Afterword

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Afterword

I was first introduced to Emme by our mutual friend, Natasha Stoynoff. We had been talking about making this book since late 2015 and it was time to meet in person. So on the last day of January 2016, a Sunday, my husband drove me down to the diner across from the YMCA in our town, where I was to meet the famous Emme.

Ironically, I was having the worst flare-up of my bad back in years, so I was barely able to get in and out of the car, which was why Bill had to drive me. I crept up the diner’s front steps, hunched over and pulling myself up by gripping the railing. And there was Emme waiting for me in a booth, sitting tall and strong in her workout clothes, with her wet, blond hair pulled straight back from her face that was flushed from swimming laps at the Y. Boy did I feel weak and small and seriously unathletic next to her.

Emme and I talked about one of her key messages — that you should love your body, nurture your body, and use your body. She talked about how you need to integrate your mind and your body, and view yourself as one whole being, not a person who has a brain and then has this appendage — a body.

When we came up with this book idea, we had no idea how topical it would turn out to be. Before we knew it, in early 2016, Mattel was introducing Curvy Barbie, Sports Illustrated was featuring plus-size and “real” women in its swimsuit issue, and Lane Bryant was covering the sides of buses with plus-size models wearing fun, colorful clothing for larger women — no more shapeless, black tunics.

It seemed to Emme, Natasha, and I that we were really onto something. Every time we turned around we heard a global conversation about body image, realistic portrayal of women, healthy eating, and a new more constructive view of natural beauty. We were thrilled with the thousands of stories that were submitted for this collection and we knew they would be an important part of this movement to clearer thinking.

But we returned to negative talk in a HUGE way during the presidential campaign in the fall, with Donald Trump repeatedly denigrating women for their appearance. We learned that the still gorgeous Alicia Machado was denounced by him for having gained weight after she won the Miss Universe pageant at age nineteen — or, dare I say, for having returned to a healthier, more realistic weight. And we watched him insult his opponent for how she looked from behind, and also insult the appearance of women who came forward with accounts of their treatment at his hands in the past.

We had no idea when we started making this book that our own co-author, Natasha Stoynoff, would end up center stage while we were trying to finish the manuscript. She didn’t want to go public — one reason among many was because it would subject her to insults about her appearance, which she knew would be forthcoming — but she reluctantly did so because it was the right thing to do. Emme and I were among those who urged her to end her eleven-year silence. It meant that we would lose a few weeks of editing time, and this book would not make its deadline to the printer, but it was important.

So now, here we are, sending this book to the printer very late, but knowing that our book is even more relevant than we had imagined. This conversation is important, and we are proud to be part of what I like to call The Curvy & Confident Movement.

~Amy Newmark

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Chicken Soup for the Soul

October 31, 2016

More stories from our partners