What really means to be beautiful?
I really want to share with you Trisha's images from our World Breastfeeding Mini Session earlier this month. I have been waiting to share this blog for a while now. I wanted it to be meaningful because many of the ladies I met this month have touched my life and changed my view of what it means to be beautiful. Trisha is one of them.
Trisha and I first met via Facebook in a breastfeeding group, and then again at another local private group before I moved to New Mexico. I am a big supporter of breastfeeding. Not because I think it's the only good way to feed a child, but simply because there are many more benefits from nursing than just nutritional. I wanted to show my support to all nursing mothers during World Breastfeeding Week by volunteering my time and talent to photograph these amazing & powerful ladies. Trisha mentioned the Beauty Revealed Project (BRP) and how she was excited when she saw I am a member. She then proceeded to tell me how she would love to pose for nude to semi-nude images. She wanted to encourage and support both at the same time. I agreed and was actually beyond excited for this. She's beautiful inside and out!
This event let me witness the strength and beauty of all these amazing ladies, and showed how we are all just absolutely uniquely beautiful! (To view event images go here). It's sad to me how the word 'beautiful' has been so cheapened by our culture. It applies to a very narrow sort of physical appearance. But beauty is not just physical attractiveness. (What is beauty then? Give examples here… a great laugh, a brilliant mind capable of changing the world…). I tell my children they are beautiful in the real sense; they are amazing creatures capable of so much more than being a pretty walking ornament.
I started having body issues when I was 10 years old. I was “too skinny” and was teased by everyone, including my own mother. She and my cousins would call me Talita Palita; English meaning equivalent of Talita Toothpick. Seeing women on television with 'the perfect bodies’ made me want to look the same. Perfect. That's when I began to hate my body. I always felt inadequate. But when I got pregnant with my first child my body changed! I couldn't decide if I liked those changes or not. My breasts were still small (or nonexistent) and that hate against my own self-image still lingered within me. Ten months after my oldest son was born, I got pregnant with my daughter and gained 50 pounds with that pregnancy. Then 50 more with my third, and 40 with my fourth. I have really struggled the last five years with how my body was changing, and how rapidly it was happening. After I had my second baby, I hated my body even more than when I was younger and had a really hard time accepting my new self. I lost the baby weight fairly quickly with my first, but not with any of my others. And a bonus: I had stretch marks everywhere! I have a five inches abdominal gap from my pregnancies, which made me feel like I always needed to be covered up to look acceptable.
After I had my 3rd child, I began thinking about needing to fix the way I viewed myself. Around the same time I came across the Beauty Revealed Project on Facebook and was in awe! So many vulnerable and totally gorgeous women were flaunting their natural beauty, and they were all normal women, like me. Women who, despite their beauty, struggled with their bodies. I decided then that I wanted to love myself. It didn't happen overnight, of course, and is something I'm still working on.
No one is perfect, no one will ever have a perfect model body; not even the models! That’s what photoshop is for, and that is the reality and the truth. However, you don't need to be perfect to be beautiful. I want other women to know that they can love themselves, too! It's not always easy, but it is possible. Bodies, no matter the size or changing size or condition, aren't something that should just be accepted. They should be cherished and celebrated. Every single body is beautiful. Every one. We need to change the mentality of our society of what really is natural & beautiful; it starts within ourselves.
“Remove those ‘I want you to like me’ stickers from your forehead and, instead, place them where they truly will do the most good — on your mirror!” ~ Susan Jeffers
WARNING: Proceed with caution. Some images contain nudity, continue at your own risk.