Head over Heels: This one time when I wore a bikini on national TV…

By Managing Editor

When I was 12, my eyes were glued to the TV screen during every episode of America’s Next Top Model. 

Like most young girls paging through the latest fashion magazines, I longed to be one of the models that graced the cover of the fashion bibles and the advertisements inside. However, the only model-like quality I possessed was being fierce with my eyes, which has benefited me more at the club than anywhere else—thanks, Tyra.

As I grew up and into my body I realized I would never be in the magazines or on ANTM for two reasons. One: I’m five-feet tall. Two: These hips don’t lie and neither do these thighs. My body was far from the model ideal and what I saw in the magazines. 

I could not yet comprehend that the women in those magazines were airbrushed, photoshopped and did not represent the average woman at all. However, that never tainted my resilient attitude and spirit. Against all odds, no matter what the fashion industry or retail stores told me about my curvaceous figure with their impractical ly sized clothing, I embraced every fashion trend and strutted wherever I went. 

Women of all ages can suffer from having  negative self-esteem, which can be directly related to the unrealistic beauty standards of today’s society. Somehow I was fortunate enough to never let these standards affect my confidence despite how much I looked up to the models. However, I realize it is not easy for anyone to ignore the pressures to be idealistically beautiful and thin.

A couple of weeks ago, a senior producer for the Steve Harvey Show asked me to model in a fashion segment on the show. The only catch was that I would be modeling a two-piece bikini. Although I am a size 14 and don’t look like Kate Upton, I didn’t hesitate for a second before agreeing to it. This was everything my 12-year-old self had ever wanted.

Fast forward to last week, I’m standing behind a curtain on stage that will soon rise, revealing my five-foot curvy body in a bikini to Steve Harvey and a live studio audience on national TV. I didn’t do it alone though—15 other plus-size women stood by my side, our bodies displaying the unconventional side of beauty. We all held hands and as the curtain rose we struck a pose then walked out on stage to an audience that would not stop clapping or cheering. 

I spent 10 hours with these other women between hair, makeup and rehearsals, and if that day taught me anything, it was that confidence is key. It doesn’t matter what shape or size you are. You can lead whatever path you want as long as you’re happy and confident. 

“You all are so fine,” Steve Harvey shouted as we walked onto the stage. Despite the societal beauty ideals that consumed me, at that second I realized that I never thought I wasn’t fine, and that is how every woman should feel.