What I “really” look like, a perfectly healthy body in more and less flattering photos

 

I’m a beautiful woman.  Sorry I’m not sorry if that is off-putting.  I believe I am a beautiful woman and that is important to me.  I don’t think that is vain.  It has nothing to do with how I look compared to other women, how many dudes would want to have sex with me or how many people tell me I’m hot.  I don’t measure myself against anyone else.  I don’t look at photos of other women or at other women I see in life and wonder who has bigger thighs or a better rack.  I like me.  I’m perfect the way I am.  I also don’t see my body as a “work in progress.”  I know that line of thinking is helpful to others but it isn’t to me.  I’ve spent a lot of my life not living in my body, getting rid of unflattering photos, not identifying with the person I saw in the mirror.  It was MISERABLE.  Thinking of my body as something I “need to work on” for me feels like it’s not acceptable the way it is.  The truth is my body has been fine all along.  The difference between my body now (currently 5’7” 155lbs give or take a few depending on where I am in my cycle/if I’m hydrated/if I need to poop) and when I was topping the scales around 240+ is that I take care of it differently.  But even that has always been about honoring myself and not about “fixing” my body.  I’m perfectly good the way I am and if I never lose another pound, or if I gain weight, my body will remain a good body.

It makes me sad when I see women comparing themselves to photos of others.  We do this with fitness models whose faces are often cropped out and abs enhanced.  These “inspirational” “fitspiration” photos are supposed to “motivate” you to become a headless abs model.  So we look at these photos (some more “realistic” than others, some more photo shopped than others, whatever) and then look in our own mirrors in a completely different way.  We don’t stand tall and look for things to like.  We slouch over, scrunch our faces, grab at fat and just hate what we see.  The same ab model you are idolizing would look totally different if she were doing those things.  But that’s not what we see.  We compare others’ at their best to ourselves at our “worst.”  And it isn’t just fitness models, social media is good for the same things.  No one is posting terrible photos of themselves bending over on the beach.  We post best angels, best instagram filtered versions of ourselves.  And I’m not here to say there is anything wrong with that.  Why not display photos you are confident in?  I’m not mad at cha.  But realize that as long as you are comparing yourself to others in this way you will never be happy.

So I wanted to show you how this works, in photos of me.  These photos were all taken on the same day, with purposefully terrible lighting, complete with phone in hand and toilet in the background.  It is not my hopes that you will see me as a “real woman.”  Real women are big, round, long, short, lean, straight, chiseled and not.  This is what MY body looks like.  For the record it is a healthy, fit body.  It may not be what you picture when you think “fit” but that’s only because you are only seeing a narrow idea of what fit looks like in photos.  I also don’t want you to compare yourself to me.  If you find yourself thinking, “I look so much better than that” or “I wish I looked like that” I hope you marinate in how that line of thinking (either way) is not serving you.  Real, lasting, life-affirming confidence is not about measuring yourself against others.  I would love to share a variety of photos of beautiful women with diverse body types but every time I have posted a photo of another woman I have regretted it.  People tear other women apart “She’s too thick/fat/thin/skinny/muscular” etc.  I’m posting myself because rather you think I look slammin or terrible, my self-esteem is not reliant on your opinion.  At all.  While I know how to gracefully accept a compliment I do not internalize them, nor do I internalize negative comments.  Your feelings about my body are really none of my business.  I like me.  I present to you my loveliness:

Waking up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is me after the gym in my gym clothes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face close up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute huh?  How ya like THESE APPLES!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now lets move on to some bikini shots; here is me slouching and showing off my historically deep belly button:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a more flattering picture:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my favorite, with a little glute flex action:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here ladies and gentlemen is my booty.  If you look closely there is some cellulite.  In case you are wondering, I’m not “working on that,”  I don’t plan to post an “after photo” sometime later.  I like it, damn it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may notice I have a little belly fat.  I’m not mad at that either.  I’m so healthy y’all.  I’m strong, I’m fit, I eat healthy 90% of the time.  Some of this is simply extra skin from having been so overweight in the past.  This is what happens when I place my hand on the top of my tummy and pull juuuust a little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice huh?  Well whatever.  It’s the same belly you saw above.  I could photoshop out my hand and tout a slouching belly next to a “pulled up” belly as an awesome before and after photo.  They are simply both my belly.

Now here is me getting ready for the day, I like to paint my face.  I don’t think that makes me any more “real” or less “real” than those who don’t find this fun.  Make up time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair did:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting dressed, here is a little dress picture.  I’ve got some big ol strong thighs, I love em:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outfit I decided on:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder: Same person here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likely some of you will think how “brave” it is of me to post these photos.  No doubt some of these are more flattering than others.  But I don’t feel “brave” because I don’t think there is anything wrong with me or how I look in any of these.  I’m a healthy woman.  There are lots of ways to be healthy and it doesn’t really have a “look.”  A lot of times I see women commenting on photos of other women and masking their jealousy or judgement as concern about the health of the individual.  A person with a six-pack and cut muscles COULD be a person who is extremely dehydrated who suffers from disordered eating.  Someone with the exact same look COULD be genetically blessed OR work really hard to look like that and the picture of health.  I personally know extremely thin people who have eating disorders as well as folks (with bodies who look exactly the same) who cannot gain weight no matter how hard they try.  A morbidly obese person could be 100lbs DOWN from where they once were and killing workouts I can’t do.  They could be marathon runners with a thyroid issue or they could be someone who has an issue with over eating.  YOU CANNOT LOOK AT SOMEONE’S BODY AND DETERMINE THEIR HEALTHINESS.  Furthermore, health is not a moral issue.  Someone can be really unhealthy and a completely awesome person.  So judging people based on your perception of their health is really wack.  And judging your own body against others is recipe for self-hatred all day.  Even if you look at someone else’s body and think, “oh thank god I don’t look like that,”  you aren’t building your own self-esteem.  Comparison is the thief of joy (Teddy Roosevelt).

I think we should look in the mirror more.  The more you actually look at yourself (instead of dodging mirrors and photographs) and look for what you love, the easier it will be to come to love an accept all of who you are.  Stop following “fitspiration” pages if they make you feel bad.  Your body will never look like someone elses body.  You will never look like me and I will never look like you.  Make peace with your mirror.  Slouch.  Stand tall.  Smile.  Get okay with everything you see there.  I truly am.  I’m not brave.  It only seems brave because we don’t see this often, a non chiseled photo of a woman that isn’t a “before picture.”  This is what my body looks like.  I’m into all of it.  It took time to get here but nothing has ever been more worth while, and while it took time, it was a much more enjoyable process than all the years I spent hating myself that I can never have back.

In my photos there is  body.  It is a good body.  It is a fit body.  It has cellulite, fat and dimples.  It has big strong thighs and a strong booty.  I think my body is powerful, sexy and awesome.  Nothing any one else thinks about me will ever change that.  Making that kind of peace with your body is freedom.

These photos were taken 2 days later, this is when I really celebrate my body!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could I lean out and still be healthy?  Sure.  It isn’t my goal but it may happen while I’m busting my ass at the gym for fun/enjoyment/bad assery.  But my goals are not about posting photos or being the envy of the other Moms at the wading pool this summer.  I met my goal a long time ago which was to be a healthy weight, to learn to enjoy exercise and healthy eating, to make these things a habit to be a good example to my baby girl and to never go back to the dark place where I hate the skin I’m in.  Goal = complete.

 

Xoxo, Mama

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Comments

  1. Ash says:

    thank you. i needed this post this morning.

  2. I Love it!! I think I have a WIG-Mance (work-it-girl/romance) with you! :) I too feel sad for people who aren’t able to embrace their body. It’s ok to love your body while working on making it healthy. I have cellulite and a momma pouch to go with it. I have at least a conversations distance of loose skin from pregnancies and being overweight. But I love my body. I love to see how far I can push it and how much it amazes me. I don’t look like a fitness model, nope. And do you know why I don’t?

    Drumroll please…..

    I am not a fitness model! I’m a mom! :)

  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s so encouraging and so real. It helps me as I look in the mirror at myself everyday in disgust. I need to be confident in what the Lord gave me. You blessed me today!

  4. Terri says:

    Don’t make me cry!! Ok, do! well, you did- just a little. You made my heart swell alot, amazing. That last paragraph is golden, pure, heartfelt and exactly what I want for myself. I’m getting there- still a tiny struggle with the ‘cheating’ and skipping workouts, but I’ll get there. Thank you for speaking your truth!!

  5. Sunny says:

    So true and so wise!! I love every inch of this post, thanks for sharing Fit Mama!

  6. mars says:

    You are GORGEOUS!!

  7. Thanks for sharing… I posted something similar last year… What does healthy look like? I love your approach. I’m not ready to post any of my photos, but inspired by yours. Keep loving yourself! http://foodmommy.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-does-healthy-look-like.html

  8. Lisa says:

    I want to be just like you! This is the cutest blog I’ve ever seen–and I am SUPER inspired by your awesome attitude towards fitness :) Soooo many of us make it about “looking the way we feel like we have to look”. Great blog!!!

  9. Elizabeth B says:

    You are beautiful and your message is important. I’m still trying to get there. I did a blog post about my struggles with self-image here. http://www.thenewelizabeth.com/2012/11/23/stop-listening-to-the-mean-girls-in-your-head/

  10. New reader here, thanks to this awesome post! I was delighted to see that you’re right over in Lawrence, my college town. I’m a chef/health nut/fitness junkie over here in KCMO. Nice to “meet” you! Keep up the awesome work.

  11. I really appreciated your post! (I just found your blog through twitter.) I love your honest tone, and obviously your honest pictures. you Rock!

  12. Brenda says:

    Girl! I gotta hand it to Ya! You rock! I have posted some pretty blah pictures of myself, and I always refer to them as my new “before” shots. I am hoping some of the other comments are correct, and your confidence truly is contagious. I have lost over 115#, and I FEEL fabulous! But when I look in the mirror, I STILL criticize! Working on my confidence and celebrating all the GOOD I have done for ME!

    Again, GREAT job! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  13. I love this post! Glad to have just found you. Currently in the process of becoming a formerly fat girl :D Seriously, these photos made me SO happy!

  14. Fan says:

    That is just great! Love this

  15. amanda says:

    LOVE this!

  16. Renee says:

    I LOVE YOU FOR POSTING THIS BLOG. I’m so hard on myself and my body because it’s not “perfect”. Truthfully, it’s made me a little depressed lately. Thank you for the reminder that the body we have IS the perfect one for us, and we should be happy with what we have.

  17. I really wish there was more of this “realness” out there. Thanks for not being afraid of who YOU are and showing the rest of us that we don’t have to be afraid either.

  18. Bridget says:

    Thank you a gazillion times. What a wonderfully inspiring example you are to so many. Congratulations on achieving your amazing goal! Good luck to me, and everyone else who is trying so hard to get there too. xx

  19. Amie says:

    Love this Blog! I am going to save this and show this to my daughter during her teen years. Hearing it from someone else is always easier, right?!
    I am 33, and I just now started to love me for me. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long, but I am glad I am here finally!
    Thank you for the wonderful pics and straight talk!

  20. Elaine Landreth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your pictures & for writing the sensible, smart essay to accompany them. For the record, I thought that I was the only one with a “historically deep belly button.” :-) From now on, I am going to start looking in the mirror and saying the nice things about myself that you said about yourself. My body is not perfect, but it is a strong, healthy body and I need to appreciate it the way it is.

    Also, thanks for the reminder that health & fitness are not moral issues.

    You are a beautiful woman, inside & out! Thanks to my friend, Marianne, who posted this on her Facebook page. What an inspiration!

  21. mish says:

    Your blog and your attitude is so refreshing it is like a long G & T with a slice of lemon and clinky ice cubes on a hot summer afternoon.
    Thank you & I have shared to all the fit mama’s that are in my world in Australia
    mishfit.com.au

    mishx

  22. New fan fo’ sho’…I was already like hells yea and then you said bad assery and stole my heart…BRAVO!

  23. Vicki Marney says:

    What an excellent blog! You are so right–we are always so hard o ourselves–much more hard than we are on others! Yes, we need to be inspired sometimes to make healthier choices and get our body into better shape, but we are STILL “me!” and we need to love ourselves in the place where we are at the time. Love ourselves enough to MAKE those healthy choices and keep working on it. I find myself getting down on myself, because I’m not making the right choices for my health, but dog gone it, I’m having fun and enjoying my life! You just gave us all a reminder of what we must do and what we must be–a strong and proud “Me!” Nobody else!

    As to your pics–I love how you were real with them, and I REALLY LOVE your up-do! That is SO cute! You are adorable, and your attitude makes you even more so! Keep inspiring yourself while also inspiring others! GREAT JOB GIRL!

  24. Betsy says:

    You are so awesome! I love this post and it is SO TRUE! Thank you for SAYING what we all know and often make ourselves believe is not.

  25. Suzan says:

    Thank you, just thank you.

  26. Melly says:

    I am new to you and your blog and I am so happy this is the first post I read. I am learning to love the body I am in and really needed to hear these words. Thank you.

  27. LJ says:

    AMEN!

  28. sara says:

    In honor of my own young daughter, I pledge to find at least one positive about my body each and every morning.

  29. Liani says:

    This just made my day! I love that you’re keeping it real. I wish more women would love and celebrate themselves. Keep inspiring us!

  30. Flerida says:

    Well said!! If you can love you and see the beauty in you, so can everyone else see and appreciate all that you are!!! You Go Girl!!!!!!!!

  31. Eva says:

    You lil’ badass!! Thank you for this post. After reading and re-reading your post, I asked myself, “What if I decided I didn’t need anymore AFTER pictures? What if I didn’t NEED TO CHANGE anything?” Instead I will continue to workout for the fun of it, the mental rewards, the opportunity to hang out with friends and the sheer enjoyment of being active. I can live with extra skin, thick thighs and OMG cellulite!! Bless You.

  32. Jorie says:

    Girl you are making me want to hit the weights, and I just finished my workout! Great post.

    I have long felt that when it comes to fitness, exercise, diet and health, the mirror will NEVER be enough of a motivator (or shamer) to get me going. The goal, the reward, it comes from something inside, not my reflection.

    xx

  33. Presh says:

    This post was truly beautiful and inspiring.
    I have lost over 100lbs and still trying to get to the point
    where you are at with your body. Making my mindset over!
    I hope you don’t mind if I share this post on my blog!!

  34. Deborah says:

    This is so inspirational! I love your outlook and that you showed the world the real you!

  35. Meredith says:

    I work part-time as an artist’s model: I pose naked in front of rooms full of art students while they draw me. And one of the things I love about the job is that I’m showing these students – some of whom are maybe still teenagers, some of whom have probably barely seen anyone naked except Photoshopped models in magazines – how an actual human body looks.

    When I stand up straight, I have at least a hint of visible ab muscles (maybe even a sixpack on a good day). When I sit and slouch? BAM. Landslide of fat rolls. There’s a muscle in the upper part of my butt that, when flexed, pulls a hunk of my cellulite up into a fist-sized hip-protrusion that you’d never see in any photo of a supermodel. My breasts appear to shrink a size or two (but gain perkiness…) when I lift my arms over my head. And all of this is fine and normal. DRAW MY EVER-SHIFTING LUMPS, STUDENTS. DRAAAAW THEMMMMMM.

    *Cough*. Anyway. Hopefully exposure to naked people who aren’t sucking in their bellies and contorting just-so will help the art students feel more comfortable with their own boddies. I like this idea.

  36. Zimeka says:

    Thank you! You are a wise woman!

  37. Arae Wyatt says:

    I LOVE,LOVE LOVED, this! I actually had the opportunity to pose for a vintage-style pinup calendar and when I got the photos back I was disappointed (but even relieved at the same time) to see that my shot had been photoshopped to give me the waist of my dreams, but one that is definitely NOT mine! Everytime I look at that photo, I just think “Lies!”
    Struggling with my body shape has left me feeling less than sexy and it effects everything from my relationship with my husband to my daily moods. Finally I decided I was sick of it. I needed to be happy with me whether or not i never lose another pound. So, I am working on being healthy and on being thankful, that I have an able body, whether or not I look the way I think I should or not. This was really inspiring to that end!

  38. Zvezdana says:

    I can’t even tell you how much I love this post! You made an instant fangirl out of me. I’m making a similar journey towards self-love and self-acceptance, but you’re definitely more “there” than me, and I admire you for that. Also, LOVE your glam hair! <3

  39. Ira Vergani says:

    Standing ovation!

  40. BekahJo says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I’m currently post baby number two. A little girl. And I can so completely relate to the feeling of needing to sort my body image issues out. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s to pass them on to her. Or ever let her feel less than beautiful. I began weight training for the first time in my life after this baby, and some days I’ve been discouraged because I’m not “skinny” yet. Somehow forgetting that I already wear a size 4. The media has portrayed such a distorted view of women, even those that are “fit” not skinny. It’s so wonderfully refreshing to see somebody being open and honest about how they look.

    I’m guilty of thinking that once I’m skinny enough I can live life. Once I’m skinny enough I’ll wear clothes that make me feel good. Oh, I can’t buy that, because I’m not skinny enough. Well, I’m done with that.

    Again, thank you SO much.

  41. Essie says:

    And you got yourself a new follower!!! Love this post, I’m about to peruse your archives for some more good stuff.

  42. I just found you through Hey Joob’s link, and thank God! This was such an excellent post, I’m going to go share it everywhere. I wish more women would understand that fitspo is not motivational, it’s actually very detrimental to many women who think that they “should” look a certain way. GREAT stuff here, can’t wait to read more!!!

  43. OMG! I just found your blog, and this is the second post I’ve read, and I love it! Thank you for this particular post, because it is simply amazing!

  44. Charlotte says:

    I love this blog post. It’s important to remind people to take themselves seriously… but NOT TOO MUCH. We are all beautiful and flawed and perfect!
    Some of my friends have to “preview” every single pic that goes on FB or other sites and I wonder why all the censoring! We are who we are!

    Keep it up girl!

  45. Jaime says:

    I think this is an amazing post. You go girl. Inspiring. I recently came to terms with my own body and agree completely (except I admit I do not dammit like the cellulite). Keep it up.

  46. Monica says:

    Im glad that you pointed out the fact that most celebrities, model pictures, etc. are photo shopped. I hate seeing the commercials that say take these drugs (side affects not known) and you can look like this. She lost 200lbs in 2 years and you look at the picture and low and behold it does look like her… My question – when you lose that amount of weight what happens to all the excess sagging skin fo… If she started out at the 350 the skin would be down her back along with her boobs at her waist and her stomach would cover enough of her whohaw to wear it as a miniskirt. PHOTOSHOP Love the body you have!

  47. Rian says:

    This is cool. Love the rawness.

  48. abbey says:

    Amazing post. Thank you.

  49. I laughed out loud at the picture where you scrunched up your chin. Hahah I laughed even harder when you put that picture up a second time. Love this! I’m an advocate for loving your body, but sometimes I need this reminder, too! Thanks for sharing :D

  50. So I’ve never read your blog before, but I am so ridiculously over the moon in love with this post. I love the concept, but so much of what you showed and described speaks to me on such a personal level. I have that same weird deep belly button, and for some strange reason I was sure I was the only human in the world with it, and I hated it, but it’s so funny how on someone else, it doesn’t look bad. I also have the post weight loss extra skin that I get super angry about and think everyone can see, but then I look at your photos and it doesn’t bother me. I am totally inspired by how objectively you are able to look at yourself and not pick yourself apart. It is amazing, and I hope one day to be half as brave. Thank you thank you thank you for this.

  51. This is such an inspiring post – what a great body image reminder that we are who we are and we should love it! Thank you for sharing!

  52. Julie says:

    Love this because it’s very much like me. Proud of you!

  53. Beverley says:

    You rock!

  54. brody says:

    if you’re still wondering why the guy is gone in the morning, look at that last pic :D

  55. Skipper says:

    You’re gorgeous! Congratulations on taking care of yourself and loving it. <3 Also, how did you do your hair like that??

  56. Iris says:

    Just found this via Facebook and I have to say, I absolutely love you. I wrote a similar post recently but I have to say yours is so much braver than mine!

    http://www.thedailydietribe.com/2013/04/blogging-while-pretty.html

  57. DJ says:

    Wow! You are stunning! I love that Rockabilly-inspired hair-do! You are definitely an inspiration!

  58. J says:

    A friend shared your post with me and I really appreciated your words!! Thank you!!!!!

  59. DK says:

    Your confidence is your most attractive feature. The fact that you take care of yourself and own yourself is hot!! It has absolutely nothing to do with the physical dimensions…it’s attitude.

  60. Bri says:

    Thank you for reminding me what it is about. I sort of forgot for a bit.
    You got some amazing quads! <3

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