April Hélène-Horton: My Unstoppable Urge to Change the World Made Me Become The Bodzilla
Matrix and NYX Cosmetics have teamed up with POPSUGAR Australia to bring you the Unstoppable Class of 2023. Together, we’re dedicated to heroing the voices of women, people who identify as women, and non-binary people who are powering a brighter future and making an important difference – because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from the individuals who are making a name for themselves. You can find all the pieces here.
Dear friends! It’s me, April — come and sit by me, won’t you? I want to talk to you.
Actually, I want to talk… to me. But I would love it if you wanted to listen.
Three years ago, you ‘became’ The Bodzilla — became her, even though you had always been her, by giving that unstoppable urge to change the world a name.
It goes back so much further than three years — why, just twenty years ago, you were an 18-year-old girl, barely sure what you were going to do day-to-day let alone where life was going to take you. The love notes in the margins of your school books were to the crushes your young heart felt sure you’d never move on from, and your wardrobe full of ill-fitting clothes that didn’t make you feel like yourself.
Five years later, you were 23, and still not really sure what you were going to do — you started your first ‘real job’ and it was the beginning of learning and unlearning how much you had to offer as a professional — that you could have a chance to lead, and teach, and make an impact that would last a long time.
You’d fallen in real love once, been truly heartbroken once, and you were still stuck believing that to truly be your best self you should shrink every aspect of the real you — the you who made the best jokes, laughed the loudest, who told people every secret because you didn’t realise some people only wanted to know you better so they could hurt you more.You learned the hard way that you weren’t impervious to dark times, mentally, and you were so lucky to have special people around you who didn’t give up on getting you back into the light.
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Now — the pain you went through has transformed into knowing, into experience, into being absolutely sure you’re worth more than you ever thought and that the dreams you once had should come true for you.
Looking into the future, to when it’ll be twenty years since all those things were true — you see yourself, so clearly, as the woman who holds her head high in the face of being told you weren’t the right fit (in so many ways). As you type this, you marvel at how much closer you are to being the April you dreamed of being… albeit, not starring as Dean Cain’s love interest in ‘Lois and Clark’ as you had once imagined. But with so many more opportunities to be whatever the 2023 — and beyond — equivalent is.
You always wanted to be in the spotlight — you were never afraid of people looking at you, until the laughing started. But now? You want to hear people laugh… because so many of them laugh with you now. You’re really funny — you know that, don’t you? You have days where sometimes you’re the only person laughing at your jokes. But many days where you thrive and sparkle as the wild stories you embellish with voices and gestures have the people around you declaring, “You should have a podcast! A TV show! You should have gone to NIDA!”
Yes, yes — your old music teacher told you the same thing. But you learned during your years on the stage as an amateur performer that in 2003, there were no costumes to fit you and no roles for fat girls, so there was no use applying. Truthfully, it’s hard to say if there are many in 2023. But times have definitely changed and I’m sure that if the moment presents itself, you will be ready to say yes to a chance to be that performer that starred in shows put on in your mum’s lounge room in the ’90s.
Also, you DO have a podcast — but last year you went on a short hiatus that’s yet to come to an end even though you loved doing it.
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In the future, there’s no reason you couldn’t do anything you wanted — you’re happy in your day job. But when your work besties tell you “If you’re still here in five years, I’m going to be really sad”, you should take that as the compliment it is and remember how strongly you’re supported to be the best.
Being the kind of person who always felt sure there was something just a little bit wrong with you, you’ve taken the chance to fill out every single ‘personality test’ known to man. You know the ones — they give results based on data drawn from people who are nothing like you, which reminds me of something else (*coughs* BMI *coughs*).
Over time, you’ve learned you’re an ‘Advocate/Performer’, an ‘ENFP’, you’re also a Pisces — although I know you’ll defend your right to love astrology as a queer woman. But you’re also a fat, cis woman of colour who’s pretty sure she’s neurodivergent. So the question is, are these all just different ways of saying that the society we live in expects a proportion of us to be nurturing, self-effacing, modest, to acquiesce, and that those expectations only become more rigid, more harmful, and more dangerous the further away you get from the apex of perceived perfection?
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With your unstoppable urge to change the world comes unimaginable rage at the slow pace at which change happens (yet somehow, we can quickly revert to wearing low rise jeans?!) and what feels sometimes like insurmountable self-doubt.
Even writing this, you’re wondering why anyone would want to know where you see yourself in five years. But the truth is — you know that you matter. You know that you being visible helps other people see themselves in spaces where they’ve never been or seen themselves before.
There is no reason not to look ahead and see that for people like you — and unlike you, in their own not-so-mainstream ways — the future deserves to be bright. Bold. Beautiful.
You can follow April Hélène-Horton, also known as The Bodzilla, on Instagram.
April wears Savel Ellie Knit Dress ($140) via The Iconic
Photographer: Sevak Babakhani
Stylist: Amanda Bardas
Makeup: Emma Chen
Hair: Simone Cecchetelli