Actress and comedian Melissa McCarthy recently spoke about her past struggle finding gowns for Hollywood award events because designers did not want to make a dress for her size. She is a beautiful and voluptuous woman, though somehow her size was not deemed red carpet ready. Melissa McCarthy’s experience is not uncommon amongst non-celebrities aka everyday, strong women—especially when it comes to planning weddings, our own version of a red carpet event. For one example, brides can experience pressures to lose weight before their big day so they look a certain way for the photographs. When Rachel Estapa, our SmartGlamour Woman of the Week, planned for her wedding, she experienced these peer pressures.  Instead of succumbing and losing sight of her authentic self, she found designers who wanted to create a dress for her body.  She created her wedding to exactly how she envisioned it, which was featured in a video by the Huffington Post. Rachel’s philosophy on life and love mirror much of SmartGlamour’s philosophy: to live happily, healthily, and independently of your weight and to embrace the body you are in.  She is founder of More to Love (MTL), a community for women to learn how to accept and love their bodies. I had the chance to chat with Rachel about why she developed MTL, her views on body love and acceptance, and what inspires her. Growing up, Rachel was “classified as overweight even though I led a very active lifestyle. Weight was always something to be fixed,” Rachel said. This constant message affected Rachel’s self-esteem and confidence, but by the time Rachel reached her early 20s, she “grew tired of felling like no matter what I did, it was never good enough.” Through self-reflection, Rachel realized what was not good enough: how culture and society valued Rachel’s body-type. She decided to quit dieting and focus on her happiness. As a result, Rachel developed MTL, so she could teach herself and others how to self-love without the paradigm that “losing X amount will then bring personal happiness,” she said. As Rachel broke through personal paradigms, she discovered more women wanted to break through their negative paradigms as well. She became a trained and certified coach to teach tools that change mindset and behavior about body image and wellness. “More To Love is devoted to creating community and solutions for women who want to end the stressful cycle of dieting and learn something valuable, how to love their body, right now,” Rachel said. With MTL, Rachel offers private coaching, her signature online e-class (More To Love Class), and teachings through her syndicated blog and active social media channels. Rachel also trains and guest speaks for in-person events. Like SmartGlamour, MTL educates and empowers woman to take ownership of their bodies and lives. MTL changes personal philosophies and behaviors, so women “can live a life free of shame, insecurity and embarrassment about what they look like,” Rachel said. “MTL has the ability to reach women all over the world, no matter what point they are on their self-love journey,” she added. What I love about Rachel’s MTL is how deeply targeted her message runs. A lot of Rachel’s personal work is intuition-based, listening to the trust muscle or gut.  When you consider the messages through media advertisement or women’s magazines – which always manage to say you’re doing something wrong and you should be doing something else instead – women can lose their gut intuition or inner voice. Developing the deeper sense of self, and therefore, reconnecting with your intuition is the root of MTL: “It’s more appropriate to learn how to manage and handle changes and stages as they come than to think you can always control it or think your way out,” Rachel said. Rachel finds inspirations from “science to philosophy, poets to musicians, cookbooks to comics. They have all impacted the way I learn about myself and the world around me,” she reflected. Rachel is someone who loves life, embraces her beauty, and helps women do the same. She also looked stunning in her wedding dress. Wanting and needing more to love? Check out Rachel’s More to Love to join her class, read her latest musings, or book Rachel for your next event.-Allie Duarte
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