Sarah Potenza has had an incredible few years. After appearing on NBC's The Voice in 2015, the 36-year-old launched a singing career and recently put out a new album, Monster. In an interview with The Providence Journal earlier this year, Potenza explained how her new music was all about striving for success being someone who isn't conventionally beautiful.
"I am a [size] 16, but I want to celebrate that," she said. "I want to say I'm a size 16, but I'm beautiful ... in the song, I'm trying to reclaim the word 'monster.' I have monster confidence and monster talent, and I know it."
Now, the talented musician wants to share that "monster confidence" with other women in her shoes — showing them that their bodies don't have to define them as people.
In an empowering essay for Bust, Potenza opens up about her journey to self-love and how it was anything but easy. "I never thought I would love myself the way I do today," she writes. "Growing up I thought I was cursed by my size and my personality. Not only am I big, but I am smart and outgoing. It was a deadly combination for hetero high school romance. The friend zone was my life. I had long-term crushes on boys who showed no interest in me and I fooled around with guys who told me we had to keep it a secret....I was the funny undateable sidekick. The perfect companion for girls who didn't like competition."
Unfortunately, things didn't lighten up as she transitioned into womanhood. As a struggling musician in Chicago, Potenza watched other musician's careers race past hers. And she blamed it on their appearance. "I hated skinny people," she writes. "They had it so easy."
It wasn't until she started working for a young, talented musician in Nashville that she realized a person's success has nothing to do with their size. "She broke all the stereotypes I thought about skinny girls," Potenza said. "I realized I was totally wrong. I was the judgmental one! All of a sudden it hit me. The world was not rejecting me. I had been rejecting the world."
With a new and improved outlook on life, Potenza decided it was time to make a change. "I decided to try something I had never tried before," she wrote. "Instead of hating the clothes I couldn't fit into, I found clothes that I loved in my size. I started to shop for clothes, and for the first time in my life I was happy with them. I tried on new things. I went exploring for plus sized shops. I shopped men's. I shopped maternity. I didn't get angry about what was not out there for me. I got into what was out there for me."
After embracing her body and changing her look, everything followed. Her family, who previously judged her for her size, began to respect her, other artists began to notice and appreciate her music, and by 2014, she received a call from The Voice asking her to come and audition. "The love I felt for myself was contagious," she says.
Even though Potenza didn't end up winning the popular singing competition, the experience changed her life. "My fanbase has grown so much in past two years, and it's because they can see me now," she writes. "So if you are out there hiding behind some baggy clothes, thinking that you can't look your best until you lose weight, you are wrong. Maybe the world is easy for skinny people, maybe not. I don't know, I have never walked in those shoes. But I do know that being yourself is a magical thing. And you can't be yourself until you love yourself."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Head over to Bust to read Potenza's entire essay.