by Carson Blair
women of the world:
do not be afraid to touch life too hard.
why is being
the worst crime to be
– Nicole Ozuna
Chills? Me too. As the self-love and body positivity movements are currently trying to transcend societal stereotypes of body shaming and unsettling standards of beauty, UT’s own Nicole Ozuna plays her part as a true self-love advocate, drawing from her own past and current struggles. She uses her awe-inspiring poetry to touch lives, generate responsive feelings and empower others. Not only does she use poetry to spread her positivity; her soul is a keeper of positive vibes.
Having personally experienced her incandescent self in previous school classes, I am overwhelmed with excitement as I drive to meet her for an interview. I know that my average day is about to turn into an illustrious one after being touched by her uplifting spirit.
As I arrive outside her apartment, her presence is as radiant as the sun, and her compassionate smile stretches across the earth. I am greeted with laughs and genuine warmth. We decide to take an adventure to choose an interview spot. We settle on a place foreign to us at the same time that rain begins to trickle down. Before I can begin to complain about the unforeseen droplets, Nicole breathes, “Wow… Rain and sunlight… How beautiful.” Her presence is truly humbling.
We step into Texas French Bread, (which, after this experience, we both highly recommend!) and after gawking at the eclectic interior, we order coffee and sit down. Being the Radio-Television-Film majors that we are, we spend a good ten minutes getting the perfect snapshot of our artisan-crafted coffees alongside a dainty flower arrangement on our table. We decided to dive into the topic of self-love and the body positivity movement once we stop mooning over the steam rising from our hot beverages.
Spark Magazine: To start off with, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your identity?
Nicole Ozuna: My name is Nicole. I am a Chicana, and my pronouns are she and her. I’m a student at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m majoring in film in the honors program, and in my spare time — actually, all the time — I enjoy writing. I love writing poetry and screenplays… and just being with my loved ones and learning how to be a more compassionate person.
SM: Can you expand a little bit upon your Chicana background?
NO: (chuckles) Yes, well, I’m from a border town. So it’s essentially on the border, like a five-minute drive to Mexico. It’s very core to my identity; the fact that I’m a Mexican and a Chicana woman. I feel like that is essentially one of the main pushes for me to care about social justice. It’s easy to not care when it doesn’t really affect you, but it affects me, and it affects everyone that I love. That has even taught me to care about issues that don’t affect me because I know there are real people involved, even if it doesn’t affect you directly. It’s important to care about issues.
SM: So, what is your journey with the social issue of body-positivity, self-love and self-compassion?
NO: I’ve always been plus-sized my entire life, and I always knew that was “bad.” I always knew it was my goal to lose weight. That was every day. I suffered from eating disorders, and it was so interesting because I would do these really awful diets where I would legitimately eat like 100 calories a day. I was in a bunch of sports also, so…imagine that. I would lose so much weight, and…just a world of compliments and validation would come in. Like, “Wow you look so great!” and it’s funny because people will say these things and not know how you got there. And now I look back at it, and I’m like… wow, that’s really shitty. Every day for me was like, a new day to diet, and don’t eat. It was awful. But everyone else was doing it too, you know?
SM: What do you think the roots of this social issue are? Where do the issues begin?
NO: Really, as anyone who identifies as a woman knows, we’re really kind of taught to knit pick at our appearance, which is the “most important think about you” — according to society. We are always looking for the next way to feel beautiful. Really all of these things just kind of reinforce the idea that we are second-class citizens. That is a way that we are pressed, to always care about our appearance, solely. It is the core of who we are, to our worth, to gaining approval in society. Some people go through their lives without ever even realizing that is wrong and unjust how we are meant to monitor and police our appearance every single day. I feel like some people die, not even questioning that.
SM: How did you begin to battle off these stereotypical “good” body type ways of thinking, and begin to explore self-love?
NO: I think one day I was on Instagram, and I saw a plus-sized model. Seeing my body type in an acceptable lens… or like fashioned to be the pinnacle of something important, beautiful and revolutionary really changed the way I saw everything. I was like, “Wait, so I like don’t have to live with my sole purpose of becoming…skinny? Like I can do that? I can celebrate my body?” That really changed everything for me. Just this community of people who had also gone through a major phase where we were born and told we were unacceptable; our bodies were wrong. And, now realized that we don’t have to abide by that. You kind of shift your mind to say, “Hey, I’m worth something, I should celebrate myself.”
SM: What do you think the impacts are of self-love?
NO: That self-love, and self-compassion, I think it changes your entire life. I genuinely think it changes your entire life, it opens you up to new experiences. The little revolution in your head, it literally transformed me. I began to view myself… not merely as beautiful. For me, my goal isn’t to be beautiful because I think self-love transcends that. It’s much bigger than how you look. Or even like, ‘fat is beautiful,’ or things like that are very important, and they empower us…but… there’s more than that. You don’t have to be beautiful. Just you, at your very core, are worthy and beautiful, and it’s not just based on your appearance. I don’t think your life begins until you start loving yourself, I really don’t.
SM: Where do you think finding self-love starts? How do people begin that journey?
NO: So, the journey to begin loving yourself and celebrating your life, and celebrating the love you carry within yourself, it takes a lot of undoing. It doesn’t always feel beautiful. You have to completely rewire the way you talk to yourself. What you say, when you look in the mirror… What you say when no one is around. Not performativity; it’s for yourself, and it is very personal. We have to be soft, gentle and compassionate with ourselves. So, just eliminating the negative, deconstructive, fatalistic voices that we all have in our head that are like, “You are worthless. You don’t look good in that dress. You’re never going to become an astronaut.” We really have to flip the script on that, and it’s hard. It takes a lot of consciousness about how you treat yourself and others, and how you treat the world, and being more gentle with life and yourself I think.
SM: For you, does your self-identity play into your self-love? Was there ever a time you didn’t fully embrace who you were with your Chicana, woman of color background?
NO: So, the fact that I’m a Chicana attempting to love my identity was also a huge battle because we are all born into this very white-washed ideal of what is acceptable. Especially when you’re a person of color, you really do grow up trying to fit into the mold of…white. You really are punished by society when you attempt to deviate in any way from the mold of acceptability. We all need to uplift voices that have been persecuted historically, the voices of women, people of color, the LGTB community (which I’m also a part of, I identify as pan-sexual). There are other voices out there that aren’t being heard, and it feels like such a privilege that I can talk about it, so I need to. I feel like if I’m not working for groups that are marginalized, then I’m not being true to my message of bringing love and light into the world.
SM: How does self-love fit into your style?
NO: For so long, I dressed the way plus-sized people are “supposed to dress” — hiding, not accentuating anything that shouldn’t be accentuated. Kind of using clothes as a shield to not be noticed as plus-sized. I put a lot of consideration and love into choosing what I wear. Somedays that means just being really comfortable, and other days it’s just like, colors! Colors and statement patterns and stuff like that. Whatever I do choose to wear, I know that since I’m choosing it with love that it’s going to look good on me. It does creep up on me a lot — just the old way of thinking that I can’t show certain parts of my body. On days like that, I particularly choose to do those things so I can grow further. It’s kind of like stepping on those thoughts, and saying, “Sorry, you lost.”
SM: You write really beautiful, powerful poetry. What inspires it?
NO: Poetry comes as natural to me as walking does. It feels like a very dear friend of mine. The inspiration for it comes from just things I’m most fascinated by. At the core, it’s always about love, and love in many vessels, not just romantic. Society really positions romantic love to be the most important form of love, but honestly, I’ve gotten much more fulfillment from friendship love, or sometimes familial love. The love for myself, the love that I am using to combat these… kind of negative things I’m plagued with sometimes. But I need to write; it’s a compulsion. My poetry is often inspired by my identity as a Chicana or my identity in the LGBT community or as a plus-sized woman. Because I’ve experienced various battles, I know I can use it as a weapon. Just sorting out these emotions and hopefully help someone else with them one day. •
a soft shared
of divinity, grace,
and the undying realization
beautiful is around the corner
– Nicole Ozuna
Driven by creativity, Carson Blair is a second-year Radio-Television-Film major. Her interest in film stems from her deep passion for photography, and she pursues freelance photography outside of classes. In her free time, she can be found adventuring around Austin and collaborating with other creatives.