I had the amazing opportunity to represent Love Disfigure in Khrystyana’s Real Catwalk that she brought back to London (if you don’t know, she was one of the runners up for America’s Next Top Model)! Yes, I was walking down a catwalk.. in my bikini.. stoma bag on show… in the middle of Trafalgar Square! It was absolutely terrifying but amazing to see so many different people of all abilities and all looking incredible.
Getting out of your comfort zone is absolutely terrifying but oh my does it feel good afterwards! Five years ago, I was the shy girl who was terrified of putting her hand up in class and walking past rooms full of people. Now? I’ve only gone and done a catwalk in the middle of London, with no shame or shyness in the slightest!
I still have a very long way to go in gaining my confidence back after years of hating my body but I also know I’ve come a very long way – if I can do it, I know you can too. I know that Khrystyana organises several catwalks, just like this one, throughout the year in a few different countries. If you get the chance to take part, go for it! You have nothing to lose. The adrenaline and rush you get after you do it is indescribable.
The response from the crowd (and the general atmosphere) shows that we need and want more diversity and inclusivity in the media. We need companies and brands to stop making us feel inadequate and insecure. We need companies and brands to actually understand that body diversity and positivity is not just a ‘trend’ to be used as a marketing tool. Because it’s here to stay!
It is funny though, as I would never have though that I would like these photos of me smiling like this, blissfully happy, teeth fully on show, without a care in the world about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ angles – but it’s true, I love these photos. I love everything about this event. People from all walks of life, coming together, to celebrate one another – it does do wonders for your confidence and body image.
It seems odd that our default is to be shy about our bodies rather than celebrate them; I had many people who were walking by come up to me to say how ‘brave we all are’ for showing our bodies. Why is it brave? Why are we supposed to be ashamed or embarrassed? Are we brave to show off our differences? Or are we brave to go against society’s ideals? Why should we have to be brave? Why can’t we automatically love ourselves the way we are? I have so many questions as to how this has all come about.
Maybe it’s because of certain adverts. Maybe it’s because of the models we usually see. Maybe it’s because of photoshop, diet culture, films/TV shows, stigma, school, bullying, family or even social media (despite me using social media all the time as I do think it can be a great way to get your message across – but social media needs to be used appropriately). Who knows? Body image is a real issue that affects more of us than you might think – it affects all genders, ethnicities, ages etc. Having the ‘perfect’ body is so ingrained into our minds, into society, without us necessarily realising it. Let’s change that. Let’s be different. Let’s be real.