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Breaking The Box

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Written by Bridgett Burrick Brown from BBP

For 23 years, I consciously, deliberately, and sometimes rigorously upheld the image of a model. When I decided to take modeling seriously at nineteen, I had just quit a competitive six-day-a-week dance life - so I was much more athletic than the fashion world wanted me and was told to lose weight immediately. I was also a little shorter than they wanted me, so they told me to lie and say I was an inch taller. - "Everyone lied," they said. I quickly came to understand that this was true. You lied to be taller, to be shorter, to have smaller hips, you claimed to know how to surf even if you had never held a surfboard, and god forbid you tell anyone your actual age past 20! You carried around a bunch of dirty little secrets that deceitfully molded you into what they needed you to be for the booking and prayed that no one would catch on.

After a few years of yo-yo dieting from the mental load of being told to lose all the muscle in my thighs, I finally learned through educating myself how to maintain my model size the "healthy" way. But at the end of the day, I was consistently trying to change parts of me. And because I was already not "perfect" enough because of my height, as soon as I gained a pound, had some period bloat, a pimple… it was a foolproof setup never to be good enough! And if I was never good enough, I was definitely never worthy enough.

Every physical decision I made - the length of my hair, the suntan I got, the color of my nails was dictated by this goal of fitting into the tiny box of perfection. I only bought shoes that made me look a little taller (the wedge sneaker trend was my jam) and clothes that made me look a little skinnier. Everything I did revolved around it --what I did, when I did it, and how I did it.

Since getting pregnant with Scarlett and experiencing significant pregnancies and losses, I lost control of this "perfection." My body is currently still physically going through substantial healing. But the epiphany is that emotionally I am healing from years of trauma—the trauma of not choosing myself but instead choosing to shove myself in a fake box of perfection. These past few years of healing and my work with BBP, I have realized that many of us have profound PTSD around our body image. The foundation of this trauma starts with the beauty ideal society holds us to, but it's heightened from other experiences such as spending years in an industry that told you were worthy only by the size of your hips or complexion of your skin, living in a dance world that asked you to step on a scale before each and every rehearsal, being married to a man who wants real-life barbie on their arm, losing your body to breast cancer, autoimmune diseases or miscarriages. And please don't forget the one that no one woman escapes —aging!

My hope is that we start to authentically embody the truth that our worth has nothing to do with what our bodies look like. What I do know for sure is that for the rest of my years on this earth, I will choose to consciously, deliberately, and sometimes rigorously uphold the intention of self-love and the truth that I am worthy just because I am me.

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