Health

Real women, real bodies: It's OK to be different

Feb. 27, 2014 at 4:20 PM ET

Video: A plus-size model, a massage therapist and a former professional squash player agree you should love your body, even if you’re heavier than you’d like. They also encourage women to stop criticizing each other.

They know what it is like to have a body that’s larger or more muscular than other women, or to catch sight of their reflection and not like what they see.

These women, though, have overcome their insecurities and learned to love their bodies, even as society is filled with retouched images of picture-perfect celebrities.

As part of TODAY’s “Love Your Selfie” series, the women, Toccara Jones, Mary McCue and Ivy Pochoda, shared their journeys with TODAY. In a segment that aired Thursday, they described some of the tough feelings from their youth and the good place they are in today.

Jones, a 32-year-old plus-size model, said at first she was a size 8. “Then I was a 10,” she said. “Then I was a 14.”

“Well, definitely growing up, I mean, kids are mean,” she said. 

McCue, 28, described her early years this way: “I just always felt like I was surrounded by just these really thin, petite girls and that was what everyone wanted and that's what you should be.”

For 37-year-old Pochoda, a former professional squash player who grew up playing sports, there was a paradox between being muscular and athletic and the ideal standard of beauty.

“Even though I was at peak fitness and felt great on court, I was unbelievably aware of the fact that my legs set me apart from other people and that it wasn’t considered conventionally beautiful,” she said.

Like many people, McCue, a massage therapist, admits: “I definitely have those days where I’m like, ugh, ‘I’m just so gross.’”

Pochoda mentioned the sometimes-dreaded reflection.

“I'll catch sight of myself, you know, window shopping and see myself in my jeans,” she said. “And just think, ‘Oh my gosh, that is not what other people look like.’”  

But they added a dose of reality.

“They will call Jennifer Aniston an athlete,” Pochoda said. “And she looks great, you know? She's in incredible shape, but an athlete is a much more muscular person.”

Jones added: “We have all these false images of all these people put out in this world like it's normal or like it's real, or like it's natural. And it's not.”

Now, Jones says she’s “a perfect 10.”

“The way you begin to start loving yourself and loving your body is being honest with yourself,” she said, “with what size you are and what you wear, and what you can fit and what you can't fit.” 

McCue said she figured out her body shape and found her best style.

“When I do look through magazines, I can appreciate the fashion,” she said. “I can look at it and say, ‘That won't look good on me, but this one will.’ And I love me for that.”

She has a favorite dress, a retro-style frock, that she feels great in.

“I put it on and it’s just beautiful and I love myself in it,” she said.

Pochoda reminds herself that having a large rear end and big thighs “is not the worst thing on Earth,” and that those differences make her better at her sport.

“There are things I love about my body,” Pochoda said. “I love that it's unique. I worked really hard to be an athlete and it's part of my history and it's still part of my body, which is awesome.”

Jones noted that bodies come in different shapes, sizes and colors.

“But at the end of the day, we are all women,” she said. “We have to just love who we are and own it.”


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