By Alexis Jones
Alexis Jones is an expert on confidence, courage and accomplishment. At only 26 years old she has navigated the beauty industry as a teen model, survived reality TV as a top finalist on “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” and founded the empowerment company i am that girl.
This is the first of a series of blogs she’ll write for us on Generation Y, body image, identity, empowerment and “Bellism,” or her new brand of feminism.
I had it all -- well, everything the world says is important -- pop culture’s checklist for happiness: Be beautiful, rich, famous, date the Abercrombie model, host a TV show, walk the red carpet, be fashionable and get the oh-so-exclusive invite to VIP parties. Check, check, and check. Then why at 22 did I wake up wondering how I had missed the happy train and why I, who (according to the world) “had it all,” was painfully lonely, insecure and desperately seeking substance in a world inundated with fluff, phony smiles and facades of perfection?
You see, I grew up alongside my four older brothers. I was a southern bell and Texas tomboy with an affinity for college football. I attended a wealthy school in Austin, but unlike my friends’ parents who drove new Porsches, we sported a jaundice-colored 1976 Malibu. “The last of the muscle cars,” my mom would say, like that at all justified my humiliation at her pulling in to pick me up after volleyball practice. So in my defense I bought into the glamorous stories of Hollywood starlets. I believed that if my body was the right size, my shoes the right color, my purse the right brand, then I too would dance in the world of glitz and glam. It really was a 21st century Cinderella story; only my happy ending had to be re-written.
I went on a little TV show called Survivor, and it changed my life forever. I was forced to leave behind everything I thought mattered and endure a brutal battle with Mother Nature for 33 days. I broke my hand, blew out my knee, macheted my foot, passed out three times, went 13 days without eating and lost 30 pounds. It took the hardest experience of my life for me to finally meet myself, the REAL Alexis. Because if I’m being honest, I was so busy being everything to everyone else that I had never gotten around to being me. After sleeping on the ground for a month, being rained on daily and feasted on by mosquitoes nightly, I found out what I was really made of. I traded in my diamond earrings for integrity, my Prada purse for resilience, my high heels for an unwavering work ethic and my “perfect body” for compassion. I had to be stripped of everything to discover that my self-worth no longer danced on the approval of others because my beauty spawns from within and having a sense of humor (in spite of eating bats) makes life a little brighter.
I came home on a mission to change our society’s programming of women. It was like a zombie movie, only they were engineering girls into comatose dolls and I found the cure to change us back. So I created a company called i am that girl, dedicated to inspiring authentic confidence in girls and women everywhere. We recently launched a movement called Bellism, geared towards redefining society’s narrow definition of “beauty” and reminding women everywhere that we are in fact on the same team. I wanted our generation to pick up where our moms left off, to humbly and with great honor carry the torch to further the tenets of feminism and incorporate the new challenges facing girls today.
Like a wolf in sheepskin, I am a women’s rights activist in a reality TV star’s body and this is just the beginning. A revolution is brewing. So Bellists UNITE! We have a world to change, women to inspire and a movement to ignite.
Alexis Jones founded the empowerment company i am that girl. She has a Masters in Communication Management from USC and is a leader in creating social change, global awareness, and empowerment for women. Alexis has created a bold reputation for herself in the motivational speaking world due not only to her exceptional life experience, but her commitment to critical inquiry into women’s issues and her passion for inspiring people to recognize and fulfill their highest potential. Alexis will be on tour in 2010 for the launch of her new book, Be That Girl, I Dare You. For more information on Alexis, please visit www.alexisjones.com and www.iamthatgirl.com.