Sonja Mitchell never imagined she’d be as confident in her skin as she is today. In her teens, she felt insecure about her body and remembers struggling to find clothes that were “church-appropriate” that also fit her growing curves. Today, she’s on a mission to help women of faith love their bodies – and embrace exactly how God created them.
“As a child, I was way more advanced physically than most of my classmates and so that struggle with trying to find what’s appropriate for you to wear as a little girl was real,” she said.
“Growing up, I was very insecure about showing my body, especially in pictures, but around this time last year, I had a real talk with God about it. I’ve always loved fashion and loved to dress, but fashion was never a topic I spoke about on my YouTube channel or my Instagram.”
Sonja felt God challenging her to do her first fashion video, which featured her in a swimsuit speaking about
body insecurities and challenging women to feel beautiful and confident in their own skin. “My stomach, rolls and dimples were on display, but I was like: ‘Okay, we’re just gonna do it’. And that video did really, really well for my Youtube channel at that time. I asked God, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ And I felt He really wanted me to encourage women who have been bogged down by these stereotypes of what women should look and dress like in Christianity.“He kind of opened that box for them to say, ‘Hey, You can be fashionable. You can even be a little sexy and still serve God and still be a Christian.’ I wanted to break those barriers that often suppress women, especially curvy women, and encourage them to just be themselves, to exude their personality and their confidence through their clothes.”Sonja’s been on that journey ever since, building her social media platform and sharing her message of confidence – no matter what your size. She admits it’s been fun and surprising to see just how many women relate to her experience.
HER LOVE FOR FASHION
Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, both Sonja’s parents were great dressers, however, she admits her style was mostly influenced by her older brother. Six years her senior, her brother would use money he earned from his 9 to 5 to buy new sneakers and t-shirts. He taught her a few simple lessons in fashion, like how to take a few basic pairs of pants and mix and match them with different shirts to create a new outfit.
It’s funny, because now I couldn’t pick out a man’s outfit to save my life, but there were certain things that my brother taught me when I was younger that I’ve carried along with me,” Sonja said. “When I finally got my first part time job, I wasn’t wise with how I spent my money because I was shopping. However, over time I started to build my wardrobe and really get to know what I liked and disliked. That process made me more aware of the struggles that plus size women go through when they’re trying to find fashionable clothing.”
THE MOMENT HER FAITH BECAME REAL
Although Sonja always had a relationship with God, she admits she lost her way shortly after starting college. “God was definitely still with me, but He wasn’t a priority,” she confessed. It took her going through a few rough breakups and one disastrous night out during homecoming before she came to terms with the reality: something had to change.
On the night in question she had too much to drink and said something hurtful to a friend that seriously impacted their relationship. “I don’t remember anything from that night, but I remember waking up the next morning and feeling like something bad had happened. In our friendship group, we’ve had altercations, but it’s never been anything that we couldn’t get over in a couple of hours and let be. This time I knew in my spirit, something was different.”
In that moment of shame and hurt, Sonja remembers God asking her: ‘Who do you want to be known as? Do you want to be this girl who runs to alcohol or partying every time something happens, or do you want to be known as a good loyal friend?’
HOW GOD HELPED HER HEAL
Sonja asked God to “fix her” and help her put back together the broken pieces of her life. For three months she went on a hiatus from drinking and going out – instead she spent time sitting with God and reading His word. “That was the moment where He was like, ‘I need you to sit down with me and be transparent about why you’re doing the things you are doing. Tell me about the hurt and pain you don’t want to talk about’. God is so funny with me. He just challenges me to do things that are so outside my comfort zone.
“He told me to get on camera – on YouTube – and to confess. I was like, ‘Wait, you want me to do it on YouTube? Like, can’t we not just have this private conversation?’ He was like, ‘No, I want you to put it out there.’” That’s how Transformation Tuesday started on Sonja’s Youtube channel. Every week she shares honestly about areas of her life she feels God stretching and growing her in. Sonja admits she’s had to forgive herself for past mistakes and take accountability for her actions. “It was me coming to terms with my bad decisions and my bad choices and the negative cycles that I kept myself in. I went through a year long, obscurity season with God, where I didn’t date, I didn’t do anything or see anybody. God and I really sat down and He dug out everything that He wanted me to work on. It was tough. He really showed me some of the worst parts of myself so He could help me heal them.”
THE POWER IN VULNERABILITY
Through that season, Sonja admits she found the strength to be vulnerable and honest. It’s one of the things women who visit her social media channels appreciate most. “Transformation Tuesday is kind of like my weekly therapy,” she said. “I’m able to take whatever has happened within the week or month prior, and turn that into an educational video for someone else. My goal is to create a space where younger women, or even older women, can go to learn things they never knew. Because there were a lot of instances in my early 20s, where I was, like, ‘Dang, if somebody had sat me down and told me that, I might have made a different choice, a wiser choice.’
NEXT STEPS FOR SONJA
Sonja’s dream is to be able to work in her business full time in 2021. She’s also hopeful she can continue pointing people towards God through her platform. Just this summer, she launched Ghetto Bible Study, which aims to dive into the books of the Bible in a relatable and entertaining way. “The concept for Ghetto Bible Studies came from me just being me,” she said. “If you’ve ever watched me talk on my Instagram live or stories, it is very much so my personality and culture from growing up in the South coming through. It tends to be a little ghetto, but people like and enjoy it. People have been saying things like ‘I wish more pastors would educate on the Bible like this, because it makes sense to me. It’s relatable’. And I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s, that’s the point.’ It’s been fun and has gotten more people to pick up their Bible. I give them a short piece of Scripture at a time and ask certain questions I know they haven’t thought about before. It helps a lot of people who are just starting out in their faith get into the habit of reading the Scriptures.”
Follow Sonja on Instagram: @simplysonja_m