I've struggled with my weight, both openly and in secret. It's one of those seemingly unavoidable issues, especially when you're getting your picture taken on an almost daily basis. It's kept me from being healthy in the past and recently, it's kept me from going for my goals. I've been slowly overcoming it. It's taken time and a lot of moxie but I'm finally starting to feel comfortable in my skin. Gather 'round friends, I've got a story for you.
I've never felt good about myself. The only time I really felt "okay" with my body, I was eating about 600 calories a day then running most of them off. At the time, I was stoked on my collarbones and itty bitty wrists. Looking back, I can't believe I didn't put myself in the hospital with that nonsense. As I started to bounce back from those lows, I realized that my obsession with weight wasn't so much about image as it was about control. When you're young and pretty un-influential, it's nice to be able to have a few things under your thumb. After a lot of reading and by the grace of God, I embraced my first wave of body-positivity at the age of 21-- newly single and empowered by a promising career path.
This was about the time I started my internship at WTXF, my first glance into the lifestyle that is TV news. I was captivated by it in the beginning. The nonstop action made the hours go by so quickly. Too quickly, almost. Knowing almost nothing about news, I jumped right into the swing of it, falling in love with my assignment desk duties and devoting all of my time to learning about the industry. I wasn't like the other interns though. They all knew what they wanted: to be on camera. And they were built for it too. Skinny, perfect teeth-- they even had the perfect wardrobe for it. They could rock a colorblock dress in a way I couldn't. My curves would make me look like a cheap hooker in those otherwise tasteful bodycon dresses. I decided to focus on learning about every other aspect of the industry while keeping my goals of being a reporter on the backburner. My internship ended and it was time for me to start sending out reels and resumes. I had friends who got hired almost instantly. I sent out about 176 (but who's counting?) emails and heard back from three news directors. Each one was a strong "no." I'll never know why I didn't get hired but of course I assumed it was because I didn't have "the look." In my mind, I was just as good-- I was even more driven-- but it wasn't good enough. I started starving myself again, this time out of sadness and frustration.
After a few months of more rejection emails, intense weight fluctuation, and depression, I decided to scrap the idea of becoming a TV reporter. I stayed in news but had a bit of resentment towards the industry. I joked with photographers about how boob jobs are a kind of industry standard. It was frustrating and discouraging to someone like me. I became kind of despondent and after a few years, started to hate how superficial it all was. At the same time though, I ate it all up. I was comparing myself to the people you see on TV because I was working in the cubicle right next to them. I spent more money than I should have on makeup and clothes just to keep up. I hated the way I looked but figured if I dressed myself well, nobody would notice my flaws. I avoided certain kinds of clothing because I didn't like they way they made me look. Eventually, something snapped. I took a hard turn in the other direction. I started rolling out of bed (at 1AM) to go to work in yoga pants and a hoodie. I stopped caring. The depression was back. The lifestyle wasn't working for me. I wasn't content to do what I was doing and I knew there was no way I'd get to where I wanted to be with "the way things are." I mean, face it. A bunch of clueless, rich, white dudes control the television landscape. I'm not cut out for that. Too much of a free spirit. (I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.)
I left my job in TV for a lot of reasons. I don't want to oversimplify it because there were a lot of moving parts to it but I didn't realize the toll the comparison was taking on me until I was out of the environment. It was toxic to me. After another round of depression, I started coming to the realization that I can't compare myself to others. I'm not them. They're not me. I'm a one-of-a-kind creation. Why was I not embracing this indisputable and very empowering truth? Life is short. Wear the crop top. Why was I letting my insecurities keep me from going for my goals? There's no reason. Once I realized the worst thing that could happen by putting myself out there is a rejection email, I started going for "it."
While I don't have the perfect proportions for TV, I decided that working twice or three times as hard as the other girls is worth it. I'm going to get to where I want to be eventually, and I'm going to get there by some very unconventional means. Instead of letting a news director in some flyover state determine my self-worth, I'm wearing my confidence like a badge of honor. I'm applying to every modeling agency I can. I'm not shrinking back when it's time to have my photo taken. I'm even reporting for dope news startup called MyNEWPhilly. When I'm doing what I love, I feel good about myself. I can't believe I ever withheld that joy from myself. It's cruel, really. This is one small part of my journey. I can't wait to share more with you all.
photos by Danielle Conyers. Follow her on Instagram!