Every week the ladies of Fab Four Fashion bless your screens and Instagram feeds with beautiful posts. But this time around we decided to tell our stories and our journey with overcoming our insecurities. Each of us has a beautiful and meaningful story to share, we are 4 women with different body types and one of the most powerful forces that united fab four fashion is that we stand for body positivity. In a world that consistently reminds us that we do not fit society’s standard of beauty. What unites the 4 of us, is that we stand for body positivity, we not only say it but Gail, Nancy, Leslie and Judy are a living example of body positivity. Our goal is to encourage and empower you, our followers and readers to accept your so called “flaws” and to love yourself.
I am a firm believer that loving one’s body is a process. I think there are societal pressures to look a certain way that differs from country to country and culture to culture. But it is so important for us all to learn to love the skin we’re in. That being said, let’s get real about the difficult road that this can be for all of us; both men and women and me in particular for this, my personal body image expose.
My reality is that I was born and raised in Canada, but have a Jamaican background and both have shaped my concept of what is beautiful and where I fit in. Growing up with my wonderful West Indian parents who loved me more than life itself, I was never told on a daily, “oh little Leslie, you’re just so beautiful”. That was just not their way of speaking, and as long as you were clean, looked pulled together and presentable, you looked good to them. Now when we expand my world beyond the four walls of hearth and home and I see which kids in school are considered the prettiest, which people are gracing the pages of “YM”, Seventeen and Vogue magazine and the ones on all the television stations, this made me take pause. I did not look like any of them. I did not have the long flowing hair, I did not look “exotic” and when I got into high school, I did not develop the bosom or curves that the boys seem to like. This was one of the first things that made me say “hmmmm” the way Arsenio Hall did back in the day.
Second thing: and this is a bit of a confession I feel ready to share. It’s something that, when I was young and a tomboy, I was totally cool with, but as I moved into womanhood, I started to obsess about. I thought, and sometime still do think, I’m totally shaped like a young boy. I have almost no boobs (I honestly think I’m a minus A cup LOL), a tiny, unimpressive booty (ain’t nobody rapping about that), and broad shoulders. I have an athletic build so it’s like I have little baby mucles too!LOL This was an obsession with me for a long, long time. I remember thinking about my body one day, and feeling like I just wasn’t attractive and didn’t fit in anywhere. The non-Caribbean people seemed to love my body because I was so slim, but they never told me I was pretty. Then I had the Caribbean people, who always seemed to be trying to get me to eat more and seemed to consider the prettiest women to be the ones with the larger bosom and big booties (none of which I had). I just felt like I did not belong anywhere. Now and then, people would ask me if I was a model, but to me, it had nothing to do with me being pretty or desirable, it was only because I was tall and skinny, that’s it. Didn’t really make me feel like anyone thought I was attractive at all. And when I would leaf through the magazines, none of the models looked like me with my afro and my daddy’s wonderful, all-be-it large nose!
Fast-forward a few years, I had my first real job, actually making real money – what-what – living with my fabulous parents (no rent payments! Thanks folks) and finally able to buy the clothing that I really wanted to wear! Well, well, well, you might say, this was a game changer. This is when I discovered, that maybe the clothes don’t make the man, but dang they certainly help!LOL
So if I can back track for a moment on the topic of clothing, my wonderful mommy made a point of buying me clothing that was always big (at least 2 sizes). When I was really young, that was the style, but even as I got older, she continued this practice saying the famous last words of “you’ll grow into it”. Needless to say, I never did. I literally still have some clothes from elementary school that still fit!!! Church dresses that I could still rock, but they’re still too big!LOL Love you Mom!!!
Anyhow, as I was saying, once I had full control over my clothing purchases, and I ever so slowly began purchasing pieces that actually fit me properly,I discovered that I do have an hourglass figure hiding under all those layers!!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, read my words: FIT IS KING! If your body is not looking so hot in a particular outfit, burn that outfit baby! it’s not you, it’s the outfit!!!
We all have areas on our body we’d love to work on, and let’s be real ladies and gents, as we get older, we will find more we’d like to change (e.g. sagging boobs, droopy booties, bigger bellies and jiggly arms)! But I’ve learned we all have areas on our bodies that someone else would kill to have, and it’s important to accept the body you have right now, not the one you hope to have after you gain 5 pounds, lose 10 pounds, firm up those arms or plump up those lips. We all need to learn what looks best on our bodies now. In my case, I realized that a great fitting push up bra and properly tailored clothes make a HUGE difference to how I look and feel, and highlight the curves that I have. And, I’ve also learned that it is important to always stand tall, be proud of who you are and carry yourself like you “run things” even when you don’t. That air of confidence; shoulders back, head high, chest lifted, changes the whole shape of our bodies! But more importantly, I realized that even without the fantastic bra, or fitted clothing, my body is all mine. If I don’t like it, who else will. In the famous words of He Man “I have the power”!!! LOL It starts, and ends, with me. When you think about it, if we follow what we see in the media, we will all need to be tiny like Twiggy back in the day, voluptuous like Beyonce, have hair like Solange, Hali Beri and Kim K, be short like Kerry Washington, yet tall like Uma Thurman, and of course, we’d have to have the complexion of Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner and Lupita Nyong’o. Possible? Hmmm…
Let’s not get it twisted, I still look in the mirror and sometimes hate my knock knees, wish my booty was a little higher etc, but at the end of it all, I look for the areas I do really like, I like my hips, I like my waist, I like my arms and I just go on and on till I feel good about my look. Some days are tougher than others (we all have bad days) but it’s important to take time to focus on ourselves and recognize that we’re special and pretty freaking fantastic!
I read a brilliant piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for The Atlantic (see here) where the opening line of the article critiquing the biopic on Nina Simone states, “When I was a kid, I knew what the worst parts of me were – my hair and my mouth. My hair was nappy. My lips were big.” To that list I would also add thighs and a rear end that were and still aren’t a runway model size. My sister Leslie and I were blessed to have been raised by parents who loved, nurtured and supported us but a daily dose of media consumption (tv, movies and magazines) for me that meant I often felt inadequate, frustrated and always feeling like I was on the outside looking in when it came to fashion and Eurocentric standards of beauty. So, as a child and adolescent I knew that my physical characteristics were not “in”, “hip” or “cool” and I wore that knowledge like an invisible cloak of shame.
Growing up, I was BEYOND preoccupied, obsessed with and embarrassed because of the size of my thighs and butt. My “thunder thighs” (an insult hurled at me by an elementary school classmate) and butt did not allow me to wear the tapered acid wash jeans of my dreams that were oh so hip when I was younger. LOL Those bad boys were simply not going to get past my knees. Oh and lets not even go there with pencils skirts. I might have been able to squeeze myself into one but the zipper just would not allow me to be great.
It also didn’t help that I was bullied in elementary school. My tormentor was a red curly haired biatch (yah I said it) who was relentless and pretty much always had me in her cross-hairs. Thankfully, she was a grade ahead of me so when she graduated I finally had some peace.
So, to combat my feelings of not being good enough, I threw myself into sports (I loved track and field, field hockey and school)….especially school. In our home, the talk around the dinner table was not “are you going to university” but rather “what are you going to study WHEN you go to university”. I am so grateful for the love, support and encouragement from my parents.
By focusing on what I was good at, to some degree, took my laser beam focus off of the size of my thighs onto what I could do and accomplish versus solely being about what I looked like and that was where my journey to body acceptance and confidence began. I began to appreciate what my body could do instead of oh, my thighs are big and ugly.
Don’t get me wrong I still have those days of feeling just crappy about the way I look but more often than not when I look in the mirror I love what I see.
‘Bare it All’- this post is so special to me because I think it is extremely important to open up about your insecurities in order to face them and eventually conquer them. My confidence didn’t blossom overnight. Let me tell you, it took me a long time to get there. And, I have to admit, I do still have my moody days just like every other girl. I guess it’s just a girl thing lol.
For the most part, my insecurities began during my teenage years, when my body took a turn on itself. It seemed like overnight, my hips got wider and my feet grew so much that I could no longer fit in the cute regular shoes.
Oh what a journey, I remember being called big-boned and wide hips. I used to get embarrassed that I had to get bigger sizes in clothing and that I wasn’t a slim figure like I once was. Even when my mom used to reassure me that I was perfect the way I was, and had a beautiful Coca Cola shape, back then I didn’t appreciate it. Mainly because most of my friends were slim and I wanted to look like them.
To make matters worse, when I started to get stretch marks on my hips, dear Lord I thought it was the end of the world lol. I remember asking my mom if there was a cream available to remove them. I remember vividly my mom giving me a look, as this was not an issue, meaning that you’re turning into a beautiful woman and to appreciate my baby-making hips.
To cover up and draw less attention to my big hips and big thighs I used to wear extra baggy clothes.
For me, the road to self-love and acceptance came when I decided to do a self-evaluation and to look at myself in the mirror to appreciate my blessings. I also did a lot of positive reinforcement and adopted more positive thinking.
I’m telling you once you change your mindset you learn to accept what you have. The layers of shame and insecurities disappear and is replaced with confidence and body acceptance.
Let me repeat it again I love my body, I love my shape, and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in this world. My stretch marks are a proof that I earned my stripes by becoming the confident woman that I am today.
Thank you mommy and everyone that has been so supportive of me when I get down, you are very much appreciated.
As a mom, the body positivity movement that we’re participating in is quite essential. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where being harassed for simply being yourself is not an issue. While it may be naive of me to think that this is even achievable, doing nothing is sure to maintain the status quo – and that is simply unacceptable. If it means that I have to bare it all in order to get closer to that world, well that’s what I will do.
In my last shoe post, I shared some of my big feet struggles. But that’s only one aspect of growing up tall. I was always tall. From elementary school, straight through high school, in every class picture, you can find me in the top corner since we had to be arranged in order of height. I was called the giraffe, a giant and Le Plus Haut (translation: The Tallest – my fellow Haitians will understand). I was called these things in school (sometimes by “authority figures”) and by extended family members as well.
My support system (i.e. my immediate family) taught me to be tough and not to let that stuff bother me, but it didn’t change the fact that it stung every time. My mom was 5’2″ (clearly, I got my height from my 6’3″ daddy), as such, while she was always loving and supportive, she couldn’t fully understand my struggle. I do remember one of my favorite teachers, who was also tall – had the best clap back game ever. One of those stuck with me for years. Everytime she was told “My goodness, you grow like a bad weed!” (which happened often), her response was “Yes, and manure stays close to the ground”. LOL
Being that I was much taller than the average, and I also developed rather early, people often assumed that I was older. So I was either ogled by older guys or treated like I was “slow” – either way, I would feel uncomfortable and self concious. I just wanted to fade and disappear. So I would not walk as tall or straight and was very self-conscious – this is probably the best kept secret because I would never let it show.
In my teens, I could NEVER allow myself to wear heels because I didn’t want to draw more attention to myself. The worst part was going to parties… All my average height friends would get asked to dance, but I would end up all alone, looking and feeling extra awkward.
I don’t quite remember when or what made me turn the tide, but I came to the realization that being a statuesque woman totally rocks! I realized that my body was mine and feeling bad about it would not change it. I realized that, in some outfits, the high heel shoes did look better to me. Yes, I command attention when I walk into a room, and that is ok! I just flash a million dollar smile and go on with my life! You see, no matter what package you come in, agonizing over things that you cannot change is plain unhealthy. We see countless men and women losing their lives on the operating tables, trying to change parts of their bodies. Instead of trying to change our bodies, let’s try to change the landscape that leads us to believe that our bodies need to be changed in the first place. Instead, let’s just be healthy, be the best us, and be happy in the skin that we’re in.
With this we say just love yourself because you are awesome just the way you are!
*Special thanks to Kristina Laukkanen for snapping our pics! She can be contacted at:
Tah tah for now!
The Fab Four