Updated: Jun 3
I have struggled with disordered eating and body image issues for most of my life. At the beautiful age of thirty-eight I have once again found love for myself and my body. How did I go from believing I was unlovable, and needed extensive plastic surgery to find a partner, to being able to stand naked on the Salt Flats and then sit for a boudoir photo shoot? It wasn't easy and it took years of soul searching and hard work. After urgent surgery a few years ago, to remove my infected gall bladder and appendix, I spent a lot of time naked to cut down on pain from clothing pulling at my stitches. I saw myself naked in my reflections all over the house. There were mirrors everywhere. I got to know my body again. I got to appreciate the feel of my body again.
I have cellulite all over my legs and fanny. My breasts are no longer the perky, full C-cups of my youth. My stomach actually sticks out from my body now. I'm curvy, saggy, squishy, covered in stretch marks, bruises and scars and I love it. I love every inch of it. I spend as much time naked as possible. When my kids are at my house I wear clothes. When they are gone I keep a robe by my bed, for possible necessities, and enjoy being in my own skin. Going along with this, I do as much getting ready for the day naked as I can. I don't immediately throw on clothes after my shower. I keep my door locked and my music on and I dance and sing while drying my hair, brushing my teeth, etc. I have a private, jiggly, dance/karaoke party just for me. I have cut out all magazines. I love fashion, photography, modeling, and make up. I do not love seeing photoshopped, unrealistic women. It's harmful to my well being. I also do not enjoy reading unhealthy perspectives on weight, sex, womanhood, relationships, etc. I diligently monitor what media comes into my life. This same perspective goes for social media. The moment a site, or someone I follow, starts me down a path of self doubt I unfollow it. That's the beauty of our time.
There are millions of outlets and people to follow that can build us up. I find those and fill my feeds with them. I have stopped shaming myself for the food and drinks I consume. If I want a cookie, or even a pan of cookies, I will eat it guilt free. If I feel like a soda today, I go for it. By detaching guilt from food I have opened myself up to actually eating healthier. I drink more water than any other beverage now. That is a huge change. I used to run on soda. The moment I detached guilt, I stopped using food to emotionally, either punish or soothe, myself. This hasn't changed my weight or body shape, however, it has changed my interaction with food and helped me feel better about my body.
I wear whatever I want. I'm done trying to fit into what other people think I should be. I'm a mom so I'm expected to dress a certain way. I'm in my late thirties so I have to stop wearing certain things. No thank you. Comfort is key for me so even if I'm dressing up for an event I will make sure I'm comfortable. My "Sunday Best" or "Dress Attire" is going to look different and I'm okay with that. I also don't cover my body because I'm supposed to. If I want to wear something revealing, I do. If the day calls for sweats, so be it. Turns out all those memes were right. If you want a bikini body, you put a bikini on your body. Done and done. I've gotten quite a few more tattoos and piercings recently. Every time I modify my body I feel more comfortable in it. I already love it. I'm not changing it to make myself love it. It's a feeling of completion when I add a new piece. Like, "Oh. That feel right." As if the pieces were missing and I'm replacing them.
I've started taking pictures of myself constantly. It started with selfies for profile pics and then more full body photos of my outfits started happening. At one point I decided that I wanted to see if I could take sexy photos so I tried, and it turns out that what 'they' say is true. It's all about the angle, lighting, and filters. I also stopped caring so much about the majority of photos I post. If I was on a dating site I would be very picky, and I still am careful with my professional photos. Other than that, I post photos where I look ridiculous because I was having fun in that moment. Especially when I'm with my kids. Having fun and capturing that fun trumps looking good. That's life. Sometimes you look like a million bucks, and sometimes you look like you barely stumbled out of bed. I want to love myself in all those moments.
I started doing photo shoots. My friend Emily Parker has called me up and asked for me to come sit for an idea she has had. The first one with someone I didn't know was the Wendover Project with Paul Butler. I have a whole post to write about that particular experience. That is where I met Cat Palmer and have watched for her specials. I have done a Wonder Woman cosplay shoot and a boudoir shoot with her. I have loved all of these experiences. Not everyone is going to have the money to do this. I'm grateful that I have had the opportunity. It's my body in art which speaks to me on an even deeper level. I've even worked on being more artistic in my cosplay shots. It's finding different aspects of myself that the photographer picks up that I am unaware of. It's eye opening to see myself from someone else's perspective.
Cat Palmer Photography
I started painting my body. Using my body in my art. This piece focused on the nourishing aspects of my beautiful body. There are many more planned. It's one more way to appreciate this vessel I inhabit. It does not always reflect who I am, however, it is beautiful and I would like to honor it's beauty. There is no one right way, or quick fix, to overcoming self destructive habits and thoughts. I cannot stress enough the amount of work that I have put into loving every aspect of myself. It's been a terrifying process at times. It's still a daily endeavor. I also recognize that the things that help me, may not help you. I love talking about all the different ways we find to love ourselves. The more we talk about it, the more ideas we'll come up with. What are some habits/thought processes you've added or subtracted from your life that have helped you find health and happiness?