I grew up in beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara, California, one mile away from the beach, within walking distance to the Santa Barbara Mission. I could not have asked for a more beautiful place to live. I was popular, I had amazing friends and loved my school. There was only one thing wrong. I didn't love MYSELF! I grew up as the "token" Black girl rocking size 8 jeans among my beautiful blonde and brunette friends who made every effort to let me know that they wore a size 0. 

I always felt like the "big girl" of the group and my self-esteem began to spiral before it even had a chance to start! Dieting was the topic of all of our conversations. Before I knew it, I started to believe that I was fat and ugly. I was barely 14 when I had asked my best friend how she stayed so skinny. She took me into her bathroom and showed me how to make myself throw up! She said that she eats whatever she wants and throws it up afterwards, so that the calories don't stay in her body!

I believed her. For the next year, I tried my hardest to be like my friends . . . skinny. I tried her system of binging and purging, because I wanted so desperately to be a size 0. The harder I tried, the more I felt like a failure. 

I remember getting on the scale and being so excited because I was at an all time low . . . 121 pounds! I thought I looked great! I was jolted quickly back into reality when a someone told me that I would "really" look great, if I lost 10 more pounds! 

Devastation took over and I was no longer the same. I struggled for many years after that moment by comparing myself to other women and longing to look like someone I could never be. 

It wasn't until I turned 30 that I intentionally started the journey of loving myself. Only 4% of women worldwide think they are beautiful according to a study conducted by Dove. Too many women are less than happy with their appearance and spend countless hours comparing themselves to someone they are not supposed to be. 

Seventy-five percent of women look in the mirror and do not like what they see. We are bombarded with images of beautiful women in magazines, on television and in the movies, but we never think about the team of people it took to get them looking that way. 

So today, I want to challenge you to CHOOSE to love yourself from head to toe, regardless of how you feel in your skin right now, and despite the 20 pounds that you have been trying to loose . . . forever. Be intentional! Stop comparing yourself to others. It's time to discover your beauty . . . deep within. Embrace your unique shape, color and size. There is no one in the world that is made like you! You are one of a kind! God spared no expense at creating you just as you are! Celebrate today! You are wonderfully and marvelously made!

Posted on October 21, 2016 .