Meet our Mentors
Olivia Jamiah Gillian Sara Jenny Rachel Leah
Who are Mentors? Like you, Mentors are Curvy Girls who sought out peer support during the early teen years of their scoliosis journeys. They each started CG Chapters in their local communities. Now they continue in the CG spirit of giving back by providing support and guidance to CG Chapter Leaders around the world. (not pictured Katelyn, Bridget, Emily, Marie, Gabrielle)
I cried. I screamed. I vowed I would never wear it! And then one day it almost started to feel comfortable. I found Curvy Girls one night freshman year and through the years I changed from the girl who hid her brace to the girl who didn't care if you could see my brace.
I know the challenges of starting a group. I started the first Massachusetts CG group with only one member. Other girls would come and go but as long as one member kept coming, I knew I was making a difference.
Curvy Girls showed me that I'm not alone and let me create some of the most amazing friendships I will ever have. Because CG had such an incredible impact on my life, I want to continue to pay it forward. I still consider scoliosis to be an integral part of who I am; it showed me how strong I am, and gave me the confidence I needed. I want to give that to you!
I can recall my first visit getting my brace. My doctor sat my mom and I down and explained to us what my new brace would look like. How I would wear it for 23 hours a day. I remember getting into the car and crying all the way home.
When I first started wearing my brace, I was so upset. I tried not to tell my peers but it felt like everyone was staring. So a few weeks later, I decided to be open about it. I showed off my brace like it was a first place prize in a competition that I didn't really plan on participating in. I spoke up about my experience and it made all the difference! I was much more outgoing. I was proud and finally feel comfortable with my scoliosis. I wore my brace proudly right through till grade eleven. It was frustrating still wearing my brace through high school and I lived in a never-ending cycle of appointments.
I ended up having spinal fusion surgery in 2014, the final semester of my grade eleven years. Surgery has allowed me to grow even more as a person as I have learnt how strong I truly am. Throughout my experience with scoliosis and with Curvy Girls, I have been able to develop into a kind, passionate, strong, and confident woman. I am incredibly open about my experience. My time as a Leader, and now Board Member, has allowed me to see just how important Curvy Girls is for families. I know that when I am frustrated or upset, or even if I have exciting news, Curvy Girls is always the first place I go! I hope to continue offering support and reminding girls that your scoliosis does not define you, it makes you stronger!
Read about Gillian's advocacy in research: www.jospt.org/do/10.2519/jospt.blog.20210331
After being diagnosed with scoliosis at the end of 6th grade, I wore a Boston Brace diligently for a year and had surgery in 8th grade. I never would have thought that 8 years later I would still be talking about scoliosis but scoliosis still is an important part of my personal story.
Curvy Girls helped me to become confident in myself and provided me with skills to advocate for myself, facilitate small group meetings and form relationships across the world. I started the So. Maryland group after meeting with Leah in D.C. and ran it until leaving for college.
As a leader I was connected to girls in my community and around the world who could understand my experiences with scoliosis. As a Senior Leader and Mentor, I am able to encourage other CG Leaders to establish strong friendships with each other and help them continue the legacy of giving back to their local communities.
Moving forward, I am interested in working in elder care. After my involvement with Curvy Girls, I continue to see how it is important to consider the social, emotional and spiritual well-being of people in addition to serving their physical needs.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 14 – no pain, no prior recognition of my condition – and was immediately told I would have to undergo spinal fusion surgery. The suddenness of my diagnosis and my surgery, not even a year later, changed my life in countless ways, both physical and emotional.
In school, I frequently shared about scoliosis – these are my x-rays, this is my scar, this is what happened to me – but I didn’t share how any of it made me feel. I didn’t tell anyone that it seemed like my body and my mind were against me. I didn’t tell anyone how anxious and angry and alone I was – until I met another girl who had scoliosis and was fused. She started a Curvy Girls chapter in our area that I attended regularly for five years.
With Curvy Girls’ patient, fierce support, I came to accept my experience with scoliosis and I realized I could decide what it means to me. Today, I am proud to have scoliosis as part of my identity. I love my body (crookedness and all) and I'm energized by helping children and adolescents work through difficult feelings surrounding diagnoses and treatments. I am studying to become a Child Life Specialist.
When I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at 13-years-old, I was self-conscious and very embarrassed. I would layer my clothing so no one could see my C-shaped back. In fact, I told my best friend that I had Scoliosis and made her promise not to tell anyone else. However, because of my experience with Curvy Girls, I gained confidence in my body and embraced my Scoliosis. By ninth grade, I was presenting information on Scoliosis, my experience, and Curvy Girls to the middle school girls in my town at their school. Today, as a 21-year-old, I proudly show my scar, wear whatever clothing I feel my best in, and welcome any conversation about Scoliosis that may arise.
I can not thank all of the wonderful people I have met because of Curvy Girls who have helped me become more confident in the person that I am and the body that I have. Due to my experiences with Curvy Girls, I know the incredible impact that the organization can have on a young girl going through her Scoliosis journey. Curvy Girls and families around the world were there for me during my journey and they continue to support me. It is my turn to give back and give the same support that I received to the community who helped me become the young woman that I am today.
To all of my Curvy Girls and families: I have your back.
When I attended my first Curvy Girls meeting, I was a shy and scared 13-year-old. Although I didn't talk at all, listening to the other girls' stories made me feel like I wasn't alone. I truly struggled with my Boston back brace and hated my scoliosis. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to deal with, but with the support of Curvy Girls and lots of determination I got through it.
After I finished bracing, I decided I wanted to help other girls who were going through the same thing so I continued to attend meetings to give back. It took me a while, but I finally found my voice, and was asked to Co-Lead the Curvy Girls Long Island, NY Chapter.
A few years later I moved and became the new leader of the NY Capital Region chapter. I decided I wanted to be a Senior Leader Mentor to help other leaders, and support them while they run their own chapter. I truly enjoy connecting with the Leaders in the Northeast and Ohio region, and sharing ideas, thoughts and experiences with each other.
I was twelve when I got The Brace. It made me feel squished, embarrassed, and small. I felt my Scoliosis had robbed me of the chance to have a normal life. Recognizing my pain, my mom gave me Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls. As I devoured the book, each story made me feel a little less alone.
Curvy Girls awakened the confidence within myself to love and accept my Scoliosis. I started the Iowa chapter in 2014 and have been a leader ever since. I am elated to continue to give back in this new role and continue Leah’s tradition of “Doing it for the next girl.”
After being braced when I was 11, I knew I needed some help getting through this difficult situation. I found Curvy Girls online and decided to become the Philadelphia leader in 2014. I ended up having surgery when I was 14, and would not change a thing about my scoliosis journey. Bracing and surgery were not easy, but through Curvy Girls and by dedicating my past to helping other girls in the future, I found a purpose in my scoliosis.
Being the Philly leader was such a wonderful experience for me. In 2016, I founded the Embracing the Curve Fashion Show in the Philly area, featuring young girls all walking the runway in their braces- a day full of self-confidence and scoliosis awareness. After starting college, I knew I could not leave behind this group of people that has impacted me so significantly. Curvy Girls has inspired me for so many years, and I'm excited to continue my participation through mentorship!
I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis after a school screening. I had an unconventional journey but I knew I felt alone and that I didn’t wish any other girl to feel the way I did. That’s when I discovered Curvy Girls. I quickly became a leader in Savannah where I was able to provide the support that I didn’t have.
In my time as a Curvy Girls Leader, I was able to connect with not only girls in my hometown but those across the world with scoliosis. I went from feeling scared and alone to being empowered and comforted. My experience also inspired my career path as I saw a need for more female orthopedic surgeons. I will forever be thankful for the family Curvy Girls provided me and hope to continue to give back as a mentor in my greatest capacity.
I will always seek to provide guidance to young girls going through scoliosis, as a doctor, and most importantly as a person with scoliosis!