#IAmEnough©: Sharing my Path to Self-Acceptance on Good Morning America

GMA2This past Tuesday I was incredibly blessed to have been interviewed alongside my sister on America’s favorite morning show. Good Morning America  produced a great segment in which I shared my journey toward self-acceptance, and how it contrasts with my sister’s path. We both found self-love in very different ways. Hers was a diet and fitness journey. The strict diets never made me feel good, so I abandoned them years ago. My journey has been about embracing my large body and recognizing the beauty and strength I have no matter my size. I’m happy to know that there are many different paths to freedom and living your truth.

On Tuesday morning, at 8:45am, I stood in Times Square in polka dot yoga pants and a clingy “Ohmazing” tank from Lineage Wear (thank you so much Katie!) – my thunder thighs, voluptuous arms, and visible belly outline on display for the world to see. And I felt so damn good! (P.S. I’m at my heaviest weight ever, and have never felt more free.) I was claiming my space unapologetically as a fat, brown, afro-wearing woman. Describing it in words simply doesn’t do it justice. Let’s just say it was a #BlackGirlMagic moment!

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As I stood soaking up the energy of NYC (a.k.a. the center of the universe) surrounded by soaring skyscrapers, blinking billboards and a curious crowd, I took a few moments to let the reality of the experience set in. Here I am, 40 years old, finally living my dreams, and in a visibly fat body. Yes, it is possible!

You guys know I come from a history of self-hate and insecurity. So, to be feeling amazing in my skin with the world watching was truly one of the best experiences of my life. I hope it has helped to set others free – that has been my goal all along.

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For nearly six years I’ve been writing about my tumultuous journey toward accepting my body and realizing how amazing it is. I’ve come to understand that my body tells the story of so many women and men who inhabit large bodies but have felt unseen and unworthy. I know now that my voice is my gift. And the Universe needs all of us to lean into who we really are.  Were it not for my years of dieting and self-loathing, I would not be who I am today. And who I am today is a strong, smart, confident, mixed fat chick, with a talent for inspiring others. I am joyful! And as far as I’ve come, I still have so much more to learn and experience. So bring it, Universe!

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Before the live segment in Times Square we did a Facebook Live event where we talked to  panel of women on what body positivity meant us. Among the panelists were fellow body positive activists Alysse D’Alessandro and Essie Golden, who represented beautifully on the show. Y’all are awesome! I also met other wonderful women, including Dana Suchow who is a body-posi tiger!

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I have so many people to thank, beginning with my sister Mara Schiavocampo, whose idea it was to pitch the segment to GMA. I also want to give a big shout out to producers Danielle and Alison – thank you for allowing me to show the world who I am and how body positivity has transformed my life. You are both class acts! And I can’t forget hair and makeup mavens Juanita and Lisa, who hooked me up and with whom I had a wonderful connection.

Until next time, remember #iamenough ©.

xo

The Right to Bare Arms

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My ample arms!

My arms are fleshy, plump, and have cellulite on them. They are fat. And they are also beautiful.

Before I evolved into the body-loving woman I am today, I NEVER wore tank tops, even on the hottest summer days. Showing off my arms was the totally off limits. I would wear a sweater or something with sleeves that covered me to at least mid-upper arm. And let me tell you, being hot as fuck is not comfortable.

But one day, about 3 years ago, I decided it was time to conduct a social experiment. My theory was that if I wore a sleeveless garment, that people would stare at me in disgust, which would derail my journey toward self-acceptance. So, in an effort to break free from societal judgement, I did the unthinkable. I wore a tanktop in public.

I wanted to have Gabby's confidence!

I wanted to have Gabby’s confidence!

At first I found myself having a panic attack, wishing I’d brought a sweater with me just in case I chickened out. But then something weird happened. I saw another fat woman in a sleeveless blouse strutting down the street, her meaty arms undulating in rhythm with her steps. I saw in her what I had not been able to see in myself. I witnessed a woman taking up space and wearing a weather-appropriate garment with gusto! And no one batted an eye. Except for me of course.

That was a pivotal moment for me. I decided that the only solution to loving my arms was to show them off more often. Though I knew I wasn’t going to feel sure of myself right away,  I could certainly fake it for the time being. And that’s what I did.

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With Sonya Renee Taylor and Kimberly Nichole at the Body Love Conference 2014.

That experience made me realize that most people aren’t looking at me and they don’t give a rat’s ass what I’m wearing. After a summer of donning tanks and halter tops, I no longer had to fake my comfort. I was comfortable.

For me the lesson is that I’m my own worst critic. When I can abandon perfectionism, even just for an hour, my whole world opens up. I become free. Free to love my arms and to free wear whatever the fuck I want.

I hope you’ll tune in for my upcoming post on plus swimwear, where you’ll see not just my ample arms, but my thunder thighs too!

  xo

Do Affirmations Really Work?

The dictionary defines an affirmation as “the assertion that something exists or is true.” 
I love affirmations and have been using them for years.  One of my favorites, which I borrowed from brilliant author, Louise Hay, is “all is well in my world.”  That pretty much sums it up!  I repeated that one to myself throughout the day for a few weeks when I was feeling uncomfortable in my body. It’s amazing how wonderful it made me feel. I felt safe and in acceptance of my body a day at a time.  
Affirmations are a way of reassuring yourself that wherever you are in life, you are OK.  Sometimes we use them even when we don’t believe them yet.  For example, if you say to yourself every day, “I am beautiful and I love my body,” you may not believe it at first.  But the point is that you fake til’ you make it! The more we repeat something, the more we begin to believe it, whether it’s negative or positive.  I used to tell myself I was unattractive and fat over and over. Well, after saying it to myself for so long, I actually believed it.  But now most of my self-talk is positive, and I believe in my beauty and light. Don’t expect to transformed overnight. It takes time to change our habits and our thoughts, but it is possible.  
Start with one affirmation, and repeat it to yourself every day for 30 days.  Write it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror, where you’ll see it everyday. You can write your own, or borrow these lovely ones 
     I look in the mirror and I love what I see.  
     I treat myself with kindness and respect.  
     I am a valuable human being.  
     All is well in my world.