Lessons on self-love, body acceptance and loving who you are: An interview with Candace Molatore

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I had the good fortune to sit down for a conversation with an incredible woman in my community, Candace Molatore, who is a talented photographer and creative branding & social media expert. Beyond these wonderful accolades, she’s also a passionate advocate for self-love. While I was initially drawn to her photography skills, it’s her proud voice, standing up and speaking out about the importance of self-love and acceptance, that I find incredibly inspiring.

After sitting down together, I can tell you, she’s even more uplifting in person than she is via her beautiful Instagram photos. I’m honored Candace took the time to sit down with me, and I hope you find our conversation insightful & inspiring!

A little teaser, we had too much conversation to include in just one blog post, so this will be a two-part post. This instance will provide you with insight into her story, which has shaped her message and passion, and the next post will give you tactical tips & tricks for putting her advice into daily practice. Without further ado I give you my interview on self-love, acceptance and empowerment with Candace Molatore!

Let’s start of by having you tell us a little about yourself!

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and adopted by my parents when I was two weeks old. I was grew up in Oregon City, Oregon, where I was raised in an all white family, in a majority white town. I had a challenging time in my childhood figuring out how & where to fit in. It wasn’t for lack of love, I have an incredibly loving and supportive family, but I found it challenging to fit in & feel accepted by my peers.

At an early age I recognized that I was different, but instead of shying away or avoiding the differences, I embraced my uniqueness. I became very outgoing, always meeting new people and being a social butterfly.

In high school I began exploring my creative side. Tools from my early childhood skills helped me fearlessly explore my creative side. I began a personal style blog, fueled by my love of beauty, fashion and style; it’s my blog that led me to discover my love of photography. I began exploring portrait photography, and devoting more of my time to photo shoots, editing and building my portfolio. I’m a completely self-taught photographer, and thru my blog I discovered that my photos seem to resonate most with my audience.

After high school I gained weight, and took comfort begin behind the camera instead of in front of the lense. I loved the art of photography but was scared to put myself out there, to let my story be shared, and instead I focused on images & stories of others. That all changed, one day when I shared a photo of myself on vacation, where I didn’t try to hide my body or who I am. In this vulnerable moment I received an outpouring of support, positive feedback and encouragement for putting myself out there.

This moment redirected my path. I stopped holding back my story, and shifted my style blog to include more vulnerability & honesty. More than just beautiful images, I wanted to provide content with heart, soul and my personal voice. My journey has taught me the importance of always being yourself, and the importance of experimenting and have fun. I know my purpose is to be a self-love advocate, spreading the message of body love & positivity thru my own vulnerability, and encouraging those around me to do the same.

How did you find yourself in the health and wellness space, and specifically speaking out with a positive message of self-love & acceptance?

I found myself in the health & wellness space due to the clients I began working with. Tea Bar, where I work in Marketing, is very wellness focused. Everything is hand made and organic. I was also an intern at barre3 where I dove into the fitness spectrum of the health & wellness world. It was at barre3 that I got to know Kait Hurley. Kait is now a Portland entrepreneur specializing in online movement & meditation classes. All these areas influenced my picture of health & wellness.

What changes do you hope to see in the Health & Wellness space?

The Health & Wellness space is becoming more inclusive but it’s certainly a work in progress. For a long time “healthy” had a very specific type, which most of us don’t look like, myself included. Everyone has seen this body ideal, and frankly it’s boring to have the same type represented. I want to see a variety of options, that’s what breeds love & acceptance and lets everyone be seen & heard.

I’d like there to be an understanding and acceptance of all body types - this is my hope. By seeing more variety in body types represented we can all learn to love and accept our own bodies exactly as they are. I hope we all show support and show up when you see different body types represented.

I want the Health & Wellness community to be a welcoming & safe space. In order for this community to build you have to see yourself in it, and feel both loved & accepted. Again this is where variety comes in. I don’t want to see the same perfect fitness model. I want to see a movie role for a handicapped woman who easily falls madly in love. I want to see a red haired tall woman who has a super successful career and is completely happy being single. Slowly we’re seeing this diversity emerge and my hope is that builds and creates the beautiful and eclectic space where everyone can see themselves represented.

How do you encourage people to seek empowerment in their life?

Find people who lift you up in your life! It can be easy to spiral downward and think you’re less than those around you, but often times this feeling comes from the people we surround ourselves with. Work to avoid comparison, so often we don’t even realize we’re doing it, but we compare ourselves to everyone around us. No one benefits from this comparison; only when we let it go of it do we move forward.

Seek to find people who encourage you to be the best version of yourself. It’s important to find people you can do that for, but also friends that can reciprocate. I always look for friendships where we can dive deeper than the surface level; people who will be whole-heartedly honest with me, and I can be with them.

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Deconstructing Wellness is all about looking at health thru a holistic approach to wellness. How do you feel self-love and empowerment influences your overall picture of health?

It wasn’t until I found love for myself that I felt the best I have in my life!

Your emotional weight has an impact on your physical wellbeing. Emotionally tearing yourself down and criticizing yourself will make you sick from the stress alone. Your body simply can’t perform under these harsh conditions. Consider the effect of the negative thoughts you feed yourself. What you say on the outside resides on the inside.

In the end, there’s no shortcut, you have to do the work. Put in the time and ask yourself the hard questions, and I assure you it’s all worth it.

How do you use social media as a vehicle to drive acceptance and positivity, when we can often feel negativity surrounding the internet?

Look at where you’re getting your influences from, and how they making you feel. For me, I found that my social media feed was making me feel poorly. It was full of super models, who had fine messages and beautiful images, but made me myself badly at the end of the day. I recommend unfollowing anyone who doesn’t inspire you, or makes you feel less than you are. The information you’re fed throughout the day has a huge impact on your self worth. Don't be afraid to from anyone doesn’t lift you up, you have the control to change the information you consume.

We hear so much about balance, and I’m finding that boundaries are much more beneficial to successfully establishing a sense of “balance” in life. Do you agree, and what do boundaries look like for you?

I love this way of looking at the concept of balance! I agree that seeking to achieve perfect “balance” is setting yourself up for failure. What is perfect or balance - really?

There are a few key factors to establishing boundaries. First, accept where you are at. If you’re not made to run a marathon, that’s ok, but stop beating yourself up for not running one. Acknowledge and set goals for yourself, it’s so important to have goals to work towards. But don’t beat yourself up if the outcome wasn’t what you originally thought it should be. Setting a goal is an achievement in an of itself!

Comparison is natural, but it’s not always necessary. You don’t have to compare yourself to an ideal & unachievable version of yourself anymore than you should compare yourself to all the other people you’re surrounded by. They may look perfect but I guarantee they’re also in the comparison rat race and feeling disappointed as well.

I would look at boundaries as limits in a positive way, they’re a way to protect yourself. Limiting isn’t always the negative connotation it comes across with.

What gets you excited to jump out of bed in the morning? 

I absolutely love my job! I am able to connect with a lot of amazing people and be creative, and this gets me excited for the day ahead.

Also, food! I love trying new recipes or restaurants, I’m always curious and excited about what’s out there.

Feeling confident in my clothes and exploring fashion is also a source of excitement. I set my clothes out for the next day, so I can think it thru ahead of time and have my choices to look forward to.

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What does holistic health mean to you?

Holistic health means focusing on your overall wellbeing of your body & mind. To do this I believe you have to put yourself first physically & mentally. Be accepting of your achievement, and lack thereof, it’s all present to help you grow.

Also, learning to be good to yourself. Practice checking in with yourself, the same way you would for a friend. Give yourself this same time & devotion, and your overall health will soar.

If my community would like to learn more from you, and stay up to date on what you’re doing, how they connect with you?

I’m most active on Instagram, so that’s the best place to connect. I can be found at @hey.candace

I hope you found Candace’s story as encouraging & enlightening as I did! I’d also love to hear from you, how do you prioritize self-love and body acceptance in your life? Or if you don’t, would you consider doing so now? Start up the conversation by commenting below!