Creating Confidence Through Fierce Faith

Each year as the weather breaks, women are pressured to get summer bodies.  Existing during the warmer seasons is not enough. The careless judgement of physique is at an all-time high as bikini season arrives. Internet memes of chunky animals and cartoon characters and actual people exist to dismantle the confidence of those whose beauty breaks the mold of society’s standards.  Though these trolls can have ill intentions and it can get discouraging, there are people who recognize the absurdity of fat shaming. 

Hashtags such as #BigThighTwitter and #DontHateTheShake serve as reminders that sexy comes in all sizes.  While body positive hashtags create a place where many seek solace while making a statement, it is not easy for everyone to be comfortable in their own skin. Although the hashtags are celebrated, the rude comments were not absent and the fat shaming is still an everyday occurrence.

I got the opportunity to interview the gorgeous Zuri Johnson, a plus size model, and motivational speaker who is very familiar with the reality of negative comments aimed at plus-size women. Johnson the former reigning Miss Ohio Plus America 2015, has advice for those who may be struggling embracing their bodies. 

Zuri Johnson got into modeling at first for fun. Johnson participated in college fashion shows and as she realized her top model potential, she began to take it seriously. Her first serious pageant, the 2013 Miss Kentucky Plus America Pageant and Fashion show was an eye opener. In this pageant, Johnson looked beyond her insecurities with body image and proceeded to win the crown.  She reigned as  Miss Kentucky Plus America 2014  and the Miss Plus America 2014 first runner-up.

The show opened amazing doors for me! Not only did it cause me to compete the next year and move on as Miss Kentucky Plus America 2014 and the Miss Plus America 2014 first runner-up, but I met a great group of women and a supportive and motivating network. That same year I traveled with other queens to audition and walk in fashion shows in Detroit and Boston.

As Zuri went on to pursue a career and make a name for herself in the industry, she realized the strength of her self confidence grounded in faith.

Getting deeper in the modeling industry has caused a definite stretch in me and my perseverance as well as helped me develop a thick skin when it comes to opinions and image

Zuri Johnson, handles negative comments in numerous ways. When asked how to deal with negative comments, answered the following.

I think negative comments come in two forms for plus size women, you are either considered fat, ugly, lazy, someone that should accept whatever attention they get; or you are overly sexualized and talked down to about your curves, told to hide your body. I’ve learned that a person’s perception is a reflection on what they think about themselves. I can not let anyone have that type of power over me to hurt me because they are hurt. I won’t say I’ve never been hurt, I’ve even experienced comments in the past from family. But I learned that hurt people hurt people, and when someone isn’t confident in their own image they take that out on someone else. I can’t make myself less than to make someone else feel better. But I will tell them how beautiful they are, despite what they may think.

Zuri Johnson has used her platform to not only excel professionally but also to create a space for others. Her organization P31:FIT combines faith, fierceness and fitness.  P31:FIT is "dedicated to the ministry of educating, empowering and supoorting women of God in areas of health and wellness so that we may live the life God purposed us for"  P31:FIT is her God-given vision.  Johnson was able to create P31:FIT during a time of disparity.  

As women we are constantly going through various seasons where we may not know how we are going to make it or what our next steps should be in life but hopefully we find a way to have faith in the transitions.
With my modeling it reminds me of what I have overcome and what I can with stand. I use my modeling to encourage and empower other women to get started on that thing they never thought they could do, and to be encouraged that at the end of the day as long as they have faith in God nothing else is ever as big as Him.

Currently, Zuri not only has P31:FIT but also continues to model, serve as a motivational speaker and more. She uses her talents and gifts to uplift women across the country.  If you are struggling with body confidence, here's some advice from Zuri herself: 

To any ladies out there that are struggling to figure out why you don’t exactly fit anyone else’s ideal, just know your shape, your face, and your personality were given to you for a reason. We were never meant to be a copy of anyone other than Christ. The way you wear your clothes and style your hair is exactly what this world may need from you because no one can do you better than you. WE can be inspired by each other but we should not aspire to BE each other.

Feel free to learn more about both Zuri Johnson and P31:FIT. 

Visit http://www.zurijohnson.net/ for more. 

You can find out more about P31:FIT at www.p31fit.com and www.facebook.com/p31fit

You can also check out my model page on IG- @ZuriAshanti and Facebook – www.facebook.com/FashionMavenZuriJ