Sinclair: You post photos of your body on Instagram regarding your wellness and weight loss journey. What led you to this point in your life where you can be so vulnerable?
Amanda: I was super conscious of my body because I’ve always been “bigger” than most girls. While browsing on Instagram, I found Ashley Graham and she instantly inspired me! She was a plus size model and she was someone I looked at and say “Wow! I look like her!” I also follow this person named Megan Crabbe. She has multiple videos of her shaking her body and all her skin jiggles and she’s so happy! It sort of sparked something within me and I said to myself “You know what? I’m going to do post myself. Bare. Just me.” So I did and I’ve felt great about it ever since.
Sinclair: Have you heard back from followers regarding the impact your post have had on them?
Amanda: I actually have! Some of them write that they love how brave I am to post about my journey and how it inspires them to love themselves for who they are. A lot of people DM me and ask me how I became so confident.
Sinclair: What’s something people can’t tell about you just by looking at you?
Amanda: When people look at me they see a beautiful, confident, well-spoken person, but what people couldn’t tell is that I have really bad anxiety. It takes a LOT of energy to keep up with my everyday life. Often, I’m exhausted by being around a lot of people, though I LOVE conversing and learning about them.
Sinclair: Where are you with how you see your body? What are the good days like? What are the bad days like?
Amanda: I definitely have some rough days. I’m human. On my bad days, I look at old photos of me from high school (which are totally unrealistic) and comment on everything wrong with my body, but sometimes those sessions wake me up and I talk to myself in the mirror (usually with some affirmations.) On both my good and bad days, I like to take photos of myself because it reminds me what my attitude was like towards my body on that date. I’m very attentive to those changes in my mind. I would say I’m in healthy space in regards to my body image. Of course I want to look good, but what is important to me, ultimately, is my health.
Sinclair: Why do you think we assign so much shame to ourselves and others when it comes to how our bodies look?
Amanda: I think media has a HUGE impact on why we shame ourselves so much. I also think there isn’t much representation with plus size models, both male/female, in the industry. The media outlets are always showing us how to improve our image like we’re not enough already. There is always a new diet fad or “magic” pill to make us lose weight to look like J.Lo or Kim Kardashian (both are people I love, by the way). We’re sucked into thinking if we don’t look like them, then we’re not good enough or beautiful enough.
Sinclair: You’re passionate about mental health awareness. What’s one thing we can do better to support those living with mental illness?
Amanda: I think we need to just ACKNOWLEDGE and LISTEN to those living with mental illness! Speaking from experience, I feel like people think it’s made up or something you can turn off! People need to be educated, just listen & try to understand one another. Be compassionate.
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?
Amanda: My list of core values:
I think I really became clear of my values my senior year of college. I went through a lot of adversity, and the things I never lost was my love and compassion for people in my community, while upholding my truth.
Sinclair: You went to Pride this year. How was it? Where was it?
Amanda: I went to Pride in New York City! It was my first time actually and let me tell you that it was an amazing experience! Everyone was so loving, and I honestly felt so free to just be me. I watched everyone put aside their differences and enjoy an event to celebrate love and build community.
Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
Amanda: Honestly, right now I’m going through an extremely tough patch in my life. I recently quit my job as a teacher because my boss, the principal, induced fear into me and my students all of the time. She caused me to be physically ill and I couldn’t take it anymore so I decided to quit. I quit knowing my health insurance would terminate and I wouldn’t get the care I needed to help with my fibromyalgia. I just knew I couldn’t stay somewhere that was deteriorating my mental health. So right now I’m unemployed, I’m re-evaluating my career choice, and ultimately just on a self-discovering journey. I’ve been reading a lot, going outside in nature, and just being around people who uplift me, but I’ve been so hard on myself. I’ve doubted myself at least once everyday since I quit. I often have a battle in my mind debating whether I should’ve stayed and put up with it or question if I made a right choice. Often I wish someone could tell me what to do next, but don’t we all wish that?
On my good days, I realize that life is a journey and no one is exactly alike, so I will embrace my decisions and learn from them every time.
“Of course I want to look good, but what is important to me, ultimately, is my health.” – Amanda Velazquez
Sinclair: What advice would you give to someone struggling with body negativity?
Amanda: Honestly, I would tell anyone struggling with body negativity that the people in your life who truly love you, don’t care if you’re 120 pounds or 250 pounds. They love you because you’re you. Your personality shines bright. Don’t spend most of your life hating yourself because of other people’s perception of beautiful. Everyone is beautiful and unique. That’s what makes all of us so special.
One of my good friends said something to me that changed the way I thought about myself. He said: “Chica, you could gain 100 more pounds, but that doesn’t matter. Your personality shines through and that’s all we care about. You’ve always been beautiful.”
Sinclair: What was the last thing you did for self-care?
Amanda: I put my phone on do not disturb and just allowed myself to be. I’m always on the go and constantly answer phone calls, emails, and text messages. It gets quite exhausting so to turn everything off and just spend time with yourself is so refreshing.
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you believe to be true. What would you say?
Amanda: I would say that we need to be compassionate with one another. We need to unite and work together for what is RIGHT and JUST, not just what makes money for big companies. There is strength in numbers. I would say everyone should invest in organic farming. We need to inform ourselves about what is in our foods and the effects of it on our bodies. I believe everyone should avoid pharmaceuticals and live off of the earth like we were made to do. I believe that there is enough to go around for everyone and nobody on this earth should ever go without. Self care is most important and once you are aware of yourself, you can exert your energy to help the world be a better place!
Amanda Velazquez is 23 years old and lives in Bayonne, NJ. She’s passionate about body positivity, mental health awareness, and self-love.
Learn more about Amanda and connect: Instagram
Featured awesomeness: @bodyposipanda’s shake videos