Empowerment, Living and the Runway 

As I started to think about turning 32, the current state of my career, my new roles as wife and bonus mom, and what personal goals I wanted to set for myself. I decided I wanted to make sure I challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone and stopping putting things on hold for “someday when.” 

I have a short list of things I have always wanted to do, but kept telling myself I could only do when I achieved a certain “goal weight.” While I am all for incentives for motivation to work toward a goal, I have also realized that we also cannot stop ourselves from living. That is what I had been doing. I had on some subconscious level told myself who I was physically (at that weight) was not good enough to enjoy certain things or to celebrate myself. 

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I know that is probably one of the coldest things I have ever done to myself, to tell myself I wasn’t worthy based on my physical weight. I have been proactively working on improving my mental health and self love for a while now, and it really is an ongoing process. Healing one thing can lead to another wound you didn’t even know was there. A lot of people view me as a very confident and cheerful person, however a lot of times my confidence wavers a lot over the course of a single day. 

So I decided that in my 32nd year of life I was going work on ‘living’ more and not discrediting my own self worth. Which brings me to my list. Things that are on my list (in no specific order): get my next tattoo, a solo photo shoot, start a blog or YouTube channel, plus size modeling and become a published author. 

To my surprise I was offered the opportunity to work with the Platform Experience as a model for their Fashion First Friday event at the Imperial Center in Rocky Mount, NC. 

Mallory Richardson  Photo credit: Manley’s Photography

Mallory Richardson

Photo credit: Manley’s Photography

As I spoke with Mallory Richardson, a plus size model, entrepreneur and founder of the Platform Experience, she muses that “The platform experience believes in fashion for all bodies, colors, heights and aim to provide valued services, event management, and coordination plus collaborations across these industries for entertainment, business branding, and developmental growth amongst the micro influencer pool and evoking profound relationships with macro brands throughout NC and around the world”

This was going to be my first time modeling and walking the runway. Ever since the emergence of, well the explosion of curvy and plus size models into popular culture I have day dreamed about being a model. These women look so empowered, confident and secure with themselves and their bodies. So before I could even blink I whole-heartedly said YES, and then I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I knew NOTHING about modeling. I generally kind of liked one photo out of dozens I would try to take, from selfies to photo-shoots with the self-timer on my camera.  

I debated on cancelling on Mallory but then I felt bad about potentially letting her down. My husband also assured me, countless times, that I was able to not only do this but that I would kill it. He is a great hype man, his faith in my abilities to do anything never ceases to amaze me. So I started to google around and looked at a few how to videos on YouTube and felt completely silly as I started practicing on my own when my husband wasn’t home. I slowly started to believe that I wouldn’t be a total and completely epic failure. 

 Then the day arrived. I showed up on time to find one person getting their makeup done and another person getting their hair done. I was terrified so naturally I was really quiet, and taking it all in. I soon found myself surrounded by laughter and a sisterhood I was so easily embraced by. This beautiful group of models was made up of minority women ranging in ages, heights, sizes and backgrounds. Once they heard that this was the first time I and two other young ladies would be walking on a runway they proceeded to show us how to walk and share their trade tips and tricks. 

Models with  The FaShaenista Files  owner LaShae Settles Photo credit: Manley’s Photography

Models with The FaShaenista Files owner LaShae Settles
Photo credit: Manley’s Photography

As the event grew near I was fitted for two amazing outfits from local stylist. For my first look I was modeling a two piece sequin jump suit from Jenks Fasionque. For my second look I modeled a velvet dressed called “Just Mauve Me” from the FaShaenista Files. Then the big moment arrived and I was a ball of excitement and nerves. The other models continued to provide advice up until the last minute, and then they turned into the best hype team ever. 

This was such an amazing experience. I was so overwhelmed with awe and positivity when I finally sat in my car to leave, I began to laugh and even cry. I am not a big crier so I was a little caught off guard by the wave of emotion I was feeling. I felt so empowered as I left that evening, and the feeling still resonates with me now as I think about my experience.

I began reflecting on the experience, I had so many questions about the Platform Experience. I took a moment to chat with Mallory about her goals and vision for the Platform Experience. Mallory shared, “I as a female small business owner I feel it is truly my responsibility to guide the change I wish to see in a disproportionate industry. Therefore, by providing opportunities of expansion and engagement in communities of interest but little exposure to the fashion and beauty business. I bring it to them by encouraging their participation during localized events, seminars and networking. Brand development and influencer careers are a huge market place for people who are interested in building small businesses and changing communities outside of corporate America or alongside their roles in the business world. Both are integral to the continued evolution in technology, fashion, beauty and business.” 

I would like to say thank you to the Platform Experience, the designers and the other models for such an amazing and empowering experience.