10 Reasons Why 2016 Was One of The Best Years of My Life

Monday, January 2, 2017

"If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door." -Milton Berle

I have found myself saying a few times in the last couple of weeks that 2016 was one of the best years of my life. If you have been keeping up with me and my journey, you know that I'm not saying that lightly because life has been hella rough for me in the last few years.

Real talk, this was THE year I reclaimed my belief in my greatness and worth. I just had to work through the murkiness of my emotions and push through the grief. Grief is a sneaky thing. It can spread out and seize other parts of your life, if you let it. 

When the year kicked off, I was lost but feeling like I was on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough. Just keeping it real with all of you.

And I was not trying to have a breakdown. Oh no. Life is too valuable and short for all that.

I decided early on this year that I had to create opportunities for myself. I was growing frustrated at the lack of representation of someone who looked like me and I also wanted to be seen in order to gain more opportunities pertinent to my purpose, and that wasn't quite happening as often as I wanted it to. I realized that I had to stop complaining and just focus on creating avenues for myself to be seen as well as pursue opportunities.

Dreams are meant to be chased, not waited for. 

And it worked! I had an amazing year! And 2017 is looking to be good, too.

So here's the top 10 reasons why 2016 was a kick ass year for me and truly changed my life...

#10: Moderating My First Panel

I had the honor of moderating the Owning Your Confidence panel at the Redefining Healthy event, which kicked off Full Figured Fashion Week in June. I was so nervous but I pushed through it and did it! It was an amazing experience and I am ready to moderate (and speak on) many more panels in 2017. Special shout out to Darlene Lebron of Suits, Heels & Curves for the amazing opportunity.

#9: Hosting an event at FFF Week

I have hosted a store event before but this was a huge hosting opportunity since it was an event during Full Figured Fashion Week and it was for one of my favorite brands, Avenue. I was honored they asked me to co-host this blogger event with them. I met some great people and got to know the Avenue team better.

#8: Writing for On The Plus Side

I kicked the year off, writing for a new online community launched by plus e-retailer Making It Big, who has since relaunched with the new name On The Plus Side. I love writing for this site because I write about what I love and push the message of body acceptance and confidence.

Click here to see what I have written for the site this year.

#7: Body Positive Campaigns

I was in two major body positive campaigns, both by indie size inclusive brand SmartGlamour. It was an honor to be a part of both of them but the first campaign #ImFlattered will always be one that's special to me as it was how I kicked off 2016. I had never been in a campaign nor in a photo shoot before. I was awkward and nervous. But the feeling of acceptance and women supporting each other really set the tone for me for the rest of 2016. And oh yeah, this campaign went viral and my face was seen on Refinery29, Yahoo and other media outlets. Yes!

#6: Revelist video

So when I saw a call on Facebook from Jessica Torres of Revelist, for women who had never worn a two-piece bathing suit before, I think the confidence gods possessed my body and that's what led me to send her a message, volunteering myself for what turned out to be a video, shot at their offices and posted to their I Heart My Body Facebook page. Click here to check it out.

I didn't think I had the guts to do it. I've never been a swimsuit person and I am very self-conscious of my lumpy thighs. But I thought, hell, you only live once and think of all the women you will inspire. 

#5: New York Fashion Week

My lifelong dream has been to go to NY Fashion Week and this year, I was honored to go to my first designer show!!! It was the Christian Siriano show, which was a double win for me since I am a HUGE Project Runway fan. And it just so happened that the show I attended, Siriano included plus models on the runway. It was truly amazing. Special thanks to Lane Bryant for making it possible to attend the show.

Added bonus? A few days later, I got to meet the man at a Lane Bryant store event promoting the launch of his collection for the retailer. Dreams do come true.

#4: Shape.com's #Love My Shape Campaign

Remember how I said above that I wanted to create opportunities for myself in order to be seen more and gain more opportunities? 

Well, imagine my shock when Shape Magazine emailed me back in March, asking ME to be a part of their #LoveMyShape campaign. Yes, me! I was floored. I am not a super athlete but at my size, I am healthy and active. And this was another test of my confidence since it required me to submit an image of me wearing a sports bra that they would provide for me.

I was the only one my size that was included in this campaign and it feels so good to have had that opportunity to offer representation for all women who look like me.

And this opportunity simply came up because the folks at Lane Bryant offered my name up when the Shape Mag folks asked them for some suggestions on who would be a fit for this campaign. It pays to have great relationships and continue to nurture them. You never know what it can lead to.

#3: The Today Show

One day, I was scrolling through my Google Alerts to see what was going on in the world of plus size fashion for potential article stories for work and came across a Craigslist ad (of all things!) which linked to The Today Show website, where they put out a call for plus size women looking for a makeover.

I was in the midst of revamping my style but having challenges because of the lack of fashion available in my size. So I decided to email them and got a callback! It turned out to be a segment that was sponsored by JC Penney where plus size fashion designer Ashley Nell Tipton would make us over in styles from her new collection with JCP.

The segment included myself and another young lady who I have remained friends with to this day. Host Bobbie Thomas was so awesome! It was an amazing day.

#2: Gwynnie Bee

Immediately after I did the #ImFlattered campaign, I landed an awesome opportunity via Gwynnie Bee. They were launching the First Fit Project, where influencers of different shapes and sizes would try on new styles prior to them launching online and provide their reviews. 

Almost a year later, I have to say, this new gig has changed my life. I'm the only one who is a size 26/28, which is major. I have tried on styles I would never have on my own. It has opened my mind to wearing different prints, silhouettes, colors, etc. It helped me rebuild my body acceptance and love for myself. And it has helped me inspire other women in the process. 

More representation means more acceptance and Gwynnie Bee did this for me and countless others. Special shout out to blogger/model Kelly Augustine who spearheaded this project and runs it.

And I am a model. WOW! lol

#1: Style 22+ Lookbook

For a long time, I have had this dream to create a lookbook showcasing women above a size 22, along with positive messages and quotes. And this year, that dream came true. The Style 22+ lookbook launched in mid-November and it has made such an impact to the point where I am working on the next one! You can read more here why this lookbook was necessary and such a personal thing for me.

To sum up my 2016 experience, I offer this quote from Walt Disney:

"All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them."

I can't wait to see what 2017 brings. I am already on board for another fashion campaign for a major plus size retailer that will focus on size diversity AND I am going to start writing for another body positive website. The sky's the limit!


  1. You've had an incredible 2016! I can't thank you enough for including in the 22+ Style Lookbook. I wish you lots of success in 2017!

  2. What an exciting year! And I bet 2017 will be even better!


  3. Hi! Just found out about your blog from Bettye (above) and what a year! Congratulations! It is soooo important to keep showing the world (and the fashion world) that not everyone is a size 2. And what a great message you have to strive in the direction of your own dreams rather than waiting for your turn. We've all learned this year that waiting for your turn doesn't usually work. Here's to a fabulous 2017!