I always felt sexy and fierce as a young woman. Since a young girl I knew who I was, felt that I was smart, special, full of potential, thought I was beautiful and valuable, and I always took great care of myself. My confidence showed in how I carried myself, and I felt like I could walk in a room with a quiet grace that demanded respect. And I feel that it showed how I also wanted people to love and value themselves as well.
When I was about fourteen years old I had started begging my Dad for a pager. Everybody had one at the time, it was right before cell phones were popular. Everyday I would ask him for one until finally one day after school I asked him and he said, "Sure! You can get a job and go buy one yourself"; so I did, and he proudly took me to work everyday. I mainly worked to stack up cash to get what I wanted, and most times, it was spent on fashion, phones when they came out, or food. My closet as a high school, teenage girl was full of New York & Company (Lerner's then) and my style was a combination of business casual and ghetto fabulous. My sister does hair, so growing up I was always her tester mannequin, and my hair was always fly. Long hair, short hair, dyed hair, braids, quick weaves, bobs, you name… it I rocked it.
Oooohhhh boy, and my shape was like a Coca-Cola 20oz bottle; bubbly and curved in all the right spots. The "ideal" hourglass shape was 36(bust)-24(waist)-36(hip) and I measured 34-22-38. There was over a foot between my tiny waist and my wide hips, so that means I had a huuuge bottom. That big ole butt in my neighborhood gave me alot of attention from the guys, sometimes too much! I also loved going for jogs in nature trails, especially when I was going through something, or needed to work through emotions and needed to clear my head, so I was in pretty good physical and mental shape. I had a great sense of fashion, and loved shopping and pampering myself, plus I had goals, vision, drive, loved God, and had my head on straight. I was a pretty hot commodity, lol!
As a bachelorette I was always on guard for if my husband would show up everywhere I went. I mean I could spot out an empty wedding finger on a handsome man from miles away, and was very flirtatious with single guys that I was interested in and knew how to get their attention. But when I did meet my husband, our attraction actually was birthed out of our passions in life and not our physical qualities. We both were in relationships at the time (long story😬 I'll blog about it later) and we challenged and intrigued each other's minds, then our passions for the whole person came after, which never happened before with me, ever!
My husband and I share an amazing love together, he changed my whole entire life! If you fast forward some years from then to today you'll see us 13 years married, 5 beautiful children (4 of which we have together and my bonus son), we're entrepreneurs of multiple businesses, artists, ministers of the gospel; man we've been putting some serious work in! Not too long ago though, I was cleaning and came across an old picture of me from when my husband and I had just gotten married. I was a size 4 then, posing with my head turned from behind very sensually, and I looked so sexy! I quickly realized that as our 4 babies popped in and out my belly (all by c-section) my body had not been the same. I was still like a Coca-Cola bottle with the same great taste and bubbly, but not the 20oz one. I felt in that moment that I turned into 2 liter with more curves than I felt like I could handle, lol. My husband loves me with more weight on my bones, he says he finds it sexy. But me, I struggle daily with accepting and loving where I am.
With all of the attention that I used to pull towards myself gone because I'm happily, and satisfactorily married and not looking, plus my husband not being half as affectionate and vocal about his admiration of me as I'd like him to be (I want him to tell me all the time, ugh...lol), I took it that I lost my beauty and my swag. And then, subsequently, I gave up trying to hold up and stay fly like I've always been. There's also the element of choosing to spend money on my family over shopping sprees, sew-ins and full sets. Having 5 children to provide for, bills on bills and more bills, building our family businesses from the muscle (ground up with no loans) and me being a stay at home Mom off and on, not bring that cash flow in like I was used to, I feel like my high level of flyness got splat on the wall, lol! While a single young lady I worked two jobs and stacked my dough, bought a customized sky blue Lexus ES 300 cash, shared a very nice and laid out 2 bedroom apartment in the city with my roommate, and spoiled myself rotten. But as a family woman, I put all of that aside, without anyone even asking, and vigilantly put myself on the back burner. And on the back burner also went my drive and my confidence.
Being a young wife and young Mom who no longer had to play those childish, unsure, single games with a man due to being in a committed, covenant relationship changed the game for me! I finally had someone who loved me in my best state, and my worst, and someone that I could love in those same conditions! My heart felt safe, secure and loved in my husband's care, and still does. There's nothing like being able to freely let your hair down with someone who still loves what they see in your most natural state. The behind closed doors me, the attitude in the mornings me, the morning breath having me, the fly off at the mouth me, the overthinking me, he loves me through me being me, and I love him with his shortcomings and mishaps just the same. We laugh at ourselves with each other over this kind of stuff!
My husband actually prefers me without my face done up in makeup, with the blemishes on my cheeks and all! He also still thinks I'm sexy with extra weight on my bones. I love and appreciate him for loving me so well through all of my transitions. But if I was to keep it real and am being 100% honest (which is what Steph's Open Book is all about) for a long time I was not happy with myself because I was holding my 37 year old body, style and image to my 20 year old standard! Whaaaaa.... What even is that?
I pushed out... uh uhm, no excuse me, got 4 children cut out of my body, am a super busy woman with many responsibilities who is doing the best she can to make sure that her family, at the bare minimum, stays alive. Lol, honestly I’m setting them up and living my life so that they thrive, and not just exist. My time, my energy, my money, my purpose, my focus, and even my body is no longer just mine; I'm sharing all of those things now. So just right there, 20 year old Stephani can't hold a candle to who I am now! The person she was in all her glory and how well she loved herself prepared me for the love that I was going to be required to give to my family. She held down then, and I'm holding it down for me and mine now! She never compared herself to anyone, never competed with anyone, and she always stayed in her lane and was moved by her own compassions, dreams and convictions. Everything that I have in my life... every single thing, is because she imagined it, believed it, prayed for it, wrote it down, got faith for it in the Word, and pursued it! And yes, I know I'm referring to my 20 year old self in the third person, but it's because I'm considering that young woman gone now, and she is no longer who I am. She was the foundation that I built who I am today upon, but I'm the brick house that was built! I cannot and will not any longer compare myself with her, she is a part of me, but I've since leveled up. She was an amazing young woman who inspired me and had such great dreams of being great one day, well today I am waking up, opening my eyes and I realize that I am walking in that greatness right now!
So I had to throw back that throwback. Do you know what I did after that? I took out my camera and snapped a new sexy picture of present day Stephani! And I found out that I still got it, it's just different!
I absolutely love getting my makeup done for special events. I love paying a babysitter to watch my kids while I get my pedicures and full sets. I can’t wait to get in my stylists chair 45 minutes away to get my hair slayed. I love going shopping and just fashion period. But when I don’t have the time or the money to get those things done I learned work with what I have. I’ve learned that the right sized clothes really make a difference in how well you wear them. I threw out anything in my closet that I didn’t feel good in, even if I was just wearing the same 8 outfits over and over… I was stepping out with some pep in my step and feeling great like I had it together each time until I added new pieces to my wardrobe! I’ve learned that lashes make me feel fabulous, imma splurge on that. Most important, when it comes down to me being bare me, I gotta love her immensely because nobody on this earth can love me and affirm me like me, periodt! I don’t even have the capacity to do that well without learning what that looks like from receiving God’s unconditional, never failing love! Without receiving God’s love and knowing what that looks like, it’s difficult for me to properly love and serve (yeah I said serve) my husband and kids. He’s the truth, the standard, sets the bar, and continues to model that kinda love. So I’ve learned to love myself with that love, then to love others with it.
I encourage anyone who questions if they still got it, if you’re still breathing, you got the sauce boss!!! Treat yourself kindly, forgive yourself, note your strengths and weaknesses, give yourself care, treat yourself to something nice. Perhaps, think of yourself as God would think of you, the way He carefully created you perfectly. Look at yourself in the mirror and stare at your reflection. Instead of focusing on your flaws, tell yourself what you like, say it out loud. Gather what you already have at home that you could pamper yourself with and do it, while speaking life over yourself. The way you love yourself is the way you teach and model someone how to love you. I encourage you to love yourself well! The best teacher of real love is from our Heavenly Father God! If you don’t know Him, I would get to know Him! He’s a gentleman and only comes where He’s invited, so let Him in! You won’t regret it! Healing, restoration, identity, direction, patience, real love and a whole lotta other great things comes out of a relationship with Him! Trust me I know! I can look at the mirror and actually love my belly and thighs with all my stretch marks now and that little jiggly thing it does, lol, Cuz it’s me, and this is the only body I’m gonna get. I’m gonna love it so I’m changing my diet, I’m gonna love it so I’ll hit the gym when I can, I’m gonna love it so I’ll drink plenty of plain ole water that I can’t stand, I’m gonna love it so I’ll dress it up nice, I’m gonna love it so I’ll moisturize my skin, I’m gonna love it so I’ll slay my own hair the best I can, I’m gonna love me better!
I know this is a long post, but the main message is to forget all that’s behind you unless it’s encouraging you to push you forward. Don’t stay stuck in the past, live in the present and enjoy the days you have on this earth to the fullest! Throw back that throwback and live your best life today!!!
Love you and I’ll blog to you later! ✌🏽❤️