Ashro Model and Ashro Woman
Thank you, Brittney, for sharing your story with us! At Ashro, we believe that being openhearted is truly a brave, generous thing. Every one of us struggles. And the more we tell our stories and tell them with honesty, the more we strengthen and encourage each other toward joy-filled, overcoming lives.
“B” Is for Brittney Before She Was Born
All of our stories start before we do: with our parents, our grandparents and beyond. And Brittney’s story is one that gave her a deep faith and an undeniable calling to make her life really matter.
”When my mom was pregnant with me (she had me when she was just 19), she hid me for most of her pregnancy because she was scared to tell her family. She was scared to even have me. One day, she was sitting in a closet…crying her eyes out…contemplating and considering what she was going to do.”
Brittney goes on to explain that while her mother believed in a higher power, she didn’t regularly go to church and had never had any kind of religious experience. In that dark moment, though, she heard the voice of God…
“He said, ‘Have my daughter. Have her. I’m going to protect you…You will never want for anything. I have great plans for her. Her name is going to be a light. She will do remarkable things…Trust me, and I will never remove my hand from you. You will always be protected.’”
“That was the first time [she] ever experienced anything like that…Literally, it shook her. She told me that story growing up. Over and over again.” This story became a legacy for Brittney. “Just that alone was miraculous enough [for me] to say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a reason. That’s the reason why I’m here.’ I have a very close relationship with God. He’s my father, and I don’t know who or what I’d be without Him.”
Brittney also credits her mother for having courage at a scary, vulnerable time. “She was a brave woman to give me life and take a chance, and there were other options or things she could have done, but she decided to keep me. She decided to embrace the struggles and everything that came along with it. That more than anything inspires me. If she was brave enough to take this task on and sacrifice so much of her life for me, how can I not be brave?”
You know the story of the Ugly Duckling? Well, the ugly duckling wasn’t a duckling at all…she was a swan who didn’t know who she was yet.
Even though we can see Brittney’s beauty as clear as day, there was a time when she struggled with her self-image. Like many of us, Brittney did not grow up feeling like she fit in. “I’ve been 5′ 11″ since the seventh grade…I had a lot of low self-esteem growing up.
“I was really tall and lanky all through school. It’s not fun when you’re not being yourself. When you’re not embracing yourself, when you’re trying to fit in.” It was also hard not having her biological father in her life with all of the questions and feelings of abandonment.
“I know there are many people going through this. It’s okay to feel sad. You don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s okay to feel bad and sit with it for a while. I trust life. I trust God. Everything’s happening for my good. Even the hard things.”
At a young age, Brittney committed herself to improving her self-esteem and confidence.
“I told myself, ‘You know what, I’m just going to start doing what I want to do. I’m going to start dressing how I want to dress—even if it’s crazy. I’m gonna keep that big smile on my face even if people are gonna make fun of it and tell me that it’s huge. I’m going to just be me.’ It was as simple as a choice, a decision. I started speaking life over myself. I’d tell myself, ‘I’ve got this. I can do it. I’m beautiful.’ I’d tell myself these things over and over again.”
As she was growing her confidence, her dreams began to take root and grow. She started envisioning herself on stages talking to girls, having a nonprofit for the homeless and becoming a successful model. The amazing thing is that after just a year of doing those affirmations, her dreams came into being—even though she started with very little idea of how to proceed. “I was born and raised in a single parent household. My mom worked multiple jobs to support my sisters and me. We didn’t know how to break into the [modeling] industry…The only way that I knew how to start modeling was to get on this big modeling competition/reality TV show…So I made it my goal.”
Brittney accomplished her goal. When she was just 18 years old and still in high school, she got all the way through as a finalist. She missed her prom and her high school graduation to try modeling for the first time—in front of millions of television viewers.
“I’m thankful for all of my experiences—the good ones and the bad. They made me who I am.”
Making it onto the show as a finalist was one of the biggest highlights of Brittney’s life.
- She achieved her first longtime goal.
- She met a top model whom she deeply admires.
- She got the opportunity to learn, do what she loves, and make her family proud.
These were the great things. The experience and what followed was hard. “I went into [the show] very innocent. I thought it was all about helping young models, but really, it was more of a reality show.”
Brittney explained how she was asked questions during filming and then told to say the answer in different ways: “Say it sweet, say it sassy, say it angry.”
At the time, she thought she was showcasing her acting skills. Really, she was giving them material to portray her character in a way that would get more ratings. “I was characterized as overconfident.” In fact, the same affirmations that Brittney had used to help her build confidence wound up making her appear cocky and overconfident on the show.
Who You Are
“The whole world thinks they know who you are, and it’s not who you are.” After the show, Brittney went into a mild depression dealing with it. “I still get some public backlash now, as an adult.” She was so grateful for the support of her family and friends. “My mom went through all the emotions right beside me. When I was hurt, she was hurt. Everything I was going through, she was feeling it all too…
“I know who I am, and that’s what matters. People are going to think that they know who you are. They are always going to have something to say (even if you’re not on TV).”
Brittney may have been eliminated on episode two, but guess what? She has been modeling all over the world ever since.
“Everyone has a calling. We all have a purpose here.”
Brittney has a heart for the homeless—and she’s had it for as long as she can remember. She tells of a day when she was just 6 years old.
She was with her mom in the city with all of her saved-up money in her small purse. She passed a homeless man and gave every last cent to him. And when they went into a sub sandwich shop, she begged and begged her mom to buy a sandwich for the homeless person outside.
Fast forward 16 years: by age 22, Brittney was giving sandwiches to the homeless on the big-city streets—with her own nonprofit charity, Burgers and Bibles.
A Leap of Faith
Brittney decided that she was going to take a leap of faith and step out in courage. “I wanted to be brave and do what I could with what I had…which wasn’t much! But somehow when you take that first step in whatever it is you’re contemplating, God or the Universe carries you the rest of the way. Things just came together. Seven years later, it’s been great. We serve Chicago and LA and won the 2016 best of LA award for homeless outreach.”
When we asked her if it was ever scary reaching out to the homeless, she laughed and said, “Not at all. Not at all. Not in the slightest bit. I’m not scared. I love them. I have made some great relationships out there. Many know me by name. They are no different from me or you. They just have struggles.
“Their ways of coping are different. They have the biggest hearts. I’ve met more sweet and kind and authentic people out on the street than I have in the everyday world.
“We have had a fight break out maybe twice in 7 years. I know that I’m protected. I know that I’m good. And I know where it comes from. I’m not afraid. We all have that deep, burning passion for something. And I think each of us is called to something great.”
Brittney is working on a book about confidence. It’s about how to be fully filled. “It’s about honoring yourself, connecting with who you are—flowing in that (and the confidence that comes from that), and fulfilling your soul’s desires.” She also speaks to girls all over America about making smart choices, not losing themselves in social media, and expecting more for themselves and their lives.
Thank you, Brittney. We look forward to seeing you on the pages of Ashro and wish great things for you, your life and your loved ones!
Dear Ashro Woman,
Even though each of us has our own unique story, wouldn’t you say there’s a common thread between them all? Something to do with our hearts? Life is hard, but we are strong. And it seems like the more we listen to and lean into our best self, life comes back and blesses us. Our biggest trials and challenges can become the very things that make us who we are, lift us up, and set us free.
So. We can’t help asking: What are you envisioning for yourself?
Please write. Tell us your story and your dreams in our Ashro Woman questionnaire. We can’t wait to hear from you!
– Are You An Ashro Woman? –
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