Updated: Mar 1, 2019
A few months ago, I was in Nordstroms with a very talented clothing stylist, selected by my branding company, to help me with wardrobe choices for my upcoming red carpet and speaking engagements.
She's stunningly beautiful and has a heart of gold. Within moments of meeting her, I knew there was nobody out there better for me to learn from. She looked like she was photo-shopped and every detail from her perfectly manicured fingers to her flawless complexion and tailored outfit made me instantly think, "I want to be more like her." She probably is never worried about how she looks. This was suppose to be a fun "girls" day of sorts. I was suppose to find pieces that worked for my new body style (I've put on a thick 20 pounds since fighting big pharma and insurance to obtain the very drug that was thought to halt the progression of CF ( Orkambi )).
She brought in incredible dresses from designers such as Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Michael Kors... and I tried on item after item after item.
Nothing was working for me.
After about 20 minutes, she peeped her head in the fitting room and asked me how it was going.
And saw I was sitting on the floor, wearing a dress that didn't zip up, crying uncontrollably.
Her eyes meeting mine, I was overcome with shame that me, the inspirational speaker she was suppose to be helping, was having a nervous breakdown.
Nothing fit. I felt hideous. I felt ugly. I was too fat. My skin was too pale. My teeth looked too yellow. I needed new extensions and a root touch up. I should get botox on my forehead. Why are my lips so thin? How could I not have eyelash extensions when clearly, that's trending and needed with my tiny beaded eyes?
But instead, she half-smiled with a look that said, "I've had moments where I hate my reflection, too."
I started having body shame the day I had my first port surgically installed. I hated it. The port has always been a sign of a looming death for me. The one inch incision mark holding the catheter is placed on my right upper chest, thereby reminding me every time I look down that the disease has progressed and I may at any point need to have that red bump accessed with a 3/4 inch needle. It's a reminder that time is running out.
So for years, I hid it. I never wore shirts that showed off my upper body. I dressed a bit too conservatively, blending in when I was born to stand out.
And my frequent, sometimes raucous coughing, aided in my shame. Years of the disease made my shoulders hunch in and posture deteriorate.
Despite all this, I stayed athletic and even was a Zumba dance instructor for awhile. But every time I had to teach in front of a class, I was mortified that I would have to face my own reflection for the entire hour.
I would go to post a selfie online, only to debate if I looked good enough to share that with the world. Not once, did I ever evaluate if I was happy in the photo. Just if I looked thin, my hips looked wide, my chest looked voluptuous, my teeth looked white, my hair was on point. It was exhausting to always be thinking of the one thing I need to change to be me... because it was never one thing. It was one thing that pointed out five other one things. And then the self-hatred would spiral.
I never was comfortable showing my stomach. The distended belly from missing portions of my intestines, to the dozens of scars across it, made me shrink inside myself and just wish I had the body worthy of a bikini.
And then, only very recently, at 30 years old, I had an epiphany.
I am beautiful because I am.
I am beautiful because of what my body has endured, that it is still able to endure.
My scars, are a symbol of how hard I can fight.
My port is a symbol that death can be right there, and I can persevere through it.
My stretch marks are a symbol that I am constantly growing, evolving, and enjoying tacos.
My teeth are a sign that although sometimes too yellow, the medications haven't made them fall out, and I can enjoy all the food I want to put in to my size 8 frame.
And a few days ago, I posted a photo on Instagram of me just being me.
Basic untouched up hair. Simple dress with out-dated flats. Brief splash of makeup.
And I looked so incredibly happy.
So incredibly happy.
And then an internet marketer who probably posted 200 comments in a row on women's profiles shouted, "get the body you want in only 2 weeks!"
And my reaction was swift.
The thing is ladies, the body you want you already have.
You know that 15 pounds you have? What memories did it give you? Did you get that because you met the love of your life and hunkered down for cheese pizza nights? Did you make some amazing love those nights?
Did you go a little too long between salon visits because you're a mom and your kids have been playing all summer long and you've been a part of their lives? Did you see them take their first steps or laugh until your belly hurt?
Did you forego lash extensions in favor of saving the $400 for an amazing weekend getaway with the girls?
We are beautiful.
We are enough.
If we are as healthy as our bodies allow us to be, and we smile frequently...it doesn't matter how fat, skinny, shapely, unshapely, pale, tan, acne, unmanicured, fresh our hair is .... we have it all.
Don't let anyone steal your inner beauty.
Don't try to blend in if you want to stand out.
Post that selfie of you smiling and being happy, supposed flaws and all.
My stylist and I had a beautiful moment when she saw me in a pile crying. She's been there too.
We've all "been there" .
And it's time we stop "going there."
It's time we start celebrating our flaws. Loving our stretch marks. It's time we appreciate what we look like for all our bodies have been through.
So please, send me a DM or tag me in your insta photo where you are happy. We need more happiness.
Not more insecurity.
We are beautiful the way we are.
I've been listening to your feedback over the years and decided to give you all what you wanted. Introducing: The Happy Factor! Counter-Intuitive Lessons to Ignite High Performance .
✅ Unlock your purpose
✅ Feel more gratitude
✅ Excel in your career
✅ Improve your relationships with family/friends/coworkers
✅ Feel happier and more fulfilled
Most people spend their entire lives chasing that "one thing" they think they need to be happy, to discover when they get it, they aren't any happier than they were before they got it..
This workshop will teach you why this is and actionable strategies to obtain and sustain more happiness in your life.
Want Even More?
1. I AM ____: The Untold Story of Success is my best-selling book that went viral in 2016; it takes real-life stories of successful influencers during their darkest times and puts it against the backstory of dealing with the terminal illness, Cystic Fibrosis.