Leah, Our Founder
"Leah is an example for all of us in what it means to be courageous. She is beautiful inside and out, and her tremendous values and work with the creation and growth of the Curvy Girls is a model for anyone looking to be inspired, motivated, and empowered.”
-Nick Cannon, Chairman of TeenNick, Creator TeenNick HALO Awards, Host of America's Got Talent, CEO of NCredible Ent
Fitting in isn’t easy when you’re a teenager wearing a body brace 23/7. I was finishing my first year in middle school when I was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and had to wear that “thing” to school. I wore my brace faithfully despite arguments and failed attempts to hide my brace in my locker. Ultimately, I required surgery to correct the two curves growing in my back. On June 27, 2007, I had two titanium rods and 22 screws affixed to my spine. My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to dance for a year.
How did Curvy Girls begin? My intention was simple — I wanted to talk to other girls who were going through the same thing — feeling alone, different, angry about their brace, and worried about having to have surgery.
After attending an all adult group meeting and wishing they had one like that for kids, my mom said that I could start one. At my orthopedic appointment I told them about my idea and they offered to send out flyers to all their “scoli” patients. That’s when the calls started coming in. I held our first group in 2006 right before my fourteenth birthday with 4 girls — one of which was me! At our first group we talked about clothes and I brought down shirts to show how to disguise our braces by top-layering.
What do you talk about in group? We discuss concerns like how to tell other kids about your scoliosis and how to talk to our doctors about how we feel. We give each other clothing tips and talk about regular stuff that teenagers talk about. Most of all we support each other so we don’t feel alone.
What makes Curvy Girls a success? It’s a kids' group run by a kid! We are the experts of our bodies and we can empower each other to speak up about how we feel. Some girls have traveled up to 2 hours to attend our monthly meetings. Scoliosis affects us both physically and mentally — while the back brace is supporting our bodies, Curvy Girls is our emotional brace. We need to help our girls feel better about themselves from the inside out.
What was it like to have TeenNick contact you? It was so amazing when I was contacted by TeenNick. I cried in my mom’s office. It felt as if everything I had gone through was being acknowledged at that point. I feel very lucky and some times I still can't believe this happened. Nickelodeon did an incredible thing when they created the HALOs. Because of that show, Curvy Girls became more than a group at my house but helped girls across the country, and now the world, see that they aren't alone. I am forever grateful.