Smart Glamour Career Day

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Mallorie Carrington Smart Glamour

I can distinctly remember at age 13, standing in my junior high school’s dance studio when a friend excitedly showed me a photo of us taken the week before in that same studio. In the photo, I'm reaching towards her and my arm could be mistaken for a twig, it is so frail, emaciated and complete with an overextending elbow. To me, the result was frightening and the photo was atrocious. Add this on to being the tallest girl in class (make that person because the boys hadn't hit their growth spurts yet) and you will land at a 13-year-old girl who feels incredibly self conscious.

I spent the next couple years piling on rings and bracelets, trying to add bulk to my arms and hands. Sometimes I wore 10 rings at once. Stacking some, of course, but just trying to cover my boney fingers as much as possible. I always wanted to be bigger, curvier, more woman-like—more real.

Pair these feelings with the specific type of cruelty that goes on between kids at this age and you are left with a dangerous cocktail. Now that I am older, wiser and a body positive clothing designer (who is also curvier than my 12-year-old self), my memories of that frail girl and her self doubt only fuel my fire when it comes to the importance of a healthy body image.

Along with the decision to start my own body positive clothing line comes wonderful opportunities to share my story to others and hopefully inspire them to feel better and/or chase their dreams. One such opportunity came about at the end of May when I was invited to speak at a career day in Paterson, NJ.

That morning, I addressed classes of students from grades four through eight. And while the main focus was to discuss running my own small fashion design business, how I've ended up at this career and it's pros and cons, I also took the time to explain the message behind my company and why it's so important.

Having an art education degree has made me pretty comfortable speaking to large groups of children. I love asking them questions because you never know what their answers will be. I shocked them all with the statistic that over 75 percent of American women wear a size 14 or above while the majority of clothing lines stop at a 10 (maybe a 12 if you're lucky) and I reminded them that every single advertisement they see has been photoshopped and edited. And this is where they shocked me.

Every single grade, except for fourth not only knew what photoshop was, but also knew that it is used for "changing the faces and bodies of people into what you want them to be," (An actual answer from a seventh grader).  And while every grade had heard of the phrase Body Positivity only one student knew what it was and gave me the definition, which is “loving and accepting your body the way that it is right now."

I reminded them that even though you know ads are photoshopped you can still sometimes subconsciously feel badly that you do not resemble the people in them. You can be searching for someone who looks like you only to come up empty handed. I then showed them the look book from my company SmartGlamour, showing them smiling, happy women of all shapes and sizes. And in every class I stopped on the page with a photo of my sister and me, two women with different body types, different heights and different ages wearing the same dress (I was also wearing that dress in person at the time). I reiterated that any one of any shape can wear the same clothing and feel great about themselves. I reminded them that wrinkles in clothes, birthmarks, tattoos or "imperfections" on people are what makes us real and what makes us beautiful. The result was classrooms full of happy and excited children filled with the notion that no matter what they looked like someone was telling them it was more than okay.

And even in the fourth grade class where a lot of things might have gone slightly over their heads, a young girl,who will most likely grow to be the "type" of woman who would typically never be featured in a current magazine, shined a beaming smile at me that said she understood. A smile that said she heard me tell her that it is perfectly fine to look the way that she does.

And maybe my talk to these students won't seem important to them just yet. Maybe it was fun to look at pictures of models and hear about a young woman who is her own boss. But on the other hand, maybe one day they will hear someone be body shamed, or they will be body shaming themselves as they compare their bodies to the photoshopped images in a magazine and they will remember the lady in the red dress that stood in front of their class and told them that everyone is beautiful.

To book Mallorie to speak at your school or organization you can contact her at www.smartglamour.com.