It's been nearly a week since I was fortunate enough to have my name and pictures announced as a Top 30 semi-finalist in the US Star in a Bra competition, and truthfully, this last week has been an insightful and grand experience on its own. Between pestering every person I know to vote for me, and awkwardly, shyly asking co-workers and facebook friends to look at me in my underwear and vote, I've learned a lot about myself and how the world perceives beauty. Even if I don't make it to the final 10, I think I feel like I've won and gained a little something out of it! Here are ten reasons or thoughts on my experiences so far!
1. I've Battled My Social Anxiety, and I'm Winning!
I might seem bubbly and exuberant in my youtube videos, but truthfully, I am fairly introverted and shy in person. I probably spent a total of five hours just trying to make those videos, and those two were all I had to show for it! I get nervous meeting new people, and I struggle to be myself around almost everyone but my closest friends. I'm awkward, I stumble over my words, and I tend to trip over things often! I'm also fairly modest and self-conscious of putting myself out there, and always have this fear of seeming to be too presumptuous and self-righteous, so going up to people and trying to find a tactful way to say, "Hey, go to facebook and vote for me to become a lingerie model," was very difficult. There were many times where I had to sit for a minute, calming myself, clearing my mind, taking a deep breath, before I had the courage to walk up to a co-worker and ask them about the competition. I even missed a few opportunities to ask some people because I was too anxious! But each time I did it, the better I got, until now I'm feeling much, much better. Now I feel fierce and confident, and so I feel like I've gained just the ability to be myself without fear of judgement.
2. Nobody Understands Bra Sizes!
I mean, that's a given, right? With celebrities like Christina Hendricks claiming she's a 38DD and Jennifer Love Hewitt a 36C, it's clear our country really has no concept of back and cup sizes, and what is a proper fit. I knew that going into this competition, and it made me doubly more excited to enter, because it would give me a better chance to help educate people on boobs and bras. What I didn't expect was all of the backlash I received, even from my fellow friends and family, insisting I wasn't a D+ bra size! After my weight loss, I'm probably the most insecure about my breasts (I mean, hello, I had some giant knockers when I was bigger, and I was proud of them!), and so hearing women tell me how small I am is always upsetting, even when I know it's untrue. But those sorts of comments have only firmly planted the belief that, if I were to win, I could help people better understand that your cup size is not indicative of your actual breast size, and that well-fitting bras actually make your breasts look smaller since the poor things aren't smashed together, oozing out of the cups. Yes, the comments are hurtful, but I've realized they aren't (usually) personal, and instead represent the bra and boob ignorance most of our country has. Winning could help me change that! What better opportunity, right?
3. Curvy Isn't a Body Size!
4. So Many Awesome People!
One of the other major reasons this competition has been great for me was the connection I've had with all of these women. I really enjoy the friendly, supportive atmosphere of all the other contestants, as well as the previous contestants and winners from the UK version! It's like this secret, mutual understanding we have with each other, because we all know we've all struggled with the same things, and while we all want to win, we all still think the best of the other girls. Personally, if I don't win, I still think the winner will be an amazing, beautiful choice, and I will support her sincerely! I don't feel entitled to win, and honestly, I don't think I deserve to win any more or less than the other girls. What we've done takes a lot of guts and courage, and every girl deserves a self-esteem boost and a chance to make a positive impact, right?
5. Bras, Bras, Bras.
They forgot to mention in the fine print of the contest: "This contest will make you feel more attractive and confident in your underwear, and as a result, you may feel the urge to spend a copious amount of money on pretty, well-fitting bras." Oops. Um, sorry, bank account!
6. I Have the Strength to Tell People They're Wrong!
Participating in this competition has really taught me to be stronger and have thicker skin. There have been some nasty things directed at me or others, and I've gained the ability to politely make my statement without ruffling feathers. I'm easily enraged at insensitive comments and nastiness, so this is really a good thing! I'm also learning to take all of the nasty things said with a grain of salt. As I said to a lovely woman on facebook yesterday, if I make it to the top 10, whatever awful things people have to say about me will be irrelevant because it took hundreds of people to get me that far, as opposed to the mere handful of nasty comments said about me. There are way more positive things than negative things! Just gotta keep reminding myself of that and carry on with myself.
7. Beauty Is Arbitrary.
Looking up at all the women chosen, I'm flabbergasted at how beautiful and yet different we all are. We come in a variety of body shapes and sizes, breast sizes, back sizes, ethnic backgrounds, hair colors, etc. You cannot define beauty! None of us fit into the long list of criteria of what being conventionally beautiful or sexy usually is, but that's what makes it so awesome- NOBODY can meet that list, because nobody is perfect! I like that we're all up there with our self-taken, non-digitally altered pictures, complete with our stretch marks, lower belly flab, dark eye circles, and everything, because those "flaws" are what makes us human. Winning this contest for me would be about proving to the world that it's okay to have flaws, and that we're beautiful no matter what! I want to start a body image revolution, guys; I want to redefine beautiful!
8. People Are Listening to Me!
This is the best part! Being so shy and insecure about my own body scruples, I've been holding myself back from having a larger voice. Participating has given me both the strength be confident and firm, as well as an audience of people eager for my words. I feel like this is my chance to really make a positive impact in this world! All of my life, I've sought opportunities to make other people feel better, to help them out in any way, because it makes my life feel more validated in return. This is my reason for living. Even if I don't win, I've already won because I'm on that path to making a positive difference in this world.
9. Boobs Are Not Inherently Sexual!
This has been the hardest thing for me. We live in a society where girls with larger breasts are considered inherently slutty simply because they have larger breasts, and where a picture of a girl in her underwear for a modeling contest is a plea for an attention and a desperate need of male validation. One friend, when asked to vote, said, "Oh my god, you're in your underwear! I can't look at this! I have a lady!" I was distraught, because that is not what this is about! But it's surprising how many people truly believe this contest is sexual in nature. I've gained the ability to stand up to people and say, "Boobs aren't sexual because you want them to be. I live with these everyday of my life, and they're a part of who I am." If I want them to be sexual, they will be, and even if they are, is there something so wrong with that? Let's celebrate being confident about our bodies and not be afraid to be judged simply because we possess breasts!
10. I Have Such Good Friends.
This has been the most emotionally moving thing about this contest for me! I never realized how many people care about and want to support me. The support from my friends, family, co-workers, and even fellow WoW players, has been astounding! They all understand why I want this, and are working their butts off to help their friends and family to vote as well. If I win this thing, it will be because I have a life filled with wonderful, amazing people. I am so grateful to know how many people care. And really, isn't that one of the best reasons to feel like I've already won?