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“My skin didn't start to change until I changed the energy around me.” - Alicia Keys
Body-positive advocate and Confident Collective co-founder Kristina Zias has been reflecting a lot during the pandemic about how this year has changed her emotionally and physically. For starters, she’s pregnant with her first child (at the time of our conversation, she’s about a month from giving birth). Secondly, her events-focused business, The Confident Collective, had to shift due to the lockdown. So in September, Zias and co-founder Raenn Langus launched a weekly podcast where “nothing’s off limits,” and they cover the gamut from cancel culture to injectables. We chatted with Zias on what she’s learned and how she’s evolved over the past year, both on social media and off in her private life.
The Confident Collective started super organically. My friend and I were building our communities on Instagram and we were like, “You know what? We really want to find a way to make Instagram much more immersive.” For me, [it] is not about posting a photo and getting likes — [it’s also a] really beautiful community. Whenever I post a photo or story, I know I’m talking to a real audience that I value and cherish so much. The Confident Collective was built as a way to make this community more inclusive and to invite everyone in.
It officially launched last August with events in person, which we’ve pivoted away from for the time being. But we worked with Nike to train 30 women to run their first half marathon. That [half marathon] unfortunately got canceled, but training was the most incredible experience ever. I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile before; towards the end, I was running 10 miles along with the other girls in the group. The podcast launched in September, which has been so much fun and a way to further connect with the audience.
In the beginning when I was posting on social media, it was more about sharing a pretty photo or sharing what was going on. I wasn’t really thinking about the person or the audience that I was talking to. Now I don’t really care about having this perfect feed. I am not a perfect person. I’m flawed in so many ways, whether it’s being super emotional or spilling stuff all over myself and everything in between. So I think that for me, with social, it’s been so much more about thinking about who I’m talking to and servicing my community in some way—whether it’s sharing an outfit to help them feel confident, helping them find clothes to fit their body, sharing an inspiring message, or just sharing life’s hardships. It doesn’t matter if it’s 100,000 people watching or reading your post or five. It’s just always remembering that you’re talking to someone, and that there’s a real human connection there.
It’s so important to take care of your mental health. It’s something that no one should overlook. For me, it’s honestly been about getting outside and going for walks and being as connected with nature as possible. I’m not trying to be around a lot of people, but I’m being super mindful of little luxuries. Sometimes I’ll take a walk around my neighborhood [in Southern California] and just smell the roses.
Through my pregnancy, unfortunately, I have a little bit of a complication. I have something called single umbilical artery, which affects one percent of women, so I’m trying not to cause any extra stress to my body. I can’t work out, which has been hard, because I love lifting weights and being super active. I’ve been trying to be active in other ways with lots of walks and stretches or just moving around at home. You can still learn to move your body even if you’re not as aggressive about it.
There have also been a lot of baths and masks. Self-care comes in so many different ways, even if it’s allowing yourself to just relax and binge on Netflix. That’s okay too.
This has been such an incredible learning journey for me on the body-confidence aspect. To be fully transparent, something that I’ve been insecure about my entire life has been my stomach. It didn’t matter how thin I was, no matter what, I always had a belly, and it’s something that for so many years caused me so much insecurity. Now my belly is obviously bigger than it’s ever been before, and [it has reminded me to] respect my body. Our bodies, especially as women, are just so incredible. I cannot believe I am growing a child. It’s caused me to admire my body in a different way, and I’m so appreciative for that. I even appreciate the stretch marks. I’m using oils and body butters, but at the same time, I’m seeing these stretch marks as signs of growth in physical forms, emotional forms, and spiritual forms.
Honestly, the only thing that you can really control is your attitude and mindset. I’m someone who tries to be as glass-half-full as possible and always see the silver lining, and you know what? I come at everything from optimism. If it’s not going to work out, well, then it’s fine. I think that you are absolutely in control of your mindset, and you can start every single day with a positive one or not. I choose to be positive in everything that I do. And I think that’s just one of the most important things that we should all try and strive to do.