Oh man! This post is very much overdue, but with the excitement of getting votes on top of excess hours at work, I haven't found the time or energy to muster up another blog post. This year's- and very first US competition, I might add- Star in a Bra is finally concluded, and we have a winner!
And the winner is the gorgeous Krista Cousins, whose blog is Girl Wonder! I came in second place, with the lovely Brittany Jencks of Thin and Curvy in third. A major thank you to everyone who voted for me, encouraged me, and made me feel validated with messages of love and support. I might not have won, but this entire experience was one of a lifetime, and I feel privileged to have experienced it. Never in my wildest dreams, when looking through past Star in a Bra competitions, had I thought I could have the courage to enter this contest and see it through. I've gained a lot of perspective and body confidence, as well as friends.
But let's backtrack a bit and talk about the competition and my New York trip, because after all those votes, I think I owe you all a chance to live vicariously though me, eh? :P
|The view of my first flight!|
Let me preface this with saying that I have never left the south, have never traveled alone, and have never flown on an airplane before. I was terrified out of my wits, and apprehensive about being stuck alone in a giant, foreign city. I half-expected my trip to be a miserable example of why I should just settle for complacency, although that's my tendency to get pessimistic when I lack control of things. As it turns out, airplanes are quite fun and I'm terribly addicted. On one plane ride, I even got to make friends with two ladies, and exchanged facebook links with them! How's that for promoting?
When I got to the airport in New York, I had Brittany Jencks kindly waiting for me because neither of us wanted to go anywhere in that city alone. We awkwardly got into a taxi and sat in silence, both of us nervous and uncomfortable with the strange environment and people surrounding us. We quickly warmed up, though, and by the time we found our hotel room and made our way to dinner, we felt as though we had known each other all of our lives. We found our conversations being interrupted with "me too!," and that we were finishing each others sentences with ease. I don't usually bond that quickly or easily with people, so it was so exciting to find someone who mirrored my thoughts, experiences, and emotions so well.
|Posing with the delightful Laura!|
The next day, I woke up early so Brittany would have a companion at the photoshoot, and so neither of us would have to hail a taxi alone, of course. Once we arrived, we were greeted immediately by Laura and Hannah, both of whom were friendly and easygoing. They whisked us away to the hair and makeup chairs, Brittany and I nervously making eye contact in the mirror and stifling giggles, while they made us over. Afterward, Laura fitted me in various sizes and bras until we were satisfied with my Curvy Kate size. I tend to be a 28G in a lot of molded bras in other brands, but in Curvy Kate I was fitted a 28FF. I did have issues with their bras not suiting the shape of my breasts, and much to Laura's chagrin, my breasts kept sliding to the center every time I moved. Part of that has to do with my breasts being more close-set, but also because my breast tissue is slightly soft after weight loss, making my breasts want to always plunge to the center.
After being fitted, I was quickly rushed away yet again, but to the photoshoot set this time. I suddenly became very nervous, feeling inferior to the other beautiful girls with their curves and seemingly natural poise. I knew going into this that I was the smallest of all the busts, and while it wasn't a beauty contest, the insecurity of that knowledge put a falter in my step and a furrow in my brow. Anxious thoughts plaguing my mind, I was initially stiff and forced, which showed in the pictures. Laura showed me how to pose and gave me better tips on moving, and by the second set of underwear, I was feeling infinitely more confident in front of the camera. With a tilt of my head and my hips, a full smile, and a hand here or there, I quickly learned how to laugh and move easily. By the end of it, I felt like an actual model! I felt curvy, feminine, and fierce. How did I ever doubt I could do it?
As the other girls got finished their photoshoots, I got to mingle with all of the people at the photoshoot- which was surprisingly a lot, actually. I met some awesome representatives from Bare Necessities, and the experience of talking with them actually left a lasting impression on me; thanks to them, I am now seriously considering pursuing marketing/PR as a career! I sat and talked with Brittany, played hand-clapping games with the other girls, and snuck around the set with the Queen mask, scaring the bejeebus out of everyone I saw. Oh, and food; I can't forget the food! What photoshoot in existence actually has cookies for the models to eat? It helped strengthen my excitement at the prospect of representing a company who believed in a life of living, not restriction for beauty.
|Shortly after playing hand-clapping games!|
|Laura "fitting" us.|
|Um, cookies at a photoshoot? Yes, please.|
|Watching Sassy Gay Friend|
After the photoshoot, Brittany and I later on met up with Katie, Danielle, and Tiffany to walk to a pizza place for dinner. Although it started pouring and we only had a single umbrella between the five of us on a 20 minute walk, this night was the highlight of my trip. I immediately bonded with all of the girls, and was easily myself. We talked about everything under the sun, and we were all in support of one another in this competition, despite, well, being each other's competition. It was comforting to be surrounded by such body-positive, enthusiastic women who supported the important message behind this entire competition and campaign. After dinner, and a very brisk walk full of skipping and belting out Don't Stop Believing, we made it back to the hotel in time to snag some dessert. Grabbing ALL OF THE ICE CREAM, we changed into our pajamas and congregated in my and Katie's hotel room, with an additional Jackie. Downing the ice cream, we all watched Sassy Gay Friend on youtube, giggling and talking about vacuous, girly things, such as, y'know, feminism and literature. Brittany didn't want to go, so it ended up feeling like a half-sleepover, minus the pillow fighting.
The next morning, I was crushed because I had to leave it- and everyone- behind. We said our goodbyes, did a thank you video for Curvy Kate, and went our separate ways. We've since stayed in touch on facebook, and there's even talking of meeting up again in the future! I know for a fact Brittany and I will be meeting up again- possibly many times. Who knew I'd make such strong friendships?
If you're thinking of entering the competition next year, please do yourself a service and do it. Don't hesitate. Every single one of us had her own insecurities, doubts, and body scruples, but doing this has helped us realize it's all in our heads. We're beautiful, and somehow, walking in a crowded room in nothing but underwear and heels helped us realize that. More, though, is the message of this competition. If you feel as though you're too unconventional- be it height, weight, body shape, or even age!- or underrepresented in the modeling industry, you owe it not just to yourself to enter, but to all the other women out there who are feeling like you. There is no beauty standard here, and companies like Curvy Kate need YOU to prove that a bra size, pants size, scale number, or waist measurement do not define your self-worth or the standards of beauty. And if you need no other reason to enter, do it because you will find out just how much support your friends and family have for you, and for the friends you will make.
|My top ten ladies, minus four other beauties scheduled for the next day!|
Will I enter next year? Probably not. Although Curvy Kate won't use the second and third place girls as models, I think I'm pretty satisfied. I know Krista will do a wonderful job representing us, and I gained enough out of this experience to feel content with how things turned out. But.. you never know! Maybe I will. :)