About U – Aquila Benjamin
Aqila Benjamin is a body positive advocate and motivational speaker who speaks out against bullying and body shaming.
When did you begin to embrace your own curves and can you share with me about your own personal journey to self-love and body acceptance?
I started to finally embrace my curves the day I saved myself from committing suicide. After battling with depression for years, I was at my lowest point when I was 17 – I felt lost and pressure from planning my life after high school. I remember not being able to really look in the mirror because I was so disgusted by my own reflection. After taking some pills, I slowly started to feel sleepy. My mind started to race and thoughts of my family & friends that cared about me. With my last bit of strength, I got off the floor and looked in the mirror. This was the first time in what seemed years I looked at myself. I saw my mother, my sister’s – I saw beauty. After surviving a suicide attempt I seemed the proper help and began my journey on embracing me! I have NEVER turned back to hating myself. Since that day I have loved myself unconditionally.
Why do you think it is so important to share our stories with others?
It is important because not everyone has positive role models like I had. I want to be that for someone who has no one to encourage them. People need to know that they are not alone on this journey. And no it won’t be easy BUT if they stay strong and keep faith it will all be worth it.
With the online popularity that you have been receiving, I am sure there also comes with it a little bit of negative attention. How do you manage to stay so positive when there are quite a few critics out there commenting on the images that you post of your body?
I never knew how much people go out of their way to make other people miserable. I have had my pictures taken off my page and made fun of. I’ve had people come under my pictures and fat shame me. When those things happen I honestly feel bad for that person. They have no idea that they are bullies and need to take care of their own insecurities. The old me honestly probably wouldn’t have taken it well but now I embrace it! I embrace it because I have come so far to love myself that I will never let anyone tell me anything different than I am BEAUTIFUL! I have more positive than negative responses so it doesn’t bother me.
What is the overall message you want our readers to gain from your story today?
I have started a campaign that is the epitome of my journey. #Advocate4you is a way for me to provide the support that I had to others. I want you ALL to be as bold, beautiful, outgoing, wild, fun and amazing as you want. And do it unapologetically! No one is going to stop you from loving you but you! #Advocate4you because EveryBODY Is Beautiful!
What are some tips you can give to women with curves who are just starting their body positive journey?
The first thing you need to do is love the person looking back at you in the mirror! She/He needs to know that you love her before anything or anybody else. She/He needs to know that you will have their back through the good and the bad. Believe that you ARE worth it!
If you could say one thing to my readers about body positivity, what would that be?
There is no such thing as being Body Positive and A Bully at the same time. You can’t want to be accepted for who you are and bash other people. So make sure that if you are a body positive advocate you do it 24/7.
What are your plans for the future, what else do you hope to take on?
I am a social media correspondent which means I take over Instagrams, Snapchats & Facebook for events. Planning events can be stressful. Social Media is an amazing way to catapult your business so my job is to make sure your attending and virtual guest don’t miss a thing. I just recently was the Social Media Correspondent for the TCF Style Expo in Atlanta hosted by the BEAUTIFUL Marrie Legget. I also help manage Social Media accounts and I am an event host and Emcee. Right now I am one of the hosts for the NAO tour. I am also a motivational speaker. My #Advocate4you Campaign has some exciting things coming up. My first plan if action is to collect 10,000 signatures from people vowing to help put an end to Body Shamming and Bullying. I am managed by 3P Consultants which handle all of my bookings.
FabUplus is the only body positive health, fitness and lifestyle PRINT magazine with weight neutral content specifically dedicated to women with curves. What are your thoughts on this new media platform for the plus sized community?
What I love about what is being displayed in the media for plus-sized community is that it is going beyond fashion. We have voiced our opinion and fought for more trend-forward fashion and we are there. Now I love to see people like The Pretty Big Movement who are promoting that we can be dancers! It shows that we aren’t “lazy”. Like the owner SweetPea Benjamin of FatGirlCity, the Movement says, ”Anything you can do, fat people can do it too.” They are showing that we are unstoppable and fearless. One of my biggest goals is to run a marathon. It has always been one of my goals and I am determined to do so.