It’s finally that time! We’re ready to reveal the Dress Mavens Love Your Body Makeover winner, Cheryl Tiongson. And she’s spectacular! We are so thankful for all the fantastic entries. You came, you shared, you told us your stories. You told us about your journey to your greatest love affair ever: the one you have with your body. We read your essays, your childhood memories, your tales of trauma, change, and reflection. And from all of those wonderful stories, we picked one that stood out.

THE MAKEOVER

Image Credit: Edison Photography

Image Credit: Edison Photography

Cheryl came to us full of excited exuberance. She was pretty much open to anything. She had a simple daily beauty routine and long easy-to-maintain black hair but neither were doing their best to accentuate her gorgeous face and eyes. As for makeup, Cheryl needed easy tricks to get glowing fast. In her busy world, she told us, there’s not much time for primping. She’d been wanting a Dress Mavens dress for a long time, and had had her eye on Nancy, a body skimming number with a stunning asymmetrical neckline and sexy seams that showed off her curves. The only question was choosing between classic black, sleek navy, or flashier purple. So why Cheryl? Well, the judges comments say it all: “Inspiring. Love the sports angle.” “Very relatable. Honest and positive.” “..love the journey she took and how she came to love her body though sports. Through sports, she became confident and re-energized. Really great message.” “She’s made great choices, and celebrates just being able. I think it’s valuable that she’s active and healthy.” So without further ado, here’s the winning essay. You tell us. Did she deserve to win?

CHERYL’S WINNING ESSAY

Do I love my body? I’m 47 years old and I’d be lying if I said yes, at least absolutely. I look back at teen me and laugh at how fat I thought I was. My scale told me how to feel and more often than not, it told me I was inadequate. I tried diet after diet even before I reached my twenties. I cry at my twenties me, self-conscious about my weight—about my everything. I lamented the fact that I was not fashion-model thin. I focused on what other people would see and spent hours trying to find perfect outfits to camouflage my fat. And then I discovered hockey. I fell in love. Finally! I felt svelte, powerful, sleek. I loved my thighs; they gave me speed. I loved my arms; they gave me strength. I loved my abs; they gave me balance. Playing hockey gave me the confidence to try other sports: boxing, wall-climbing, kayaking, soccer, skiing. I’ve completed 5K runs and 10K runs. I’ve done boot camps galore. All this when shopping used to be my sport of choice. I’m not saying I’ve become a supreme athlete. I’m not even saying I’m very good at all (or any) of these sports. The point is I am ABLE to do these things. I now focus on what I CAN do rather than what I can’t.

Photo credit: Edison Photography

Photo credit: Edison Photography

My body has become my friend. It has given birth to my two sons. It has morphed from a young girl’s shame to a 47-year-old mother’s body that still dreams of scoring a hat trick, riding a Centurion, completing a triathlon, and maybe even some day (gasp) walking in 4-inch Louboutins. I will always adore pretty clothes and admire the gorgeous women in magazines who wear them so well but I am happy to pick up my kids from school in my Birkenstocks, wearing my well-worn Lulu studio pants, and carrying my ever-so-useful Madewell tote. This is what I feel comfortable in, what makes me feel good. I now make choices that make my body feel strong and sexy and confident.

The joy in being 47 is realizing that what your body can do is more important than obsessing over what your body doesn’t look like. So do I love my body? Yes, imperfect as it is, I guess I do.

THE MAKEOVER The day before the makeover, we had Cheryl in for some pampering at Prestige Hair Design. There, Paul Mitchell stylist and trainer, Erin Hughes, did a major chop job. The result? A sleek and easy to manage bob framed with brightening highlights that will go from home to hockey and everything in between. What a transformation! Dress Mavens Makeover - Hair Before and After

Then, the big day of pampering arrived. Our winner was treated to a private dress fitting with the gals from Dress Mavens, a personal shoe consult from Guilhermina shoes, makeup from Sky Shapiro Beauty, a hair touchup, and accessories from Just One Jewellery and Robert Matthew handbags. Chronicling the experience was Krista Jefferson from Edison Photography.

IN CHERYL’S WORDS

BrazenWoman Dress Mavens Makeover

Image Credit: Edison Photography

There are some women who are really good at being girls. (You know who you are.) They never leave the house without makeup, they have flowers and pillows strewn naturally about their homes, they get regular manicures, and they are always perfectly coiffed. Well, for two glorious days, I was able to indulge in some major girly-girl-ness with the help of Dress Mavens and BrazenWoman. I was fussed over and pampered.

My hair was done by hair-meister Erin Hughes of Prestige Hair Salon in Richmond Hill. She is like the best friend you always wished you had. She listened to what I wanted but she also gave me her expert advice.

My makeup was skillfully applied by up-and-coming makeup artist Skylar Shapiro. What a pro! She made me feel like a million bucks and she even attached (gasp) false eyelashes! The Brazen Editors having fun at the Dress Mavens makeover

A makeover AND false eyelashes; two items to check off my bucket list!  A dream dress, spectacular shoes, lovely jewellery, a fab spread in the most glorious house in the city. Plus a personal photo shoot courtesy of Krista Jefferson of Edison Photography.

What else could a girl ask for? 

Mara Shapiro of BrazenWoman asked me, “Are you happy?”. Well, in keeping with the theme of the essay that got me here in the first place, I’d have to say that this was a hat trick.

Flip through the slideshow to see more photos from the day and Cheryl’s experience from start to finish.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in this event: our readers who submitted stories, our sponsors who gave of their time and services and most of all, Cheryl Tiongson—for being so inspiring. Until next time!

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