An inspirational mum, Carrie Strongman is a woman who’s attitude embodies an unapologetic confidence in being a beautiful plus size woman.
She also happens to be my mum.
My mum is plus size and has always shown me how beautiful her curves are.
If as a child, my raised eyebrows teased her as she sashayed past, she would tackle me with kisses until I surrendered out loud just how beautiful she was.
My mum pictured above with my two daughters Saskia and Scarlett
I love these memories of my mum, from them my mum taught me how to love boldly, with strength and out loud.
My mum is incredibly independent, fearless, creative and intelligent. My mum with all her strength is also one of the funniest and wittiest people I know.
But I remember one moment wishing I could be her strength when two Parnell Village fashion-retail sales-women tried to shame my mother because of her plus size.
Parnell Village in one of Auckland’s most affluent suburbs with historic, cobblestone- paved charm, remains one of my favourite places in Auckland.
My mother grew up on her father’s sprawling Waitakaruru dairy farm before moving by herself at the age of 13 to the city of Auckland to study and board at New Zealand’s prestigious all girl’s Queen Victoria School. Situated in the equally affluent suburb of Remuera, a 30-minute walk from Parnell Village.
My mum in her Queen Victoria day uniform
In my teenage years, my mum and I would travel from our home in the Coromandel Peninsula, for special mum and daughter days out in Auckland city. Together we would shop, lunch, visit family and visit sites from her teenage years like the Auckland Art Gallery, a favourite.
The beautiful Coromandel Coast where my mum and I grew up X
My mum would then take me to one of her favourite cafes in Parnell Village for hot chocolate and cake.
The nostalgic charm of Parnell Village, Parnell, Auckland.
The first and last time I saw my mother experience body shaming we were about to get hot chocolates in Parnell Village. I remember this detail because I didn’t want a hot chocolate after our encounter with two-fashion retail sales woman. I wanted to leave and hold my mum.
The doorway into their store was abnormally narrow, I glided in and then mum confronted by the fact that she could not fit easily through the door turned herself sideways and shimmied inside.
My mum smiled and looked up at the two women, I smiled too.
Then mum said,
‘gosh that was a tight squeeze, I almost couldn’t fit in’.
The sales woman from behind her counter said,
‘well perhaps people like you shouldn’t squeeze themselves in here. There is nothing for your size in here.’
They turned and grinned at one another and smiled without any warmth in their eyes.
I still have feelings of sadness in my heart recounting this. I remember being so unprepared for their raw and unmasked meanness, I couldn’t believe that well perfumed and well-dressed people would say such mean things out loud.
For a moment, I saw a vulnerability in my mother that made me want to come back one day and buy that shop and fire those women. I was 14 years old and I just wanted to protect my mum.
I don’t remember what my mum said but I remember the proud carriage of her posture as we left.
I wanted to leave Parnell Village but mum hushed me and sat me down in the café directly in front of their store and ordered my hot chocolate, her coffee and two French pastries.
We sat and my mother told me to enjoy our lovely waiter, our lovely steaming drinks, our pastries and the beautiful day.
A powerful lesson I learned that day from my mum.
Their meanness did not define us or how we enjoyed our day.
The meanness of the two fashion sales women was their problem and not ours.
My mum and step dad pictured here together in their hometown of Coromandel
I love my mum out loud.
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I am blessed and grateful to be the daughter of a woman who has taught me how to remember to love myself fearlessly and out loud.
And to remember most importantly that with all the energy and strength I give to others to remember to love myself first.
I love my mum.