I was wellll into my third trimester when I got a text from a dear friend, Kristen, who works on the Kortni Jeane Swimwear team. She asked me if I wanted to model for an upcoming KJ self love campaign.
HA. Wait. Me?? I’d been following Kortni Jeane on Instagram for awhile and I knew her branding was very centered around self love and body acceptance, and I was NOT the girl that could be an advocate for that. Especially right now. I remember telling Alonso how weird the timing was. It seemed like I was having a breakdown every day about my weight gain or my stretch marks or the incredible amount of cellulite I’d earned during my pregnancy. There must be plenty of gorgeous pregnant women in Provo that hadn’t gained as much as I did, didn’t have dark brown stretch marks like I did, and loved her own body like I didn’t…
BUT… I decided to take it anyways. It seemed like SO much fun and I loved the KJ team and company so much. I felt like I’d be stupid not to take this opportunity. The Kortni Jeane brand and team is so uplifting and fun and I wanted to be a part of their next big thing. So why not.
I was then told I would be interviewed. Kristen sent me the questions before the campaign shoot. (This interview will be live on October 9th)
What does “loving yourself” mean to you?
Describe the first time you had self-esteem issues.
Why do you think there is such a problem with women loving their bodies?
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Woah. I felt like I was preparing myself for the hardest exam of my life. I read the questions to Alonso and both he and I knew I’d have a hard time with them given my history of self “love.” Was I supposed to lie?? This was supposed to be a motivational and inspirational campaign. I am not inspiring. I am no promoter of self love. How can I be an example of something I struggle so much with? I thought they picked the wrong girl. I’d gained over 50 pounds during my pregnancy. Modeling in a swimsuit and answering questions about self love was laughable at this point in my life. I asked Alonso how I was supposed to answer these questions. “Be honest.” Uhhh okay. Here goes.
The morning of, I put my spray tan on to hopefully mask the deep, dark stretch marks on my thighs and I put on a little more than the “natural” makeup required. But, I felt good and I was ready and excited to go. I was a whopping 37 weeks pregnant.
The moment I walked on set I knew I was about to have the time of my life. I met Kortni, who is an absolute doll by the way. I admire her so much. Then I found cute Kristen, who gave me my first swimsuit to try on.
Coming out of that dressing room in that two-piece swimsuit took GUTS. I felt so apologetic. “Sorry I look this way. Don’t look at me. I don’t usually look like this.” That’s what I felt like saying to every gorgeous girl in that room. I felt like everyone looked amazing. Except for me. I stood in front of the white canvas to take my first photo, feeling like I was naked in a fishbowl. There was so much natural light in the studio. I couldn’t believe I was standing there, in the brightest light, uncovered for everyone to see. But the second the photographer saw me, she complimented me and told me how amazing I looked. I didn’t believe it, but I appreciated the small boost of confidence.
A few hours went by. I’d changed into about 10 swimsuits and was now numb to the embarrassment of being in a swimsuit in front of beautiful women. They were all so amazing and so genuine. They complimented me and my body over and over and I actually started to believe them. Maybe my body is beautiful. I cried more than once talking to these people and connecting with them on such a personal level.
During my interview, I was able to ponder on my experience and talk about how I felt. I felt so ashamed that I had hated on my body so much. Here I was, 37 weeks pregnant with a baby GIRL who was likely to treat herself the same way I treat myself. The thought made me feel so disgusted. That sweet baby girl in my belly was (and is) PERFECT. She is so beautiful because she is unique. She is beautiful because she is loved. She is beautiful because of what makes her, her. Now that she is in my arms, I understand what this campaign truly means. Learn to love yourself because you’re YOU. My sweet little Iris is the most beautiful thing in the world to me and it’s because she’s unique and she’s mine. There’s nothing I would change about her. I wish I could think that way about myself. I know I’ll need to be an example to my little girl one day. She will treat herself how I treat myself because for a time, that’ll be all she knows.
Now that she’s here, I’ve learned to love my body so much more. How could I not?? My body made HER. She’s my life. My everything. And I have my body to thank and love for that.
Thank you to the KJ team for helping me feel beautiful. I have such a special place in my heart for this brand now. I had such a wonderful time and met some of the most special people. I hope I will have the privilege to work with them again someday.