Annie Kontor is a plus-size woman in a fat-phobic world.
She’s curvy and confident -- and frankly more fit than most Americans of lesser size thanks to a devotion to yoga and running.
She’s making her voice heard around the world via her blog (plusonewoman.com) and her personal contribution to the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul book “Curvy & Confident: 101 Stories about Loving Yourself and Your Body” (Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC $14.95).
Kontor, who was born and raised in Lincoln, admits she was as surprised as anyone when Chicken Soup publishers included her essay in the book.
Kontor’s submission, “When Life Throws You Curves,” was pretty much an off-the-cuff reflection of dating as a plus-sized gal.
“It took me two hours to write and two hours to edit," Kontor said. "Then I just hit send.”
She figured that was the end of it.
But last October she received an email from Chicken Soup saying her submission had been accepted.
“And, I thought 'Maybe I don’t suck that much,'” she jokingly of her writing.
Kontor, like many aspiring writers, admits to suffering from literary “impostor syndrome” -- identifying as a writer while secretly believing no one wants to read her, and that her work isn't good enough for public consumption.
Chicken Soup provided validation.
For as long as she can remember, Kontor has thought of herself as a writer. But writing became her salvation in 2011, after the unexpected death of a close friend. At the time, Kontor was a high school teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“After my friend died, I took stock of things," she said. "Why was I teaching when I was so miserable?”
You have free articles remaining.
Though she loved her students, she didn't feel the same about the profession. Her friend's death only affirmed that life truly is short. In 2012, Kontor packed up and moved back to Lincoln to be closer to family. She’s held a number of jobs since then. But writing is her emotional anchor.
It wasn’t until a writing coach told Kontor to “write from a pain point” about something that stirred intense passion that she found her voice.
She made a list. Narrowed it down.
And realized she wanted to talk to other plus-size single women living life solo.
Internet searches found few blogs fitting her vision. She launched PlusOneWoman on Valentine’s Day 2016 -- a blog that talks about living life as a plus-size single. Her weekly posts range from practical tips for taxes, finances and job searches, to empowering and motivational essays on dating, solo travel and finding quality fashion designed to flatter the full-sized figure.
That is my passion point, Kontor said.
In her introductory blogs, Kontor talked about her own struggles, and the statistical fact that two-thirds of Americans are overweight. Plus-size is not an oddity, but a commonality. It is not a character defect, but a complicated tangle of genetics, biology, emotions and more.
“... I’ve battled depression, anxiety and low self-esteem almost my entire life," Kontor wrote about herself. "... I was bullied in high school to the point I tried to kill myself. Being told I was fat and ugly took such a toll on me that it became deeply engrained (in) my soul. I always told myself that while I was smart, I wasn’t pretty enough or interesting enough to ever sustain a meaningful relationship and that no man would ever want to date me.
"That negative feedback became my reality. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy and it wasn’t until 2011 that I finally began to accept myself for who I am. After hundreds of hours of reading, reflection, and prayer, I finally realized I was capable of loving and being loved. Age and wisdom have played a huge part in my healing and where I am today.”
It’s that perspective of maturity and acceptance tinged by the hurts of an overweight 15-year-old that make Kontor’s readers feel a deep and almost instant connection.
Using national statistics on health and marital status, Kontor estimates there are 33 million American women like her -- curvy and single.
“Thirty-three. Million. American. Women," Kontor wrote in her very first blog. "That is the entire population of Morocco!”
Kontor hopes to give them all a voice.
Lift them up.
“It’s time to stand up and be counted,” she said.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7217 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @LJSerinandersen.