I have a body that defies society’s definition of “beautiful.”
However, I am beautiful.
It has taken me far too long to recognize that simple statement to be true.
My husband took this photo of me and a few years ago I would have groaned, picked apart my appearance, and deleted it without a second thought.
I took multiple shots and experimented with different poses, playing with my kimono in the warm summer breeze as the sun began to set. I was having fun scouting shooting locations and listening to songs that transported me to the time when my husband and I were falling in love.
All of these things can be seen in my body language and relaxed smile.
One of my goals with this platform is to encourage you – wherever you are on your path – to embrace your innate strength and beauty. Trust me, I’m not immune to insecurity and criticism. Let me be transparent and share with you how I’m currently working to course correct when insecurity creeps in.
- “Your thighs are too fat” – Nope, my thighs are strong. I just finished 8 weeks of intense physical therapy to strengthen and retrain my legs to support my joints and prevent future injuries. This is the strongest I’ve been in a very long time. I’ve got definition in my thighs, my calves are huge, and I am killing my workouts. My thighs are thick because they’re solid muscle!
- “Suck in your stomach” – I’ve got a tummy right now. That’s where my body is holding fat due to stress and uncertainty, but look at what I’ve gone through this year – planning a wedding, quitting my career, getting married, uprooting my life and moving across the country, starting fresh and changing my name, working hard to make ends meet, making new friends and keeping in touch with old ones, and riding this strange wave of pandemic and quarantine. That’s a whole lot for one body to hold onto and process.
- “You’ve got a double chin” – Oh well! In some angles I have a double chin, in some I don’t. Does it even matter?! I’d rather focus on my happy face than what lies below it. I’m so thankful that my body has supported me during this time. I know I’m fueling it well and making healthy choices each day to contribute to my well being.
Guess what? These are the same criticisms I had about my body at age 12… 14… 16… 18… 20… 22… 24… 26… every year in between and even now at 28. Societal critiques that I absorbed as a young girl witnessing people talking about other women’s bodies that have stuck with me and continually repeat in my brain – especially when I’m in front of a mirror or a camera!
My biggest mental shift came when I realized that I would NEVER talk about one of my friends in the same way that I was internally talking about myself. All of the women in my life are so beautiful. They all have different body types, different features, different hairstyles, different laughs, different sparkles in their eyes, different senses of humor, and different insecurities. I love each and every one of them and never even think about if they have thick thighs, how much their stomach is poking out, or if they have a double chin! So why in the world was I dwelling on these physical markers of beauty regarding my own body?!
I decided to start treating myself in the same way I treat my friends. I started dressing up, complimenting myself, buying myself random flowers, treating myself to a coffee every now and then, and most importantly giving myself grace as I moved throughout my day!
Now, when these critical thoughts come up, I am able to shift my focus: from “fat” to “strong”, from “stomach” to “strength”, from “double chin” to “dimples and laugh lines.”
I challenge you to interrupt your inner critic and rewrite your inner monologue.
YOU are beautiful.
YOU are strong.
YOU are enough.