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.
- Plus-size women share the vicious comments they receive from ... ›
- Essie Golden is Helping Women Celebrate Their Curves | NBC News ›
- Essie Golden (@essiegolden_) | Twitter ›
- First Look: Essie Golden x Rebdolls 2017 Collection ›
- Essie Golden NYC (@essiegolden) • Instagram photos and videos ›
- Essie Golden - ›
New Jersey native creating a life that she loves while living in gratitude. She loves using beauty, and fashion to create a balanced lifestyle while prioritizing wellness. A devoted fur mom, and a full-time lover of laughter. She is out for revenge against the darkness by being light, taking her own advice, traveling the world, and letting you know that you are so lit! Connect with her via IG @iamzaniah and please visit Zaniahsworld.com
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood