The evening chill had settled in, and the glow of lights lit up the fields. Bob Marley was crooning over the speakers while the sweat of a cold beer trickled down my glass, wetting my hand.
I looked around at the glow of the setting sun, listening to the excited chatter of the crew with whom I had just spent the last five days shooting a national TV commercial.
Silently I muttered to myself with a squeal of excitement and gratefulness, “Thank you, God.”
While I’m not wildly religious, how could I not thank the universe for bringing into existence a life that has afforded me the opportunity to travel and see places I had never seen before?
The location was absolutely beautiful…
How could I not thank the universe for yanking me from a “day job” that sucked me into the fear of ever venturing out on my own?
When did these beautiful fields and fun locations become my “office”?
I sipped my beer, enjoying the pizza, and watched the laughing faces around me rewarding themselves for a job well done, celebrating the success of shooting an amazing commercial that’s going to be airing this fall.
Earlier in the week I had been comparing myself to the other two models, apprehensive that I was a third wheel that didn’t really belong.
After all, they were tall and thin. And I, dear readers, am tall but curvy with a mom-gut.
They had straight hair. And I, curly hair.
Their pictures graced the pages of the catalog, and mine had barely graced the bottom of their promotional emails.
Their smiling pretty faces hung in the store, inviting customers to be beautiful, strong, and confident. And my pictures were likely stashed in a “Can’t Use These” folder on someone’s over-crowded external hard drive.
I didn’t want to feel like an insecure teenager, but I couldn’t help but feel like the new kid on the block that had to prove herself worthy of being included with the in-crowd.
We were all three model winners, yet they’d come so far and were clearly photogenic favorites. (And rightly so. Their pictures were amazing!).
But during that week, as we dined together, laughed together, joked about taking care of our “lady business,” shared our families, our thoughts, and our opinions on hot topics in current events….it became clear on why we were all there.
We were there because we were beautiful, yes, but because we are bad-asses. We’re strong women, physically and mentally, in careers that are both physically and mentally demanding. We’re building things, creating things, digging up things, working in fields, yet still feminine and soft and pretty. We’re not afraid to work hard and look good while doing it.
We’re women that go for seconds, who say “yes” to junk food, who love a good beer.
We’re not fussy and pretentious.
We’re tomboys at heart who know how to pull our weight, yet are beautiful, inside and out.
And I, too, am one of them.
Photo courtesy of David Nevala
It didn’t matter that they’re hanging in stores and I’m not.
It no longer mattered that I haven’t yet been in the catalog. (They earned it, after all).
What mattered is that I was there.
I was included. I was asked.
Someone saw value and potential in me and this blog and what I could bring to the image of being a strong woman.
Yes—beauty is a woman, tall and thin, with pretty side braids and tendrils framing her face as she sweats it out in the field.
But a beautiful woman also has a mop of curls, a curvy ass, and a power tool and paint brush in her hand. (She may even have a mom-gut from birthing a litter of kids. HA!)
So I let go of my insecurities this week in trying to find where I belonged and determined that I was now creating a new standard of what strong and beautiful is for a brand that is just beginning to show that side of other types of women.
And as I boarded the plane to head back to Maryland, thoughts of their compliments drift through my mind (“You’re a natural on camera”….”You take direction in front of the camera so well”…”The camera loves you!”) and I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to be such a trailblazer.
Photo courtesy of David Nevala
Yes, this is my life now.
This is what I’m meant to be doing.
There’s no turning back now.
Updated: October 2016
Here’s the Commercial!
So excited that this commercial has aired on MSNBC during the 2016 election, OWN Network, Lifetime, and many more!