In case I haven’t mentioned it four hundred and thirty times, I’m going to be on The Steve Harvey Show tomorrow, talking about body positivity. What I haven’t told you (because I was waiting for this post) is that I wasn’t the only woman out there speaking up for large ladies. Fifteen amazing, inspiring, brave women were there, too:
These gorgeous ladies were there as part of a life-changing surprise; I had no idea that they would be there, and that they had come because of my Huffington Post essay on wearing a bikini. I was told that I would be interviewed by Mr. Harvey, then take questions from the audience. Instead, after the interview, these fantastic women came out, to wear two-pieces for the first time, on national television, and to tell me that I inspired them to do it.
Look, y’all. I wore my bikini to an ice cold beach. They went on TV.
I better step up my game.
Fifth from the left, in the red bikini, is Michelle Landriault, a plus-size model and blogger from Chicago. She took the challenge, and became one of the fifteen women who made me weep on TV. Today, I’m welcoming her to Trout Nation, to tell us about her experience.
Michelle also interviewed me for her blog, and you can read that here.
So, get to know Michelle after the jump, and if you get The Steve Harvey Show in your area, check your local listings and tune in on Friday, October 17th!
Michelle Landriault, a plus size model, Chicago native, fashion blogger, and the founder and editor of Michelle Swoons. In 2002 I received my certification in Make-Up Artistry and from there successfully transitioned into plus size modeling. I want all my readers to know, “No matter what shape or size you are…love is the only reality. Love yourself and be beautiful at any size”.
The Michelle Swoons blog works to achieve a healthy outlook for women of all shapes and sizes by covering beauty, fashion, and healthy inspirations, all with a personal touch. I believe in a broader standard of beauty beyond the MATTEL image that is so pervasive in today’s society. Despite the number on the scale and regardless of industry standards, women can be beautiful and confident at any size. I like to think of my blog as a way to bring this truth to light. I’m here to bring a fashion edge to my readers. Think of me as your “plus size guru”.
Before the show, had you ever worn a two-piece in public? I had a bunch of 2 pieces that I bought at target before they made those amazing fat-kinis! I would wear them to the pool at my friends house and only around super close family. I would never wear them out to the public pools or the beach. I always knew I was a big girl, and I always kept myself in check when it came to what I wore… but I have to admit I’ve been blessed with really amazing friends and family who’ve always made me feel loved and beautiful. So, you could say I wore whatever I wanted in my protective bubble of family and friends, but out and about I was a little more careful how I presented myself.
How did you get on the show? Did they find your blog, did you email them, how does that process work? I’ve modeled for a few organizations here in Chicago, and one of the boutiques I’ve modeled for posted a little blurb on Facebook about it. From there I emailed my head-shot and body shots over to the producers and they loved me! I had a Skype interview with one of the producers who told me I would be in the top 3 girls, and they wanted me to share my story on the show. I was truly blessed, and the Steve Harvey Organization was a VERY positive and friendly team.
Did you know ahead of time that you’d be wearing a two-piece on the show? I wore a two-piece to the beach. The beach is one thing, but this is national television. What was the rationale behind going on TV in a bikini? When I submitted my head-shots to the show and talked to the producer originally I did not know that I would be wearing a bikini. When I had my Skype interview, that is when she told me everything. I was a little shocked, and my gut dropped a bit, but she asked me would you be able to do this, and the words YES were out of my mouth before I had a chance to really think about everything. She also told me that Mod Cloth was making us some amazing suits, and that everything would be done tastefully and professionally. They really had it together. Going on the show, I was so nervous but I didn’t let that stop me. I also didn’t do this for myself… I did this for that younger girl who’s afraid to move out of the shadows. Going on TV in a bikini was TERRIFYING, walking out on stage and seeing all those people was really moving and scary.
I started to cry when we first came out thinking of the girl that I was at a young age. It was really hard in high school being a young chubby girl. I just wanted that girl to know that things will be alright, and no matter how bad it might be right now, it’s not always going to be that way. I didn’t always have this strong and positive group of friends in my life, that all came later when I came out of my shell a bit. High school was a mess for me, and I had a really hard time coping with all that. I just wanted those viewers that might be struggling with bullies or self esteem issues to know that things WILL get better, and if takes my big butt in a bikini to realize that.. then sister here I am baring it all for you. You never know what you can do someday for someone you’ve never even met.
That’s actually what made me do this. I was having a little rough spot in my life a little while ago, and after reading your blog, Jenny and seeing you out there baring it all, it really made me realize there is more to life then feeling sorry for yourself, or apologizing for your size. I remember going on a flight to see my husband, he lived over-seas for a bit and I had to travel to see him. I couldn’t fit in the plane seat and I was completely mortified. Everyone was staring at me and making me feel like a total loser. I wanted to crawl under a rock, because A.) I didn’t realize until that moment how big I had actually gotten, and B.) I COULDN’T hide! I couldn’t hide anywhere… everyone knew I was a chubster and I couldn’t get my butt in the damn seat. The people who worked for the airline were really nice, and moved me to an area where I could life the handle of the seat up, but it was just terrifying. After that I went in a downward spiral and just didn’t want to do anything. I hated what happened… So seeing YOU in a bikini really helped ME, I guess I wanted to do the same and pay it forward.
What did your family and friends think when you told them you were going to be on the show? My mom FREAKED! She was not happy with my decision at all, most of my friends were like “OHHHHH GIRLLLLL GET IT!!!!” So I had a mixed reaction from everyone. I didn’t tell too many people though. This was something I was doing on a deeper level, and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. My Daddy would have been proud, and I know once my mom see’s the show she will be too.
What was your day at The Steve Harvey Show like? It’s off topic, but I’m curious and I want to compare. My day was awesome! I got up early and headed down in my car to the NBC tower. I live in the burbs so I fought that morning traffic but I made it on time. Our call time was 10am for hair, makeup, and to change. They had me in my bikini by 10:30am. They had robes for us that were really comfy so that was nice, and they were hiding us from everyone so they had us in the back room’s all together, It was a really nice bonding time. There were 15 of us, and 3 of us that had special stories to share, so we were talking about that and meeting with the producers to go over everything the day of. They had me in make-up and hair around 11ish and I felt SO much better after that. I loved my makeup artist she was the main artist for the show, and she is SO TALENTED! I also had my hair in this big pinned up curls by then so I felt so pampered and glam.
So there I was just bonding with my bikini, becoming one with her and getting to know her before I went into body make-up. They covered my tattoos and make sure I had a little tan going. Everyone I came into contact with that day was a powerhouse of positivity and really knew how to make someone feel special. From the hair and make-up team, to the stage hands who helped us rehearse, I was in heaven.
At one moment I had to use the washroom and they had let us know that you already arrived. So, we were on lock down for the rest of the day. They were really serious about us surprising you and THAT was awesome! anyway, I had to go potty so they escorted me to the bathroom and we ran into some audience members they told me not to talk to anyone just get in and out. I felt like a secret service agent!
You’re a plus-sized woman, and you run a beauty and fashion blog. What do you think the biggest problem with plus-sized clothes today is? Like, if you had to rank all of the myriad problems, which would you put at the top? I have to be honest, I am a shop-a-holic. I like to use my blog as an excuse for shopping because I really need to keep up with the trends and do my investigating. I will say that I have many beefs with plus-size shopping. My main issue is the price. If you want to get some decent quality clothes the you better be ready to drop some green, because everything is super expensive! Thank god I have credit cards because I would NEVER be able to update my closet without them. I also notice that there are not a lot of options in designer brands. Not that they would be something I would afford, but if I did have the money there is nothing for me out there. I cannot fathom why its the norm to pay $60.00 for a pair of jeans. The industry really price gouges the plus size woman with style.
What’s something that you want to share with other plus-sized women about your experience on the show? I just wanted everyone to know how amazing the Steve Harvey show was. I am so honored to be in this group that was featured. I feel like this is going to be a game changer for a lot of people out there. Its time to stand up ladies. You CAN do this!
You can find Michelle’s blog at MichelleSwoons.com. She’s also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MichelleResi82), Instagram, (http://instagram.com/MichelleSwoons), Twitter (twitter.com/michelleswoons), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/affairsmagmichelle).
I want to thank every woman who came out to be a part of this amazing surprise, and I want to thank The Steve Harvey Show for making it all happen. It was a life-changing event, and I will never, ever forget it.