Every day of high school I weighted 246 lbs & today I weigh exactly the same. When I look at these pictures I can’t help but notice that there is a remarkable difference between these two versions of me. It is as noticeable, to me anyway, as the difference in the colors of my hair. Want to know what the difference is? C-o-n-f-i-d-e-n-c-e. Confidence in knowing who I am. Confidence in my abilities as a woman. Confidence in knowing that I am beautiful by MY standards not someone else’s.

I won’t lie it took me a long time to get here. I spent more decades than a woman should being bullied by body shamers. I also shamed myself for being what my genetics predetermined that I would be; a super tall, super curvy woman. In the process of all this shaming I continued to give away or kill little bits of myself because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. By the time I was 24 years old I was a mere shell of a woman with no self-esteem and no self-worth. I could barely look in the mirror without cringing. I was quick to believe the negative things people said about me and I doubted the positive things people said about me. I shake my head just thinking about it.

Throughout our childhoods we are given a script that is programmed into our psyche. As we grow up this script is on a constant loop in our brains telling us the code by which we are supposed to live and how we are supposed to feel.

For too many of us our script included the belief that we are not pretty enough, we are not smart enough, or we just aren’t enough in general. It’s those words that we hear in our heads every time we look in the mirror.

I thought it was just me…and then I opened Botticelli, a boutique for plus size women. It became very clear to me that my true calling was to help women rewrite their script….and in the process I rewrote my own.

How did I get from there to here? It wasn’t easy. I did it in a time before the words like “body positive” were ever uttered. Like a super strict diet I cut out all negativity. That’s right, all the cancerous words & caustic people that slowly killed my self-esteem were kicked to the curb like a bad habit, because they were in fact no more than that… a habit. I then piled on huge portions of wonderful words like strong, curvy & love. Like most diets I have my share of bad days & can binge on self-doubts like a kid at an all you can eat chocolate buffet, BUT so long as I get up the next morning with renewed determination to stay on plan I know I’ll be ok.

Today I encourage you all to look in the mirror and find the good in yourself. I ask that you find a portion of your body you are unhappy with & say three nice things about it.

It sounds crazy but it WORKS. “My breasts have provided thousands of meals for babies.”, “My thighs are strong.”, “My laugh lines are from a lifetime of laughter.”, “My stretch marks are from growing people.” Find a few kind words for yourself today & every day. If you give yourself a steady diet of sleep and a healthy dose of self-praise long enough, you too will be in this awesome place.

A very long time ago someone said these words to my mother about something TOTALLY unrelated to this subject, HOWEVER, today I reflect on these words and understand the meaning now more than ever, “If this child ends up with hang-ups it’s because you gave them to her.” Don’t continue the cycle. Go find your confidence, ladies

Janet Tanury has worked in the fashion industry for over thirty years. Her experience in the early years in NYC as a sales person in women’s fashion showrooms and later as a visual merchandiser demonstrated to her that there was a gap in the fashion industry where plus size women were concerned. In 2003 her experience and aspirations for size equality in the fashion industry led her to create New England’s only plus size exclusive boutique, Botticelli Generous Clothing for the Curvaceous Woman. Botticelli is an award-winning plus sized specialty store located in the heart of New England offering affordable fashions both casual and formal. Botticelli’s service and fashions have earned many awards, local and national, and has become a destination location for plus size women across the country and internationally. Janet is the President of Botticelli and a leader of body image positivity in her community. You can connect with Janet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Image courtesy of Alina Miroshnichenko.