When I was 10 years old I had “baby fat” like a lot of kids who haven’t yet reached puberty, metabolism hasn’t kicked in yet, and quite frankly could care less about their body image. I was just a kid being a kid, but one day as I ran through my grandmother’s kitchen my uncle stopped me and asked: “you’re getting a little chunky aren’t you?” I didn’t know how to answer because I had never thought about it before so I just shrugged and walked outside. That began a lifelong struggle with self-love. His words embedded into my thought process. I thought maybe everyone was looking at me and thinking what a fat kid I was.
A couple years later I naturally began thinking about other parts of my body because in the 8th grade some of your friends start growing boobs before you do and you want what your friends have! I’d continue to obsess over my waistline and looked at my chest every day to see if anything had changed. When nothing was changing fast enough I began wearing two padded bras to make them look bigger. It wasn’t until I entered high school that I developed an eating disorder.
I would binge and purge because I would start to panic after a large meal. My friends and I would see how many days we could go without eating anything at all. We would look at each other with approval and mutual admiration when we saw how flat our tummies would get without food. Then, my best friend’s doctor prescribed her Adderall. It didn’t take us long to figure out it sped up our metabolism and made it to where we weren’t even hungry at all!
We were suddenly on the fast track to what we perceived as beauty, but we were putting our vessels through the pain. We were hurting the very bodies that work so hard to keep us alive.
After high school, I didn’t see my friends as often. Binging and purging became less frequent and I don’t remember skipping meals on purpose. When you surround yourself with people, even those who care about you, that have the same toxic behaviors as you, it feeds that behavior. It is like a poison that steadily keeps entering your mind telling you that you are doing the right thing.
I’ve still continued to struggle with my body image through adulthood. My weight fluctuates pretty often. After having my 2nd child in January 2017 my body didn’t snap back to its pre-pregnancy figure. It didn’t help that I felt depressed about it and started stress eating. Some days I would look in the mirror and think I looked really pretty. Other days I wouldn’t look in the mirror at all. When I saw Kristen on Facebook I messaged Kristen to ask for more details and her responses made it sound so great and easy. I decided that after a year of focusing on everyone but myself that I needed to do this for me. I told my boyfriend at the time, who is also the father of my child, what I had signed up for and how I needed to do something body positive for myself and he was all for it.
On my way to the session I was so nervous I couldn’t stop fidgeting, even as I was driving. My mind was filled with chaos. I kept thinking things like how am I going to hide my C-section flab? How are my teeth looking? I wear steel-toed work boots every day so are my feet going to look okay? What about my chin?! It was ridiculous. Then I was through the front door being greeted by Kristen and Meghan. I put my things down by the desk and my nerves melted away. It was like magic. So as I sat getting photo ready I listened to them talk to each other so casually and, despite my sometimes shyness, I joined in the conversation and felt completely at ease. Kristen laughs a lot and it is totally contagious. I could feel the good energy in the room and was enveloped by it.
By the time I looked in the mirror I wanted to cry. I hadn’t taken the time to doll myself up in so long I forgot what it felt like. My confidence meter was rising. By the time the clothes were off, the lingerie on, and I was receiving direction I felt just like a model! I never had to guess what looked best. Not once did I have to question what to do with my face, my legs, or my hands. It turned out to be one of the most fun and simplest things I have ever done. Before I left I hugged Kristen, thanking her for the experience.
When I finally got to see my photos after weeks of agonizing anticipation I melted. I could not believe that I looked like that! Then, when I was able to download the app to my phone and received my album I was on fire. When I say I felt fierce I mean fierce honey! I chose a couple of pics that weren’t revealing to post to my Facebook. I wanted to show my close friends and family that all it takes is a little confidence and some awesome direction to feel so amazing. I expressed how the experience not only made me feel beautiful on the outside., but it made me feel beautiful on the inside as well. In some way, doing this session with Kristen repaired me. It was a Facebook post targeted toward body positivity and loving your whole self.
For posting to Facebook, the person who should have loved me most said I was a whore. He
tried to take away the very thing I have worked so hard for, self-acceptance. He called them my “not-so-sexy pictures.” I made a firm decision at that moment that no person would ever make me hate myself or my body ever again. I own my mind, body, and soul. All three were on top of the world and not ready to descend.
This whole experience changed my outlook. I have always heard the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” My dream was to completely love myself for who I am, and I do.
If there was any piece of advice I would want to share it would be to never let someone take away your love for yourself. Don’t be afraid to take a risk if it is going to make you feel good or put you in a better place mentally. Surround yourself with people who love and support you and don’t be afraid to take a fashion risk. I had never worn a bodysuit in my life, but I rocked it and it felt good. We only have one life to live and the worst thing I can imagine is looking back and realizing I didn’t do what was best for me and the body that carries me. To imagine that I never loved what was given to me would be tragic. It is now a daily goal to get up every day, look in the mirror, and tell myself I look good because I feel good.
I want everyone else to feel that love too! We are women and we are strong. I am entering my 30’s on fire and am too giddy about it. Love yourself because it is all the self you are ever going to have and you are worthy of feeling fierce!