“Having good underwear always makes you feel better about yourself…it doesn’t matter that others can’t see it.”
Brooklyn, New York
What do you do?
I’m an occupational therapist. I work with children. Right now I’m working at a school system in Harlem and Bedstuy, and I also work at a clinic in midtown.
What made you decide on occupational therapy?
Oh, Lord. My brother.
Tell us about your brother.
He was born with a genetic disorder. Over the years he started going to occupational therapy. I would go with him occasionally and started to see all of the fun, cool things he got to do. He learned how to take care of himself and do functional activities but in a fun way. And I decided that was what I wanted to do.
Other than the physical aspect, how does what you do affect the children you work with?
It gives them confidence in their abilities, which are sometimes very limited. Even just having one person giving positive reinforcement and help them believe that they’re important and can do things gives them a huge confidence boost and makes them feel like important members of society.
Have you been pretty confident yourself?
No. I had those awkward pre-teen/teen years. I guess I really started to feel confident in high school when I started to realize what I wanted to do with my life, which was occupational therapy. But it took a lot longer than that. I wasn’t just flipping a switch. It was a process.
What obstacles stood out?
I definitely had body image issues and poor self esteem. Really starting to take pride in my appearance and going to the gym helped. Watching what I ate. In college I really tried to stick to my routines and focus on my goals and it helped to keep me driven. Each time I met a smaller goal it would boost my confidence a bit more.
Did your wardrobe change with taking pride in appearance?
Yes, it did. I started paying more attention to the trends in fashion and instead of just rolling out of bed and wearing sweats to class. I started doing my makeup and hair. It was amazing when I looked good on the outside, how I felt better about myself on the inside.
Did your underwear wardrobe change at all?
Yeah, I started buying nicer underwear—more expensive, more color, and I’d match it to my outfits. Having good underwear always makes you feel better about yourself.
I guess just knowing that you look great underneath your clothes; it doesn’t matter that others can’t see it. You know you look great and that’s all that matters. It gives you an extra confidence boost and that translates to feeling beautiful and confident on the outside
What’s it like when you see the girl in the mirror today?
I am happy with what I see today. Of course there are always little things that I would like to change (lose a few pounds here and there), but overall I am happy, content, and confident in myself, which I wasn’t even a few years ago. I see a woman who is passionate about what she does and this brings me happiness and confidence.
What advice would you give women today struggling with body issues?
A lot of the time I think it’s easier to see our weaknesses than our strengths. So I would advise others to try to realize what their strengths are and focus on those. This is also what I try to do with the kids. When they’re struggling, I try to show them what they do well and then approach a problem area or task from that direction, providing them with the confidence they need to succeed.