I grew up like so many girls idolizing my favorite artists, actors and celebrities. I would see how they walked, spoke and behaved. I bought magazines, watched their movies, listened to their songs and read articles that advertised the their views on life. After a while it becomes easy to follow them.

I would attempt to mimic their style and look. In the days before social media this meant scouring the mall for the jeans they wore or making a piece of jewelry that looks just like theirs.

For so long I saw tall, blond, skinny as the definition of beauty.

When I grew up conforming was cool. Everyone having the same jeans and chucks was the thing to do. There was no skinny enough and strong was reserved for boys only.

As a short, curvy brunette I did not fit in at all.

Imagine what that does to a woman’s psyche when she sees nothing in herself being reflected back at her.

Now as an adult I look back and quite frankly it scares the sh*t out of me how much we allow the media and our celebrity culture to influence our minds and our self-worth. Also now as a mother of a young girl I believe I have a different obligation.

I must be a voice. I will no longer be the echo or a faded representation of a failed attempt to match the beauty standards of this world. I have an opportunity to insert myself into the conversation like no other generation has had before thanks to social media.

I will no longer conform and homogonize to the media’s expectations of beauty. Banish the thigh gap that is still being publicized across major brands and influencing our youth about how one should look in a pair of jeans.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to glam it up, wear my bling and sky high stilletos for a date night out with my hubby…but here’s where I draw my line: I define my own look based on the curves of my own body, the features I love to accentuate and the image I want to present to the world as an authentic and real woman who is grounded in self-love, acceptance and inclusion.

I train and fuel myself based on my goals not because there is a fad diet that I was told to follow. I found what works for me. I do photo shoots to celebrate and share my own look and my own definition of a healthy beautiful body. I write to motivate you to see the world through different eyes and to inspire a change.

Please don’t sit idle, join me in defining your voice.

Don’t be an echo of your own life.¬†Your voice is likely¬†different than mine and that diversity is important. That is what creates conversation and elevation of our thoughts and ideals as a human race.

So let’s start the conversation – What does beauty mean to you?