Sarah Smith, Body Positive Influencer and Plus Size Model delivered an informational yet inspirational speech to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville students on her experience as an influencer and public relations professional.
Smith attended Utica College of Syracuse University, now known as Utica University, for a degree in public relations with a concentration in sports public relations. In her junior and senior years, she was vice president and then president of her local PRSSA chapter.
During her senior year, she was offered two internship positions: One for the public relations department of New York Rangers hockey team, and the other for the communications department for the New York City sports commissioner. Choosing hockey was an easy choice as she had always loved the sport.
Even with such a promising future in public relations, Smith had struggled with her body image since she was a child. Nonetheless, she continued her path as everyone does and graduated in 2005.
Unfortunately, that year the NHL lockout began, therefore, losing job opportunities in the sport. Turning hardship into an opportunity, Smith chose to go back to school and get her Master’s Degree in Organizational Communications from Marist College.
During this time, she was a temped for BlueCross BlueShield in Central New York. She performed well in her position and was invited to full-time employment after receiving her graduate degree. She’s been with the company for the past 16 years and currently serves as a National Programs Business Analyst.
How did her fame begin? Smith emphasizes that her career foundation was already set before her rise to fame.
Smith’s rise to influencer status happened quite literally overnight. During the late-night hours, she decided to post a few pictures of herself to gain the attention and excitement of a former flame. With the addition of some carefully considered hashtags, she went to sleep that night with no expectations. During those hours of the night her post was getting attention – a lot of attention!
The next morning, Smith’s phone was overloaded with notifications. She went to bed with 160 followers. After the week was over, she had nearly 15,000 followers. The photos of herself had gone viral. She was being contacted by companies and agencies across the nation and many private messages of what one can imagine. A shocker to her, as she was not used to the positive attention regarding her body.
Growing up, Smith recalls never seeing much representation of women like her in movies, magazines, or anything in the media. Seeing those like yourself in popular media can affect one’s self-esteem, especially on how they’re represented. Now having become popular in media, she uses her influence to represent those like her, or underrepresented.
“I have been alive for 41 years and I never learned to appreciate my body until I was about 35,” states Sarah Smith.
Smith didn’t stop at becoming a one-hit-wonder. She currently has 132,000 followers on Instagram and manages it herself. She is a published cover and campaign plus-size model, brand ambassador for Superfit Hero, and founder of The Glass Palace: a free directory of healthcare professionals committed to treating people of size holistically, safely, and respectfully.
Check out Smith’s page for yourself at @sarahggp.