In Stylist’s Body Politics series, award-winning body confidence coach and @ScarredNotScared founder Michelle Elman sits down with women we love to discuss their journey to feeling comfortable in their own skin. Here, model Jada Sezer reveals why she feels more confident after a fitness session.
Growing up, model Jada Sezer was always a little different from her peers. “I was a lot taller than everybody because I’m 5’9 and a bit, and I remember always standing out,” she tells Stylist. “I was also more developed when I was 14. I had boobs, a bum, I was taller, I looked around 16. Cars would beep at me and it’s quite scary being approached in the street as a kid, and I remember feeling intimidated in my teenage years, particularly because I didn’t know how to deal with that. I didn’t know how to say no.”
Sezer’s first memory of being self-conscious was at 13 when she was with a group of her friends and hoping the boys wouldn’t notice her sweat. Things couldn’t be more different now, though.
“I feel the most sexy that I’ve ever felt after a hot yoga class, it makes me feel super confident and like I’ve got my life all together,” she says. “Now, it is the polar opposite. The sweat makes me feel revitalised.”
Sezer tells Stylist that she’s most confident when focusing on things outside of her aesthetics.
“There is no pressure on how I look because I have my life together in other ways,” she says. “My mental health feels good, my mind feels calm and I don’t feel anxious and that translates into the way I carry myself.”
However she felt about herself growing up, Sezer says that she has always been into style.
“My style is an extension of who I am” the model tells me, “but my biggest frustration was not being able to wear what I wanted to wear. When I wasn’t able to express myself through my style, that’s when you think you aren’t worthy enough to be part of the collective. You feel like an outsider and as a child, you want to fit in and wear what everyone else is wearing but I can’t shop in the same stores as you, it almost feels like you are ostracised because of your size.”
And, while she recognises that the fashion industry has improved in terms of visibility, her frustration has yet to subside.
“Right now I have more disposable income than I have ever had in my life and the kind of brands I want to shop and wear, I simply can’t fit into,” says Sezer.
“I love a lot of high end contemporary brands like Alexander Wang but I can’t fit them. I’ve started to dig and find certain brands like MaxMara and they go up to larger sizes but a lot of brands, especially the Italian and French, just refuse to make bigger sizes.”
She adds that even when they do extend their size range, it is rarely in stores and if so, it is squeezed into the corner of the shop. “We have money to spend that you are missing out on,” she says.
Sezer has built a platform of over 200k followers because she’s made a point of being vocal, open and honest about these issues. But, like everyone else, she has her own fair share of negative comments, whether it was about the marathon she ran in her underwear with Bryony Gordon or about her body.
Sezer doesn’t care too much about the trolls, however. “You are creating conversation and it’s uncomfortable and it’s going to reflect and mirror back on other people who feel uncomfortable about themselves,” she says. “It would affect me more if I was neglecting myself. If I was neglecting my body and my mind and not taking care of myself, yes, they would be able to penetrate that and make me feel shit but because I’m in a good space, it helps me to brush them off.”
Working within the modelling industry, Sezer is even more aware of the societal pressure to look a certain way. Together, though, Sezer is insistent that we can all fight back.
“Women are so much more than our bodies now and the beauty industry has preyed on the fact that women have wanted to be more aesthetically pleasing in order to be successful but now success isn’t measured by our appearance and people are striving to be more than that and we need to nurture more than just that.”
Sezer is one of the women empowering others to change this system we have come to accept.
For anyone wishing to join the resistance, she has one piece of advice.
“If you aren’t willing to fail, you aren’t able to innovate. You have to take that risk to disrupt the built system and create something new.”
For far too long, the representation of women by both mainstream and social media has failed to reflect who we see in the mirror, and its impact on our mental health is worrying. Stylist’s Love Women initiative promises to change that. As well as the launch of our Body Politics series, we’ve partnered with Dove, whose latest project (in conjunction with photo library Getty Images) aims to increase the supply of diverse pictures of women – which we will be using going forward.
Our editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski has also made five pledges to Stylist readers:
- We will ensure the women you see on our pages represent all women – inclusive of ethnicity, body shape, sexuality, age and disability. When we create content and ideas, we will ensure that all women are represented at the table. We commit to featuring one fashion or beauty photoshoot a month that uses real, diverse women.
- We will ensure that we never sell an impossible dream. We believe in aspiration, but not in selling a lie. We will work with influencers, celebrities and other partners to encourage them to reveal their truths, too.
- We will celebrate the so-called flaws of women to prove the normality in all of our bodies. We will run videos, photoshoots and honest accounts of our bodies and how they behave.
- We will hold regular huddles with our advertisers and brand partners to challenge the way they portray and reflect women in their branding and advertising. We will call out and challenge brands, media and people who refuse to represent women with respect and truth. We will call on the government to support our goals.
- Through insight and anecdote, we will teach everyone about the issues facing women, what needs to be done and how we can all work together to resolve this self-esteem crisis.
Find out more about Stylist’s Love Women initiative here.
Michelle Elman is a five-board accredited body confidence coach and an award-winning body positive activist. Best known for her campaign @ScarredNotScared, she has over 190k followers across Instagram accounts and released her debut memoir "Am I Ugly?" in 2018.
Recommended by Michelle Elman
Body Politics: Bryony Gordon on the one thing we can all do to reach self-love
“A message to that man who always gives ‘advice’ to women at the gym”
Nicola Roberts recalls being bullied as a child by her dance teacher
Poorna Bell is sick and tired of the fitness industry’s sexist stereotypes
Iskra Lawrence gets real about being fat-shamed as a 14-year-old model