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.
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'."
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.