I'm not a public speaker. Honestly, I don't really like talking in groups of people that I don't know (to me that counts as public speaking LOL), so when I was asked to be the keynote at San Francisco State's Black Women's Appreciation Dinner that feeling of sheer terror was the first thing that I felt. As I have grown in blogging, the requests for public speaking have increased, and I'm quite ashamed to admit that I have dodged quite a few opportunities. When I was asked to speak at this event by people I consider friends it makes it a little harder to say no. Then I thought to myself; this may be the perfect opportunity to prove to myself that I can do this and not suck. So I took on the challenge of preparing for and composing a speech in a weekend. Deep breaths.
The week flew by, and I was so busy I didn't really even have time to be nervous. I just knew I had a job to do and a speech to get right. The day comes, and I'm shooting video that morning for one thing, then going to straight to my friend's house (in San Francisco traffic, of course) to get dressed. Still no time to be nervous. Finally, I'm walking behind the stage right before I give my speech. I have a long 15 minutes to wait before I'm up, and I literally start shaking. Like really shaking. I took that time to pray and do deep breathing, and it worked to slow my heart rate and not give me the shaky voice. I got through it, and people said they liked my speech and felt inspired. Thank God for not sucking and for not avoiding a challenge because it was going to make me uncomfortable.
In case you are interested in my speech, I'm pasting it below. I was hoping to have it on video, but these phones and battery power and storage space. Ugh!
"Good evening students, faculty, and alumni. It is an honor to be chosen as your speaker for this very illustrious event. Today, we honor Black women, and since I am one, I want to take the time to speak to my sisters directly in regards to your future selves. The selves that will wake up tomorrow and impact the world.
My favorite quote and the one I live my life by, comes from Alice from the story Alice in Wonderland, it reads, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast.” The Garnerstyle journey has been a string of impossible ventures and accomplishments. The notion that a fat girl, a black fat girl, can be fashionable & stylish a decade ago was considered impossible. Now add that girl being featured in Vogue Italia, Forbes, Time, and the New York Times and all for style. That makes it an even more ridiculous notion. Now add that she is a style ambassador for two major retailers. Well, I’m sure if I would have voiced this as a possibility six years ago someone might advise me to seek professional help, but after six years of this journey that is my reality.
Apart from the accolades that look great on paper, I’ve been a part of a small group of women to pioneer a massive movement of self-love, confidence, self-acceptance, and last, but not least, style at any size. Apparently, it is considered revolutionary to like yourself, show up, and show out if you don’t look like the mainstream idea of beauty. My mother-in-law called me recently to tell me how my blog has impacted her clients. She is a therapist for individuals suffering from depression, and she would show her bigger clients my blog. One of her clients exclaimed, I didn’t believe looking beautiful like that at my size was possible. Instead of those clients spending all day in their pajamas, they have taken a small, but very important step to uplift their own image of themselves by simply taking that extra time to get dressed for the day. Knowing that I’ve helped at least one people to see their own inner beauty is what keeps me going on the days that even I want to quit. 10 years ago, such positive imagery of plus size people was rare and therefore being able to impact someone’s life on this level was unheard of.
I’m giving you a snippet into my journey because I want you to know that everything you want for yourself can be a reality with the following attributes: self-worth, determination, and the ability to dream. Know that your self-worth is of your own making. It’s not what the media would have you believe. You are strong, intelligent, and beautiful. If you haven’t already, make today the day you take control of your self-worth. It will be your biggest ally in accomplishing your dreams and living a life that is fulfilled. Determination is to help you push forward when all you are hearing are no’s and doors closing. I’ve heard so many no’s the first four years of my journey, and I took those no’s as a cue to work harder. Finally, never stop dreaming, even when your dreams seem impossible and unreachable. For without your dreams, you cannot fulfill your purpose.
Today, as we are in support of each other in sisterhood, I can’t help but remind myself of one important factor not mentioned previously. I would not be standing before you today without the help of a community…some people that I know and love and some that I may never have the privilege of meeting. It’s so important that you support each other. Recently, a friend, who I had probably not spoken to in a year, sent me flowers. She wanted to send flowers to 3 women that weren’t expecting anything, but to let them know that they inspired her. What she didn’t know is what I was going through at that time. As a blogger, my primary interactions are with the public while it’s an overwhelmingly positive interaction between myself and the community there are times when the opposite is true. As you all may know, people can sometimes be hateful and mean spirited. Seeing, hearing, and reading such things can eventually run an emotional toll. At that moment in time, the stress had added up so much that I started to question my own dreams and can I really accomplish them. When she sent me those flowers, she didn’t know how much I needed that message that very day. She inspired me to refocus my efforts and to be even more supportive of the next woman. She helped me push past a dark cloud that had been over my head for weeks. As you are focusing on your dreams, don’t forget to lift up the next woman. None of us get to where we are entirely alone. Remember that."
Finally as we end on the high note of infinite possibilities, I want to finish Alice’s quote because in my heart I know this what she would have said, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast and after breakfast I’m making those 6 impossible things reality.”
The culprits behind getting me to be the keynote: Desiree (Fancydime blogger & my new assistant) & Stephan (the event producer)
Style Notes: I ordered the dress from Lightinthebox (link above) and had it altered to cocktail length and had the lining increased to accommodate my hip. The dress is in a size 20. I have talked about this site before and just want to give some warnings. Although, I think everything came out fine with the dress, it takes a long time to ship and I wouldn't count on being able to return it and get an actual refund. The dress comes from overseas and although my dress came out nice, it doesn't mean yours will. I feel like this is an order at your own risk situation. I just wanted to keep it real with you guys, so that you understand that there is a risk. I've seen a lot of articles written about these overseas online shops and I ordered this dress well over a year ago before all the information on these shops started coming out. You may ask, "Why did you buy it?" Well I like to have a formal gown just in case and the price was inexpensive, so if it didn't work out I didn't lose a lot.