Since I was little I have been told to “love myself.” I never quite understood the importance of the concept or how it was meant to feel. It was something I kept in the back of my mind while I continued to compare myself to others.
Growing up as a dancer I was constantly surrounded by other women. We were placed in accordance to our height, our weight, skill and overall physical appearance. I knew that in order to be placed where I wanted that I would need to perform in a certain way. I wasn’t doing it to feel amazing, it was purely to fit the part that they needed me to fit.
Last week I found myself listening to a Lori Harder ‘Earn your happy’ podcast. Lori Harder is an expert in the field of self-love. She is also an author, three-time fitness world champion and cover model. In the episode she interviewed WWE and Total Divas star Nia Jax. Nia was 29 when she got casted on WWE. It was something she had always been interested in doing but never pursued because she didn’t think her image would be accepted. She was a plus size, had darker features and curly hair. All the girls on the show were petite and had long blonde hair, something that Nia could not relate to.
Nia had always been extremely athletic and interested in modelling. Her supportive family really encouraged her to follow her dreams and convinced her to go along to the WWE audition. Nia’s mum told her “the worst they can say is ‘no’ and after that all you can do is try again.” With that advice Nia went along to the three-day audition. She arrived in her baggy clothes, no make-up and her hair up and messy (the way she always looked). Walking into the audition she felt out of her depth. The girls were all small and extremely glammed up. Putting that aside, she embraced her differences and confidently portrayed them. She didn’t try to be anyone else. Guess what, WWE wanted her the way she was. They didn’t want to change her.
“If you always lean on another person, you'll never stand tall by yourself. You can do it. So will I.” – Nia Jax.
In the last six months my life has completely transformed. I am finally in a position where I am studying what I love, working at a place that makes me feel supported, training in a way that makes me feel strong; and surrounding myself with inspiring and uplifting people.
I am a big believer that your vibe attracts what opportunities come into your life. About two weeks ago I received an add on Facebook from Country Girl Management. I didn’t think much of it and accepted the request. Not long after I got contacted by them to be part of their Model Search. Modelling was definitely something I had never considered. The shear idea of being judged on my appearance is terrifying. I was told that I had 24 hours to decide if I wanted to participate in the event. I spoke about it with a few people and decided I would give it a go, what did I have to lose.
Last week I was so nervous. I put together a simple outfit that reflected me for my photoshoot and an outfit (or five because I couldn’t decide) I could wear on the catwalk. I went in with absolutely no expectations. When I pulled up I looked over to the car next to us and saw a gorgeous girl. We both smiled at each other and in that moment we knew we would be friends. Neither of us had ever modelled and she was there just to suss it all out too.
We went inside the little country club it was being hosted at and saw about 80 other girls. Some were tall, others were short, some were petite, others were curvy, some were our age and others were really young. They had all bases covered.
The schedule for the day was a pose class, confidence class, photoshoot and then the show. Well that didn’t exactly happen for me. I was first up for the photoshoot so I missed the pose class and the confidence class. Being first I didn’t really have any time to be nervous. I was taken straight to the photoshoot room and introduced to my lovely photographer Rachelle. She made me feel so comfortable and made the whole experience so fun. To be honest after the first couple of photos the nerves melted away and I just enjoyed the experience. I wasn’t concerned about holding my gut in, if I looked awkward, if I looked funny in my outfit, I just stayed in the moment.
The catwalk show was what I was particularly nervous about. I had missed the pose class and didn’t have a number in the show. When I got to the rehearsal everyone was so welcoming and so willing to help. I got a partner for the partner routine and learnt all the poses I needed for the final show. Now I was quite naïve to think that at a modelling event I wouldn’t have to walk down the runway alone. My heart kind of stopped for a second when they told us we would have to go down by ourselves and stop and pose at each of the five stops on the runway for six seconds. I brushed it off and got on with it because there was no getting out of it and everyone was feeling the exact same way.
I was so overwhelmed with how loving and supportive all of the girls I met were. We had come from all over Victoria to take a chance on something most of us knew nothing about. Watching everyone get so glammed up for the show was just like being back at dancing, only this time I felt amazing. I felt so comfortable in my own skin. Each girl had something unique and special to offer. No two girls looked the same, yet we were all beautiful.
When it was 6 o’clock it all got real. We all waited patiently for the audience and judges to take their seat and then the music started. We all strutted down the runway with pride and a newfound confidence in ourselves. Whenever someone stepped off the runway we would all compliment her and make her feel amazing for what she had done.
Just before the prizes for the day were handed out I was speaking to this beautiful young girl in the junior division. She told me that she didn’t feel as dressed up as all the other girls and that her outfit looked like Cinderella’s ripped up one when she didn’t go to the ball. Then she smiled and said “but I am my own kind of Cinderella, and I like that.” That young girl went on to win the Junior division.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have been provided with such an incredible opportunity. It reminded me of just how secure I feel now in my own skin. I didn’t feel ashamed of who I was. I felt empowered. My beautiful new friend Taylor and I grew so close over the course of the day. I honestly feel like I have known her for my whole life. The amazing team at Country Girl Management were all so fantastic and made every single one of us feel valued.
We were all encouraged to continue to uplift others; to embrace our own uniqueness; and to use our own special gift to help others. A person’s beauty shines through their kindness. We are so much more than the way we look. We are each so incredible and are WORTHY of loving the skin we are in.
“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” – Beyoncé
A special shout out to my absolutely amazing mum who came along and supported me for the whole day. There is no way I would have been able to do it without all your love!