How losing the one I loved, taught me to love myself even more

Since I was a small girl, I  always had a significant opinion about the way I looked. No matter how hard my mom tried, she wasn’t allowed to touch my hair or say a thing about the way I would walk out of the door.

”The only way I could be myself was to dress the way that I wanted to, but I didn’t.”

When I went to high school and saw how girls and boys responded to the appearience of people, I became even more conscious of how I looked, how I did my hair, and how I dressed. This period wasn’t a great time for me. I struggled to express myself. The only way I could be myself was to dress the way that I wanted to, but I didn’t. So why didn’t I? I didn’t because I wanted to fit in and didn’t want people to judge me.

‘‘I’m afraid that when you get older you won’t age pretty and will get fatter.”

It got worse around age sixteen.
I was skinny but believed I was fat.
My boyfriend at the time didn’t help very much; he was telling me to eat less and go to the gym more. A sentence that will never leave my mind was ‘I’m afraid that when you get older you won’t age pretty and will get fatter’. He even mentioned other girls and said he knew they would age nicely and wouldn’t get fat.
Love makes blind, right?

Then I went to Australia for four months, which truly changed my world forever. BYRON BAY. I was seventeen, alone and just finished high school. When I arrived, the first thing I felt was freedom: freedom from everyone’s opinion, being away from all the bullshit. Everyone in Australia was kind, they took me under their wing, and nobody cared about the way I looked or where I came from. I had never met people that were so loving. Australia is where I learned to truly love my body, to appreciate my body. The body that would walk me to the beach, swim me trough the ocean, kept me warm when I was cold. I learned that what my body looks like did not matter. I learned to love myself. So for me, body positivity is love for your body, taking care of your body’s needs and not giving a f**** about what other people think of it.

”That year I barely took care of myself, not eating, overeating, and the judgements of people around me made me insecure.

Australia is also where my modeling career started: I felt great and signed with agents.
I moved to London to work there as a curvy model and planned to stay there for a couple of months.
When everything started to work out for me, I got a phone call from my mom.
She was very sick. Pancreatic cancer, spread throughout her whole body and a tumor the size of a football.
I had to come home right away. It felt like my world came crashing down. I took care of my mom for a year. That year I barely took care of myself, not eating, overeating, and the judgements of people around me made me insecure. I tried to block out every emotion I had, to be strong for her but that’s what also made it worse. She died on the 10th of June 2018. After my mom’s death I realized that life is too short to care about what other people think of you. Only you have the power to create the life that you want to live, and if you are going to wait, or blindly follow the things other people do, it will distract you from finding your own path.

”She couldn’t buy herself a winter coat or new bras because she wanted for us to be able to play a sports or a musical instrument.”


My mom was the strongest woman I knew. She raised two kids by herself, whilst working and trying to keep us happy. She was crazy but the good kind of crazy, the funniest and the kindest woman. She couldn’t buy herself a winter coat or new bras because she wanted for us to be able to play sports or a musical instrument. Her good karma came and she built herself an empire in the oil & gas recruitment business.
She enjoyed life to the fullest and made us the happiest kids on earth. She had compassion and love for everyone which I still admire. I still get messages every month from people I don’t know, who say how much my mom helped them or what she did for them and what a special person she was, out of which I get so much energy.


I felt rushed when it came to being comfortable with my body and my grief. Everyone expected me to be happy with myself because I was a model or looked confident, but the most important thing is to do everything in your own time. If you rush it, it will not work. I worked on being happy with myself for 7 years and finally accepted ME. Don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of your journey. Just because they grew a tree in a week doesn’t mean your tree grows in the same pace.  


It took a long time for me to find my flow again.
I had to let go of people who made me feel insecure or who made me feel like I had to be someone I was not.
I tried to only do things that I really liked. Choosing for myself. Meditation, walking and singing/dancing my stress away. Deep breaths in and out. I unfollowed (on Instagram) all the people who didn’t make me feel right.
Try not to compare yourself with other people, you are your own person and there is no one like you. Be proud of that!


This was a place of letting go for me, letting go of things that weren’t important and people/things that didn’t make my life better. Meditation comes in many different forms.
For me music and walking was a form of meditation or just laying down and closing my eyes and meditating, with a voice I feel the most comfortable with. Find a way, whatever it may be, for you to take a moment for yourself. Write down the things you are grateful for and the things you’d like to achieve. Even if it feels weird in the beginning, you have to start somewhere!


Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
Let the people who make you feel bad go, this will make you feel more inspired and happy. People with bad energy will not bring you to a higher place and are not good for your health.
No matter how hard it is to let people go, you will feel so much better and will have more space for the right people in your life afterwards.

This article was written by Iza IJzerman. Iza is a ‘curvy’ model, who spreads her body positivity trough her social media and shows that grief isn’t a something to be embarrassed about. Losing her mom and only parent at 19 turned her life around and showed her what’s important in life and how to accept the person she is growing in too. She rarely cares about what people think of her and tries to help people to do the same.If you would like to get in touch with Iza, feel free to find her on Instagram at izaijzerman

Photo credits: Sylwia Szyplik

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