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Essie Golden Doesn't Give A Damn If Her Body Makes You Uncomfortable

BOSS UP

Essie Golden may not be the originator of the body positive and plus size inclusivity movement, but she is a prominent pioneer and style inspiration to many in my generation on today's social media platforms, including leading the #GoldenConfidence Movement.


What sets Essie apart from the crowd is her story of how she built her confidence in order to empower.

Rebdolls x Essie Golden Swimwear

This beauty blogger, influencer, designer, and model came from a Florida based childhood that entailed her navigating through the foster care system bringing about many feelings of shame, low self-esteem, and unbelonging. Through this painful experience, her colorful personality emerged making it easy to make friends anywhere she went.

When her forever family finally found her when she was 9, she moved out of her predominately black comfort zone, where she was used to seeing fuller body types, to a predominantly white neighborhood where she finally felt secure in her living situation, yet invisible as a maturing young woman.

www.essiegolden.com

She was popular when it came to academics and sports, but often looked over at social events. Her first major move in adulthood was to a Historically Black College in Florida where for the first time, she was seen noticed and somewhat appreciated for her curvy appearance, "Instantly, I was swarmed with attention I never had before. All of a sudden this body that I thought was like the worst ever, was something that was actually desired."

"On the opposite side, I never had a problem getting attention from men, or whatever else but on the other side of that some other women made me feel ashamed of my body...Like 'you're doing too much'."

www.essiegolden.com

Essie was no stranger to the criticism of her curves. Since she hit puberty early in the 4th grade, she formed a thick skin toward body shaming jokes and even used her charismatic personality as a defense mechanism. But this blow was different because she looked to her college experience as a way to finally be embraced by women who looked like her and was sadly disappointed by their lack of acceptance and body positivity. For the first time, she had to ask herself a heartbreaking question:

"Is my body too much? Is my body making you uncomfortable?"

This caused her to eat a lot more, as she noticed that the more weight she put on, the less attention she received from men and the more relationships she was able to retain with other women.

Essie Golden/Instagram

As her toxic relationship with boyfriend at the time came to an end, she actually stopped caring about her appearance, and found herself feeling bewildered and stuck in a life that she desperately wanted to escape. Surprisingly enough, she was reunited with her biological father that extended an offer to help her move to New York City, where she could finally have a chance to pursue on of her lifelong dreams. "I wanted to move to New York to be a supermodel. I was obsessed with Toccara from America's Next Top Model. I wanted to be her, she was beautiful."

This was probably one of the first times she had the courage to leave behind people, places, and things that no longer served her, and boy, did her world shift! Ironically, after getting settled in her NYC apartment that was actually an illegal makeshift room in a daycare, she slowly but surely became to many what Tocarra was to her: an inspiration.

Osha Waiters

Bustle

At this time, she started her blog inspired by wanting to share her outfit details with other women who often asked, "Girl, where did you get that outfit?"

Since then, Essie has collaborated with household fashion brands like Ashley Stewart, Lane Bryant, Macys, Old Navy, and JCPenney. She is currently branding her own body positive movement #GoldenConfidence, and is planning to launch a body inclusive lingerie line. In a new city, with the support of her existing tribe, she realized that her support system is as essential to her life as her red lipstick.

Essie Golden/Instagram

"A lot of times, you can feel like you are going through all of this alone and you need your tribe so keep those good group of women. It doesn't even have to be a group of 5-10 women, it could be one person, it could be two people, it could be someone you are able to bounce ideas off of, someone you are able to vent to here and there, somebody just to believe in you when you don't believe in yourself...These are amazing and necessary to get out of your own head."

Essie uses the mirror to repeat positive words of affirmation to her reflection every morning such as "I am worthy, I am beautiful," even on the days that she does not feel so pretty. She lists what she is grateful for each morning as she prays. She also believes in the law of attraction and makes it a habit to give thanks for her success even before she has it.

Essie revealed that her own golden confidence is rooted in her ability to be true to herself.

"I am the most confident when I am the most comfortable with myself. Listen to yourself, and don't be so hard yourself. Don't feel like you have to look like somebody else on social media, don't feel like you have to follow every single trend, and don't be afraid to unfollow some of these people who aren't bringing joy to your life. Be kind to yourself, and continue to surround yourself with women who value you, your friendship, [and] who you can bounce positive energy off of."

Essie Golden/Instagram

Those days of wondering if her body makes you feel uncomfortable are long gone, as she prioritizes her comfortability in her own skin over all else. She is well on her way to becoming the superstar that she once felt unworthy of being. Every day, even when she feels like a hot mess, her influence is helping another woman in her own mirror embrace and love what she sees as she works on her self-love and self-care regimen daily. She has become who she needed when she was younger: a loving lioness

Essie, you are golden. Thank you for being brave enough to take risks, to not settle, and to give other women a platform to be praised, loved, and accepted for who they are in all walks of life.

To keep up with Essie, follow her on Instagram, or check out her official website here.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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