This is a story of a woman I care for deeply. I am not directly related to her, but she is a part of my life. This is less a story, but rather a prayer for her to change for the better!
I love this woman and so does her family, but she tries too hard to fit in her perfect and ideal image of herself and life in general. She suffers from it, because deep down inside she thinks she is not good enough and maybe not worth to have a happy life. I tried to build her up several times and still she doesn’t change.
I guess the reason is her difficult life. If you feel all lifelong that you must do more to receive love, then you surely think that you are ‘not good enough’. This behaving is a program that gets created in your childhood and you suffer from it for the rest of your life.
This is what the ‘NOT-GOOD-ENOUGH PROGRAM’ makes with you:
You go on diets, because you think you will only be better when you are thin as the women on TV.
You become fanatic about having a clean apartment and spend several hours a day cleaning.
You become a perfectionist and everything should be perfectly organised, even a small party for your kids.
You only feel good when you strive to the ideal image of you and try to avoid admitting that you are not good enough.
@ Meg Gaiger / Harpyimages
@ Meg Gaiger / Harpyimages
The truth is that you need to admit to not be good enough to get over this evil program. Accept the chaos, because chaos is a happy life! Once you accept that you are not good enough, or that you will never be perfect you will realize that it’s not so bad to be imperfect. You are still alive! Your husband, kids and family still love you. They know you are not perfect and they also see that you try to be perfect too hard, but they can’t stop you. It ´must come within you. You have to realize it yourself. It’s your life, your thoughts and your challenges!
Just believe me, accepting that you are not perfect and seeing how your life improves afterwards is important for you. Otherwise, you will fail in whatever you try to do. You will also have to get sick if you don’t change, because your inner suffering is too much for your body to handle. Don’t strive to be perfect, strive to be you, O!
I know that this is not only of one individual, it is a story of many. Many women and men out there suffer from the ‘not-good-enough program’ and they clearly shouldn’t, because it causes too much distress to your life and loved ones. Life is hard and it sucks most of the time, but you shouldn’t make it worst by thinking you deserve to be like that, because you are not good enough. I can understand you and many other women can too, we all have this program in us; but we need to fight against it with love to overcome the negative view of us!
– HOW TO OVERCOME A DEPRESSION ACCORDING TO MY EXPERIENCE
@Milton Franklyn Goedhoop- Photographer / Amsterdam / February 2016
I am not usually sad when a month is over, and although I am happy when November ends, this year I am sad because it was the best month of this year. For so many years, this month was my most hated month weather wise, because it’s the most depressive month of the year, however, things have changed this year or should I say I have changed. Furthermore, I didn’t want to write about the topic of depression publicly, but my emotions and thoughts want to storm out of me.
Perfection causes Depression
@Idona Photography / Hamburg / Octorber 2015
Depression is not a sickness of some crazy people anymore, it is the sickness of most people. We cannot all be crazy, but we can all make mistakes or break down from the problems in our lives. As a woman who suffers from PCOS I always had to fight with depression since I was 17, but writing became my therapy. I managed the depression periods myself, by changing something in my life for the better. When I had to apply for a new job, I was asked why I changed my workplace so often, but it was difficult to answer. The reason was that I didn’t like the jobs anymore and became bored because I had learned everything I needed to, in which there is nothing more worse for me than stagnancy! 4 years ago, I started in a totally new field than before, where you constantly need to learn new things, working in a lawyer’s office that dealt with people’s debts. I had to talk with the debtors and send them letters and found it great, because I could advise them with their problems. I had good and bad times in my company, but I still regarded it as my second home, although I didn’t realize how much I allowed my work to control my life. We were trained to find ways to get better, as well as never trusting others, and I had the pressure of becoming better each day. I worked 8 or more hours a day, went home, prepared dinner for myself and continued to work for another 4 to 6 hours online. I had no free time for many years and the last holiday I had was in 2002. I was a workaholic and I was never happy with my work, but I tried to remain calm whilst continuing to try hard. Then one day in July 2015 my team leader misbehaved towards me, it was just a normal check-up they do, so I had nothing to worry about, but this time, she was in a very bad mood and she chose me as the person to let her anger out on. The check-up was taking about an hour, but it ruined my life, all that I had achieved for myself regarding self-confidence was destroyed by her, and in the following week, I couldn’t go to work due to terrible stomach pains. That pain never really went away, it was just getting weaker, then in October 2015 it was getting more worse, but silly me I kept on working and doing things for the plus size community. I never received a thank you from my company, nor from the people within the plus size community for all my effort. I was an idealist, but since last year I became a realist because my work created too much negativity in my life and when I got confronted by the negative people within the movement, I was constantly getting angry. Up until today, I still don’t understand why people fight each other over petty reasons; growth is not possible with jealousy and hate. Forgive each other, as I have forgiven everyone, or it will destroy you!
A life of mortification increases a bad health condition
@Milton Franklyn Goedhoop- Photographer / Amsterdam / February 2016
The stress at work caused me to collapse in November 2015, and I was not able to work since then. Furthermore, I was advised to never go back to this workplace because the effects of it on my soul might cause more terrible health problems for me. I gave too much importance to this job and ignored the down sides, but today I know this was my mistake. It was not my mistake to be the one who had to handle the verbal abuse of my team leader, that was her own fault and she must live with the consequence of her behaviour. It was too late for me to get out of this without any consequences, and I was in hospital several times, had tons of check-ups and was only surviving on painkillers in times of strong pain. I kept on fighting and doing my posts as usual, no matter how bad I felt; but I didn’t realize what was not right with me until my doctor said I have a depression. Then this year my old page partner Norman Spee became a member of my team again, and a few months later I had another member named Justin J. White who writes the most amazing articles, plus things got better within time. Nevertheless, my own life was not working well, on some days I was not motivated, and on other days I could just walk around with a sad face, because I couldn’t even cry anymore; on other days, I could at least go out for a short walk and then were the days where I was scared of leaving the bed, because there could be something out there. There was nothing even though I feared no single thing. I tried out psychopharmaceutical, but I gave it up after a few days since I couldn’t handle them well, and today I am happy that I didn’t take them again. The painkillers for all my pain were hard enough; it is safe to say that the year 2016 was horrible and I had to realize that this is not just one of the less harmless depressive moods I had before, this was a real problem that could have cost my life. Unexpectedly, my first bit of help came from books of a certain author. I don’t want to mention him yet, because his books might not only help me but might also help my family. My second help was God! It’s that simple! Well, it’s not only God alone that changed it, it was also my understanding of the world and the humans. I see many things from a different perspective than before, I had to deal with people who let their anger out on me everyday. This didn’t hurt me, because I know I am not responsible for their misery; but I lived a life that was ruled by mortification, people humiliated me for no reason and blamed me for their own problems. My team leader was the worse one out of all of them, because she was not happy with her life; the mortifications that I received and those that I gave to others caused me to live an unhappy and angry life. I learned that to receive love, you must give love and if the people try to hurt you then let them do that, because it will only affect them!
Review EVERYTHING, even your own thoughts and behaviour
@Christphoto / Paris / January 2016
Interestingly, not only did I had to review everything, but the whole US nation did too. The win of the new president was meant to be an eye opener for millions as it was for me, and 2016 was not an easy year for all of us, but it is what we need. 2016 is God’s way of testing us, it is his way of helping us to protect us from the future. I know today that having a sickness is a blessing and I thank God for this, because only through this I managed to become stronger, wiser and more sensitive than ever before. To achieve this, it is important to review your life, your actions, your thoughts, your reactions and your own behaviour. Look for patterns, look for the cause and effect and start to analyse your life and the lives of your family. I learned that the worst thing we can do is to hurt someone; it doesn’t have to be me who got hurt, it could also be one of my parents who got hurt by a family member or by their partner. Unfortunately, this negativity stays in us and it is very difficult to find healing, unless you try to find it in God. I think that religions, no matter how much they seem to separate us, were given to us to help us, and you don’t need to become the perfect Jew, Muslim or Christian, but you need to learn from your mistakes. You need to forgive yourself, because if God can forgive you then so will you. Accept your mistakes and learn to love yourself with all your failures, because you are a beautiful soul!
GOD really loves you, no matter what
@Christphoto / Paris / January 2016
It was hard for me to understand, why he helped me to stay alive, it would have been easy for him to take my life, but he chose another path for me. Is it because of the help you get from me and my magazine? I don’t know. I can only guess that I still need to achieve a few things for him. It might sound grotesque, but facing my own end was helping me the most, if I should have died, then he would have made sure it happened; but he would rather help me to survive and grow. I am not scared of dying anymore, because I know my soul will never die. I had my first good time this year in June and July, when I was in a rehabilitation facility; I couldn’t believe how many people suffered from depression like me. Being there without any contact of the outer world helped me to rethink my life. I realised which mistakes I made and I understood the effect of the cause of my life! The effect is very individual and you need to rethink it all, but what you need to do the most is pray to God; I have never felt such a huge amount of peace and happiness after I realised that God still loves me. You may think that you cannot achieve anything in life because others told you that or because they also think low of themselves; but this is not true. You can achieve everything you want to, if God wants you too. This is not just a saying, this is my honest experience. You need to understand that suffering is part of life, our mind learns from mistakes, but our soul learns from suffering, and God is the one who allows the suffering in your life because he loves you. This might make some people angry, but his love is the reason for your suffering, and yes, some people suffer more than others. I can’t change that, I can only try to understand that without the depression and the stomach pains I wouldn’t exist today, because my soul changed for the worst. This problem is solved now, but it doesn’t mean that it cannot happen again, we are as healthy and as happy as our thinking and behaviour; we need to understand that there is much more than a body and brain. The most precious thing about us is our soul and we don’t protect it at all, the soul is the energy that runs through you and this energy creates your life situation. God knows that and therefore I am happy to realise that he loves me so much that I had to go through a whole year of suffering to improve my life!
Embrace the Challenge and see the Improvement afterwards
@Christphoto / Paris / January 2016
Besides posting I tried to organise new articles during the year. I know I didn’t answer many emails and I kept many articles back, but I will get back to those ideas when I feel better. It was very difficult to manage them before, it was difficult to keep on working on my first issue, which I started to work on last summer before the problems started. I couldn’t write nor evaluate what kind of problem I exactly had. I always said I didn’t see things clear because it’s like looking out of a window with a curtain restricting your view. I was very proud of myself that I went to London last weekend, it was planned for many months in advance, but I wasn’t sure if I would manage. It was not easy and I still had to rely on pain killers, but it was the second-best experience of this year. The best one is private and since family comes first for me, it was my best experience. Nevertheless, traveling to London and getting to know new people was not less amazing, it was like meeting a new family. I must say that the organiser of Ms Curvaceous UK contest and his family made sure I was all well, which is the most important thing for me. Traveling there and meeting new people was a difficult challenge for me, but I am happy that I dared to do this. This is how I was before, I embraced the challenges; achieved my goals and I was proud of myself, and for about 2 years prior, I didn’t achieve any of my goals and whenever I tried to do something new it failed horribly. You should never give up, you should always keep on challenging yourself, there will be many failures and many people will hurt you, but you should never allow them to get too close to you; these people might have a whole bunch of problems, because people who speak and think negatively have a lot of unsolved issues within themselves. Therefore, it’s better to stay away from them when you are not strong enough. I couldn’t even speak to some of my oldest friends because I was not strong enough, things have changed since I managed my travel and jury challenge in London, and I am a lot more positive right now. I can plan, I can organise again, and I can cry as much as I can smile at the same time. I am re-connected with my soul and with mother earth!
Love and Hope
@Milton Franklyn Goedhoop- Photographer / Amsterdam / February 2016
When I was younger, we travelled back home to Romania during the summer holidays. On one of these trips I asked my Romanian grandmother ‘what does God mean to you?’ She answered ‘Love and Hope.’ I didn’t understand back then what these simple words meant to her. We always regarded my grandmother as a crazy religious fanatic in some ways, because she would do everything for her Orthodox church, especially giving them more money although they already had tons of that. It made me angry back then, but today my perspective has changed. I finally understand her and I know what she went through, I also understand what God’s love is and how amazing the feeling of hope he gives you is. My brother learned this at a very young age and even though I followed him to church I didn’t realise it until I was live on the razor-edge. I will never forget the feeling of the needle in my arm whilst I was in the hospital feeling helpless knowing that only God could help me. With his help I also survived the most difficult year of my life!
I learned a lot of things this year and you should also learn the following:
You have to let go,
You should really forgive the people who hurt you deliberately or unintended,
You must really analyse your behaviour and your thoughts,
You should really change both to avoid a negative effect,
You must really accept your mistakes and failures and see yourself in a positive way again,
You should really understand why you are alive and what purpose in life God has for you,
You must really accept the suffering and embrace the challenges,
You should really lose your fear over the future; whatever happens lies in Gods hands,
You must really believe that if other people want to do you wrong, then it will only be them who suffer the most – not you!
You should really love your soul and the people around you no matter what,
You must think, speak, behave and suffer in a positive way!
@Christphoto / Paris / January 2016 / Standing at a bridge in front of Notre Dame
Goodbye November! You surprised me by being the best month of the year in 2016. You also surprised me with your wonderful sunny weather this year, but now I say hello to December 2016. Let’s see what improvements happen this month for my soul! <3
Today is the 15th of March 2016, and it’s the sad moment where I had to realize that my beloved Plus Size Community is about to split into two different branches. I don’t know what to do anymore. This is my first personal post as the editor-in-chief of Style & Curve. The recent incidents inspired me to write this, but let’s start the story from the beginning.
‘I think the word “plus-sized” is totally outdated….I don’t want to be called a label, I want to be called a model.’ ~ Ashley Graham
This is one of the statements that Ashley Graham gave a few days ago during SXSW panel and the most provocative one. I feel hurt and dissapointed, not by the intention behind those words, but by the way they were expressed.
A few days ago I saw the pictures from Ashley’s shooting with the Cosmopolitan, and in this interview she practically said the same thing again. See picture below:
This statement shows that she supports the #DROPTHEPLUS movement. And not only that, she and 4 other ‘PLUS SIZE’ models created their own charitable movement called Alda. See below what this project is all about:
So their intentions are good. Additionally, see the quote below:
The fashion industry is in the middle of an acceptance revolution. Models of all shapes, sizes, and gender identities aren’t just being acknowledged, but celebrated. At the forefront of this revolution is 28-year-old model Ashley Graham, whose TED Talk went viral this year, and a collective of models calling themselves ALDA, working tirelessly to promote self-love, health, and confidence. ~ Yahoo Style
I am totally for an acceptance of all sizes in the mainstream fashion industry, but their wish to keep out any labels and to remove the term ‘PLUS SIZE’ is nothing that I can support. Their idea is similar to the proposition of the #DROPTHEPLUS campaign.
Last year in February the hashtag #DROPTHEPLUS was all over the news after ‘PLUS SIZE’ model Stefania Ferrario, shared a picture of herself where she refers to herself only as a ‘model’:
She created then the page named #DROPTHEPLUS and added this information about what it’s all about:
“The media regularly publishes photos of models and emphasises that they are “plus sized models”. Why are they not referred to simply as “models”?“Plus” implies bigger than “normal”. Any model above US size 4 is considered a “plus sized” model. The average American woman is US size 14. Mixed with all the other body image pressures facing women, the implication that most women are “plus sized”, not “normal” is very dangerous to women and society. The origins of the term “plus size” hints at its outdatedness. It arose in the 1920s to describe the clothes that did not meet the decade’s notorious, slender body ideals. It’s a great step forward that models in the current “plus sized” category are now being used by major fashion labels, but it’s a step backwards to have them constantly referred to as “plus sized”. When the major labels first started using these models, perhaps the “plus sized” term played a positive role in alerting the public to this important change. But it’s now time for complete acceptance, it’s time to drop the label. They’re all “models”, no matter what shape or size. The fashion industry is one of the world’s most influential industries on women. To be labelling a size range “plus”, that actually encompasses the majority of women in the world, is not only harmful, it’s absurd! If something in an industry is causing damage to people, then it needs to be reformed. #droptheplus is a part of a much bigger movement to reform the hyper-influential fashion industry. Italy, Spain and Israel adopted laws in 2013 to prevent the industry from using models with an excessively low Body Mass Index (BMI) and France is currently in the process of bringing in the same laws. Things are beginning to change for the better.”
After this photo was released, a heated online discussion erupted. Suddenly, everyone wanted the term ‘PLUS SIZE’ to be removed. I can understand why they said it, but it was almost getting too much for me. I prepared a post about it for Style & Curve, but then I didn’t publish it because there was too much of a fiery discussion about this topic. I felt that I should rather stay quiet, before I say something wrong. However, people discussed about replacing ‘PLUS SIZE’ with the term ‘CURVY’, in which I didn’t mind this being used. In my view, ‘CURVY’ is more unifying. I already used curvy regularly and I still kept using ‘PLUS SIZE’, but the discussion began to cool down. Only until Ashley Graham said it on the Ellen Show that she doesn’t like the term ‘PLUS SIZE’ on February 24, 2016. See the video below:
Watching this video, I thought to myself: “Ashley, why are you proud to be the first ‘PLUS SIZE’ model featured in SI, but still not happy with the term ‘PLUS SIZE’ in general?” And many other people had the same thoughts as me, and here comes their reaction.
Madeline Figero-Jones & Ashley Graham during the Fashion Night Out by Lane Bryant n September 6th, 2016. Photo by dezignintervention.blog.com
Madeline Figueroa Jones the editor-in-chief of PLUS Model Mag shared the picture of Ashley from the Cosmopolitan shooting a few days ago and said this about the quote: ‘Wow Ashley Graham really? This is a big generalization. Maybe it’s not to your liking but many of us embrace the term plus-size. This is not how we fix the situation; this is how we add fuel to there. smh!!!!’– and here is another one of her comments: ‘We can agree to disagree. The fact is that the term PLUS SIZE is a fashion industry term. When there were no bloggers, magazines and limited clothing companies to offer us clothing WE (the plus size women) used our voice to demand for more. The reason why the industry is where it is, is because we found our pride and created our OWN fashion week Full Figured Fashion Week ™ (New York, Los Angeles and Canada) , our own magazines and get inspiration from plus size bloggers. We adopted this label because we were invisible in the fashion industry. Many of us embrace it and wear it as a badge of honour because we have come from the darkness and are being seen.’
Furthermore, blogger Phat Girl Fresh had to say this about the article quote: ‘I am totally against dropping the plus. To me dropping the plus is an indicator that there is something wrong with the term and that is far from the truth. Yes, we are all women and that is the most important thing however, we are different and we belong to different communities and those communities need to be acknowledged for several reasons. One being that it connects us to one another and that is a vital part of our growth. Another reason is that allows us to be empowered and empower one another. Curvy, thick, sexylicious and whatever else you want to call yourself should be housed under the community you belong to. Every plus size woman is not curvy, there is a difference between thick and fat. I really think that statement like this set us back a bit because it divides the community and takes our attention away from more important topics. I also think that it disconnects you from people who look up to you and support you brand. Just my 2 cent (more like a dollar).’
Pin-Up Model Bianca Bombshell wrote this: ‘.I think there is just an association to the word Plus Size and Fat, and Fat is such a taboo word…that it is almost like some girls are ashamed to be in that category. I think that if you can be proud to say…sure, yeah…I am Plus Size (according to the current standard) and being able to own that label….will help people stop labelling people… we have to own it, be proud of it.’
Jamal Milligan from Jersey City, New Jersey said this: ‘Here’s how I truly feel about it. Maybe I’m a guy and I have no absolute clue on how fashion industries or society work. The term “Plus Size” isn’t a label at all. It’s what is part of us. People, mainly women, been breaking glass cielings for decades, of trying to show that bigger sizes are beautiful, especially when we live in a world that has alot of history and present of discrimination, by gender, sexual orientation, skin color, religion and even size. None of these type of discriminations are exactly the same thing, however, there are so much suffering to breakthroughs that makes have the types of appearances, lifestyles so powerful. What Ashley or Raven Symone said about being “not labeled” is just ignorant and disrespectful to those who fought for them and gave them opportunity to be successful because of them breaking glass cielings of their appearances that they are discriminated for.’
A plus model also responded saying: ‘Well that was a huge slap in the face!! The PLUS SIZE industry has helped shape her career and has provided her with yearssss of support. A shame. Smh’
I can understand that #DROPTHEPLUS movement doesn’t want ‘PLUS SIZE’ to be excluded. I want that too. So, just dropping the ‘PLUS SIZE’ and being left with the problem on how to name all the different sizes is not the solution. I don’t see why Ashley also wants to get rid of the term ‘PLUS SIZE’. She started as a ‘PLUS SIZE’ model and she gets booked as a ‘PLUS SIZE’ model. For the ‘PLUS SIZE’ community her comments feel like a slap in the face, equally for me. The more I hear her saying the same things on and on again, the more I feel insulted. It seems so wrong to hear her saying these words, after she was the lead model in the #PLUSISEQUAL commercial and after being praised for her wonderful achievements as a ‘PLUS SIZE’ model. Therefore, I can totally understand the concerns of the ‘PLUS SIZE’ community regarding #DROPTHEPLUS movement including why they want to #KEEPTHEPLUS. As Madeline said, when no one wanted to promote ‘PLUS SIZE’ fashion the community created their own events. And those events are still very relevant. That’s why we need to #KEEPTHEPLUS alive.
My Solution Proposal
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. ~ Wayne Dyer
What we have going on in the USA is mainly a split between two branches of a movement in two different ways. With Ashley Graham achieving all those amazing things that seemed impossible for ‘PLUS SIZE’ models in the past, now looks as if the movement has reached it’s peak (P.S. It’s only the start and hasn’t reached it’s peak). On one side are the successful models who suddenly don’t want to be labelled ‘PLUS SIZE’ anymore. And on the other side we have the passionate followers, supporters and the creators of the ‘PLUS SIZE’ movement. So let’s face it, the models didn’t make the movement. It started with women like Gwen DeVoe (creator of the #fffweek) and Madeline Figueroa Jones (creator of #PlusModelMag). They are the creators of the ideas that got us into this big international movement.
Gwen DeVoe (left) and Madeline Figueroa Jones (right)
Moreover, how can we still manage to overcome the segregation from the straight size fashion? Maybe I’m being too positive right now, but how about asking to #ADDTHEPLUS or #INCLUDETHEPLUS? I don’t see any reason to remove a word that has a positive meaning for so many women out there. Why do we need to ask for a change by pushing people away from us? Why can’t we try to unite the different fashion industry sections instead of laying bricks? Is that so difficult? We should suggest a peaceful transition instead of demanding constantly something that will be negative for all of us. The bigger the ‘PLUS SIZE’ events become, the more the straight size fashion section will be happy to work with ‘PLUS SIZE’ brands. The better the ‘PLUS SIZE’ models become, the more models achieve what Ashley did and she has no monopole in this. Our enemies are not the straight size brands; our enemies are not the thin models. The one who wants to exclude is the media. If you look at the audience during a big fashion week event, most people are average size and some are even ‘PLUS SIZE’. They are there because they love what we love: fashion. Sure you have to accept that the designers use mainly straight size models, but my plan in the future is to get them to also use ‘PLUS SIZE’ models. You think that is impossible? It is not if we correct the stigma of the label ‘PLUS SIZE’. ‘PLUS SIZE’ doesn’t mean automatically fat and lazy. Many ‘PLUS SIZE’ women are very active and eat healthier than thinner women. And why is that? Because ‘PLUS SIZE’ women are the ones who have the constant pressure to lose weight. We are getting this told by the media, by our family, by our friends and mostly by our doctors if we go to them. But the truth is, we are all active. Many of us know all the details about diets and some of us are well informed. What hasn’t been widely addressed is that we might have sicknesses that make it harder for us to lose the weight. We all have the right to exist in the way we want to, as long as we hurt no one. So, I can understand why some are #PROUDTOBEPLUS. I can also understand if some models don’t like to be labelled, but I cannot respect an agenda that is going to destroy my beloved ‘PLUS SIZE’ movement. To me all human beings are created equal. I want unity and not segregation!