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:
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!
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.