Plus Size Model, Writer, Body positivity advocate

Your life's purpose is not to lose weight.

There, I said it!

Too many of us spend our lives feeling we're not enough because of our size! I definitely have experience with this, and I spent years feeling like I wasn't enough for my dreams because I was "a big girl." I delayed my own happiness and spent countless amounts of time, energy, and financial resources chasing body perfection through crazy diets and extreme exercise, instead of going after my dreams.

#BIGGIRLPROBLEMS

As a lifelong athlete and former Naval Officer who is size 14, 210 lbs, I am passionate about the message that plus size bodies can still be healthy and aspirational. And that we shouldn't be putting off the life of our dreams "until we lose the weight." Living at full amplitude is your birthright, and it's available to you the minute you decide to stop obsessing over getting a "perfect" body, and stat living the life of your dreams.

This is the idea behind #healthyatanysize. I have laid it all out there for other women by sharing my history with binge eating, and moments from my past struggles with body confidence. I am committed to inspiring & empowering women to fall madly in love with their bodies. It's my personal mission to see that you love your body harder than ever before!

Pretty for a big girl? Pretty, period.

Has anyone ever said this to you? It used to infuriate me when people told me I was "pretty for a big girl." One day, I just decided I was pretty, period. And that's when everything changed for me.

Once I embraced my body as it is, I began to see myself differently. It gave me the courage to go after a dream that I'd kept locked in my heart for my entire life: becoming a plus size model! At the age of 29 (that's like, 105 in model years), I signed a contract with New York modeling agency TRUE Model Management, and began living the life I'd been dreaming of! I am now also represented by Ford Models and Brigitte Models, and have had the incredible privilege to model for clients such as Jockey, Danskin, Rachel Roy, J.C. Penney, and Gwynnie Bee.

I get to live my dream every single day! My mission is to make sure that you are able to LOVE the woman you see in the mirror too, rather than spending your precious resources constantly chasing insane standards of body perfection. Not to mention spending all your time and money on diet and weight loss solutions!

I'm not starting a conversation. I'm starting a revolution.

It's not enough to just participate in the conversation. 

We’re in the midst of a global crisis when it comes to women and body image. 85% of women opt out of important life activities when they don’t feel good about their looks, which means that almost every woman is holding back on life because she doesn’t feel like she’s pretty, or thin, or sexy enough.

The way we break through this barrier as a global community of women is by doing the work on an individual level to love ourselves, our appearances, and our bodies harder than ever before.
If you think that your choice as an individual woman to go on a new diet, to buy into yet another plan or program, or to otherwise engage in restricting your eating for the purpose of weight loss, is only affecting you--think again.

Each time you buy into the $60-billion-dollar diet industry, you’re telling society (and other women) that you support a culture that makes women believe they have no value until they achieve their “after” photo status and lose 10 (or 20, or 50, or 100) pounds.

It’s time to put a stop to this, and to declare a new way for ourselves as women. It is no longer acceptable to define our worth on the basis of size. It is no longer acceptable to perpetuate the idea, as individuals and as a collective, that we should spend our precious time, money, and energy trying to lose weight and perfect our bodies. 

I know how tough it is, believe me. There's a ton of pressure out there to buy into the diet myth, and we're bombarded constantly with marketing messages that make us feel like who we are, and the bodies we organically have, are not enough. But when I'm able to make my days revolve around my purpose and the impact I'm making and the people I'm helping, rather than my exterior--that's a good day.

Bottom line: every woman deserves to be head-over-heels in love with her body. 

Our behavior as individuals matters a great deal in contributing to either fueling or ending this global crisis, and the pandemic of eating disorders that plagues our society. The journey to body love is ultimately not about how you look, or want to look. It’s about what you have to offer the world, and how your feelings about your body and fixation with dieting and weight loss might have been interfering with that.

From this day on, you get to be part of the solution. Not only for yourself, but for millions of women who need your example.

I am so grateful to be able to use my success as a model as a platform to spread body positive content, writing for publications such as Huffington Post, Women's Running, and Gaiam's Lifestyle blog. My goal is for all women to love their bodies harder than they ever thought possible, and writing allows me to share my message.

I've recently taken a stand for curvy women on my weekly Facebook Live series, Body Love TV. I advocate for other women through organizations such as NEDA. I support women in the developing world through United Village Transformation. I am an animal lover, and I also work with the Humane Rescue Alliance to make sure all dogs can find their forever homes!

I am working on a forthcoming book with the working title Body Love. To learn more and connect, find me on Instagram @melparrishplus!

Come over and follow me on HuffPo!