May 21, 2015

A size-22 beautiful woman and model is on the cover of one of this country's largest, most influential magazines, People. And what a beauty Tess Holliday is!

To see someone like Tess looking so beautiful and radiant on a national magazine is both inspiring and affirming, especially to someone who can relate, as I can, to her story of being bullied as an overweight kid.

A few weeks ago, I shared that I am halfway through my weight-loss journey, having lost 50 pounds so far. We shared one of my earlier blog posts on Facebook, one where I expressed that I'm not a fan of The Biggest Loser because it's humiliating and uninspiring. A follower asked (and I'm paraphrasing) why we were celebrating the "Big Is Beautiful" movement. Here's why: Because Big Is Beautiful. And small is beautiful. Wide is beautiful, and narrow is beautiful. Brown hair is beautiful, blonde hair is beautiful, red hair is beautiful, no hair is beautiful. Being happy, even if you don't fit the accepted idea of "beautiful," is beautiful.

Although I've been in this business long enough to know better, I still read almost all of the comments to any of my stories. (Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who takes the time to respond to me and encourage me or share your own story. It means the world.) However, that one kind of bothered me.

I decided to "go public" with my weight-loss experience not because I think it's spectacular or revolutionary but because I hope that it will be affirming or inspiring to someone who just needs to know that you're beautiful, no matter where you are on your journey. What gets lost in so many weight-loss stories is the emotional journey people take, from the decision that led them to lace up a walking shoe to the agony when the scale just won't budge. Through it all, there's one common idea I hope everyone, including myself, remembers: You're beautiful just the way you are. That's true if you have 100 pounds to lose, 8 pounds to lose, or 15 pounds to gain.

On the Today show this morning, Holliday was speaking with Savannah Guthrie about finding self confidence despite the stigma that often follows being overweight: "I think for me it's all about accepting yourself the way you are now and loving who you are today, and if you wanna work towards a better you in whatever regards that means, do it, but you're OK just the way you are today."

These are my three takeaways from Holliday's story that I hope inspire you, too:

1) You are so beautiful just the way you are. If you want to work at becoming a better version of you, do it. "Better version" doesn't mean just physical appearance. Whatever you think will make you better, do that. In my case, that meant I accepted that I needed to lose weight both for health and emotional reasons. But right now and along the journey, you're still OK just the way you are.

2) Size isn't an indicator of health. Spare Holliday (and others) the tired rhetoric about people who are overweight not being healthy. You cannot determine a person's health based on their appearance alone. That goes for people who are underweight, "average" weight, or overweight. "I feel like health is so personal for everybody," Holliday said when speaking with the Today show. "It's really like my business and everybody's business what we do with our bodies and what healthy means to us."

3) Be true to you. The most beautiful thing you can be is confident. Holliday's confidence is mesmerizing and enticing. She loves and accepts who she is. That, after all, is the sexiest, most beautiful thing. So just remember: No matter your journey, you are beautiful.

And you are truly beautiful, Tess Holliday. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring so many people who needed the reminder.

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