I have been traveling around with these super soft organic bamboo cotton panties and lounge pants from Rayne and Skye Essentials for a few months now, frantically trying to get them photographed. The Universe was playing tricks on me because every time I set something up it wouldn’t pan out and I felt like I was letting the brand down and MYSELF down by not following through in a timely fashion. First I found a model, but then she moved to Denver. Then I had an awesome location but no model. Then I had an awesome model but no spot! And I refused to just throw something together that didn’t make sense. Oh the stress. I finally had a spot and a model in Detroit lined up. BUT THEN the model fell through and, while talking to Vanessa about my troubles she volunteered herself. Halle-fucking-lujah! And she also roped in her friend Cammie as well who will be in a later post.
I knew that Vanessa was a dancer and actress (ummm hello let’s just do the splits on the windowsill real casual-like!). But I didn’t know, until reading her self love journey story how similar we are as people. It really was like I was reading a piece of my own life. The dancing, the perfectionism, the short girl problems (it’s a real thing OKAY?! You try being 5 feet tall and idolizing VS models and wondering why you don’t look like them even though you spend every second of your life at the gym and counting calories. News flash ladies- their legs alone span the length of almost your whole entire body. You are NEVER gonna look like them!), and even the man who saved the day…not by actually saving you because you’re the only one who can save yourself, but by supporting you along your journey.
By bravely opening up about our struggles we can help others who are struggling AND feel connected by our similarities.
SO. Without further rambling on my part here’s Vanessa’s self-love journey—-
“Hmmm... my body and my self-love journey. I suppose this is the first time I've ever spoke out about this in a public way, as I am still processing things myself and learning how to handle my own thoughts. But nonetheless, here I go!
I have been a dancer since I was 4-years-old (so about 16 years). I took it very seriously, and it was a very competitive thing for me and many others around me, especially come high school. I was constantly at rehearsal, competing in dance competitions, even performing in the Nutcracker, etc. So, naturally, I was always surrounded by very skinny girls in leotards. Looking back on it, I was quite skinny, too... but by the age of 11, I started seeing things differently in the mirror.
As the years went on, this problem began getting worse. I was more muscular looking than the other girls, who were just so thin, and I perceived this in a negative way. I wanted to be thin. I hated my short and stubby build. I criticized my torso area the most, starting at such a pathetically young age.
I was well-liked by a lot of boys in high school, and my body was talked about a lot. It did make me feel uncomfortable, but I realized it got me attention, so I felt I had built an image for myself that I needed to maintain. I cared what others thought and I wanted to impress them. It was a very toxic process that only made me put more pressure on my body appearance, and significantly more vulnerable to asshole teenage boys. Looking back on it, that is a period in my life where I'd be most ashamed of myself.
Moving on into my college years, these issues that I figured were just your typical teenage insecurities worsened in a way that seemed unhealthy. When I was 18, I was offered a role in a musical at the university I attend that involved the characteristic of having an outstanding physique. I was beyond pumped to land a minor lead as a freshman... which may have led me to take it too far. The role was fitness queen, Brooke Wyndham (Legally Blonde: The Musical) so I felt pressured to take my athletic body to a whole other level.
This is where it became too overwhelming for me. I was dancing 4 days a week, going to the gym 5, giving myself strict dietary restrictions, and hating myself if I ate something that strayed from those guidelines. I remember I was living in the dorms at school at the time, and I was having to call my mother every other night after rehearsal because I was having (what I know now) were anxiety attacks. I was constantly looking in the mirror at my stomach. Breaking down on the inside when I despised what I saw.
This behavior along with the over-bearing habits kept on for over a year. I was no longer finding a positive release through exercise; I dreaded it. Yet, my mind would contradict itself, and I would panic when I wasn't able to workout. I obsessively thought about what foods I was or wasn't eating that day. Looking up all these other celebrities' diets that I felt had ideal bodies. Going to bed upset every night feeling lost and almost purposeless... all over an aspect of my appearance. My mind truly just wanted a rest.
Finally, in March of 2018, I fell in love with my best friend. He is everything I needed in a man. He turned everything around for me. I stopped looking in the mirror at my stomach as much. I started motivating myself to go to the gym when I could, rather than pressuring myself and stressing to make the time. I slowly was okay with treating myself again, indulging in my sweet-tooth when I felt necessary. He made me feel unconditionally beautiful every day. And he still does. Something switched in me.
Now, I know how this may come off, but allow me to make this clear: I in no way depend on him for self-love, confidence, or happiness. But he was the crutch that helped me get there. I was previously in two separate toxic relationships that truly did not help my own image of self worth. It was nice to be shown genuine love to get me back on my feet.
Body dysmorphia is a very real and awful grey cloud, but I feel I grow in a different way every day because of overcoming it. Progress is everything. I have been a vegetarian for 7 months, and a vegan for 1 now (loving it)! I love practicing Pilates, yoga, dance, and even the occasional visit to the good ole gym. I have learned to love my build as an individual, and now try to focus on making MY body the best version of itself, rather than comparing it to someone else's. My new philosophy is being healthy and practicing self-care/love above all. Although the periodic days of anxiety still come and go, I don't give up; and I won't.”