Body Image Leader: Plus size model, Emme

curvy-confident-cover-10-27-16SLiNK has caught up with one of our favourite industry leaders, supermodel Emme. When we last chatted with her she was shaking up the world of design school and imparting her wisdom on body image and confidence to our readers. Emme is a powerhouse who has not stopped blazing trails since we last met. In fact she has some incredible new endeavours on the horizon, including a new book with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

“I am so excited for women and men to read Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident! I actually get emotional when I tell people about it,” Emme gushes. “The stories have hit so many of the important points I set out to touch on when I talked about doing this book with Natasha Stoynoff and Amy Newmark, my co-authors. We worked so hard to put together 101 stories that cover all the topics that are important to us and to men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes. We had thousands of stories submitted on this very important topic and it was hard to narrow down the list to the 101 stories in the collection; but we ended up with a treasure trove—stories that empower us and that understand us. They show us we are not alone, even on our darkest days.”

Dark days sadly are not hard to come by with all of Trump’s fat-shaming and the general attacks on women that became trending global headlines during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Needless to say that many women need some serious “chicken soup for the soul” to heal us, now more than ever. Some of us are feeling pretty low about our place in society and our relationship to the relentless pressure for perfection.
So we had to turn to our guru, Emme, for her advice for women hoping to regain strength and happiness in the year ahead. Ever-reassuring, Emme responds, “This is the time to see what you’re made of, and not expect others to make you feel happy and significant. It’s up to us to rise up and KNOW who we are, so that no matter what is thrown at us, we can be intelligent, worthy, thoughtful, caring, and extraordinary women. If we show up happy to be who we are, exuding confidence and grace and not giving up, we rise. We have an opportunity to show by our actions that we do not accept belittling, egregious conduct in any way. Oh, 2017 is going to be a very powerful year for women. Faith not Fear my friends, Faith not Fear!”

Just like that, my anxiety about the future of women in a growing cyber-bullying atmosphere melts away. If the stories in the book are half as inspiring and calming as the last few minutes with Emme, we are all going to be healed by this “Chicken Soup.”

She is right. We all must rise, as that is the only path through any hardships. For some, a new year is a time to reflect on flaws and enumerate things to “fix” from the prior year, when really we should be taking this time to dream big and look forward. When asked what she is most excited for in 2017, she said, “I’m most excited to see all the women’s empowerment that started brewing in 2016 continue to blossom and unfold even more in 2017. We started 2016 with Curvy Barbie and plus-size women in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and Lane Bryant ads on the sides of buses. We had a setback during the U.S. election campaign, with a lot of inappropriate talk about women’s appearances, but I still think the overall conversation in 2016 was a big improvement. I believe we have the momentum now to continue a positive conversation that will help women develop self-esteem and self-acceptance.”

Emme along with several of her friends, leaders and opinion makers like Sherri Shepherd, will share their inspiring stories and wisdom in the upcoming book. For those of us who are thirsty for more poignant points of view, we asked for an exclusive excerpt and a glimpse of what is to come. Emme illuminates for us what readers can anticipate from this Curvy & Con dent edition. “The stories in our book are deeply personal and insightful. These stories give us emotional strength to shine to be our very best and to celebrate who we are and how we look. Anyone who is suffering any kind of crisis of confidence will be bolstered by the book. I guarantee that you can’t read (this) without standing a little taller and straighter and prouder!” That indeed! We can’t wait to be thrilled, moved and re-energized with this book as our guide in 2017!
Until you curl up with your own copy, get a little taste of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident! right here… Emme says, “The story that we chose for you to run today, “Bad Mama Jama,” by Regina Sunshine Robinson, is the perfect example of how the book can change your perspective. In fact, my co-author Amy said that she kept channelling that story when she went on a beach vacation with her husband right after we sent the book to the printer, walking with confidence in her bathing suit. In the story, a curvy, proud woman named Regina tells us how she taught another curvy woman how to walk into a room with confidence. She says, “How did I walk into this room? Did I walk in like I owned the building? Did I walk in with my head up and shoulders back like I was the baddest thing moving, like I heard ‘She’s A Bad Mama Jama’ playing just for me? Or did I walk in with my head down like I was afraid or ashamed of who I was?”

Read the full story here:

‘Bad Mama Jama’

‘I think that whatever size or shape body you have, it’s important to embrace it and get down!’ ~ Christina Aguilera, Marie Claire

While I was working as a tutor at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, South Carolina, I worked with a student named Darla. When I first met her, she couldn’t look me in the eye while talking to me. She also had problems with anxiety and got so nervous around people that she literally shook. Basically, she was a mess.

As I tutored Darla in math, she began to open up and share her background. She had previously been a swimsuit model and had won swimsuit competitions run by some mainstream companies. In fact, she met her ex-husband at one of these competitions. At the beginning of their marriage, she said, she had been like a trophy for him and he loved showing her off to other men. As their marriage progressed, he became more and more controlling. A few years into their marriage, Darla got pregnant. After giving birth, she had trouble losing weight. This angered her husband and he became even more abusive. After years of his abuse, Darla left.

By the time I met her, Darla’s self-esteem was shot. Prior to her marriage, she equated her value to her looks. Now weighing more than she ever had before, and having been abused and belittled for years by her husband, she thought she only had value as a mother.

She shared that she was attracted to a gentleman we both knew. Unfortunately, she was sure that because he was so attractive and she had gained weight, there was no way he would be interested in her.
The curious thing was that Darla saw beauty in me. She said she wished she looked like me. Now, I am way bigger than Darla. We aren’t even close in size. I’m not an average plus-size woman; I’m super-plus and I’ve got hips and thighs for days. And even though she didn’t know it, the guy she liked was hitting on me daily. So I knew it wasn’t about looks. It was all about Darla’s confidence.
One day, as we walked into the Teaching and Learning Center for a tutoring session, Darla commented that when we entered the room, every man turned and watched me. I knew this was my chance to show her something that would begin to shift her thinking.

I asked Darla, “How did I walk into this room? Did I walk in like I owned the building? Did I walk in with my head up and shoulders back like I was the baddest thing moving, like I heard “She’s A Bad Mama Jama” playing just for me? Or did I walk in with my head down like I was afraid or ashamed of who I was?”

“You walked in with confidence,” Darla said. I asked her if I was the size of a model, or if I was one of the larger women in the room. “You are a larger woman,” she said, “but it didn’t seem to matter. You are beautiful and everybody knew it.”
Then I told her something that I would repeat to her many times in the coming months and something that I have shared with many women since then. “The thing that will always command attention is confidence,” I said. “I walked in here like I was the baddest thing moving, and in their minds they wanna know what I know that makes me walk with such confidence. A real man is looking for a real woman, a whole woman. He’s not looking for some broken down woman that he has to piece together. A real man, a King, is looking for a Queen who can rule and reign with him. A real man is looking for a real woman who knows who she is and loves herself.”

I know Darla didn’t believe me, but she smiled and nodded. Every time we met
to go over her math, I would take the opportunity to build her up and tell her how awesome she was. That semester ended and I continued to tutor her in another math class, making sure to speak life into her every chance I got. I often wondered if my words were sinking in.

Time went on and Darla graduated and I thought I would never see her again. Then one day, about six months after graduation, Darla came to campus for career counselling and came looking for me.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The woman who couldn’t look me in the eye when we first met, who trembled from nervousness and never smiled, was now smiling from ear to ear. She looked amazing!

The Darla I knew rarely took time with her appearance because she felt like her weight made her unattractive, so why try? Now she had her hair and make-up done and was wearing the cutest outfit.

But that smile told the real tale. Darla ran and hugged me. She thanked me for everything I said and did for her. She told me that it took some time, but one day it clicked; she realized she was worthy of living an awesome life and she decided to do just that. She told me that she would never forget what I had done for her and that she was making a deliberate effort to make the same type of impact in her daughters’ lives. Also, she’d gotten up the courage to approach our mutual friend and was waiting to see if he would make the move to call her. And then she said the best thing of all. “I hope he calls, but if he doesn’t, I’ll be fine. That just means there’s someone else out there who will appreciate me for who I am. If he doesn’t call, it will be his loss.” “Girl, you are so right,” I said. “And you know why?”

Without missing a beat, she said: “Yes! ‘Cause I’m a Bad Mama Jama!”

~Regina Sunshine Robinson

Regina Sunshine Robinson is a motiva- tional speaker, talk show host and empow- erment coach who wants to get you into a powerful “Regina Sunshine State of Mind”! Regina Sunshine loves sharing her message of self-love, positivity, and empowerment. Her motto is “It’s Not Over Til I Win” and she wins when she sees others winning.

Reprinted courtesy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Con dent © 2016 All rights reserved.


-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine