PLUS MODEL MAGAZINE April 2016 Issue - Page 84

the 70’s boho vibe because it totally fits with my free-spirited personality. Also, I think the 90’s trend is amazing! I’m old enough to actually indulge in the oversized denim, crop tops, baseball caps and chokers. PMM: Having confidence is so important, especially to young girls living in a society that reveres unrealistic beauty standards. Was body confidence something celebrated as you grew up or did you come to embrace your body as an adult? Melanie: I definitely had to learn to accept my body and treat it well. I’m still learning! I struggled with weight throughout middle school and high school. I was always told that I “have a pretty face”, which pushed me to resent my size-16 body. I’m so grateful for my mom and sister for encouraging me and telling me I was beautiful at any size and that weight didn’t matter, health does. My parents and family definitely helped to build my confidence; also expressing myself through the performing arts (acting) and fashion helped. It wasn’t until college where I really started working on a plan to get to a healthy weight while maintaining my curves. I adjusted my lifestyle and went from a size 14 to a size 12 and focused on gradually moving towards a more holistic and active lifestyle. That, along with going natural in 2011, helped boost my confidence and my self-love even more. It’s still a work in progress to stay confident in a filter/photoshop, “slim thick” and “not too Black” obsessed world. But I focus on embracing ALL of me, and being gentler with myself instead of being hypercritical. No one is perfect but how YOU see yourself and how you carry your individual beauty is what’s most important. For bookings visit Follow Melanie on Instagram @thesoulasylum