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
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Method Man Shares What He Considers The ‘Sexiest Thing’ While Discussing His Sex Symbol Status And Self-Love
Veteran rapper and actor Clifford "Method Man" Smith Jr. is shedding light on the experience of being a sex symbol, what he finds genuinely captivating about people, and the significance of self-love.
The 52-year-old's journey to fame began in the 1990s when he joined the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan alongside RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. Despite the group releasing their highly acclaimed debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, Smith continued to achieve
success after going solo the following year to focus on other musical and acting endeavors.
To date, Smith has starred in various series and films, his most popular being Starz's Power Book II: Ghost. In addition to acting, the father of three dropped seven solo studio albums and has professionally collaborated with the Wu-Tang Clan members on numerous projects over the years.
Throughout his thirty-year career, Smith has always generated attention from fans because of his talent. But in recent years, with Smith taking care of his health and maintaining his physical appearance by regularly going to the gym, he has attracted a new set of admirers.
On the cover story of Men's Health magazine, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop, Smith shares why he doesn't consider himself to be a sex symbol, what he finds sexy about people and aging, and why he feels self-love is a fundamental part of living a happy life.
Method Man On Being A Sex Symbol And What He Considers The Sexiest Thing
In the August interview, the Soul Plane star revealed that he doesn't take the sex symbol label too seriously because he is not doing anything out of the ordinary to have earned that title.
"I'm not a sex symbol. That's the whole f--king point, man," he told the publication. "Put the words together. Sex and symbol. What's the symbol? I'm not doing anything. So what's the symbol?"
Further into the interview, Smith explained that although he doesn't consider himself a sex symbol, he does enjoy the attention he has received lately. Even with the newfound recognition, Smith added that what he generally finds sexy is someone authentically being themselves and not caring about what other people may think.
"I'm not going to lie, I love every freaking minute of it, but I don't want to be that guy that, when the clock starts winding down, he's still trying to be that sexy," he said while mentioning how Smokey Robinson's appeal has span decades with the singer becoming more comfortable with himself as he aged.
"I mean, Smokey Robinson is always going to be sexy to somebody. I'm not using him as an example; I'm just saying that with where Smokey is right now if Smokey was still at the same time he was back then, it would look ridiculous. And Smokey knew he was a sexy motherfucker. You get to a certain age where you just stop caring, and I think that's the sexiest thing in the world right there."
Method Man On Self-Love
Also, in the interview, Smith opened up about the steps he took to become his own "biggest fan" rather than his worst critic, something he claims all boiled down to self-love.
"Self-love, it's simple as that. Looking yourself in the mirror and honestly saying that you love yourself,” he stated. "But it's one thing to say and then another to go and do it. Show that you love yourself. That's all I've been doing. What people see now is just happiness."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for the Critics Choice Association