Conversations From Within | GABRIELLE RUIZ

words // Olga Martinova

I want to be the best version of myself. The trouble is, we all have many versions of ourselves which depend on various aspects of our lives and the people we are surrounded by.

Self-image is crucial for most people, but mainly for those who are exposed to the public eye and its judgment. It is not easy to stay true and authentic to one’s own self in a world that changes its values at cosmic speed. People who are susceptible to these cultural changes do the same.

So, who makes the rules and dictates what?

No One.

I want to be the best version of myself regardless of the situation, the people surrounding me, life’s conditions, my mood, or my emotional state… Self-Image is not only a facade, it should also express my beliefs, values, and my true identity. It doesn’t have to be perfect; other people don’t have to agree with it (most people will always find faults); it doesn’t have to stick to the same “version of self” either, because self-evolution creates constant changes in us. Yet, the core should remain unalterable. The Essence of Me will last me a lifetime. It’s up to us who we choose to be.

I want to have a brave heart so that I’ll have enough courage to stand my ground. Throughout my life, I want to be the only version of myself, a person no one else can beat.

words // Gabrielle Ruiz

The first time my perception of body image was challenged was the end of my junior year in high school when my boyfriend and I dramatically broke up.

The summer leading into my senior year, I was a shriveling 108 pounds and I had no idea that I had lost weight until I returned to school and my cheerleading coach yelled at me. “Mija! You are way too skinny! It doesn’t look good. You look unhealthy!” It was then that the image in the mirror changed. I noticed my clothes were too big, my breasts shrank, and my cheekbones were protruding. When my coach scolded me, the first feeling that came to me was, shame. But then came a dark sense of pride. I WAS too skinny. “Doesn’t everybody wish for this problem?” I asked myself. Isn’t this what the world shows in magazines? Getting attention for being too skinny felt rewarding in the darkest way.

I handle stress and depression through unconscious weight loss. The majority of people covet weight loss, especially considering the alternative is weight gain, and tell me how lucky I am. Am I truly lucky to have mental stress and fatigue? Am I lucky when I’m so depressed that food tastes like dirt to me and I starve myself without knowing it? Am I lucky when I do this to my body? What
do you think happens to my head and my heart when I eventually gain the weight back? The world tells us that weight gain is bad; losing weight is good. The world is wrong! Unhappiness is bad. If my unhappiness leads to weight loss, I must find a way to be happy even if it means gaining weight. My body is good. My body is beautiful and it’s the only one I have.

When I was in the studio shooting images for this article, I was lamenting how I went up a pant size. I immediately caught myself bullshitting. I’m honestly not concerned that I went up a pant size. My good friend visiting the shoot said, “Your booty is nicer than JLo’s! Thank Goodness!” She’s right: thank goodness I realized at that moment that I went up a pant size, because I am happy. I am HAPPY and my body is beautiful. I am beautiful – I look in the mirror and see an empowered woman taking on the world. This fashion shoot reminded me of that. It was also the same day as my two-year anniversary with my husband. I found the man of my dreams. He loves me and accepts me just the way I am. I do too!

And on top of that, I am on my fourth season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; I’m on the TV show of my dreams. I go to work and get to sing and act my heart out. I eventually realized that body image is in my head. My happiness is beautiful and overwhelming. The size of my happiness is what defines me, not the size of a shirt or the number on a pair of pants. I remind myself of that on days when things are not going my way. I won’t take it out on my body. It will pass.

My body is beautiful. I am beautiful. I am me.
photography // Mike Azria | stylist // Angela Solouki | make up artist // Natalie Malchev | hair stylist // Adriana Bena