(photos: Jeff Newton Photography; dress: Torrid)

Growing up with a big body and being confident in this society is no easy feat!!!! When I was a jovensita the people in my life always emphasized my beautiful face, but my body was a problem that could stand to shed several pounds. From the time I grew caderas and chichis the Salvadoran side of the family, was very verbal about how terrible my body was. Before greeting me y sin decir “hola!” mi abuelita would give me verbal lashings until I felt like I was nothing.

Even with all the negative feedback I carried myself well. My papi taught me the value of cuidarse uno (taking care of yourself) and making sure that the world always saw you at your best. I have the distinct image seared in my memory of him carefully combing through his bigote and perfuming himself with fine French cologne before leaving the house. This image of my dad is how I learned to perform femininity by cuidando mi aparencia [my White mother is a natural beauty, who is selfless and to my knowledge void of all vanity. She dressed simply and was never really concerned at all with the consumption of fashion and style].

Unlike most of my friends I made it a point never to wear sweat pants or pajamas out in public or to school. I never left the house without my hair and makeup done. Often people would confuse my manicured exterior for confidence. Really I was making myself up for everyone else. I dressed well to be respected, to get recognition from others, and out of fear of being stereotyped as lazy. 

But one fine day I met someone who inspired me to empower myself because he was el primer hombre to say he loved my body and my face. This was a defining moment that led me to re-orient myself and reconsider my self-image. Until then I thought my body was something to be ashamed of and to overcompensate for. I slowly began the process of realizing how sensual my body was. I began to love myself wholly and completely and realized that every curve was something to be celebrated and praised!

I stopped faking confidence and started to feel confident as I embraced just how unique and sexy I am. This process was a long one with baby steps, but I can honestly say over the last decade I have gone from faking the funk to feeling the funk! I do have my down days, like every person, but by and large I feel great about myself. I am constantly asked (mainly by thin women) “how am I so confident”? In other words, women who look like me are not supposed to love themselves. The fact that I am in love with my body is shocking to most people, even large women. Sadly, loving your body in this society is an act of rebellion. It is subversive! I embrace this and with a defiant attitude I aspire to continue being revolutionary in the ways I feel about my body!

Today I still don’t wear sweat pants or leave the house without my hair and makeup done, out of pride mixed in with a splash of vanity, but my attitude has shifted. I don’t dress for others anymore. I dress for myself with the intention of showing off my curves with skin tight fabrics and bright colors que chian! I love that I am different. My body is different and I am not ashamed to show it off. I do not dress for you anymore. I want to force you to look at me. I’m an exhibitionist and I’m proud of my creation!!!!

- La Chica Mas Fina