This woman’s experience with bullying led her to work for change

Natasha Nurse_WorkBiggerStories

Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.*

Students who experience bullying are more likely to miss school, and experience depression, anxiety and greater pessimism about the future.**

I know the impact of bullying personally. But, as I went through it in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, I didn’t share it with my parents or friends. I spent a lot of time avoiding the bullies, dreading my interactions with them and trying to forget.

This week I spoke with Natasha Nurse, Innovation Coach, Public Speaker, Writer and Media Personality.

Natasha was also a victim of bullying.

In our conversation, Natasha shares how her biggest pain point led her to start a business supporting women, how to cope with bullying, what happened when she lost her job, and the different challenges she faces today as an entrepreneur.

Join Natasha and me in this very important discussion.

Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?  

I’m born and raised in New York, and as a licensed attorney by trade, I held various stints in the corporate world prior to making a foray into fashion and writing.

Having been a victim of bullying as a child growing up, I learned to seek out fashion as a source of strength early on and actively use it as a personal means of empowerment.

My own experiences with bullying and my strong desire to help others within the plus size community led me to start Dressing Room 8 to provide a web-based resource where women can gain personal and professional empowerment through my fashion and lifestyle focused blog, consultation and coaching services.

Dressing Room 8 helps women learn how to think with clarity, dress with confidence, and live with purpose.

Aside from running Dressing Room 8, I’m an Adjunct Professor at Nassau Community College where I teach Introduction to Women’s Studies. I’m also the Lifestyle Editor for Plus Model Magazine, and the program coordinator for Long Island Girl Talk, a Long Island community-based start-up program that teaches teenage girls how to produce, direct and star in their own television show about women’s issues in their communities.

Recently, I also partnered with my husband to create the new podcast WokeNFree and I am the host of Our Voices on 90.3 WHPC.

Prior to starting Dressing Room 8, I created the WST Feminist Blog, an open forum for sharing original content, links and creative work addressing cutting-edge women’s issues.

Congrats on all of your accomplishments and projects! Can we also go back to what you shared about being bullied? What happened and how has that shaped who you are today?

It began when I was six years old. I was called a whale in the middle of class, and it was completely humiliating and devastating.

Being one of the few black girls and one of the bigger girls in my school, I couldn’t hide. I stood out whether I wanted to or not.

Sadly, my weight was not only a topic of discussion at school, but various family members made a point to share their thoughts about my fatness whenever they saw me. You’d think you could avoid scrutiny and judgment with your family, but that was not the case for me growing up in my family.

Even now, as an adult, my weight comes into conversation online or by family members who are still disturbed that I don’t look how they want me to.

How have you moved through the pain of these experiences?

Given that so many people deal with bullying over their body, religion, gender, race, or any other identifier, I suggest they remember the following:

  • What other people think doesn’t matter – If my weight or skin color or hair offends you. That is too damn bad for YOU!
  • Live for you – The world will always give you reasons to judge or hate yourself. It is up to you to decide what is right for you and live the life you want
  • Life is too short – If you waste a moment caring what others think about you, that is a moment you will never get back. And, life is to short to spare a moment to do it!

What is your mission, the work you want to do?  

My mission is to empower women to live fearlessly with clarity, confidence and purpose.

Too many women across the world are dealing with discrimination, sexism, racism, and so many other forms of disempowerment.

Tony Robbins has shared that “Life doesn’t happen to you – life happens for you!” and he is correct.

No matter how dire or frustrating a situation, you must know that you are completely in control of your life and the decisions you make. Whether you tolerate a toxic job or negative people in your life is completely up to you.

Through DressingRoom8, I’m determined to help women accept that they’re powerful and more than capable of living the life they want for themselves.

What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?

It’s simple. My life changed when I lost my job and I decided to create the career I wanted for myself.

Instead of responding to career transitions that were taking place, I stopped viewing myself as a victim of circumstances and became the master of my fate.

I wanted autonomy of my time and the types of projects I worked on.

I utilized networking to create opportunities for myself and achieved freedom to be as creative as I wanted. Through entrepreneurship, this was possible for me.

I like to say, you act or the universe acts on your behalf. When, I lost my job, that was the universe giving me a sign that it was time for me to make a change in my life. I listened and now I wake up excited for my life each day!  

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenges are the same one every new entrepreneur faces. Many of us are asking ourselves the following questions:

  • How can I grow my brand?
  • Will I be able to speak at more events?
  • Will this new approach lead to more clients?
  • Is this new project something I should do?
  • Do I have the time to try this new idea?  

Essentially, the biggest obstacle is to be in business while working on your business. You must be focused on today’s work plus where you will be in the next three or five years.  

What does living from a place of possibility mean to you?

Living in a place of possibility means:

  • You understand the world is filled with unlimited opportunity
  • You are connected to the Universe
  • You are worthy of success and prosperity
  • You can achieve your dreams
  • You don’t need a specific background to succeed in life  
  • You want to be successful in your life

Can you recall a time when you shifted from making a decision(s) out of fear vs. possibility? What was that like? And why did you feel the need to make that decision?

It is natural to be fearful of the unknown. However, any action taken based on fear is unlikely to yield a desirable outcome. When I am making decisions or approaching new opportunities, I weigh the pros and cons before moving forward. Fear or uncertainty is usually not worth not moving forward with the idea or opportunity.  

What advice do you have for someone who wants to make an impact through their work but is currently feeling stuck?

I would advise the following:

  • You’re not a victim – If you want to get unstuck then you must decide to stop feeling that way
  • Identify the obstacles you’re dealing with
  • You can get past the challenge
  • Identify resources and people who will help you get past the obstacle
  • Create a personal action plan to keep moving forward
  • Remember all the previous obstacles you have overcome in your life before this moment – If you could overcome those past challenges, you can get past this one!

Now we’d love to hear from you. As you read Natasha’s story, what resonates with you the most? Share with us in the comments.

To learn more about Natasha and how she’s working for change, check out https://www.dressingroom8.com/

  1. *https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-bullying
  2. **https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog/2018/12/17/bullying-has-negative-consequences-for-all-involved.html
Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Jana Castelli says:

    I can relate to this article and Natasha’s experience and choices is that if I could go back in time and change the way I responded to my bullies in elementary school, I would 1) not care what they think, 2) focus on making myself naturally pretty )
    (Hair, Fashion) as a form of empowerment, and 3) nurture and empower myself by emersing myself in my greatest interests/topics and doing excellent in school. As an adult, I think I’m doing these things – and I’m still working on it – but I wish e would’ve known it as a child.

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      I hear you Jana! Being a child is hard and experiences like this are so painful. We look back as adults and think we’d do something differently but we’re also so new to these experiences at that stage. Thank you so much for your comment. So many kids / teens experience bullying, and I find it’s important to talk about it to support younger generations.

  • Patricia Trutescu says:

    What resonates with me is when Natasha advises, “remember all the previous obstacles you’ve overcome… if you could overcome those challenges, you can get passed this one!” I need to keep this piece of advise in mind because sometimes I fall into the trap of worrying that one day, there will come a challenge I cannot overcome. I have to remember that i am capable of handling my challenges. Thanks for a great article, Natasha!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Thank you for calling this out Patricia! I’m so glad to hear this resonated with you. It’s exactly right that as we overcome challenges we become more and more resilient. And keeping this in mind is a great reminder of what we’re capable of.

  • Patty says:

    These 3 points are part of my life philosophy :
    What other people think doesn’t matter
    Live for you
    Life is too short

    Don’t let other’s control YOUR LIFE!

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