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.


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 Fashion show guru Kathryn Finney and her amazing team. Photo caught by Kelly Cheatle. See more at


    You brought down the house!

  2. Bravo! And yes, you are stunning in every way (and holy cr@p that dress is rockin’) I was late and missed your spin … so happy you posted here.

  3. so sorry I missed this–and meeting you in person–at blogher. It was my first and it was a bit overwhelming. thank you for sharing this very scary, nurturing, validating experience. that is why this community of women (mostly women) continues to amaze and awe me. I’m so lucky to be here.
    you’re gorgeous. i am glad you enjoyed the spotlight!

  4. You absolutely ARE beautiful. And brave. And strong. And making a difference in this world. You’ve got it all, girlfriend.

  5. Good job, Erin.

    BTW. You look like a goddess.

  6. SO glad you did it! Sorry I missed it “live” but glad you blogged about it with such an awesome photo here. Enjoyed getting to see you and hang out a bit on Thursday night!

  7. Oh My Gosh! YOU LOOK STUNNING! I am soooooo sorry to have missed you. Already feeling down about missing Blogher’12 altogether. Now I am devastated! Thank you for this post!

  8. Meg Huber says:


  9. Erin,
    I missed this moment but have been with you, following with love and cheers along the journey. I love that you are pivoting back to power — that is your sweet spot – always has been and always will be – an amazing intersection of all the snark, savvy and sight (oh your gift for getting it!!) that is to be envied and honored. Welcome home pretty! xxoo


    Good for you, lady!

    (I was only at BlogHer on Friday – sorry I missed you!)

  11. Oh my gosh, you just made me cry. Beautiful words from a beautiful person.

  12. Beautiful is right. Not just the dress and the look, but your countenance as well.

  13. Damn straight you are!

  14. You are absolutely beautiful. I hope those whoops and hollers from the audience and your own reflection in the mirror stay with you forever, Erin. You brought tears to my eyes simply because you were confident, owning your beauty, recognizing it, embracing it. Also, Merida ain’t got shit on you.

  15. If I hadn’t read the post, and just looked at the picture– I would think, “Class, sass, and natural beauty that shines through everything.”

    May continue to win your fight against lupus, If attitude counts, you have it beat.

  16. KJ Deterding says:

    Erin, even if I hadn’t been following you all this time and didn’t know what you had been through the last year and a half, my only thought when looking at that picture would have been the same: “Wow, what a beautiful woman.”

  17. Yes. You. Are.

    What a beautiful post, Erin. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    As the mother of a daughter who battled (and continues to battle) ulcerative colitis which, at its worst was treated by massive doses of steroids for over a year, I know well the battle you’re going through. And how brave you are.

    Thank you again.

    Shelly Kramer

  18. I’m crying because you’re so beautiful. Again.

  19. Erin, you look fabulous. You’ve taught everyone so much about this crappy disease – MUCH in the same was as Susan did for IBC. If she’d lived, she’d have been standing there giving you the much deserved respect you so so deserve. And as a fat girl all my life, I can only say I WISH I could have done what you did! But I’d have never had the courage. So WTG!

    Also, my youngest son, who is 5-1/2, loves to come and “jiggle” with me – he pushes his face up against my face, or my arm, and just simply loves being with jiggly mommy. I LOVE THIS!

  20. Love it.

  21. You’ve made me cry – this post is beautiful and YOU are beautiful.

  22. This was the best fashion show I have been to… each woman was a different size, ethnicity and all looked beautiful!

  23. You looked super sexy and you did a fantastic job!!

  24. I’m so glad I clicked on this to read it. What a great post. Having an autoimmune disorder is really so difficult to explain to others and I’m glad you’re exposing how it can wreak havoc on your body and your brain sometimes.

    Beautiful… i would have hooped and hollared without even knowing all this but this made it even more special.

  25. 100% beautiful.

  26. YOU ARE AMAZING ERIN!!!!! It was such an honor and joy to do this with you! xoxo Christine

  27. Damn! You look terrific, Erin. The brains and sass definitely shimmer from within.

  28. I’m just reading you for the first time because someone on Twitter thought you were beautiful, and I had to see what all the fuss was about. You are definitely worth the fuss. Bravo.

  29. Congrats Erin, you did it! You beat your toughest critic…yourself. The 150lbs I have gained since becoming sick and disabled are killing ME in so many ways. I don’t know how you finally get that mind over matter. I am just not there. I hate myself. I feel trapped in this, this body that is not mine. Knowing your struggle makes me appreciate how much you kick ass even more. You go girl!

  30. Erin, you are beautiful & you inspire me; have since I first met you.

  31. Gorgeous!!! Inspiring!! You!

  32. I cry every single time I read your blog. You look amazing and beautiful and happy! Due to my own health issues I gained 60+ pounds in less than 60 days last year and I can’t get rid of it. I’ve been fighting with myself to accept this much larger version of myself and have been having a really hard with it. I never hear “you’re beautiful” anymore and it’s very difficult. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for showing me how beautiful you are at this size. It’s made my day.

  33. I am crying. Big fat happy tears that are proud of you and full of YES! You are beautiful inside and out. Can’t wait to see you again on Wednesday!!! 🙂

  34. That is no mind trick; you are gorgeous.

    Still, congratulations on beating back your inner critic, who apparently has never seen you in this dress.


  35. The photo is gorgeous. I definitely wish I could have seen your fabulousness in person.

  36. Erin, yo ARE AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL!! So proud of you! We have a few friends in common who were there, and had I been able to attend it would have been my honor to meet you. You may feel like your body is betraying you, but your spirit most certainly has NOT. Keep it up! You are beautiful. 🙂

  37. Ho-lee SHIT, Erin Vest. You look STUNNING. ARE stunning. As someone who’s struggled with weight for her whole life (I topped out at 252, I did, before getting hold of nutrition and embracing a healthier lifestyle), I am stomping my feet and lighting a match for everything you said above. So proud of you.

    You are RADIANT.

  38. Aw, Erin, I loved this post – and am loving your blog. It was great to meet you at the show. I had felt the exact same… was really dreading it… didn’t want to do it… etc. But it was so much fun! And us fashion bloggers aren’t all that bad… no, fashion isn’t real news, but it makes people happy. Thanks for letting me borrow your iphone charger.

    You looked beautiful!

  39. You are an inspiration! Thank you for just being you, for absolutely living in your body, for owning it, for celebrating it, for loving it and for sharing all of it, every bit if it, with the world.

    You are not just pretty, Erin. You are pretty fucking amazing and I’m proud to call you my friend.


  40. From the girl who battles nothing but her own “you’re a horribly ugly waste of space” demons, thank you. <3

  41. Babe, you look stunning. I should have gone to the fashion show. I should have known BlogHer wouldn’t have done a traditional Slim-Jane march of the bones. I think you now understand what we large folks have been telling you.

    You visually put our words to power. Thank you for your sharing of your experiences. You are still a reporter. You happen to work a different beat and this is front line stuff.

  42. Absolutely beautiful.

  43. I am still hoarse from screaming for you. You ARE beautiful, Erin.

  44. You look gorgeous! So proud of you, Erin, for everything you’ve done and accomplished. I can only imagine the outpouring of love for you when you stepped on that stage!

  45. Tricia C. says:

    Bless you for your courage! You are stunning!!!

  46. Francine Hardaway says:

    OK. Here is what you gave me courage to say: I feel about my aging the way you feel about our lupus. Now I’m going to OWN it. Thank you.

  47. Erin, I am SO HAPPY I gave you the holy-shit-who-dat?!? moment your beauty, poise and pride deserved. You really showed us all the truth: That what is within shines through, no matter the stories our bodies are living. Love you madly; still kinda can’t believe I finally got to meet you. xoxox

  48. You are always beautiful to me. But that night? You were ethereal. Stunning.

    I’m so glad you got to see what we’ve been seeing all along. xo

  49. Yes you are. By far the best moment of BlogHer.

  50. Jennifer Vest says:

    I know that took courage, Erin. Good Job! And you don’t even need that team to be beautiful either. You were just as beautiful at your house, in your jammies, (or in whatever) at your house in December. You are beautiful no matter what.

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