I’ve been an athlete since day one. I played softball for 15 years and other sports in between such as tennis, volleyball and cross country. Being an athlete has made me mentally tough and physically strong. It has also given me a body. A real body; big legs, strong arms, and a curvy frame. I absolutely love my body now but growing up that wasn’t always the case.
I grew up in the era of Britney Spears’ abs and Kate Moss’ skinny frame. These were the woman I idolized and what society told me to look like. Society didn’t tell me that having big, strong catcher’s legs was attractive. The boys at school didn’t tell me that my thighs touching when I walked was sexy. I always thought, “Why don’t I look like the girls in the magazines?” as I ripped out photos and plastered them all over my walls for “thinspiration.” My athletic body got me through countless sports games, but it would never take me to the catwalk. I grew up feeling insecure until I found my love of fashion.
I got into fashion at a young age and became obsessed with clothes. I loved how I could manipulate my body to look a certain way with different fabrics, textures and silhouettes. Fashion made me realize that I can express myself with what I put on my body and it made me feel confident in my own skin. Fashion helped me figure out that the sexiest part about me isn’t my body, but it’s the way I feel inside.
Now that I’m 27 years old I feel more beautiful than ever. Each year I become more and more comfortable with my body and the way I look. No, I don’t have a Victoria’s Secret model body. I have an Ashley Altstadt body and personally, I think that’s even better. I exercise consistently and eat a healthy diet to feel good about myself mentally and physically. I allow myself to enjoy food in moderation and not feel guilty for the occasional splurge. There are still days when I feel my insecurities creep in, but I quickly change my thought process, look in the mirror and say, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.” I also don’t compare myself to other women anymore, I’d rather say “That girl is beautiful, but so am I.”
Society plays a big role in the way women think they need to look. I’m so happy the world is changing their perspective on body shapes and women like Ashley Graham are on the covers of magazines. All shapes and sizes are beautiful no matter what number is stitched inside of your pants and every little girl needs to grow up knowing that.