Why I Hired a Stylist Before My Big Weight Loss

Styled By: ThePradaG+co Styling Firm, Photographed By: Philip Donald

“I love this outfit. Look, I have boobs.” I’m standing on a corner in Downtown Oakland. It’s late August and I’m with the styling crew waiting for the photographer. There’s a joy in my voice — reflective of a woman who’d just been introduced to new version of herself. I couldn’t remember ever feeling as sultry as I did in that moment, especially not after the self-esteem and weight issues I couldn’t seem to shake. I was stepping into a new season.

Last year, I finished grad school. During those three years, I added two degrees to my arsenal and 35 pounds to my frame. When I started thinking about losing that weight, I remembered how irritated and depressed I’d gotten during my last weight loss journey. When I went from 250 to 185, I wasn’t very kind to myself in the process. If I lost one pound, I was upset with myself for not losing three. Bulges I’d never thought about were suddenly magnified in the mirror. A quest for self-improvement made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was so in the habit of criticizing myself, that even when I reached my goal weight, I continued to pick myself apart.

I didn’t want to go back to that dark place, so I told myself I wasn’t concerned about the added pounds. I reasoned that I was fine because I wasn’t at my highest weight.

At the top of 2017, I resolved to lose 35 pounds. Running, an activity I’d picked up a few years earlier in hopes that training for races would keep me active, was becoming harder on my knees. And I felt like I was becoming less dynamic on the dance floor, which, if you know me, ain’t supposed to happen.

I knew I felt better when I was a bit smaller and living a healthier lifestyle. I ate slightly better and registered for a few races. With more greens in my body and medals on my desk, I still didn’t reach the goal. I ended up with a rotation of just a few dresses, the ones I could wear as 12 and keep when I was a size 14, pushing 16. I didn’t buy larger jeans because I promised myself I was going to lose the weight. And because I hate shopping. Yet every time I struggled to put on a pair of jeans in the morning or had to unbutton my pants at the desk, I was furious.

I decided that changing how I felt about my body would require changing up the images I was taking in. So, I took to Instagram and followed a few plus size models and influencers. I’d been rocking with Gabi Fresh for a while, but then I was introduced to the amazingness of Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Philomena Kwao. I was inspired, but still not feeling as fly. A little more confident, but not quite as fierce.

The Prada G’s quarterly Sip’N Style changed that. The fall edition was dedicated to women sizes 14 and up, so I registered for the event. Germanee Gerald, owner and lead stylist, showed up to my house with garment bags full of outfit options based on a survey I’d taken earlier in the week.

On a Saturday morning, I met up with the Sip N’ Style team and a couple of other ladies who were styled by Germanee. We sipped champagne while she shared with us how to dress for our body types. Then, after a quick change, we walked through downtown Oakland for a photoshoot. Do you know how amazing it feels to walk through the streets of Oakland, in a fly ass outfit with Cardi B and Kendrick blasting while two photographers snap away? Surely this must be the rush style influencers with thousands of followers get on the regular.

The styling session and photo shoot were critical moments for me. They serve as a reminder that I don’t have to wait until I got the weight off to feel great about my body. I know it’s the norm for folks to post dumpy “before” pictures and snatched “after” photos, but my current self is just dope as my future self. Knowing that has helped me enjoy my wellness journey more this time around. I’ve been working out with a trainer lately. I get my ass kicked in the gym and then put on outfits that compliment who I am, not clothes that make me long for another version of my body. My focus is on getting stronger and feeling better, not necessarily about being smaller.

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