YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Life wasn’t always about bright lights, interviews and praise for local Amazing Race star Jessica Shields.
At 6’2” tall, Jessica says she spent much of her youth with a poor body image. She struggled with her weight and height, and she said school was a place where her insecurities were compounded.
“When I was younger, high school, middle school, people are not very nice to you when you are different. And I was always taller than all the guys. I couldn’t find cute shoes or jeans that fit, and I just felt uncomfortable in my own skin, which is horrible for someone at that age who is trying to find out who they are.” Jessica said.
Even in college, playing basketball for the Kent State Flashes, Jessica still had issues with her image. She said it wasn’t until after college that her mind set about who she was and what she wanted to represent came together. At age 27, she now embraces her frame and her fame. But even without the stint on the Amazing Race, she is empowered by her formidable presence and sees her height and body builder physique as an asset.
“Now that I’ve matured and I’ve grown up and I see how wonderful it is to be tall, I love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Jessica said.
Jessica’s runway-model good looks stand out in contrast to her police officer uniform – she’s spent the last five years on the Youngstown police force, three of those a K-9 handler – but isn’t focused on her appearance; it’s her essence and the person she has grown into that has pushed those middle school years and that 14-year-old girl to the back of her mind.
“If I could tell 14-year-old me and all of the young girls out there something it would be to follow your dreams, love yourself, love the skin you are in and love your families. Spend as much time as you can with your family. They are the ones that love you,” Jessica said. “There is nothing that I would change about myself right now.”
The Amazing Race airs Thursday night at 10 p.m. right here on WKBN. A watch party is scheduled for Thursday, March 30 at O’Donold’s Pub in downtown Youngstown. Doors open at 9 p.m. Jessica Shields will be at that event along with WKBN 27 First News.