One question I get asked a lot is “how did I become so confident?”. Was I always like this? Was there a turning point in my teen years or some great advice from an older model that made me how I am today? The truth is, stomach it was those who constantly bullied me for how I looked when I was 11 who truly moulded me into the confident person I am today and here’s how.
I am still riding the high of walking the Victoria’s Secret Show for the second time in Paris, an experience I will cherish forever, but it also made me reflect on a time when I wished for nothing but to be much curvier like my friends in order to be accepted. When I was younger I was the awkwardly tall, kid who did everything from tap and ballet dancing to football and was very outgoing, but when I started secondary school I became the target of bullies who would shout how “anorexic” and “nasty” my body looked. Now I wasn’t one to cry over these insults but I always remember the anxiety I would feel when the girls, some two years above me, would come over to me and intimidate me with their venomous words. Looking back now, I know they were just projecting their own insecurities and unhappiness with themselves on to me but at the time I just couldn’t understand why they chose me.
After a few months of this, something clicked- all they had were these words. They weren’t physically harming me, they couldn’t touch me and after hearing the same phrases day after day I just switched off. I would stop explaining myself to them, stop saying “no I’m not anorexic, I’m just slim”, I just stopped reacting to them- You do not have to take on the negativity that is being projected on to you. After this point I was a lot happier at school and shortly after that I got signed with my mother agency in London. I was so apprehensive I didn’t tell anyone for nearly six months but after my best friend leaked the news when I finally told her and showed her some pictures, those bullies changed their tune. All of a sudden I was beautiful and they could tell I was meant to be a model; it was almost like becoming a model gave me some kind of validation, something that I no longer wanted or needed from them.
Now I’m back in New York having walked the Victoria’s Secret show for the second time and got my wings and where are they? Somewhere sitting on Facebook trying to message me congratulations like we were ever friends- tunes change, but memories do not! If you have or are being bullied right now or picked on for something that you can’t change, remember that anyone who has time to try and make someone feel negatively about your appearance, or anything come to think of it, has some kind of unhappiness within themselves. Do not let someone elses negative mindset become your own. These bullies helped mould me to become who I am today because it was them who forced me to decide whether or not to let negativity rule my life and how I viewed myself and you can do the same.
Written by Leomie Anderson
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