This post originally appeared on Dressing Up
Apparently there is a swimsuit for everyone. Turns out all this time I was just wearing mine with the wrong attitude…
This journey started with a simple Facebook message. What immediately followed was 48 hours of emotional turmoil, standing face to face with my relationship with my body. You see my body and I have never truly been friends. Unable to fit a single pair of pants from the age 14, stretch marks encircling my thighs from age 16, I didn’t value the curves I was given as a mixed ethnicity Kiwi. And then along came Monique, who asked me to do a photoshoot for Dressing Up…in swimwear. I can tell you, things have changed a lot since then - for a start I am writing this in the dark, under a mosquito tent in my dorm room in rural Cambodia.
But back to the swim shoot - Once I had absorbed the implications, the decision to do the shoot was an easy one. I loved Monique's blog and I knew the challenge would be good for me. Time to jump on this body positivity journey and get over my thick thighs! Enter the turmoil of a woman with no modelling experience about to be photographed in a swimsuit...for the internet...with zero retouching. The weeks that followed were a rollercoaster.
The photoshoot itself was alive with energy, confidence and support. I felt like I had really been missing out. With that, I had a new mission. Go all in and be confident in these curves! Rachel (Rachel F Cox - Plus Size Model) who was modelling with me made me feel so welcome and her incredible attitude was inspiring.
Monique's Swimwear post, How To Get A Swim Body This Summer…Put On A Swimsuit! was seen by over 50,000 people online. Some of my pictures were printed in VIVA Magazine and then the Woman's Day ran an article about it. My bikini body was everywhere, and the response was nothing but positive.
From that moment on life in general got a whole lot happier. Not only because I had forged a new relationship with my body, but also because I had unexpectedly started saying yes to a whole heap more. I didn’t realize how much my attitude to my body was mirrored in my attitude to life. Tens of thousands of people had seen my thighs and somehow I was no longer terrified. Choosing to feel confident in my body helped me to move forward to do things I’d always wanted to do, I just needed to say YES!
With this new-found confidence, I quit my corporate job and bought a ticket to Cambodia to volunteer with a local rural NGO. I would be living and working in a rural commune training local young women to be trainers for GEP, a social enterprise that empowers women by providing education and eco friendly sanitary kits. It was important to me to take a step back from my normal life and put my whole self into a project that would rapidly empower women in an environment with little opportunity. Seems pretty extreme right? But this had been a life long dream of mine and I’d just said yes.
Right before my hurried departure, and with my new found confidence (and encouragement from my friends) I decided to send my photos from the swim shoot (including a selfie) to the top three modelling agencies in NZ. I just couldn't believe it when Unique Model Management asked if I’d come in to meet them. Before I could take the whole experience in, they signed me on as a commercial model! Quite a change from "But people will see my thighs!!!"
Two days later I departed for Cambodia to embrace a new adventure, and a very changed me!
I owe a huge thank you to the supportive women around me, especially Monique for asking a small question that made a big difference, and Rachel Cox for being an inspiring friend.
Here are the words
I take a few pictures too