BlogHer 2012: In New York, There’s Nothing You Can’t Do

I will admit it: I’m a blog snob.

Those silly fashion blogs? Pfffft. So long as they don’t take over the political news of the day, or the REAL news (as I stand tall and like to remark) then fine, they can have a headline or two. But they aren’t important and are fluff and as far as I’m concerned have no place getting higher ratings or more coverage than what I consider to be more important- real news.

So when the BlogHer team asked me to be a model in the first EVER BlogHer fashion show this year at BlogHer ’12 in New York, I had to laugh.

Hard.

Not only was I being asked to participate in a space I had very little respect for, but I was struggling with coming to terms with a body that is not my own. One I have written about time and time again since I began steroid treatment for Lupus. The dramatic shift from my 119lbs self to my now steroid induced 219lbs self has been life changing. Nearly as life changing as the disease trying to kill me.

The truth of the matter is I have not felt beautiful, or even comfortable, in a long time. 18 months, to be exact. I’ve learned to shop in the plus sized section, and cry when things even there didn’t fit.

I sobbed uncontrollably when all I wanted to hear from those I love was “you are beautiful no matter what” – which was said early on but after so long that sort of talk seems frivolous. Ok so I haven’t heard it in 15 months, to be exact. Not because they don’t love me, but because it seems unimportant in the sea of things going on. Treatment, medication, plans of action. My appearance should be the least of anyone’s worries and it would be insulting to even bring it up. Vain maybe. And down right stupid.

But as it turns out, you notice and remember things when you don’t recognize the person looking back at you in the mirror. You crave to know you are still beautiful to those who love you, if not in words, than in a kiss on the forehead or an arm around the waist. But that waist is now double in size. The forehead round and moon shaped from the drugs, and I certainly wasn’t feeling worthy of a kiss.

That’s not the Erin I know. But I was cutting her some slack, considering the hell we were going through.

Everyone treats you differently as a big girl too. Everyone. My kids love “squishy” Mommy. In fact they want to make sure I don’t lose ALL the weight I have gained as I diet because they insist some squish remain for cuddle time.

Then I realized how the outside world treats larger people. They aren’t nearly as nice to me as they used to be. At first I was angry, I wanted to wear a big sign that said “I AM ON A STEROID THAT SAVED MY LIFE THIS IS WHY I AM FAT.” And then I got even more angry, realizing that no one deserves to be treated differently simply based on looks and size. From those of us here involuntarily to those beautiful women born with curves to people who just are who they are.

So I said yes to being a model. Because my self-esteem needed a boost, I knew I had to learn about other blog communities, and most importantly, I wanted to show the world every size, shape, and sass of a woman is beautiful.

But could I really do it? Could I walk a runway in front of hundreds in New York knowing full well I’d be in tears and hating the body I’m supposed to show off and love? Would it be a big lie?

No. No. I could do it. I just had to believe. I had to believe, I had to get comfortable in this body of mine, and I had to own who I am now. OWN IT.

So with that thought in my mind, and some nudging from some people reminding me that others like me might be inspired and get that “you are beautiful” comment they too have been waiting for…I said yes.

Flash forward to rehearsals, fittings, hair, make up, shape wear discussions, stretch mark discussions, bra discussions, heels or flats, order of models,  how to walk, how many beats to count before posing…and on and on and on.

And at every point I wanted to bail. To run out of this thing that put butterflies in my stomach. Would the community think this was lame? Would anyone believe I was beautiful and model worthy? Would they see all the hard work and diversity of women of every stripe and say “that is awesome” or would they say “where are the supermodels?”

And I stood on the steps off the stage, music blaring, and knew there was no turning back. I was told that if I could do it, maybe next year another woman afraid to show her cancer scars might say yes too. Maybe, just maybe, a blogger who feels like the ugly duckling due to a birth defect will volunteer and say “ME NEXT!”

And I closed my eyes, and I counted my beats, and I believed, for the first time in so long, that I truly was beautiful. I believed what I had always written and told my daughter- it’s not what is outside, it’s what is inside that makes you pretty. My inside has sass, and silly, and attitude, and  power. POWER enough to be winning against a disease that kills. Power enough to be humbled by the “fluff” bloggers who I realize not only work hard, but work super hard to show every woman is beautiful, fighting the stereotype that you need to be a tall, skinny, white, blonde female to be the ideal.

They taught me everyone is the ideal woman, and I most certainly was welcome in their ranks. Not everything needs news and politics, but everything DOES need beauty.

So for every woman who isn’t society’s usual cover girl… I stepped on stage, walked to my mark, and soaked in what I KNEW was already there: family and friends who love me for me. And who all taught me EVERYONE in this community and beyond has an equally important voice. Because that voice gave me the confidence to return to who I really am.

photo by @craftyb

And I am beautiful.

 

 

 

 

*With special thanks to 6pm, Elizabeth Arden, Paul Mitchell, Monif C , and Marc Jacobs. And the wonderful team at Zappos.com. Fashion show guru Kathryn Finney and her amazing team. Photo caught by Kelly Cheatle. See more at Blogher.com.

Comments

  1. I have a steel bar in my back and the scar starts at the base of my neck and goes all the way down to the top of my butt. I also have a 4 inch scar from the same surgery, on the back left hip. So when someone asked me to be a model in a bathing suit fashion show here in LA (!!!) I said yes. Every time I see the picture of it I laugh. Because all the other girls in the show were 5 feel tall (I’m 5’6″) and had no boobs. Flat as boards. I came away from it feeling pretty good, considering the competition! I doubt Victoria’s Secret will be calling me anytime soon or in any of my future lifetimes.

    I think you look beautiful in that picture. Sometimes we have to do things outside our comfort zone to put the sads at bay. Wishing you good health and sad-free bathing suit clad days.

  2. You are an amazingly beautiful woman inside and out!

  3. I was the live blogger for your healthminder session, and I got to see you in the Fashion Show, you were awesome!

    I may be walking one myself very soon, so I’m totally going to email you as I share a health setback of my own that started last year, so many people wanted to talk to you after the panel, that I didn’t get a chance to speak with you for very long. But what you are saying is on point, I don’t get treated the same way I used to when I was a perfect size 6 (I say perfect because it was ‘perfect’ for my height, I know size ‘0’ is technically perfect by most standards, especially those of ‘fashion’ bloggers).

    I probably wouldn’t say that fashion blogs are fluff, we all have our niche, but I can say, much like you my idea of Fashion for *ME* changed when my health setback caused me to gain all the weight I had recently lost back and then some.

    You definitely inspire me!

  4. OMG! You are Stunning! How I missed this I dont know… But you are absolutely beautiful!!!!! You deserved it!!! Beautiful inside and out woman!

  5. Wow… you look beautiful. :)

  6. you are beautiful. for doing that. for standing when so many, so many blind idiots would prefer that you sit.

    i’m proud of ya. you did good.

  7. Thank you :-)

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  1. […] The amazing, amazing, amazing (3x fast) Erin aka Queen of Spain […]

  2. […] BlogHer 2012: In New York, There’s Nothing You Can’t Do (queenofspainblog.com) Rate this:Share = I Keep WritingDiggTwitterTumblrPinterestStumbleUponEmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in children, Comedy, Culture, Daily Life, entertainment, family, humor, life, Media, musings, Thoughts, travel and tagged Abbie, blog, blogging, BlogHer, boys, Christian Grey, conference, Facebook, family, family humor, funny, Hilton, humor, Humour, lessons, life, McDonalds, Mother, musings, New York City, NYC, Parent, Parenting, trip by All that makes you…. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  3. […] Erin Kotecki Vest, of Queen of Spain, said it best in her post-fashion show post on her blog Queen of Spain: And I closed my eyes, and I counted my beats, and I believed, for the first time in so long, that […]

  4. […] (I did really like the Queerosphere party, it was in a smaller ballroom and I got to chill with someone I love and admire and never get to see in […]

  5. […] Spain) showing BlogHer how to rock a balloon unicorn crown. ONLY she could pull this off. She also strutted her sexy self down a fashion runway. She’s got more guts than I do for […]

  6. […] aren’t exactly who/what  you pictured.  To own your fabulousness and wear it with pride.  Erin did that recently in NY at BlogHer and it just reminded me that we are all […]

  7. […] last week I spent some time with my good friend Erin. I keep calling her brave but I forget to call her kind. While we stayed at the same hotel she […]

  8. […] family. I’ll be using my wheelchair, on doctor’s orders, sitting because the recent and triumphant trip to New York did flare my Lupus a bit. But not enough to keep me […]

  9. […] with family. I’ll be using my wheelchair, on doctor’s orders, sitting because the recent and triumphant trip to New York did flare my Lupus a bit. But not enough to keep me […]

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