I’m up at 5 am feeling so driven to share something with you. I did something today that I still can’t believe I did. It really took me way out of my comfort zone into a place that is scary and possibly opens me for mockery. I shared a picture of myself on my social media accounts (private and public) in a swimsuit.
I (like nearly every woman I meet) struggle with body image. I’ve definitely gained a lot of weight over time and I’m truly surprised (or disturbed) how it has snuck up on me. It seems like just yesterday, I was many pounds lighter (but still thought I had weight to lose). The Internet can be such a relentlessly cruel place sometimes. I imagined being ridiculed for my big thighs and untoned arms but it never happened. In fact, I experienced quite the opposite. People were very positive – liking the image, telling me I looked great, etc. I didn’t share the image with the hope of being complimented or criticized. Instead, I truly wanted to share my moment where I’m so happy and at peace at the beach.
I’ve been working slowly towards building a healthy relationship with my body. It started out by letting myself be photographed. I’m usually the one behind the camera so this has to be intentional for me. I didn’t want my daughter to wake up one day when I’m gone and not have any pictures of me (this parenting gig will really push your limits) so I specifically hand over the camera to have my husband take pictures of me.
Then I started to actually share those photos. First, I honestly just shared carefully curated images where the images were especially flattering. But eventually, over time, I’ve started to share imperfect images because it’s real. This is my real life: big thighs, big smile, imperfect.
None of this is intended to mean that I won’t continue to work to lose the extra pounds. I’m aware of the health risks associated with carrying the extra weight, eating a poor diet, and not moving enough. I will strive to be the healthiest version of myself but it is refreshing to be able to embrace my current self.
I hope that by sharing my experience and talking openly about body image, that I can do my part to destigmatize talking honestly about body image. If you talk to your friends honestly about their relationship with their body, I bet you find that they struggle with the same things. If we start to reclaim our body image, we take a small piece of power back from a society that shows us photoshopped bodies to sell us magic pills to reach some ideal that is completely unrealistic.