My Size O-14 Love Story

As an adult I have been every size from 0-14. The last few years, as I vacillated between a size 12 and 14, I’ve had more appreciation and love for my body than I ever did when I was a young thin model who was supposedly the perfect size; and yet I would still have my moments. Moments of shame for being plus size, for not looking the way we’ve been told to look, or for not being the size that is supposedly good enough. 

I’ve known for a long time that beauty doesn’t have as much to do with what’s on the outside as we’ve been taught. I remember seeing the sexiest belly dancer I’ve ever seen who was way out of the range of body shapes our culture has deemed sexy, turn a crowd to adoring mush. I remember passing by a lady on the street shining her light so bright that while I was aware that she didn’t fit into the standard idea of beauty in our world, I thought she was one of the most gorgeous people I had ever seen. And I remember making an internal commitment to myself that I would not lose weight until I embraced myself just as I am: until I knew not just intellectually but with every particle of my being that I was beautiful from the inside out, and that my size 14 was just as awesome as my size 4. 

A couple of weeks ago I had my break through. It started with being a guest on SheEO, a show featuring women business owners. As I reached the set I felt like I had been transported back to my modeling days, in front of the camera and lights, only this time I was a size fourteen and 15 years older. As I looked into the mirror on set I didn’t like what I saw. This was one of those moments when the shame came, when I believed the outside idea of what beauty is and knew I was not that. I didn’t let it override me, there was still that larger part of me that new that this shame and idea of what beauty is wasn’t actually real or true, and that while those would fade away the infinite love that I am never would. Still it was a reminder that I hadn’t reached my goal of loving myself from the inside out, of knowing that my size, or wrinkles, or funky eye without a muscle that makes me look cross-eyed sometimes, is not what defines me, is not what deems me beautiful or not. 

What I realized later was that during this shoot for SheEO I had made what for me, was a necessary step of admitting that by society’s standards I was know longer beautiful. From my earliest memories I was told I was beautiful more than anything else, as a little girl strangers would stop me to tell me how pretty I was; I was asked to model at an early age and though I didn’t start then, right out of highschool I was flown to New York to compete in YM’s modeling competition and my career took off from there. Between those early affirmations, modeling, a chilhood filled with sexaul abuse, and many unwanted advances throughout the years, my identity was very centered on how I looked. When I quit modeling I was determined to change that, when I gained a bunch of weight I was even more determined, and yet what I didn’t realize until that day on the SheEO set was that I hadn’t actually given up the idea that I was still beautiful by society’s standards. And I was still perpetuating that idea to others. The only pictures I posted on social media where the ones that you would never be able to tell that I was a size 14, the ones that by through some miracle of lighting you couldn’t see my double chin and puffy face. Insert hand slapping head emoji here. There had still been two contrasting spaces in me, the one that so wanted to know true beauty and the one that still felt the need to be considered beautiful by society’s standards. 

Just a couple days later I was doing a photoshoot with Unleashe for an anti-bullying campaign. Once again I was in front of a camera but this time when the photographer showed me the first round of photos I had a very different experience. I was aware of the stomach rolls and the bloated face, I was aware that my cheek bones didn’t stand out like they use to and that these pictures looked nothing like my old modeling pictures or the images of me that I’d post on social media, and yet I knew without a doubt that I looked FUCKING AMAZING! That I was beautiful, sexy, gorgeous, and that none of that had anything to do with society ideas about what makes someone beautiful. 

By society’s standards I’m someone who is sometimes beautiful in the right lighting or at the right angel, or one of those people who “would be so pretty if they just lost some weight.” Or since I live in LA after losing the weight I might need some fillers around the eyes and a chin tuck to live up to LA’s standards of beauty. But really it’s never enough and it doesn’t matter anymore because now I truly know that I AM BEAUTIFUL FROM THE INSIDE OUT! What makes me beautiful isn’t dependent on society’s standards of beauty or anything outside of me. I am beautiful because we are all beautiful. We are all unique expressions of the oneness dressed up in so many amazing ways. It’s what on the inside that makes us beautiful, and when we truly know our light and let it shine it’s impossible to know ourselves as anything less than beautiful. #turnyourshineon

To see the SheEOshow go to https://www.evertalktv.com/programs/sheeo?cid=248169

UnleaSHE You! #IAmJustMe

Follow Unleashe to view all the powerful images from this bold, artistic photo series and learn how you can get involved.

8 Responses so far.

  1. Shaunti says:

    Thank you so much for this. It all hits us at different stages and phases in our lives – letting you know it’s hitting me now, and I truly appreciate your vulnerability.

    • Tracey Ostrand says:

      Thank you Shaunti! It’s feels good to share and be vulnerable and I Love to hear when it’s helpful for others.

  2. Toria Shaw says:

    You gorgeous woman – truly beautiful inside and out! Thank you for sharing this vulnerable and inspirational post. Cheers to being ENOUGH and BEAUTIFUL at any size!! 🙏🏽♥️😇🌟💫✨

  3. Emily Steuber says:

    I love that you wrote this because I have been going through a lot of the same dismantling of “beauty” programs ; social media and filters and fillers have sure done a doozy on the ladies !!! Thank you for sharing and you are fabulously gorgeous 🙂

  4. Carrie Kochevar says:

    I fucking love this!!!! 🙂 I’m facing my own issues regarding external beauty having to do with aging…something I never thought I’d experience (the emotional challenges, not the aging!). Thank you for sharing and for being your amazing, vulnerable, strong, loving self, Tracey <3 I love you!!

    • Tracey Ostrand says:

      Thank you Carrie!!! It’s something we all go through I think! You’re amazing and beautiful at all ages of you!!! Love you!!! <3

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