|photo by Jade Beall|
Then adulthood came. And I blossomed a little. However, I never felt fully like a woman. I compared myself to others and down the rabbit hole I went. I've had company with many, myself included, that batter ourselves while looking in the mirror both internally and outwardly vocal. I guess we all feed off one another with our self image. Through my 20s I fluctuated weight, went through a marriage, boyfriends, lovers, and lack of feelings of self worth. I was shortly medicated for depression. And I self medicated with alcohol, sex and other things. Looking back, even in a size, shape and weight that I'd LOVE to be in right now, never once was I completely comfortable in my own skin. I had days of like, but many moments of dislike. I liked my nipples but loathed my lack of breast tissue. I liked my feet but not my dimpled thighs. I liked my face but not my wrinkled hands. But. But. But. Why couldn't I see that those breasts would someday nourish 2 children, that those legs were strong and carry me through this world, that these hands feel softness and show the life I've lived. Why are there any BUTs? Why can't there just be love for this body that's carrying around my soul? I am intelligent and loving and caring and nurturing. I am human. And I am beautiful. Why isn't this enough?
|photo by Jade Beall|
This past year has been a journey for me to take control. I don't know where this self hate stems from but I need to shut that shit down! I made a promise to myself and silently to my girls that I would not outwardly show them my disdain. I don't poke at my "flaws" or berate myself in front of them. "I'm so fat" has never been muttered. I threw away the scale a while ago. Becoming a mother has been the most natural and right thing for me. I was born to do this! Being in my new mom skin, however, was harder than I imagined. My negative view was taking a toll on myself and my sex life. So, last fall I did a photo shoot with a friend in hopes of beginning to peel away this layer of loathe. I was clothed, but along with the shoot I voiced all my thoughts to my husband. It was more healing that I could have imagined. He has subsequently caressed my scars and kissed my sagging belly skin while telling me they are his favorite part of me; they are a sign of my strength and our children. I've since started to focus on my stomach less when looking in the mirror. I don't cringe when my stomach is touched. The marks are here to stay. They tell a part of my story and the beginning of my children's.
I was ecstatic to take part in the shoot with Jade. I have been following her for a while and have been so moved by her work and all of the women that have bravely shared themselves with the world. I have been touched by every photo that has crossed my eyes. I feel as though every woman that has shared their story, their image, has slowly helped me become more confident. My sisters! My tribe. So when I got those photos back, I was appalled at my reaction. I thought I was better. I thought I was stronger. I was upset at numerous things in the photos, all of which were my doing and nothing to do with Jade's artistry and vision. I barely smiled. I stood awkwardly while nursing. I have finally become comfortable with my breasts (or so I thought)...they've grown and I no longer hide under layers of padding. I even go sans bra now. As baby girl slowly starts to slow down on nursing, they are changing size once again. I'm lopsided now. And I'm trying to find peace in that. After a month of it eating at me, I let Jade know how I felt and then I thought the photo would be buried and I could forget about my crazy feelings.
Then she posted my image on Facebook and Instagram. Jade, if you happen to read this THANK YOU for doing that! You gave me courage that I needed and at the time I needed it. I can't express my gratitude for all the wonderful words from strangers around the world. In the photo I'm not smiling and I'm standing, but so many see greatness in those two things, where I could only see flaws. They've opened my eyes. I know, more than ever, that I'm not alone in my feelings. The past few days I've been thinking about what everyone has said; what those close to me have always said. And I hear you. I believe you. I want to be a strong, confident woman and when my children grow older and hear me tell them how wonderful they are, I want them to believe it too! I want to be the role model for them and for them to know whole heartedly that they are amazing for their character as well as their outward appearance. I don't want their life to revolve around what others see. I want them to know they are just as perfect as they are in my eyes now. I want to see myself through my children's eyes. I'm awake and I'm ready for new beginnings!
|photo by Jade Beall|