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
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Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with a young woman about how hard of a time she was having with letting an ex go (check out “6 Reasons Why You STILL Can't Over Your Ex”). There was something, in particular, she said that I specifically took note of (it’s also what inspired me to pitch and write this piece): “I don’t know why it’s so hard to get over him. No other man has been this much of a struggle.”
When I asked her if she had slept with any other guys before and she said one, only a couple of times, and that the sex was “meh” at best, and then I asked her if she and the guy who she was still pining over had been sexually active and she replied with, “He’s the first guy to give me an orgasm from intercourse.” I simply replied, “Hmm…and you’ve never connected those dots before?” Right then, she did.
I’ve been there — believe you me. Back in the day, I had a Gemini-to-Gemini connection that was pretty hard to shake (off) for years. In fact, when I went on my “get your heart pieces back” tour (you can read more about that here), wow, eight years ago, he and I spent hours reminiscing about it (he even called me his “crack”). Yeah, it really is wild (and a bit contradictory) how the current state of our culture tries to act like sex is “no big deal” (uh-huh, if you say so) while simultaneously chasing the highs that the act provides on a constant and almost relentless (and sometimes quite reckless) basis.
So, let’s get into it. Being that easily half of my clients (and yes, most of them are married) still have someone in their past that they can’t seem to fully get out of their system as far as sexual intimacy goes, let’s explore some pretty relevant — and hopefully helpful — reasons why it can be really difficult to get over certain folks…no matter how hard you/we try.
Let’s begin with the largest sex organ that all of us have: our brain. Although I will definitely be adding my two cents (meaning, personal opinion) to this piece, I do think that it’s important to also tackle sex from a scientific perspective too. That’s because, yes, there is hard data to back up why sex tends to have such a hold on us. As far as your mental state goes:
When a man ejaculates, the brain receives more blood flow, specifically the cerebellum, which is the part of your brain that processes a lot of your emotions. Some say that the release that comes from a “completed” sexual experience is as potent as a heroin rush.
One study says that sex and music (check out “Before You Pull Out Your Playlist, This Is How Music Affects Your Sex Life”) affect the brain in similar ways in the sense that they are both able to put you into a trance-like state (interesting, right?).
I have said many times over the years that oxytocin gets more and more underrated, even though it is literally referred to as being “the love hormone” — bottom line, it is a naturally produced hormone that causes you to bond with people you sleep with. Dopamine is another hormone that makes you feel really good during coitus.
Penetrative sex is also prone to lower stress and anxiety levels which means that intercourse can reduce your chances of experiencing stress-related illnesses like depression, heart disease, colds, cancer, and even HIV/AIDS. Also, the less stressed out you are, the more productive you will be.
Orgasms are also able to light up certain parts of the female brain; one part that it does this to is the thalamus; one article said this about it: “The thalamus helps us process information associated with movement, touch, and the recall of any sexual memories that might arise.”
SEX’S MENTAL BREAKDOWN:
Although all of these points can easily be their own article, let’s hone in on three main things here: when it comes to the man who you just can’t seem to shake — was the sex unprotected, were you listening to music while doing it (at least most of the time) and do sex-related memories tend to come up more than any other ones whenever you think about him?
A few years ago, Marriage.com published an article entitled, “Top 7 Reasons Why Kissing Is Super Important in a Relationship.” Guess what the top reason was? It literally said that kissing “builds emotional intimacy.” Because oxytocin levels increase while kissing, that is a big part of the reason why. Keeping this in mind, think about how a lot of people even process kissing when it comes to relationships.
Shoot, I can’t tell you how many men have said to me that deep kissing is only something they do if they really care about someone — whether sex is transpiring or not. So, if someone’s tongue in your mouth can be considered emotionally intimate, how much more is their penis in your vagina? Let’s just be real for a moment.
And don’t even get me started on the hormone known as kisspeptin. Very long story short, kisspeptin and your endocrine system work together to cultivate an emotional link during the act of sex. This is a part of the reason why some people can have a one-night stand with someone else and declare the next morning that they’ve met “the one” without even knowing their middle name (hey, John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen have both been open about them having sex on their first date) — the combination of the physical pleasure mixed in with the emotional “hit” from the hormones can be quite powerful.
Then there’s something else to consider. In my case, the Gemini who I mentioned earlier? He came into my life right when I lost my late fiancé. Gemini was sweet, attentive, and proactively thoughtful. So yes, I felt safe with him, and when I added that to the natural physical attraction and then some really good sex? Yeah…it was quite the bond, especially since the sentiment was mutual, and most of us know that finding someone who is as into you as you are into them, on a myriad of different levels, at the same time is pretty rare.
SEX’S EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN:
No matter what society says, science says that sex is designed to be somewhat of an emotional experience. So, if you’ve had sex with someone to who you were already emotionally attached, that can create an even tighter emotional bond when it comes to being open with them, trusting them (more), and feeling confident enough to share even more of you — both in and out of the bedroom.
There is nothing like naturally being sexually in sync — and a big part of what makes that happen is sexual compatibility (check out “What Exactly Does It Mean To Be Sexually Compatible?”). You know, back in 2011, NPR published a feature entitled “Lazy In America: An Incomplete Social History.” It stated that, as a nation, we are continuing to work less and “goof off” more.
Another study revealed that 50 percent of college students and 20 percent of the American population, in general, consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators (which is oftentimes a form of laziness). And yet another study shared that, thanks (or perhaps maybe “no thanks” in this instance) to technology, 41 percent of people are more impatient than ever; that far too many of us are consumed with instant gratification.
My point? Don’t get me started on how many of my clients want to call it quits, not due to anything like abuse or infidelity; it’s simply because they don’t want to work at anything. And you know what? People can be the same way on the sexual tip. I have heard countless stories of individuals who had a great connection with someone and yet ended things, all because their first time having sex with them didn’t — pardon the pun — rise to the occasion; some didn’t even give that person a second chance to redeem themselves.
And y’all can’t tell me that laziness and instant gratification didn’t play a role for many of those individuals. Even when it comes to sex, a lot of people don’t want to try and make things better (or customize sex with someone to their personal liking). I think it’s important for all of this to go on record because sexual compatibility isn’t just about if he turned you out on the first round.
It’s about if you have similar drives, similar desires, and similar needs. It’s about, even if you didn’t “see the mountain” the first few tries, there is still something incomparable between the two of you and how sex makes you feel when the two of you are together that you know that, eventually, the fireworks will come.
One of my past partners? He still goes down as being super memorable — not because I felt the earth shake all of the time; it was because 1) I really liked his body, 2) his kisses were extraordinary, 3) our bodies fit really well together, 4) he was the perfect size (to/for me), and 5) I always felt very desired and secure in his presence. Even though the emotional and spiritual elements were nothing to write home about, the physical component was top-notch.
Then there’s another side to sexual physicality. My second sex partner was the first guy to ever go down on me. Although sex itself was just alright (in comparison to others), of course, he stays forever on my mind in this lane because of what he did — and how, when, and where he did it. It should go without saying that the physical side of sex can make its own imprint too.
SEX’S PHYSICAL BREAKDOWN:
If there’s a “him” that’s hard to get off of your mind, how much does sexual compatibility play a role in it all? Was there a powerful physical attraction? Did it seem like the two of you were always on the same page sexually? Did sexual pleasure require very little effort most, if not all, of the time? Maybe he gave you your first orgasm, taught you something that you didn’t know before, or experienced something with you that was truly unforgettable. All of these things are valid. VERY.
Personally, I will forever die on the hill that the West (side of the world) makes it its mission to pervert whatever the East does. Don’t believe me? Although Christianity (Bible), Judaism (Torah), and the Muslim faith (Quran) are all different religions, one thing that they have in common is the fact that their holy books are eastern-cultured — and yes, things are done very differently over there. Also yes? This side of the ocean finds every way to manipulate all three books to justify…all kinds of stuff.
Let me stay focused, though. The reason why I’m even bringing this up is that all three holy books basically see sex in the same way: it’s a profoundly sacred act that’s meant for two people who are in a long-term covenant. Why? This Scripture expresses their line of thinking pretty well right here:
“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’ Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’ There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” — I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message)
Although all of this is more than a mouthful, the part that I want you to hone in on the most is the first three sentences: sex is not just physical, there are spiritual mysteries that happen during sex, and sex has the ability to make two people one. Okay, so what is a “spiritual mystery”? Let’s break down both words and see.
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?”. One of the things that I touched on is even evil is spiritual, so to merely say that “you aren’t religious, you are spiritual”, that probably needs more clarifying because, again, “spiritual” doesn’t automatically mean good. At the end of the day, spirituality is about doing things that pertain to your spirit or soul (check out “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul”) — good or bad.
A mystery is defined as being “anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown” and “any affair, thing, or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation.”
So, if we put all of this together, according to Scripture, sex is something that definitely affects your spirit and soul, oftentimes in ways that are hard to understand. Not only that, but sometimes through sex, mysteries can be revealed.
My takeaway? No matter how much people might want to act like sex is just a surface layer event, a part of the reason why the act can have a profound effect on them, even years later, is partly because it has influenced and impacted their spirit and soul in ways that are literally a mystery to them.
And if you factor in all of the other ways that sex can affect you, no wonder why not being able to get over certain people due to how they “touched your spirit” is so baffling, confusing, or mind-blowing. Yeah, sex is nothing to play with, y’all. It really isn’t.
SEX’S SPIRITUAL BREAKDOWN:
Has someone seemed to get to you in a way that you almost can’t seem to find the words for? Has the experience with them totally changed your psyche or your approach to life? Chances are, you had some sort of a deep spiritual experience — again, good or bad.
Y’all ready to get “ouch-ed out” a bit? Have you ever stopped to ponder the fact that while so many people claim that casual sex isn’t a big deal, body counts don’t matter, and waiting to have sex with people we are in some sort of serious relationship with, at the same time, the moment that someone cheats on them, they are on the verge of a nervous breakdown? How could that be if the act of sex is…no biggie? Hmm.
So, either it IS a big deal, and they’re lying to themselves to deflect from their actions, or their ego got bruised when they found out that their partner chose to be with someone other than them — or it’s both. Yeah, I personally don’t get how someone putting a part of their body into yours or even doing an act that could potentially result in another person ending up on the planet isn’t a monumental event, yet my (main) point here is that sometimes we can’t get past certain people and it’s all because of the kind of relationship that we had with them on top of the sex that transpired.
Someone in my world is back dealing with an ex as we speak. And although she has been quick to admit that he was her best ever, what got her to “recycle” him, all these years later is that they both had some unresolved relational issues. On one hand, it has made “reunited sex” that much more intense yet, because she’s finally getting some of the answers that she’s been looking for (and they haven’t really been the best ones), the fire (i.e., longing and curiosity) that had been dormant all of these years is finally burning out. In other words, some loose ends had her holding onto the feelings of the sex.
Now, the sex isn’t wanted — or even esteemed — like it used to be (funny how that works).
SEX’S RELATIONAL BREAKDOWN:
The lesson here? If there’s someone you can’t get over sexually — are you sure that it’s actually about the sex? Is it more about grieving (or perhaps even still wanting) the relationship? Is it about romanticizing the sex due to the bond that you once shared? Is it about holding onto the sex because you haven’t been able to get the answers and/or closure that you desire or seek (y’all be careful with that so-called closure sex, ya here?
Sometimes it’s more like a spider web than anything else)? Thinking that your relationship and the sex that you had with the person you were in the relationship with are one and the same (they aren’t) can be another reason why it can be hard to finally and completely let someone go.
Oh, I already know. A lot was certainly said here, yet a lot needed to be because, when it comes to sex and trying to get over certain people who you had sex with, there are many layers to unpack and process.
The good news is, now that some layers have been presented to you — perhaps in a way that you’ve never thought about before — you can break things down into categories in order to get some revelations and, hopefully, some clarity and finality.
Did I about my (well, the) Gemini? I did. He’s still fine. And although he comes to my mind less and less, when he does, I must admit that a tingly sensation comes over me from time to time. Yet in this season of our lives, it would never work (I wrote and said that to him during my tour). I know that I am over him because I am happy that he’s happy, I know that there is nothing else to talk about, and I actually feel like our time together was a billion years ago — almost as if it were an erotic dream — than anything that could realistically be now.
Plus, I sense that I could actually “top us” at some point — and I’m up to the challenge. #wink
And sis, guess what? With the help of reading this article one more time (maybe three) and doing some sex journaling, I’m confident that you can get past your “can’t get over” too.
Sex is powerful. You are more powerful. If you want to move past him and it…all things are possible. I am living proof. Hallelujah!
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