The Black Butterfly: Morgan Matthews

In 10th grade in Decatur, GA at Cedar Grove High School, there was 1 person that would light up my world. She was my best friend and was a goal setting, achieving, humble, loyal and beautiful person. At the time, there was one word she would never ever describe herself as: beautiful. As a dark skinned, curly, natural hair (pre Shea Moisture, CURLS, etc.) and athletic built, she would often get passed up before the fair skinned, curvy girls. But today it's a different world! Lupita is damn near President, natural hair is the new standard and darker tones are WINNNNING. Morgan is now busy in Hotlanta with photoshoots, runways and being BOLD with her self worth and self love. The girl that used to doubt herself now loves herself so much she decided to make a career out of it! I had to interview her. This is her story:

Beautiful…There’s a word I would have never used to describe myself 10 years ago. But today as I sit in different makeup chairs and sets, I find people saying with astonishment, “Morgan, you’re so beautiful”; it’s really a full circle moment. I’m still hesitant with accepting compliments, but I started to truly believe I was beautiful starting in college.

I am darker than most of my family and friends and I’ve always felt like an outcast. I walked with my head down and never wanted to socialize outside of my immediate circle. I was made fun of for having an afro [it wasn’t cool to be natural back then], being darker than most, speaking proper English and how skinny my frame was. I remember being in the 5th grade when I looked in the mirror and started to question the way I looked. The young girls around me were developing faster, growing up and I felt behind. It was a combination of the bullying and always feeling alone that stemmed my low self-esteem. I couldn’t afford the name brands and new shoes everyone else was rocking, so I had to work with what I had. The boys weren’t really feeling me either and I was smart, so I was automatically the geek chick in their eyes. I never thought I would grow into my own. One thing I would have told my younger self is “babygirl none of the people who make fun of you will pay your bills or be in your life in a couple years; relax and let it all play out”. I went elementary throughout high school feeling this same way year after year. I was Improving, but never quite confident.

My overall self-assurance didn’t really kick in until I joined a modeling group my freshman year at Valdosta State University, called FuZion Modelz. I went to their model call super unprepared. I showed up late, over-dressed, sweaty, but still very optimistic. That entire 2-day audition experience changed my life. I don’t think those girls will ever realize the confidence joining their organization or getting to know them meant to me. From my first ever photo shoot to multiple fashion shows, girls’ nights, confidence builders, practices and sharing a bond with people I’m still in touch with today. Modeling became my outlet. I felt pretty when my hair and makeup were done. Walking down the runway made me feel lighter, admired and I secretly liked all of the attention. I had the pleasure of having an alter ego. But beyond the makeup, the group taught me leadership, how to be more feminine and how to network among my peers. Skills I needed beyond graduation.

Fast forward to 2018; 2 years after graduating college I finally decided to take modeling a bit more seriously. I was doing a couple of fashion shows and shoots around Atlanta within that year, but as I progressed and more people started to reach out, I felt like this could at least be a side gig that I needed to tap into. I prayed and spoke into the universe that I wanted to start somewhere with modeling, no matter how small, I needed to just do it.  

Personally I believe modeling is very beneficial for young women in development. It’s more than just taking pretty pictures and waking down a catwalk. The art teaches you posture, flair, stage presence, in some cases etiquette, self-awareness/esteem and more-so better physical fitness when you want to look better in the garments.

I still struggle sometimes with acceptance of my own “standard of beauty” and letting comparison creep up in my thought process. But that timid and tired Morgan is long gone. I am beauty in all its worthiness and walk with a crown on my head every day. I have embraced my uniqueness and won’t let another soul make me feel any less than God’s artwork. My message to any woman that wants to pursue modeling, young or older, is to just start. You are special in your own right. Embrace every curve and curl on your body.  Let no one tell you what you can’t do regarding your height or weight; there’s a market for that! And love you, all of you! Until next time, stay beautiful.

Morgan is probably prepping for a photoshoot as we speak. Her journey to modeling inspires me so much to live my truth (whatever that is!) If you find this story as inspiring as it is for me, you can keep up with Morgan by following her on Instagram:  @_goodsoul


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