "is this normal?" And it was. I enjoyed being able to listen to my body and the strange things it was telling me to eat. I ate food without guilt and I was able to look at my changing body as beautiful and strong. I worked through different levels of fear as my pregnancy progressed and would find myself laying belly up in my pool listening to meditation music and reflecting on what I really wanted in life.
There was one business dinner in 2015 that comes to mind when I was asked for the first time by a daytime TV producer, "what do you want?". We had a great talk about the industry and where things were leading for curve models. "Someone is going to pop," she told me referring to the plus size models. "You could be the one. If you play your cards right you could be hosting a daytime show vs. just being a guest on one." I then shared some of my concerns about what that would require and the aspects of being, "that person" that I wasn't really comfortable with. I told her that I understand that I can have Bradford shoot beautiful sexy photos of me and get a million followers, but that just made me feel cheap. I didn't want to do that and I felt like I would be lying to the girls and women who follow me and my message because I would be posting images that don't represent my beliefs or message. "But you have to look at it this way, say you post a sexy photo and a guy follows you, you might pop up on his little cousins search page and she can be inspired by you," she replied.
It became clear to me how this "road to success" works and the feeling I had in that moment that was telling me it was the wrong path for me. "I don't feel that a young girl who sees a sexy picture of me on a search page is going to be able to get an authentic positive message when I have manipulated her into wanting to look like me in order to like herself." It was at that point the woman asked, "What do you want?" And it was that moment that I realized I didn't know.
How was I going to be able to have the career or life I wanted if I myself didn't know what that was? 2016 was the year that I figured it out. I began to look at the "dreams" so many of us share like being a Victoria Secret or Sports Illustrated model, and I questioned them more than ever before. Not just for myself but for all models and young women who aspire to be one. Could walking down a runway in a thong with wings on my back really be my greatest accomplishment in life? The answer is, "No." Or at least not for me.
With the pressure to sell your sexuality and gain followers fast, I finally understood that I don't want to have to play a publicity game of shock and awe to create a career. That couldn't be further from who I am or what I want. I then realized that I don't have to do any of those things! OMG why have I never realized this before? Maybe because there aren't many example of women in the media who get praise and attention for contributing inspiring and meaningful things to the world. But then again, I have to ask myself why should I want praise for being true to myself and living a meaningful life? Oh yeah thats right, because our society tells us that we do.
Society and media tell us a lot of things and 2016 was the year I stopped giving a shit and letting those voices influence me. I don't care what is popular, what other people are doing, what I should post or shouldn't post, what people are saying about me, what size my pants are, or how many books I sell! I don't care. What I do care about is following my intuition and what feels good in my soul. Ironically, that was something that never occurred to me as a young model.
Everything in my life just clicked when I realized I can do things my way for my reasons and that will allow me to live a meaningful life, for me. It isn't about telling other people how to live or what to do or believe it is about taking accountability for myself and my choices. I don't want to host a daytime tv show, I don't want to have to go to red carpet events, I don't want millions of people in my personal business or lusting after my body. I want to live a life that is rich with meaning and relationships. I want to travel the world sharing what I have learned and wrote about in my book with others who are on a journey to discover more about life and why we are here. I want to raise my daughter with love, acceptance, and understanding as she decides who she is in this world. I want my family to be my priority and have as much fun as we possibly can while we have this time together. I want to fight for women's right and work to expand what we as women believe makes us valuable.
I want to live a conscious life that doesn't just look good on the outside but feels good in my soul. When I am old and no longer what society deems as beautiful, I want to look back at my life and feel honored to have lived and loved as much as I possible could regardless of who was watching.
2016 you were full of so many gifts and I look forward to sharing them in 2017.